Holy Rule for July 1
A blessed Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to all. Prayers, please, for Sr. Lany Jo, ASCJ, and all the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, as well as all Religious consecrated to the Sacred Heart.
Singeverga Abbey was unable to agree upon electing an Abbot. Prayers for them and for their appointed Prior Administrator, Dom Agostino, who will serve till another election is held.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Deputy Kyle Pagerly, killed in the line of duty serving a warrant in Berks County Pa. He leaves behind a young wife who just found out she is pregnant with their first child. Prayers, too, for his wife and all who mourn him, and for that baby who will never know its father.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Marjorie, 87, suffered a stroke, and for Mark, her son, who cannot be with her due to his health.
Tina, newly diagnosed with cancer.
Donna, possible rheumatoid arthritis, possible lead poisoning.
Virginia, severe arthritis, hoping to avoid surgery.
Francis, safe and uneventful cross country trip by car--and alone and for his worried Dad and Mom.
Sharon, newly diagnosed with cancer and for her daughter, Leah and all trying to cope with this sudden diagnosis.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement
should correspond to the degree of fault,
which degree is estimated by the judgment of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults,
let her be excluded from the common table.
Now the program for one deprived of the company of the table
shall be as follows:
In the oratory she shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon
nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction;
in the refectory she shall take her food alone
after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance,
that sister shall eat at the ninth,
while if they eat at the ninth hour
she shall eat in the evening,
until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.
Ever run over something unintentionally with a lawnmower? Most of us
have. If you personally have never done such a thing, it would be
far less upsetting to me if you never said so... LOL! Think about it.
Who, in their right mind, would deliberately take a mower that is
costly to repair or replace and aim for an obstacle in the grass?
Face it, while there could be malevolence here, it is very unlikely.
Yet the only case of this lighter excommunication of which I have
personal knowledge was just this dumb. In the 1960's, a junior
monk I knew ran over a water sprinkler while mowing in the Grotto at
Saint Leo. (I have been visiting St. Leo since 1957, the Grotto is
one of my favorite places and I STILL could not tell you where all
the water sprinklers are. It is a wooded and confusing area.) The guy
didn't mean to do it and, as far as I know, admitted his guilt,
turned himself in. He got this light excommunication for a
while as punishment.
That was one of the problems with "excommunication" (which, by the
way, refers only to communal life, not to the Church or its
Sacraments.) It could be used for silly, innocent mistakes,
unintentional accidents. In cases like the one I noted, it often
stressed the material above the personal. Obviously, the greatest
treasure of the monastery was the monastic, not the water sprinkler!
It could, as such, lack mercy and fall far short of the Gospel,
something the Holy Rule, rightly interpreted, will never call us to
do. Also, since it can be quite irrational punishment, it is hardly
constructive of healthy family bonds!
As so often happens, we abandon one lunacy only to flee madly to its
opposite extreme. We went from too much to too little, sometimes
nothing at all. In the last 35 years or so, I have heard of only one
threat of excommunication and it did not have to be carried out,
thank heavens. Still, we have abandoned the good that was in the
practice: a clear, codified way to let someone know they were out of
line, that something was wrong, that they needed help or reform or
We replaced this (allegedly,) with talking to the individual, a sane
enough response, except that some superiors find this hard, almost
impossible to do well. That's not surprising, given the monastic
aversion to conflict and confrontation. But it is CONFLICT we should
avoid, not loving confrontation. We're called to a lot of the latter. It is
the stuff of which reform and conversion is often generated. The
Rule's system gave a "language" and an idiom to a
superior who may not have been able to "say" it any other way. It
eased the road for the timid.
Take that away, and you have no means of correction in some settings.
Both these extremes are founded on the same false assumption. Both
ascribe to offenders more control over their actions than may
actually be the case. Small wonder neither extreme works terribly well.
Just talking to someone is fine as an alternative, but one has to
actually do it. Some problems in people will neither identify nor
repair themselves. It is folly to think that they will, to presume
that all people have a level of clairvoyance or maturity that many,
in fact, do not.
Not only that, but as the Rule itself points out, some people cannot
understand or "hear" a verbal correction. Things have not changed
as much in the intervening 15 centuries as we might like to think they have.
Some still can't hear. We still need a humane middle point between
nothing and something very extreme.
Parents take warning. Embrace either of these extremes and your
children will be talking about you many, many years later, to
therapists or in bars, or both! Ditto bosses and superiors. Your job
is the exact and complete opposite of ignoring major flaws, of
letting things like that go. If your head is in the sand on any
significant count, everyone in the family suffers including,
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
A blessed Easter to all! Christ is risen, truly He is risen!!
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temproal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Luke, house sale - his house has been on the market for over a year and he really needs to sell it and downsize after the end of a long-term relationship.
Deo Gratias, V. has been offered and very limited place next year on the post-graduate course of his dreams...now he needs the money to pay for it.
Funding for D. to further his studies, or inspiration for something even better.
Continued prayers for baby Grace and her family. She is stable but still on oxygen in the house 24/7, and is waiting to see a specialist.
Jual, young mother of three battling breast cancer. Nodules found in her lung. Having surgery Sunday.
Prayers for safe journey, and back, for an extended family going on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land for almost 2 weeks, and prayers for a wonderful time.
Lord help us all
as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
There is a tendency, both within the cloister and without, to hunt
for dramatic ascetic practices, while ignoring the truly more
difficult matters that lack the fanfare. Lights! Camera! Action! We
must always be wary of the Nora Desmonds of our hearts, who are
always willing to say, a la Sunset Boulevard: "I'm ready for my close-
up now, Mr. DeMille." How we do love to star, even at self-
Well, there's two bad pieces of new for Ms. Desmond et al. First the
penances we choose are usually not the most effective ones. The
best ones are imposed by God or our situation of daily duty and they
become tremendous means of grace when we patiently embrace them.
Second, the ones we do choose can be terrible risks for pride, which
undoes our efforts so insidiously.
What on earth does this have to do with the current chapter? Easy-
and very, very hard, too! The great ascesis here is to aim at
limiting ourselves to "all the necessary articles." There is a
challenge here for everyone from Abbot Primate to newest Oblate
novice. It is a challenge we shall likely never meet fully in life,
so it is something we can always be profitably picking at!
Do you know anyone at all, in any vocation, who has absolutely
nothing beyond what they need? I have known a few; alas I cannot
say it of myself. I think this is an area where we can all look at a challenging
grace-filled ascetic struggle that is placed on us by the Holy Rule.
Down-sizing actually feels great, once one gets over the consumerist
terror of doing so! One will quickly find that, in this area, less
really *IS* more, (unlike poetry and art, architecture and liturgy,
alas...! Minimalism there gets old fast...) We become freer when we
let go of things which hold us more than we realize.
We can get buried in things we are saving to complete unfinalized
plans that will never come to fruition, and while we save them, we
are disheartened by our own failure to use them. Jettison, m'dears,
jettison. As the one Desert Father used to say to the brethren,"Flee,
brothers, flee!" so do I say: "Jettison!"
This has the further charm of fitting well into a depressive's sofa
paralysis, too. Recall how I told you about that resolution to make
three things, no matter how tiny, better each day? Works here, too!
And you will often find to your delight that the trip to dumpster or thrift
shop donation includes 7, 8, or more things!
Keep chipping away and the mountain of our false hearts' desires,
beloveds. And one day may all those chips be ground to sand and may
we stand together on level, smooth quartz
sand, confronted by nothing but the dazzling ocean of God's
unfathomable mercy and love!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]