Holy Rule for July 30
Prayers, please, for for the eternal rest of Papal Nuncio to the US, Archbishop Sambi. Also prayers for the eternal rest of Julie, prayers for all who mourn them.
Prayers for the mission fundraising of Fr. Foster Olator, of Ghana. He badly needs a car to help him cover ten parishes.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Sophy, for safe travels to visit her father in India.
Willy, who has cancer of the esophagus. Fortunately, they detected it in the early stages and Willy is shortly to begin a course of chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. Willy has lost two wives to cancer - Jeanne and Caroline so prayers for them for their eternal rest.
John, in ICU, no other details.
Donna, Lyme disease.
Virginia, severe arthritis.
Ruth, someone struck her car and she now has had to have x-rays taken.
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 30, July 30, November 29
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
On Sundays, let all occupy themselves in reading,
except those who have been appointed to various duties.
But if anyone should be so negligent and shiftless
that she will not or cannot study or read,
let her be given some work to do
so that she will not be idle.
Weak or sickly sisters should be assigned a task or craft
of such a nature as to keep them from idleness
and at the same time not to overburden them or drive them away
with excessive toil.
Their weakness must be taken into consideration by the Abbess.
Work in the corporate world is, for the most part, governed by two
principles: profit and profit. Sigh... Work in the monastery is very
different at its roots. Monastics work out of communal need and to
avoid idleness. That means, put another way, that sometimes monastic
labor is nothing more than "Keep 'em busy." That's OK in a monastic
milieu, where the bottom line is not cost-efficiency.
One reason so many Oblates are frustrated in trying to apply too much
of the Holy Rule to their lives in the world is that it simply will
not fit. Not only is the rationale of monastic labor radically
different, but so is its schedule. Contemplative monasteries usually
have about 20-25 hours of work per week, not 40. That may sound quite
easy, until one considers the fact that about 5 hours a day are spent
in choir and another two hours in lectio, with no weekends off!
That's roughly 47 hours a week right there, add 20 to that and you
get a 67 hour week. No, it is not all unbelievably hard and yes, you
do get to work at home, but not on your own schedule.
Parents who work- even many who stay at home- have often put in a lot
more than 67 hours a week; a sick child will instantly guarantee that
they put in a few more, too! It is not humanly possible to add the
whole of the Rule to such a life, because what would need trimming
would be the duties of parenting and marriage, which have priority
and must not be neglected.
Our Holy Rule is a delicate balance, finely tuned. That balance is
built around its own standards. It was not, in this respect, written
for secular life at all. If you are retired or very independently
wealthy, you might pull it off. Otherwise, you're going to wind up
like Sisyphus of the Greek myth, who was condemned to push the same
huge rock up the same hill forever, always watching it roll right
back down. Don't do it, folks, it will destroy your peace.
Even active monasteries have to trim and rearrange the Rule's program
to make room for their apostolic endeavors. Anyone who has taught can
tell you that it is NOT a 20 hour a week job. The same goes for
hospital work, and teaching and nursing are two of the most usual
works in which our monasteries are engaged.
Don't try to make the demands of your secular life seem less than
those of monasteries themselves. They aren't. They are often your
first vocation, your "day job", if you will. Like it or not, for
most Oblates, our Benedictine calling is in addition to some other
vocation. Both must always be respected, if anything has to suffer,
the primary vocation comes first. (Hence the name!)
By now I think most of you know me well enough to realize that I
spend the great bulk of my time and effort trying to explain to you
how the Holy Rule IS applicable to daily life anywhere. This is one
time, however- and there are sure to be others- when I have to tell
you that it is NOT applicable fully. If you have a problem in this
area, please listen carefully. Nobody wants to be like Sisyphus!
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]