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Holy Rule for July 31

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for all Jesuits, on the feast of their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Moira, and for her husband,
    Message 1 of 355 , Jul 30, 2011
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      +PAX

      Prayers for all Jesuits, on the feast of their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Moira, and for her husband, Martin. Moira died a few days short of their 43rd wedding anniversary after a long illness. Martin is finding life without Moira very hard to come to terms with.

      Prayers for for Hata senior, who has been rushed into hospital thanks to a bad diabetic episode, his heart and lungs have become very weak.

      Continued prayersfor Donna, still a rough time after her heart surgery.

      Prayers for Mike, recovering alcoholic and for Patrick, terminal cancer.

      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 31, July 31, November 30

      Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

      Although the life of a monk
      ought to have about it at all times
      the character of a Lenten observance,
      yet since few have the virtue for that,
      we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
      the brethren keep their lives most pure
      and at the same time wash away during these holy days
      all the negligences of other times.
      And this will be worthily done
      if we restrain ourselves from all vices
      and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
      to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

      During these days, therefore,
      let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
      as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
      Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
      "with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
      something above the measure required of him.
      From his body, that is
      he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
      and with the joy of spiritual desire
      he may look forward to holy Easter.

      Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
      what it is that he wants to offer,
      and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
      For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
      will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
      and will merit no reward.
      Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.

      REFLECTION

      Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
      eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
      see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
      was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
      never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
      introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
      few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly
      writing for the European also-rans of monasticism and he knew it.
      Keeping that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.

      The Desert Fathers were not interested in mitigation in the
      slightest. The early message of the desert was: "Get Lent to the max
      or get lost!" They went FAR beyond Lenten and they did it all year,
      without a break.

      If we look carefully at this, perhaps we can
      better see that, from the outset, St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
      with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and those that others
      could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
      there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
      monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
      from his attempts.

      St. Aelred of Rievaulx, contemporary of St. Bernard in the early days
      of the Cistercian reform, wrote of his monastery: "...all men found room
      for themselves here, like fish in the breadth of the sea, the joyous,
      spacious peace of divine love. That house is not to be accounted a place of
      religion which has been too proud to bear with the weak." As an early
      Cistercian, he was hardly the biggest fan of mitigated observance, but
      he had very clear eyes for divine love and mercy!

      Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
      like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!" our
      response must be "Yeah, so what? Your point is...???" We have no clue
      of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
      us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
      Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
      Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
      impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the obvious.

      Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
      ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
      like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
      up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
      confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
      possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
      where God wants us.

      Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
      CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well, then
      just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? Great!

      Now go out and do what you can today... Don't be surprised if
      you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
      you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
      achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
      SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org



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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 355 of 355 , Apr 7, 2012
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        +PAX

        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"
        (Acts 4:35).
        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.

        REFLECTION

        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-
        abnegation... Sigh...

        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
        and
        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA




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