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Holy Rule for Aug. 27

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Please pray for all in the path of Hurricane Irene, including us at Petersham. Thanks so much. Prayers, please, for the happy death and full embrace of
    Message 1 of 355 , Aug 26, 2011

      Please pray for all in the path of Hurricane Irene, including us at Petersham. Thanks so much.

      Prayers, please, for the happy death and full embrace of the Divine Mercy for Bp. Donald, very near death.

      Prayers for Anne P., maxiallry sinus hemorrhages, Doc performed some procedures which hopefully will stem them.

      Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias for Shane, some exams he needed to take for work and he passed them!

      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 27, August 27, December 27

      Chapter 69: That the Monks Presume Not to Defend One Another

      Care must be taken that no monk presume on any ground to defend
      another monk in the monastery, or as it were to take him under his
      protection, even though they be united by some tie of blood-
      relationship. Let not the monks dare to do this in any way
      because it may give rise to most serious scandals. But if anyone
      breaks this rule, let him be severely punished.


      In one of his tapes of lectures given to formation classes at
      Gethsemani, Merton speaks of a loneliness at the core of each
      monastic that cannot be touched and OUGHT not to be touched. In
      saying that, he articulated one of those sensed things that one
      learns (hopefully!) by osmosis in monastic community. Hearing him I
      had both the sense of "Wow! I never heard that before!" and also
      knowing that I knew exactly what he meant, just had never talked
      about it. It's just one of those things we rather "know" without
      putting into words very often. Goes with the territory.

      In every monastic struggler, from newest Oblate to Abbot Primate,
      this place of aloneness- and sometimes loneliness- exists. It must
      exist. It must be protected. It is at the very root of our
      name: "monos" alone, solitary. (Yes, I am aware that "monos" is
      sometimes rendered more in the sense of single-minded, having one
      purpose, in the sense of purity of heart, but I think the more
      general opinion holds with "alone.")

      This is a breathtakingly sacred place of solitude, where, like
      Jacob, we wrestle with God and with ourselves. It is the place
      where all those unlovely things we have to confront in ourselves
      are first displayed. It is part and parcel of the original monastic
      way: alone
      with God.

      It is what we have retained of the Desert. It may be the only place
      left to many of us where we are like St. Antony the Great,dwelling
      alone in the tombs. It can often be no less smelly and scary than
      the tombs, too! Sigh... the place where we gradually meet our
      true selves is not always a cloistered paradise!

      Preserving this necessarily inviolate solitude is what this chapter
      is all about. No matter how much one loves another monastic, one
      must know to leave this place alone. This is the place where every
      monastic must be a stand-alone grown up before God, with no
      defenders, no co-dependency, no illusions on the part of those who
      may think they are doing a favor by taking one's part. I think most
      of us dwelling in monasteries know this almost by instinct. We
      know, somehow, the place beyond which one must not go. To go there
      imperils both parties in many, many ways.

      This does not impoverish relationships, though it does limit them.
      We can have very, very dear friends who are married and know fully
      well that there are places in their hearts and lives we must not go.
      So it is with monastics. In each of us there is this (pardon the
      imagery,) "married" place where others dare not meddle.

      This is the love of realism. I cannot "love" my brother by taking
      from him the very arena from which monastic growth springs. If I do
      so, I am defeating him and defeating myself. No, we must love in
      truth, and that is not always easy. We must desire firmly the best
      for those we love, and it is so easy for the self to get in the way
      of those desires.

      Married people, no doubt, could also attest that in a healthy
      couple, there are still places like this, places of adulthood all
      alone which are not touched, cannot be touched. It is the
      existential one-on-one with God that we all have to one degree or
      another. What monasticism hopes to do is to teach us the frightening
      boon that we have in such solitary adulthood. It is the time we get real.
      It is the moment of Truth. And Jesus did, after all, say: "I am the Truth."
      What an encounter both terrifying and sublime!

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • 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

        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.


        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
        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
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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