Holy Rule for Aug. 28
Prayers for the eternal rest of Bishop Donald, who died on 8/26, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for all of us in the path of Hurricane Irene.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mery and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 28, August 28, December 28
Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random
Every occasion of presumption shall be avoided in the monastery,
and we decree that no one be allowed to excommunicate or to strike
any of her sisters unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
Those who offend in this matter shall be rebuked in the presence of
all, that the rest may have fear.
But children up to 15 years of age shall be carefully controlled
and watched by all, yet this too with all moderation and
discretion. All, therefore, who presume without the Abbess'
instructions to punish those above that age or who lose their
temper with them, shall undergo the discipline of the Rule; for it
is written, "Do not to another what you would not want done to
yourself" (Tobias 4:16).
"Every occasion of presumption shall be avoided in the monastery."
This is about a lot more than saying who can punish whom. This is
pointing out that, whenever there are more than one to be
considered, absolute freedom cannot exist. This is about central
but it is also about the total way one conducts oneself in a home
or workplace or planet that others share.
Ever think about your first home away from your parents house? It
was probably different in a lot of ways, especially if you lived
there alone. Heady freedom that! I recall my own first place very
well and fondly. However, I can assure you, I could not have lived
as I did there had I been in a family, with younger siblings at
home. (OK, it was 1969, so go figure...) Even alone, however, I was
not free to play my stereo at undue volumes at 3 AM. We live on a
common planet, at some point ALL of our lives touch others. When
they do, control
of some sort is necessary if people are to live in peace.
There is a great and treacherous myth of individualism among
Americans and, to a lesser extent, I think, among all Western
European cultures. Consumerism and secularism at levels which are
dangerously opposed to religion promote this fallacy at every turn.
The lie is told that one can be happy, even happiest, without
Christ, without religion. Even Christians subconsciously buy into
more of this nonsense than they often realize. This baggage sneaks
up on us in very subtle ways. We must be equally mindful and
to perceive it!
Non-western cultures often have a much more highly developed sense
of sharing and commonality. The stresses of profit and production
are incongruous to many a more pristine culture. The self is less
exalted than the common good and the common good
seems to be more readily available to all. Face it, when the Amazon
hunters come home, the elderly eat as well as anyone else.
Schweitzer pointed out that Europeans found the Africans lazy,
because they would not work to a point of exhaustion without need.
They worked all right, but when the work was done, they quit. They
had a casual and natural attitude to work, proper to their own
economic system, that drove the Europeans nuts, because the latter
had more of a 40-hours-a-week-and-then-you-rest notion. Both
Schweitzer and I tend to side with the natives on this one!
That myth of total freedom, of self-sufficiency being able to buy
one the right to any activity is totally wrong. Even at 20, in my
richly bohemian digs that I called "Shackri-la", I was not totally
free. I didn't know it back then, but I wasn't. I had no right to
waste water or leave lights on all night or drive drunk. My fantasy
might have been chronologically appropriate as Haight-Ashbury in
San Francisco, but hey, even there, even then, people were not free
in any absolute sense. None of us are.
Every presumed domain of our control which exists on a planet
shared by billions is just that: presumption, of which "every
occasion shall be avoided." No one is an island. Our complete
interdependence is not only objective fact, it is our only hope.
You might never have read this chapter as an ad for ecological
consciousness, but look at the first line again. We are ALWAYS in
this with others and that always means responsibilities to "...not
do to another what one would not have done to oneself."
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]