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Holy Rule for Aug. 28

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX 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
    Message 1 of 355 , Aug 27, 2011

      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
      authority, yes,
      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,
      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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