MONDAY'S Holy Rule for Aug. 29
I have been praying and I still trust, but the likelihood of our losing electric power is great. Hence, I am sending Monday's Holy Rule out before it becomes impossible to do so. I HOPE I am with you all online again on Monday, but I fear I might not. BJL
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Richard's sister-in-law, and for Richard and Mary Lou and all her family, and for all who mourn her.
Please pray for Norma. Her pulmonary doctor said her lungs are in very bad shape, i.e. in the final stage as if her body were nearly 100. Prayer is her only recourse.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mery and
grae. God is never absent, prasie Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 29, August 29, December 29
Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another
Not only is the boon of obedience
to be shown by all to the Abbot,
but the brethren are also to obey one another,
knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God.
Giving priority, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot
and of the Superior appointed by him
(to which we allow no private orders to be preferred),
for the rest
let all the juniors obey their seniors
with all charity and solicitude.
But if anyone is found contentious,
let him be corrected.
And if any brother,
for however small a cause,
is corrected in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors,
or if he faintly perceives
that the mind of any Superior is angered or moved against him,
let him at once, without delay,
prostrate himself on the ground at his feet
and lie there making satisfaction
until that emotion is quieted with a blessing.
But if anyone should disdain to do this,
let him undergo corporal punishment
or, if he is stubborn, let him be expelled from the monastery.
OK, now we're getting into radical. Any human group, from the
military to a kindergarten at recess expects one to obey the
leader. But each other? Give me a break! How many jobs would you
have quit if you had to obey all of your co-workers?
Well, giving a break is exactly what is intended here. The Kingdom
of God, which the Holy Rule seeks to guide us to, is ruled by love.
It includes a hierarchy, yes, but that, too,
is founded on love. The Kingdom of God strives for peace and
serenity.The quickest way to soften an environment and let peace flourish is
to keep people more or less happy, and the quickest way to do that
is to give in to their wishes whenever possible, to put self second
and others first.
Now we're getting to the heroic stuff. There are ulterior benefits
to obeying the boss, but another peer? What's the big deal there?
The big deal is love, the big deal is forgetfulness of self, the
big deal is the abdication of control issues.
Monastic struggle will not free one who is attached to control.
That ambition will thwart the good of the struggle. Don't beat
yourself up too badly on this one if you live in the world, because
many, many monastics in cloisters fail it as well. It is one of
Satan's sneakiest tricks and he enjoys its effectiveness immensely.
What could be better than something the poor victims hardly notice
at all that eats up their hard work like a ravenous cancer? Very, very handy.
I am tempted to say that anyone who is addicted to control- at any
stage of monastic life- ought to be set to cleaning bathrooms until
the feeling passes. Hey, that would be a great idea, but most
monasteries do not have that many toilets!! Sad, but true.
Rather than worry about the pathetic individuals so addicted, who
can make life so unpleasant for those they live with, why not just
pray for them and focus on changing ourselves? We can be part of
the solution. We can go out of our way to make life easier for each
other. We can pray for those who don't.
A horrible truth of monastic life is that if one waits for everyone
to get perfect (according, of course, to one's own standards!) the
result will be futile and frustrated stagnation. Community we may
be, but all on the same page we shall never be till heaven, and
maybe not even there!
It's a snap to be a skunk at a garden party. Anybody can pull that
off with no effort at all. Lots of people do, all the time! The
harvest, however, is isolation and loneliness, which result in
bitterness that only fuels the vicious cycle.
In contrast, it is a bit difficult at first to be easy on others, but it is
ALSO addictive when done right! One will soon be hunting for ways
to be easy to live with, because every drop of water makes the ocean a tiny bit
less salty, as Bl. Teresa of Calcutta used to say. The harvest, too,
is far more precious: a growing warmth that makes one ever more
gentle, more open, more loving and glad to be so. The harvest is joy
and love, not the lie of possession and bitterness. It attracts, rather
than repels others.
It is very unlikely that you will ever be able to cure a control
freak. Give them a lot of room. Cultivate among your peers an
attitude of complete non-control, of nearly total indifference to
needless detail, rather like the old peace poster that said: "What if they
gave a war and no one came?". Another handy rule of thumb is to let
nothing upset you if it does not offend God.
Maybe, just maybe, the wizard might one day wake up to actually see
that Oz is not with him or her! That's about your only hope. People like
this can profit us by being crosses and we can grow from praying
for them, but getting sucked into their hopelessly false view of
reality is a dreadful mistake.
Love and prayers,
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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,
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