Holy Rule for Sept. 25
Prayers, please, for Br. Finbar of Pluscarden, on his feastday. Graces galore and many more!
Prayers for our two Communities here during our retreat.
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
January 25, May 26, September 25
Chapter 7: On Humility
Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
"Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
"Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me."
But how has he acted?
"Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother's breast,
so You solace my soul" (Ps. 130:1-2).
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the would,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.
At some earlier point in monastic life, a cancer entered X with
little struggle. X began a concerted effort of some years length to
gain power. It was not pretty for those who got in the way of
this "upward" mobility. Not surprisingly, X succeeded. Anytime we
seek something fatal to monastic life, we can count on Satan doing
all he can to help us!
So now, X has more power than anyone short of the superior and is
even a formidable entity to the superior who enabled all this
nonsense. And X has all but perfectly inoculated the monastic
struggle to nearly zero by doing the exact opposite of what God intends us
to do: become little, become less, become pliant. As so often happens
when Satan helps us along, X has not one clue of how treacherous this
whole mess has become.
X bought self-protection through control and that is a terrible fate
worthy of great pity. We did not become monastics to protect
ourselves, at least not in that way! Let us thank God that God's
mercy is unfathomable. Hopefully, X will be converted.
That power trip is not the way it's supposed to be.
That's not what we came here to do.
No way, folks, buy out of all that garbage. We ASCEND by humility and
DESCEND by exaltation! Own that, it is true! Look for its truth in
Jesus, our Master and our Truth. Jesus worked signs and wonders.
Jesus is God. He could have had Herod and Pilate and all of the Roman
Empire quivering in fear at His feet by a mere snap of His fingers or
less! But did He...? Nope. The way to the Throne above all thrones
was the Cross, it was spittle and hatred and whipping and nails and
thorns. Sorry, beloveds, it doesn't look like upward mobility and power-
grasping to me.
However, in a sense, it was both. In that paradox of inverse
climbing mystery, Jesus went upwardly mobile beyond any human dreams,
with a power over all that was absolute and real, because it was humble.
That is His alone, and none may aspire to it, but He tells all of us
the way up is to be little, humble, accounted as nothing.
The Christian, the monastic, whether newest Oblate or eldest Abbot, does
not climb over the heads of others less fortunate or ambitious. The
monastic rejoices at no clout, bathes and swims in the warm waters of
being discounted and ignored, even scorned. Let me tell you, the
bottom of the pyramid, or as close to that as you can possibly get is
an enviable place to be. Seek it with all your heart! And pray hard
for those who don't know better or have forgotten that they ever did!
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]