Fran, for whom we prayed while she was in ICU, is now in hospice and
seems quite close to death. Prayers for her happy death, please.
God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL
January 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).
Human nature being what it is, people are usually more prone to cite
the Abbot's responsibility to seek counsel than they are to cite the
equally important proscription against contending with one's Abbot!
There's a cure for that and many other ills buried within this
chapter, a telling phrase whose observance promises peace. That
little gem urges ALL monastics not to follow their "own heart's
Follow that one and peace abounds! For one thing, whether abbot or
monastic, parent or child, boss or employee, the focus of the
relationship ceases to become self. None of us are anywheres near the
big deal we'd either like to be or think ourselves to be! Much of
what seems earth-shattering to us is really small stuff, indeed.
This is so important to monastic struggle because it is so
intricately interwoven with detachment and holy indifference. We must
learn how to hold onto our inner peace, how to safeguard it from
damage at the hands of trivia. At that point of recognizing trivia,
truth and therefore, humility and divinity itself, since Jesus is the
Truth, enter into the equation.
We need very good "crap detectors" if we are to see and embrace the
Truth and their default setting must be aimed at ourselves, rarely
cast elsewhere except in cases of really great need. We can keep
those crap detectors more than amply busy just in our own hearts
We need to know deception, falsity, trivia, but it is essential to
know them first in ourselves. If these good tools of detection are
aimed only at others, the result will be pride and a fall, not
humility and truth. Jesus said "I am the Truth," and to Him we must
prefer nothing. Hence, our first desire must always be the truth and
the truth is most usually that the earth does not revolve around us
as an axis! The truth is humility.
Our age, particularly, has embraced the pap of "Follow your bliss!"
Well, maybe...sometimes.... but maybe not, too. Our "bliss" is no
guarantee of infallibility. Years ago, and for many years of my life,
I thought my "bliss" would be to be married to an attorney and having
drinks by the pool. No doubt there may be some who wish I had
followed that one, but how different my life would have been had I
How many stories do we hear of people in the wrong profession because
of parental "bliss" that they followed? It can be wrong, very wrong
to impose our bliss on others. Neither communities nor individuals
exist to fulfill our wishes and dreams. Monastics are called to
forsake their own wills, not to push them forward as an all-important
As a handy rule of thumb, I would say that the will of God quite
often looks nothing like bliss at first. Hence, confusing bliss with
the divine will can be very risky. The will of God often BECOMES
bliss when we are in the midst of following it, but we frequently
have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance!
And sometimes our bliss IS the right thing- even a stopped clock is
right twice a day- but those sometimes are impossible to predict. Not
every desire of our heart is a sign of vocation, so be careful and
pray to discern. And, let us be frank, few people carry stopped
watches because of their twice daily usefulness!
Love and prayers,