Holy Rule for Oct. 31
Thanks so much and prayers for Brian, an Oblate candidate of our house who was staying with us and did MUCH to help us get out from under around 19 inches of snow (according to Br. Vincent's estimate of snowfall.) Thanks, too, to all who prayed for us. Power went out only an hour or so in the middle of the early morning hours and the house didn't even get cold. God is good!
Prayers for all who did lose power in the storm, for all who had their lives impacted negatively.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
her food alone after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
shall eat at the ninth, while if they eat at the ninth hour she
shall eat in the evening, until by a suitable satisfaction she
Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.
Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
that as a nice break!
And eating alone? Well, the extra fast wasn't great, but I sure
missed that droning reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
What awful luck!
See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
for punishment, to be a wake up call.
Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
endemic in our ranks assumes (because it is easiest to do so,)
sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
they go ignored
for years. Things that someone should have dealt with gently, but
firmly and even summarily, in formation or childhood, torture the
family in later years.
Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee.
It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
for the good of all, both the offender and the offended.
Please take very careful note, however, of the gentleness and real
concern that is essential if such confrontations are to succeed.
Explosive, violent tactics, harsh words and actions at the first
hint of trouble are not the monastic way. There is charity, always
charity first. If we must be sure of that selfless love in ourselves.
Not every correction is morally necessary. When that is the case, we
should often remain silent if we are not loving.
Timing is important, too. Not every day or time is the best time to broach
something difficult. One ought to be careful to avoid instant reactions
might do little good. One also ought to go to the person alone first, as
Gospel says. Instant rebukes in the presence of others are not the
We must avoid the false charity, (really just cowardice in polite
drag,) that omits making these difficult corrections. It goes a
long way to making everyone's life hellish in the future.
Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
correction will get a chapter of its own later on, but it is not a
mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
of Gestapo flickers in many of our all too human hearts. Do nothing
to fan the flame!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Deo gratias and prayers of gratitude, please, for the National Oblates' Retreat just held at Mount St Bernard's Abbey, Leicestershire, England. Thanks to Abbot Eric and Sr. Laurentia. Thanks for the many graces received.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks for Tim L. and his wife, their visa renewal is keeping their marriage safe. Prayers, too, for the healing they both need as a couple.
Prayers for the eternal repose of Bruce, 85. Prayers too for his wife Ann, all his family and all who mourn him.
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!
February 20, June 21, October 21
Chapter 17: How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at These Hours
We have already arranged the order of the psalmody
for the Night and Morning Offices;
let us now provide for the remaining Hours.
At Prime let three Psalms be said,
separately and not under one "Glory be to the Father."
The hymn of that Hour
is to follow the verse "Incline unto my aid, O God,"
before the Psalms begin.
Upon completion of the three Psalms
let one lesson be recited,
then a verse,
the "Lord, have mercy on us" and the concluding prayers.
The Offices of Terce, Sext and None
are to be celebrated in the same order,
the "Incline unto my aid, O God," the hymn proper to each Hour,
three Psalms, lesson and verse,
"Lord, have mercy on us" and concluding prayers.
If the community is a large one,
let the Psalms be sung with antiphons;
but if small,
let them be sung straight through.
Let the Psalms of the Vesper Office be limited to four,
After these Psalms the lesson is to be recited,
then the responsory, the hymn, the verse,
the canticle from the Gospel book,
the litany, the Lord's Prayer and the concluding prayers.
Let Compline be limited to the saying of three Psalms,
which are to be said straight through without antiphon,
and after them the hymn of that Hour,
one lesson, a verse, the "Lord, have mercy on us,"
the blessing and the concluding prayers.
Just as Lauds and Vespers are fraternal twins, at dawn and sunset, so
are Prime and Compline, before work and before bed. Both are somewhat
different from the other minor hours, but, like Lauds and Vespers,
they share a similarity and complementarity of sorts. Prime was
suppressed in the Roman rite, but not in the monastic usage. Still,
in the reshuffling of things, Prime got lost in many, if not most
houses. I am delighted that it still in use at Pluscarden, our motherhouse.
It's too bad many places lost Prime. Just as Compline features many
things that prepare one for sleep or for the death it prefigures, always a
possibility, so Prime prepares one for the day at hand, for its work
and for life. The traditional time given for the celebration of Prime
was "before work."
Some older Oblate manuals used to offer the full text of Prime for
every day, with the other hour being the changeless Compline. That
made a great deal of sense. Many Oblates who could only dream
spending morning hours before work or school celebrating Matins and
Lauds could easily fit Prime into their schedule and its whole
liturgical slant was to prepare them for and bless their work day
Prime got merged with a lot of stuff that
ordinarily happened in the Chapter room daily: reading the Rule and
assigning work. Hence, some of its additions may not have been of the
purest type, but let us face facts, we are an age that rarely insists on
purism, and chiefly only when it agrees with agendas we already are
bent on anyway.
Since these are easily added to any scheme of morning prayer you
might be using, let me give you the two prayers offered at the end of
Prime. Either or both are a great way to begin the day and quickly
memorized. Just remember, as you say them, to join your heart to the
thousands and thousands of monastics who said them every day before
you. They are a very neat connection to our past and to the saints of
our Order who have gone before us.
"Lord God Almighty, You have brought us to the beginning of this day.
Preserve us now by Your power so that in this day we may not fall
into any sin; rather, that all our words, thoughts and acts may be
always directed to doing Your justice. We ask this through
Christ our Lord. Amen."
"Lord God, King of heaven and earth, be pleased this day to direct
and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, our thoughts,
words and deeds according to Your law and in obedience to Your
commandments. Now and forever may we attain salvation and freedom by
Your help, O Savior of the world, Who lives and reigns forever and
Enjoy them and use them!
Love and prayers,