Holy Rule for Nov. 1
A blessed Solemnity of All Saints to all! Happy Feastday, Everybody! Let us all pray for each other and graces and our intentions.
Prayers, for Ilma, mother of Br. Bernardo, very ill with cardiac problems and may need surgery, and for Br. Bernardo and all her family.
Prayers, please, for M., bowel cancer and needing surgery.
Prayers for Doreen, pancreatitis and tumors.
Prayers for two young fathers of families who died with cancer, and for their families and all who mourn them.
Prayers for Paul, important intervivew for a job on Friday.
Prayers for Genny LoPiccolo, Michael's wife, pacemaker replacement surgery on Wednesday.
Prayers for Stephanie and her co-workers.
Prayers for Nate who is being treated for Leukemia-and for his family and friends and medical team who are supporting him. May the Lord provide strength and hope.
Prayers for Brad who is in RCIA and hoping to enter into full communion with The Church at the Easter vigil next year. Prayers for him and his fellow confreres.
May all the Saints, especially those
of our own families, intercede to God for us and bring us closer to Him. May we
all rejoice together in the Communion of Saints! JL
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All ismercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
+++++++++In yesterday's reflection, I said that there were times
when we should NOT correct. Indeed, there are, but I should have
fine-tuned it a bit more. There are situations in which one is
morally obliged to say something, where one's silence could
actually be complicity. Gentleness and courtesy and love are still
the norm here, but one can actually harm another by not mentioning
seriously sinful matters. Careful assessments must be made as to
whom, when and how it is best to approach the matter, but we cannot
excuse ourselves by shrugging it off, saying we are not "detached"
enough to correct. That might be true in monastic issues that are
not seriously sinful, but it is not true in grave moral
issues. When in doubt, ask a pastor or spiritual director or
confessor to help you with
March 2, July 2, November 1
Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
him either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
the food that is given him be blessed.
OK, here's a meditation that fits the feast today: How many of
those Saints we are celebrating today once found themselves under
this stringent punishment and now find themselves in heaven's
bliss? Probably more than one or two! Punishments like this are a
wake-up call. Not everyone will take that call, but no doubt many
who are whooping it up in heaven today would gladly give witness to
the wisdom of doing so!
Saints are perfected, not perfect. The final product is very
different from any point that came before. Punishments like those
today's chapter suggests are dreadful as end points, but they are
not at all so as wake-up calls, as points on the way. On the
contrary, in such cases they can have great beauty. "Amazing Grace,
how sweet the sound!"
We have different ways of giving wake-up calls today. I remember a
priest whose Abbot walked unannounced into his rectory and
said: "Pack a bag, Father, you are going into treatment for alcohol
today at Guest House. Right now!" In his case, as in so many, that
drastic step worked, thanks be to God. That priest died a very
The error, however, and it is often made out of cowardice, is not
to give ANY wake-up calls at all. Dump the penal code in the Holy
Rule and let the failing monastics figure it out for themselves.
This approach is utterly wrong.
In the first place, it woefully fails charity. Genuine love often
obliges us to do unpalatable things. To shirk that demand is
terribly wrong. Secondly, the monastic mired in whatever delusion
of sin or illness of addiction has, more often than not, lost the
ability to see clearly. That's what the community and superior must
do for such a monastic. To fail to help such a one to awaken to the
Light that is there for all is a horrible thing.
We must always remember that Christ came to call the sinners, not
simply the just. We can pay a lot of lip service to that concept
without realizing that it could be rendered as: "Christ came to
call those monastics who need excommunication, not those who
don't." Get the picture? The ones we most roundly judge (in spite
of Jesus' insistence that we never do so!) are the ones for whom He
came. To deny them any opportunity to wake up and get with the
program is awfully short of genuine love.
St. Benedict himself says that he wrote his Holy Rule "for
beginners." Well, folks, check out any skating rink and watch the
beginners there. You won't have any trouble figuring out who they
are. Their arms are awkwardly outstretched in futile attempts at
balance. They wobble, they're clumsy and inept. They fall down a LOT.
To assume that, in our brave new world, all monastics have lost
that clumsy ineptitude of beginners is a tragic mistake. We are all
beginners and we will all die beginners. That's just the way the
monastic struggle is. We must begin again over and over.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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]