Holy Rule for Nov. 27
Prayers for all of us, on this Liturgical New Year, the First Sunday of Advent. May this year find us growing in holiness and love.
Prayers, please, for Ting, divorced and recently married someone else, and for her saddened first husband.
Prayers for Paul, liver cancer and lung troubles, he needs grace, strength and hope.
Prayers for Bill, depressed and now taking meds.
March 28, July 28, November 27
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.
From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.
And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.
I offer this as further proof of St. Benedict's tenderness and
gentleness: take a nap. OK, say the siesta is Italian and cultural.
Fine, but there were plenty of cultural elements he didn't let
through the monastery gate. It was a LOT hotter in Egypt and one
doesn't hear the Fathers telling people to lie down and rest, much
less saying that those who cannot sleep dare not wake those who can
with their noisiness! This is a gentle Father we have!
Surely moderation is one of the key elements woven throughout the
Holy Rule, but isn't it at least worthy of note that it is stressed
here, in the chapter on work? St. Benedict may not have had all the
handy psycho babble terms that we use today to name things, but he
had a piercingly clear perception of human nature.
He knew that some people were workaholics and that their contemplative
focus would be shattered by that. He knew some people were obsessive
about trivia that didn't matter. He knew that some people were very loving
caregivers who would turn into flaming doormats, abused by their own
kindness and inability to say "No," politely.
So, he counters all that by saying: "Take a nap!" Hey, what a great
reality check! Wake up, y'all, the world has an axis to spin on already
and there is no need for you to duplicate services! St. Benedict
certainly knows that many things are important, even essential and he
is not at all shy about pointing them out. In the midst of all that,
he says: "Take a nap!" If you can't nap, he doesn't even say "pray,"
he tells the insomniac to read quietly!!
Look, we are known for our motto of pray and work, ora et labora. One
might well assume that if you couldn't be working, you ought to at
least be praying. Not so. Take a nap. Balance it out. Try pulling
your arm out of a bucket of water and see what happens. Water closes
right in, no problem. Much depends on us, but usually much less than
we are prone to pridefully think! Take a nap!
Our world around us will gladly and readily tell us that we are worth
nothing other than our productivity, our work, our profitability. St.
Benedict wants to be sure that when we come to his monastery, we see
those distorted values of human dignity for the falsehoods they
He wants us to work, yes, but to see work in the deep
humility of truth. A consumerist society has taught us the exact
opposite of that and we all need to patiently spend lots of time
peeling those scales from our eyes with the help of God and St.
Take a nap!
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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