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Holy Rule for Nov. 28

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Abbot Francis Sadlier, OSB, of St. Leo Abbey, on the anniversary of his death. Prayers for Betty, on her
    Message 1 of 355 , Nov 27, 2011
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Abbot Francis Sadlier, OSB, of St. Leo Abbey, on the anniversary of his death.

      Prayers for Betty, on her birthday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos!

      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 29, July 29, November 28
      Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

      From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
      let them apply themselves to reading
      up to the end of the second hour.

      At the second hour let Terce be said,
      and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
      At the first signal for the Hour of None
      let everyone break off from her work,
      and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
      After the meal
      let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

      On the days of Lent,
      from morning until the end of the third hour
      let them apply themselves to their reading,
      and from then until the end of the tenth hour
      let them do the work assigned them.
      And in these days of Lent
      they shall each receive a book from the library,
      which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
      These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

      But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
      to go about the monastery
      at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
      and see that there be no lazy sister
      who spends her time in idleness or gossip
      and does not apply herself to the reading,
      so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
      but also distracts others.
      If such a one be found (which God forbid),
      let her be corrected once and a second time;
      if she does not amend,
      let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
      in such a way that the rest may take warning.

      Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
      at inappropriate times.

      REFLECTION

      Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
      contemplation, more ancient than many later forms.
      Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
      of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
      the centuries since St. Benedict.

      Even in that embellished form, it remains a very, very simple and
      efficient means to contemplative prayer. One simply reads Scripture
      or the Fathers (or Mothers!) slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a
      cow chewing its cud!) on each word and verse. As St. Romuald later
      observed, one waits like a chick for whatever its mother gives it.

      One does not read to get through the book. One reads to see if and
      when the Holy Spirit calls us to higher prayer with a word or phrase
      that strikes the heart. At that point, one should follow one's heart
      and not worry about finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!

      It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
      contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
      concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
      holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
      It must be.

      We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
      ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
      well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
      prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
      with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
      diaper changer of the same ilk!

      The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
      recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
      Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
      it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
      more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
      prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
      at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
      contemplative goal of all these systems.

      This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
      Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
      because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
      very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
      Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
      A Dominican could be reading virtually anything and still know that
      every bit of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
      another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
      face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
      this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
      meet Him because of it!

      Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
      such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA




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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 355 of 355 , Apr 7, 2012
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        +PAX

        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"
        (Acts 4:35).
        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.

        REFLECTION

        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-
        abnegation... Sigh...

        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
        and
        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA




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