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Sept. 23

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Rich, terminal lung cancer, and his wife, Linda. Prayers, too, for Fr. Theophane (a Trappist who wrote the Magic Monastery books,)
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23, 2003

      Prayers, please, for Rich, terminal lung cancer, and his wife, Linda.
      Prayers, too, for Fr. Theophane (a Trappist who wrote the "Magic
      Monastery" books,) he is close to death with liver cancer. God's will
      is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL

      January 23, May 24, September 23
      Chapter 5: On Obedience

      But this very obedience
      will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
      only if what is commanded is done
      without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
      For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
      since He Himself has said,
      "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
      And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
      for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
      For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
      and murmurs,
      not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
      then even though he fulfill the command
      yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
      who sees that his heart is murmuring.
      And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
      he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
      unless he amend and make satisfaction.


      Trust me, folks, I am not second-guessing St. Benedict on this one, I
      just think there is a chance that he is often misread and that
      something not at all contrary to his precepts needs to be emphasized.

      Few who share my cynical bent would fail to chafe at a reading of
      this passage which implies that we must all be cheerful, Pollyanna
      optimists, blithely smiling automatons. Yes, we are told not to
      murmur, and to put the very best face on our obedience that we
      possibly can. Often the real miracle of grace is that we can just
      barely obey in silence, without any comment at all. No doubt that is
      a tender mercy to those who live with us! We must not read St.
      Benedict harshly, even less so God. We must keep the loving parent
      image ever before our eyes in both instances.

      I want to expand the image of the non-murmuring heart a bit.Some days
      one's heart cannot murmur, because it is numb and paralyzed, unable
      to do much of anything more explicit than ache. Some days one's heart
      is Ground Zero, and everything coming at it seems to be just one more
      horrible plane. Never, never think that St. Benedict is telling us to
      put a happy face on this. A brave face or even a blank expressionless
      one may be all one can muster.

      However, and here's the rub, even when that brave or expressionless
      face is all we can do, we can STILL obey cheerfully. How? Well, for
      one thing, that cheer is in the will, not the emotions. It is the
      readiness of gift. Beyond that, even when sore beset, we can strive
      NOT to complain or whine. Face it, no one but God will really
      understand our most broken points anyhow. The sooner we learn that,
      the more time we save on trying to find humans who will.

      How very great is the love of God for us at such times. A favorite
      image I have used before is very apt here: the heart of God is like a
      Mother's refrigerator door, plastered with children's bad, even
      ghastly art. (OK, I KNOW it may be age-appropriate art, but bear with
      me on this one....)

      God is bursting and beaming with pride at our struggling efforts. He
      cares not a wit that we are not beaming with feigned cheer ourselves.
      With all that mud on our faces, who could see the forced smile
      anyhow? There will never be a time, in this world or in the next,
      when God loves us more than He does when we are fallen, crawling on
      all fours and still barely hanging on. The effort, always the effort
      is what God sees.

      Of course, having written all this in plodder-appropriate language
      for strays like myself, I have to add that the ideal of genuine joy
      and, yes, even cheer, is what we entry-level folks are aiming at. It
      was said of Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite university professor
      killed by the Nazis for opposing their regime in Holland, that he
      seemed as happy in prison as if he had been in his monastery.

      One witness said it seemed to make no difference to him. His mind was
      always on others. They could only tell he had been beaten by the
      blood on his jacket and when someone commented on the fact, he would
      downplay it and change the subject. He was always cheerful and
      gracious. After two prisons, the Germans sent him to Dachau, where
      his weakened condition made him fodder for their "medical"
      experiments. He lasted less than a month there, killed by a lethal
      injection in July, 1942.

      Blessed Titus was a gentle, cultured man, an intellectual giant whose
      academic world had no shadow of the horrors that were his end.
      Fortunately, for him and for us, Blessed Titus truly understood what
      he had studied and it made him a great saint.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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