Holy Rule for Jan. 2
The Christmas Octave ends today, but the season of Christmastide lasts till the Baptism of the Lord, later this month, so keep on praying for those you have exchanged greetings, cards or gifts with. Make your intentions include those of years past, too, a nice way to include in prayer thosse dear ones no longer with us.
Prayers, please, for vocations to St. Mary's Monastery. Please ask God to send us some good men in 2012.
Lord, help us 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
January 2, May 3, September 2
Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
"Whoever has ears to hear,
hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
And what does He say?
"Come, My children, listen to Me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
"Run while you have the light of life,
lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).
Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
did not last all year. What IS perpetually in style is wakefulness
Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it.
This is why a daily examination of conscience is so necessary.
Compline, the traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a
very apt place for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures
death, we prepare also for death, by examining our faults and asking
The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.
The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
year, every day.
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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