Holy Rule for Jan. 5
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Gina, 32 , pregnant with her 2nd child and just diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Treatment cannot be done during pregnancy.
Mary Eleanor, very severe gout shifting from foot to foot for ten days, extreme pain, worst she has had with gout so far.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. Allis mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
January 5, May 6, September 5
Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
"Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
I will liken to a wise person
who built a house on rock.
The floods came,
the winds blew and beat against that house,
and it did not fall,
because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).
Having given us these assurances,
the Lord is waiting every day
for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
And the days of this life are lengthened
and a respite granted us for this very reason,
that we may amend our evil ways.
As the Apostle says,
"Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
For the merciful Lord tells us,
"I desire not the death of the sinner,
but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).
People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
Richard cleans like a dream and our world looks a lot better whenever
he's been here!
If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
every time you open the fridge just in case, then fine, this portion
was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
and a buffer, of course!
Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
time..." Orthodox St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."
Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a thrill!
Such a gift! Just can't wait to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
different from that of our modern Christianity.
We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
and grace. All of us, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of Baptism, but
not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
nor Benedictines. Big news there!
What St. Benedict is saying is "OK, this is our approach. There are,
of course, others, but if you want to use ours, you this is what you have
to do." "Repent!" St. John the Baptist cried again and again in the desert,
and somewhere along the way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God,
stepped into the Jordan. Face it, folks, if He can answer the call to repent,
anyone can! He had no need at all!
What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
have to repent.
Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
though. Like a pro! Most of the new paint in the house is his work.)
All joking aside, great thanks are due to many of our Oblates and
guests, all of whom make ours a shared ministry of hospitality. This
great team effort results in people being a lot more comfortable here! Say
a prayer of thanks with me for all of them! All of them help us receive
Christ at our door.
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]