Holy Rule for Jan. 9
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Helen and James and Geraldine and for all their families and all who mourn them.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Michael LoPiccolo, still sick and unable to get to Mass, which is very hard for him.
Margaret and Richard. He suffered a stroke some years ago from which he never fully recvovered and is prone to mood swings of deep sorrow, panic attacks and mini-strokes. The latter could kill him at anytime and get worse with the flu virus.
Fr. Donald, he had an angiogram done this past week and there were found several that need tending to. He is to go tomorrow morning for the first of several angioplasties with stent placements.
Jed, for whom we have prayed, who had cancer surgery and had his bladder and prostate removed. He has an intestinal obstruction and has a fever of 104. Additionally, he went into heart failure and just barely made it back. He will have to undergo surgery again to deal with the intestinal issue.
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
January 9, May 10, September 9
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!
Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.
Folks, the abbot is a parent, so, while I am writing about abbots in
my experience, this is also true of parents, or any authority
position. Stick with me, you'll see what I mean in the end.
It will no doubt come as a great relief to other cranky types like
me to note that the leaven gently kneaded into the minds of certain
disciples often seems to have a downright under whelming effect. A
hallmark of us curmudgeonly types is impatience: we do not suffer
fools gladly, the miracle is that we endure them at all. Most of all,
we want those fools FIXED, right now, or yesterday at the latest!
The tragedy of this is that, in assuming we can recognize fools so
terribly well, we completely miss the fool at work in ourselves.
That's not the only issue, though. This leaven-in-the-dough stuff
works two ways. Throw a measure of leaven into a heap of cornmeal and
you'll wind up with a different critter than several cups of
buckwheat or flour would produce. For all I know, you could probably
throw yeast into concrete and wind up with a meringue-like patio.
Both components are essential to the change, both elements affect the
Abbot and monastic, parent and child, boss and employer, all these
are very, very intricate duets of God's mercy and grace. Neither may
be very evident to one while in the midst of things! Time and wisdom
and hindsight bring a different view. Beyond that, all of us change:
the characters in the catalyst are always changing, no matter how
subtly. God has done some awesomely loving fine-tuning here!
God uses human means to accomplish His will, as my dear
professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, so often said. Ah, but the abbacy scores
doubly on this maxim. A very human abbot is elected by a very human
community. Sometimes, abbots are elected to counteract each other.
The human community gets tired of the very human tendency of an abbot
to stress one thing above others. Hence, tight reins are often
replaced with loose ones and vice versa.
Those human means which God uses are often quite firmly addicted to
extremes. The extremes then vex a majority to the opposite extreme.
(I know this is the Marxist dialectic and I know it is not always
true, but it does have a kernel of application. Even a stopped clock is right
twice a day.) Sometime after we are all so fatigued with polarization that we
have briefly stopped watching, perhaps a median virtue ensues!
And what about that leaven that I couldn't notice having much effect?
Well, neither I nor anyone else knows, save the person and God. Some
die, some leave before the effect is seen. Leaven works. It may work
slowly, it may work in a variety of ways, but all leaven does
something sooner or later! Faith and trust in God's Divine Mercy
require that we have a LOT of patience with bread cast on waters in
A final note, much, maybe even MOST of the leavening work of grace
and sanctification in our own hearts and souls takes place unnoticed, the
silent, unsung, yet constant workings of the Divine Mercy. Usually we
don't even realize it until a long while after its completion. One
day we wake up and finally notice something is different, something is
better in us. Such secret works are all the
gratuitous gift of the Leaven of all leavens Himself! Deo gratias!!!!
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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