Holy Rule for Jan. 15
Belated prayers for Joy, on her birthday. Graces galore and many more.
Please pray for Jeremy suffering from off and on bleeding problems; cause unknown as yet. His mother Martha suffering from an intestinal disorder and unable to visit with him in the hospital.
Update: Sr. Anne is back in the hospital with a severe infection. Her pacemaker was removed last night and a new one is to be placed on Monday.
Please pray for Fr. Rice who had an angioplasty with two stent placements done on Monday and he is doing well and has been discharged.
Please pray for Brother John Gregory, in the hospital recovering from a stroke and has some serious health issues he is dealing with.
Please pray for Bill. He converted to normal sinus rhythm (from atrial fibrillation) and has gone home. He is facing a colonoscopy soon to determine if he can take Pradaxa to keep his heart regulated.
Please pray for Beth's 86 yr. old mother today and in addition to her back problems and vascular problems in her lower extremities she has been dealing with, she had some rectal bleeding last night and ended up in the ER.
Deo gratias, Tom, who asked prayers a while back over having to fire an employee, reports that the firing went much better than he expected and thanks to all for prayers.
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 15, May 16, September 15
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.
And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
"First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides" (Ps. 33:10).
"Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him."
Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.
There are two beautiful lessons for us non-abbatial types in this
chapter. The first is a partial Benedictine view of material goods
and the second consoles us that teaching will hopefully also teach
The Benedictine view of property is neither complete nor correct
without the principle invoked here. Yes, later on we hear that all
the goods of the monastery must be regarded as if they were sacred
vessels of the altar. We also hear a lot of attentive prescriptions
about poverty and ownership. Either of these made dogma without the
third principle will spell trouble. That third principle, enunciated
here, is people first, things later; don't sweat the small stuff and mere
material things are ALWAYS small stuff by comparison to souls.
A good Benedictine will go to careful lengths to avoid breaking a
something, but will treat it lightly if someone else does: "Oh,
that's no big deal. I'll tend to it later." or "Dishes I can replace,
YOU I cannot. Don`t worry about it." See what I mean? We must be
personally very careful of things, but we must never make others feel
small, and least of all in the name of temporal goods.
The other gem buried here is learning from teaching. Anyone who has
ever taught 5th grade science will tell you that it will teach you
more than the average person at a party knows about the topic.
(Unless the party is given at Massachusetts Institute of Technology!)
It will remind you of a great deal of basic information that you have
long forgotten. Teaching, ideally, keeps one up to date on a subject.
If teaching alone doesn't do that, the questions of the students
Look at that last line: if you do ANY vocation right, it will profit
both you and those you serve. It may not always profit both in
exactly the same ways, but there will always be supernatural benefits
for both. If there aren't, some fine-tuning might be in order. An
example might well be parents who raise a child to practice the faith
when they themselves do not. Sending a kid to Church without you is
good for neither of you. The kid loses a necessary role model and the
parent misses out on a lot of grace.
So, one of the ways to ensure that supernatural benefit accrues for
all in a vocation is outlined here: put the souls first, put the
Kingdom of God and His things first. A closely related corollary
follows on that: people before things, always, always, people before
things! Whatever the faults and flaws of humanity, it shares a
dignity of blessed creation that does not extend to lesser created things
as such. That's the basic truth which makes materialism so woefully
Follow the priority established here and you will be well on the way
to a holy and fruitful living out of any call. It is as easy as
1,2,3! First, God and His kingdom, second, people, persons, the crown
of His mercy's creations, and third things, but only insofar as they
relate significantly to God, salvation and persons!
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]