Holy Rule for Jan. 16
Continued prayers, please, for Rose, who had brain surgery last week, she will be going in again this Tues. Pray for healing and that she will know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayers that Ferdinand and all his household may be protected from evil influences.
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 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
Benedictine government is not pure democracy, but it was a lot more
representative than Church government in its time or, for that
matter, our own. It was also vastly more democratic than secular feudalism!
Over nearly 15 centuries of Benedictine history, constitutions have divided
the powers of abbot and community more specifically. There are times-
not many, to be sure- when a chapter CAN thwart an abbot. There are
times the abbot cannot act alone. But, by and large, our superiors
have been left with a lot more power than the US President or the
Queen of the United Kingdom, but less power than the average bishop.
The way of St. Benedict is hardly mob rule, but it does ensure a
voice to those governed, a voice that must be listened to, even when
it is not definitive. How different history might be if people only had as
much voice as the Holy Rule allows.
There is no way at all that the world was ready for pure democracy in
St. Benedict's time, in diocese or monastery or state. Large majorities of
the populace were illiterate, few indeed were educated, and there were no
means of mass communication. Whole empires, like the Aztec and Incan,
rose without the slightest awareness that there were other people on
the planet, nor was the rest of the world aware of them. It almost makes
feudalism look like a really good idea for the times.
And maybe it was, but it has ceased to be for our own time. There are
clearly levels of education, communication and general ability in the
population today that call for more participation, not less. Tough
saying, but St. Benedict was writing for a society whose rank and
file was largely full of really rustic types.
True, they got a lot of their rough edges honed down in the monastic
setting, but they were not as capable of contributing to decision-making
as people are today.
I am not writing this with an axe to grind, saying that the world should
follow the Benedictine model. (Though that would certainly be my personal wish.)
What I am trying to point out is the perennial wealth and freshness to be found
in St. Benedict's Holy Rule. Its wisdom is as germane today as it was almost
ago. It bears the proud hallmark of both truth and wisdom: it is ageless.
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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