Holy Rule for Jan. 18
Prayers, please for Irene, TomKay's Mom, who suffered a stroke and is hospitalized. She will be going to live with TomKay for a while when discharged, so prayers for TomKay and his sister and all who will be looking after her.
Prayers please, for the soul of Rita, 95, her passing was difficult, but she had a long and faithful life.
Prayers for Amy, who is in her 20's and battling cancer and has had amputations. She has been admitted to the hospital with a possible bladder infection. She is very very sick. Prayers for her whole family.
Prayers for John, suffering from a debilitating virus for 11 days now, very sick. Has been given meds and hopes they work soon.
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 18, May 19, September 18
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the
whole soul, the whole strength.
Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
Then not to murder.
Not to commit adultery.
Not to steal.
Not to covet.
Not to bear false witness.
To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
To chastise the body.
Not to become attached to pleasures.
To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
To help in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To become a stranger to the world's ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
St. Benedict follows Christ's teaching of the two greatest
commandments, putting them first in his list. He had, however, also
lived in community, so look what he puts at #3: not to murder!
In the PBS drama The Best of Friends, Dame Laurentia Maclachlan, OSB,
Abbess of Stanbrook and friend of George Bernard Shaw, said that the
miracle was not that so many nuns could live together, but that they'd
never had a murder.
In a very real sense, living the first two instruments would render
the rest of the Holy Rule more or less superfluous commentary. If we
lived them, no doubt God would reveal the rest to us in time. Ah, but
there's the rub: in time...
We can easily forget that the Holy Rule is a time and labor-saving
device. It was not written for arbitrary control, it was written to
save us the lengthy process of learning all its wisdom unaided. Given
our hearts that God has placed in us, He probably would lead us all
to be Benedictines sooner or later, one by one, even if there were no
Rule. But, again, the clincher here is sooner or later. The Rule not
only saves us a lot of time and trial and error, it also frees us to
do good long before our own stumbling efforts could ever have
produced as much fruit.
A final note about preferring "nothing to the love of Christ." This
line is so popular and frequently duplicated that we can become blind
to it, shrugging and saying: "Oh, yeah...favorite Benedictine
phrase..." Stop today and look at it, REALLY look at it. People often
glance and look away because they fail to prefer nothing, but hey,
that's the human condition! You, me and most of us strugglers are in
the same boat, so relax and look at what it means carefully.
If we truly preferred nothing to the love of Christ, we would be
sinless saints. We would need no other rule! Small wonder that most
of us read and look away in embarrassment. But ALL of us, every one,
can chisel at that mountain day by day, resolutely. A day in which
the seemingly tiniest and most token of obstacles to the love of
Christ is conquered and removed is a day of great rejoicing in
heaven! There is a tremendously humbling difference between all we
ought to do and what we can do. Start with the latter and strive for
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta observed, "We can do no great things,
only small things with great love." We HAVE to start small, because,
for most of us, if it weren't for small, we'd never start at all! Ah,
but those tiniest things done with love delight the heart of the
Divine Merciful Christ as none could ever imagine! Go for it!!!
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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