Holy Rule for Jan. 21
Prayers, please for the eternal rest of Amy, mid-70's, widow of a deacon, she died of breast cancer and leaves behind her Mom, in her 90's, and 7 children and many grandhcildren. Prayers for all her family and all who mourn her, too, please, esp. her Mom.
Repose of soul of Terry M. died suddenly and is very young and for all family and loved ones left behind.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
John, job interview.
Nathan, severe anxiety attack, had to go to ER and fearing he might have to be admitted to hospital again. Changing therapist as the current one was not working out.
little Damon his parents and caregivers. He is in Children's Hospital because he isn't tolerating either feedings or a Pedialyte drip.
Carol, who suffered severe muscle damage in an accident at work and is now having to cope with permanent limitations, as well as medication problems.
Thomas, having minor surgery tomorrow. Prayers please to guide the surgeon's hands and a full recovery.
Deo gratias -- DJ's cancer seems to be in remission. thanks to all for your prayers.
Liz -- pain issues, difficulties in finding appropriate meds.Bev, general health decline due to age, recovery from hernia surgery and pain issues.
BB and JS, special intention, especially in work related issues and some specific areas regarding money.
Prayers, please, for Br. Meinrad of Pluscarden and for St. Meinrad's Archabbey
and Seminary and all their communities, on their patronal feast.
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 21, May 22, September 21
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
To fulfil God's commandments daily in one's deeds.
To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy.
Not to love contention.
To beware of haughtiness.
And to respect the seniors.
To love the juniors.
To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
To make peace with one's adversary before the sun sets.
And never to despair of God's mercy.
These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft.
If we employ them unceasingly day and night,
and return them on the Day of Judgment,
our compensation from the Lord
will be that wage He has promised:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).
Now the workshop
in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks
is the enclosure of the monastery
and stability in the community.
One very quick little thought here: even the tools we do manage to
pull off using are not our own: we are to return them on the Day of
Judgment!!! Hey, before we fall all over ourselves, patting our own
backs for this or that, we are doing it all with borrowed tools!
Humbling thought there!
Dryer sheets may have many other handy uses (cleaning your monitor or
TV screen is one of them,) but they will not soften clothes unless
the clothes stay in the dryer with them and tumble about for as long
as necessary. Of course, one can use a dryer without such softening
sheets, but then the clothes cling statically, inappropriately and
inordinately to things and each other, resisting being pulled apart
for their proper uses by (forgive me,) downright shocking means. How
like monastics without stability, community and enclosure!
Stability is not a lot of good without community, neither is
enclosure. The dryer sheet essential to both enclosure and stability is genuine,
sometimes annoying, tumbling community. The heat employed, at times
intense, is reality checks, objectivity, outside-referenced truth.
Like any good dryer or community, there may be a separate setting for
delicates and permanent press, but everybody gets the heat, one way
or the other.
If you are one of the many Benedictines living in the world, just
substitute family or circle of friends for community and home for
monastic enclosure. The stick-to-it-tiveness I'm afraid you'll have
to provide yourself, but I think you get the picture. Community is
any connected group, workplace or home. Enclosure is your home, as
well as your heart.
Without being obsessive, or making the people who live with you
crazy, guard what comes into your enclosure, both heart and home.
There is a switch on your TV. There is a less visible, but equally
effective one on your mouth. There is a useful one on your heart and
Enclosure is not a prison, neither should your home
be. The Middle Ages spoke of the "Paradisus claustralis" , the
cloistered Paradise. Every home, for one or for several hundred, must
strive for that paradise. It is comfort and leisure to an extent, it
is peace and order to an extent, it is the proper arena of love and
spiritual growth. The components will necessarily vary from case to
case, as will their balanced levels.
Guard the people who tumble in the dryer with you, too, especially
the annoying ones. Without the moisture they share with you, you
would soon wither in the heat and die, you would go well beyond
simply drying to utter destruction. And please, the next time you
think the dryer is hellish (and we all do sometimes,) bear in mind the
scarring charms and delicate fragrance of damp mildew.....Yecch!
At the center of most older monasteries was a garden, a cloister
garth, a deliberate attempt at a paradise in the heart of things. In
the heart of those gardens, as Sister Donald Cocoran would gladly
tell you, was usually a fountain. (Sr. Donald is justifiably proud of
her Camaldolese emblem, a fountain refreshing two birds.) That
fountain, the Heart of the heart of everything, is Love and Divine Mercy.
Go for it, folks!
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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