Holy Rule for Jan. 22
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Patricia's Mom, 91, and for Patricia and all their family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Carol, having issues with several matters.
Julie. The cancer in her spine appears to have 'disappeared' but there are more spots on her liver. Her baby is now 18 months.
John, trying to find a better job to help out with expenses for Melissa, his daughter, and her newborn son, Jack, and for Al, Jack's dad, that he may be responsible, find work and financially support his son. Prayers for all.
Chaplain Jeff and all his Chaplains serving under him and all our military personnel in Afghanistan.
Carine, beginning a new job as sacristan.
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Lillian, on her birthday, and for all
who mourn her.
Say a prayer, please for me, on the 53rd
anniversary of my Confirmation and for my Dad, Jerome, whose name I took first
in that Sacrament.
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 22, May 23, September 22
Chapter 5: On Obedience
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
This is the virtue of those
who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
who, because of the holy service they have professed,
and the fear of hell,
and the glory of life everlasting,
as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
receive it as a divine command
and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
Of these the Lord says,
"As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
And again to teachers He says,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
Such as these, therefore,
immediately leaving their own affairs
and forsaking their own will,
dropping the work they were engaged on
and leaving it unfinished,
with the ready step of obedience
follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
And so as it were at the same moment
the master's command is given
and the disciple's work is completed,
the two things being speedily accomplished together
in the swiftness of the fear of God
by those who are moved
with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
of which the Lord says,
"Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
not living according to their own choice
nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
but walking by another's judgment and command,
they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
in which He says,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
Ever wonder what was so great about obedience? What is so hot about
dumping our own wills? Sometimes our wills are innocent, sometimes they're even
downright good. Let's be truthful, sometimes our own wills seem even
BETTER than the choices presented to us by other circumstances. What
Good rhetorical question, that one: what GIVES. Genuine obedience is
a gift, to God and to all His people. Make the monastic better and
you have made the home or monastery better, and so the neighborhood,
the city, the state and onwards to the whole world. We forget the
ripple effect, because we cannot clearly see it. We are not giving
that gift to falsehood, but to truth. If we look at particle physics, it is
very true that what we do with our hearts really DOES affect the whole
Our self-gift of obedience heightens truth in the world, and Jesus
is the Truth. There is a very incarnational aspect of obedience. Like
Mary, we are, in our own halt and lame, partial ways, birthing God.
In our actions Christ today can become visibly human in us, in our
tiniest drop of fresh water, the sea becomes less salty, the desert,
less dry. No one can make the Sahara a rain forest alone, and God
knows that, but He wants us to try, to be part of the solution, not
the problem. Enough drops together WOULD make the Sahara bloom.
Obedience and humility are conjoined twins which share one heart:
both will die if they are separated. Humility, in its healthiest
perfection, is truth and that truth births bits of God into the
world, confetti mosaics that the wind of the Spirit can blow into
fuller, more accurate portraits. Yes, humility is the most often
mentioned of connections, but the root of humility is truth and the
root of truth is God. Obedience without humility would be no
better than a Nazi lockstep.
All of us spend large portions of our lives carefully building a
false self, who lives in a false world, with matching false
imperatives. Merton speaks of this false self again and again. The
goal of monastic struggle is to uncover and nurture the TRUE self,
the true world view and values. We often cheerfully ignore the real
imperatives of God and life, substituting our own and elevating them
to a level they truthfully (literally!) do not deserve. It's a moral
displacement activity. We fail altogether in one area, so we
compensate by raising another. Trouble is, the other one raised is
so often false, or made false by its unjust elevation. Sigh...
It becomes a vicious circle.
Give a good parent a critically ill child and you will find out
what's true or important in a hurry. Everything gets dropped at once,
without hesitation or care. Everything. Give a single person a really
bad case of the flu and you will soon find imperatives pared to very
few. (The flu or any illness is a superlative teacher: if it doesn't
matter when you're that sick, it often doesn't matter, period!)
The sentiment is not mine originally, but I have often said that the
truly neat thing about being HIV+ is that it hit me over the head
with a 2x4 board and woke me up to a fact that is true for all of us:
I'm gonna die. Big deal. Didn't happen when I thought it would, may
not for a long time, I'm quite healthy, but I'm gonna die. So are
you. Who knows when? Maybe both of us by lunch and neither of us from
See what obedience points us toward? Obedience says: here is Jesus, the
Truth. Embrace Him now, don't wait for the threatened child or the
ghastly flu or AIDS to scare you into appropriate action. The Truth Whom
we only sometimes see in crisis is here all along. Keep what you have learned
from crisis. Live it all the time. Make it a gift, because it is one
that will enrich others AND yourself!
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]