Holy Rule for Jan. 26
Deo gratias and continued prayers, Gabby's convulsions have stopped and she has been discharged, blood work to follow.
Please pray for the eternal rest of Joseph, 99, and for all his loved ones and all who mourn him.
Prayers for Jim, diagnosed with kidney disease due to high blood pressure, doctors are deciding on a course of treatment.
Prayers for Marty, 30, diagnosed with testicular cancer and for his Mom, Christine and all his family.
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 26, May 27, September 26
Chapter 7: On Humility
The first degree of humility, then,
is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes
and beware of ever forgetting it.
Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded;
let his thoughts constantly recur
to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins
those who despise God,
and to the life everlasting which is prepared
for those who fear Him.
Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices,
whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will,
and check also the desires of the flesh.
Wow! Fearing God and hell-fire! It's a safe bet that this chapter was
not the darling of the 1970's! But, if we look at it properly,
there's nothing to get upset about here.
God is perfect Unity, He is totally of a whole. He is all He is at
once and utterly. Human beings, on the other hand, have minds that
are finite and cannot wrap their intellects around such a perfectly
holistic God without problems. One of those problems is what seem to
us to be contradictions in God: His total, absolute Justice and His
unfathomable, infinite Divine Mercy. Since we have a hard time
figuring out both at once, we have a tendency to let one cancel out
the other. God, to many, is either ALL hell-fire and dread or ALL
pushover and cuddly. NOT!!
Sorry, folks, but the nature of heresy is to take a real part of the
truth and make it ALL of the truth, the only truth. Foul up the
delicate balance here and you are in deep trouble. Face it, God's
perfections don't seem to trouble Him any- perfection shouldn't,
after all- so why should they get us hung up? Deep breath, lots of
faith and let's go on...
God is all at once, God is perfect, God does not change. OK, fine.
But we change, time in which we are immersed changes, has to change.
It is the nature of things. Hence, our convergences with God occur at
different times, points and conditions. The whole equation changes,
not because God changes, but because we do and must. Stop and think,
the encounter between God and one lost in sin is different from the
same person encountering God after years of conversion. The encounter
between a living soul and one after death is different, not because
God is, but because we are.
We see different Persons of the Trinity predominant in different ages
of salvation history. Might we not just as safely assume that
different attributes of God predominate at different times in His
dealings with us? Anyone who has lived any length of time at all with
God can tell you that aridity and tenderness, loving kindness and
seeming absence, joy and seriosity play off each other singly or in
groups, like light dancing through the kaleidoscopes of our soul's
broken glass and shattered gems. The pattern is always changing. All
the elements are always there, but they are constantly regrouping,
forming new and dare one say hardly boring designs!
So, always try to remember that WE are the kaleidoscopes and that the
Light shining through them does not change, even though our scattered
bits may reflect it differently, to ourselves and to others. Check
out the revelations of St. Catherine of Genoa and other mystics: the
SAME Love that delights the soul is also the fire purifies it. She
said that paradise had no gates: any who want may enter. Ah, but by
choice, to enter there would be hell, indeed, for some. A priest
once wrote that if the gates of hell were open, no one would leave.
Same God, same Love, different us! His changeless Love will be hell
for some, bliss for others. Choose bliss!!
The justice is always there, but so is the mercy. Jesus told St.
Faustina that now, in this life, is the time for mercy, which will
never, ever be denied a soul. Dump that chance in this life and
justice will be what you deal with in the next.
It seems simplistically harsh, but it isn't. We are swimming, all but
drowning in a sea of infinite mercy right now. When we leave that
sea, we will wind up on the shore of justice, unless we have
guaranteed that mercy is already ours. By asking, just by asking and
God is not itching to nail us, eager to condemn. But we can tie His
hands- we are the only creatures who can do so! We can insist on
justice by rejecting His mercy. Not a smart move... His mercy and justice are
part of a whole, they both perfectly reflect and employ His love.
What changes is not God, but us. What changes is our willingness to
accept or reject His overtures at any given moment.
So, yeah, God is watching us all the time. But also, yeah, God
forgives us the second we turn to him and trust in His mercy. God
knows we aren't perfect, so He isn't surprised that we fall.
We, on the other hand, can be distressingly wrong about how perfect
we are! Our falls shock us badly, because we have so little humility.
Think there might be a connection there about God doing or using all
things to further His will? Our very falls teach us humility that we
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]