Holy Rule for Feb. 2
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following, for all their loved ones and all who mourn them:
Fathers Gennaro and David, murdered in Mexico and Guatemala, one by criminal gang, the other in a road rage incident, and for the murderers and their conversion.
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, 89, retired Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Jim, 68, on his birthday, he died without the Sacraments.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the follwoing, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Thomas, scheduled to have surgery to remove an infected bone and tissue from his left foot on Friday, requesting prayers for a good result and speedy recovery.
Tony, seeing his cardiologist and deciding on any necessary treatment for his enlarged heart.
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
February 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).
To hide one's symptoms from one's physician is to court misdiagnosis.
If you lie to your therapist, why bother with analysis? Both these
tactics obscure illness rather than produce health. The "health" they
seek is nothing more than a falsehood, an illusion based on an
It is natural for us to wish to wish that parents and abbots think
the best of us. It is supernatural to want them to know the truth
when they need to know it to help us. That "natural" tendency in us,
however, is founded on a very unlovely kink: the desire to ALWAYS
look good, ALWAYS seem in control, even when we are floundering in
deep trouble. If parents or bosses or abbots think very highly of us,
this temptation is even stronger; we'd rather not burst their bubble,
we think it is to our advantage not to do so.
The monastery is a school of the Lord's service, but it is a hospital
of sorts, too. When we place ourselves under the care of the Holy
Rule and an abbot, we have admitted our need for care, for treatment,
for progress. Why deny ourselves any of those things now? I'm not
sure, but I'll bet there are tons of easy ways to fake one's way out
of chemical dependency treatment. Why bother? Unlike many in
substance abuse treatment, we came to Benedictinism of our own accord.
In Eastern monasticism, the tradition is for the disciple to confess
thoughts to the elder every day. This is considered a crucially
important part of monastic formation. It humbles the disciple and it
leaves the elder in a much better position to train and advise.
Granted, with many monastics in and out of house, most abbots would
be unable to do this daily, but every monastic needs a confessor or
spiritual director or spiritual co-struggler who can really know
what's going on in their souls.
Parents know how it feels when a child has need of them and never
lets them know. It is an awful feeling and often the child's reasons
(like fear or deceit,) for keeping them in the dark hurt even more.
No parent, no boss and no abbot is perfect. They are all human and
flawed, just like us. However, when we avoid trusting them with some
of our dark side, we cheat ourselves of a chance to see their
greatness called forth in compassion, mercy and wisdom.
Balance, common sense and moderation obtain here, too. It is one
thing not to tell one's abbot or boss something because one wishes to
be thought well of, quite another to realize that some things, when
there truly is no need to tell them, are best left unsaid. As Father
Damian of St. Leo is fond of saying: "The truth is not always
nourishing." However, SOMEONE needs to know: a spiritual director
or confessor. We are too weak to trod the path alone and far too
prideful. Let's not miss the chance of humbling ourselves.
Family life, in either monastery or home church, must be founded on
truth and reality to be healthy. All of us have seen flaming examples
of dysfunction when it is not. Even though sometimes a mother will
say: "For heaven's sake, don't tell your father!" there has to be
SOME connection with reality. Not only is humility the reality of
truth, but Jesus, too is the Truth. Why on earth bother seeking Him
if we don't want Truth? Let this truth, however, always be told in
gentleness and charity. There is a difference between the virtue of
honesty and the vice of brutal frankness, as my confessor, Fr. Roger,
used to say.
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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