Holy Rule for Mar. 2
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Barton--mental/emotional issues, addiction, relationship problems with family, health and spiritual oppression
Michael--emotional and physical healing
Bob, employment decisions to make and safe travels.
two victims of sexual abuse, one tried suicide a year ago and now has trouble getting medical care, the other recently attempted suicide and had alcohol and depression issues. Both need access to care.
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!
March 2, July 2, November 1
Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
him either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
the food that is given him be blessed.
Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and St. Benedict
gives the two points between which a spectrum of other methods may
be employed. He does not want a one-size-fits-all system of
correction and clearly says so more than once.
Think of any parent or authority figure you have ever heard
criticized. If punishment was in any way involved, it is most
likely that the fault was in doing too much or too little. A cruel
person can make employees or children or monastics live in terror.
Punishment is relentless and swift and often comes without warning.
This may result in slavish compliance or outright rebellion, but it
never results in a healthy self, for authority or subject. We are
not called to live in dread of unwittingly angering some
intransigent despot, whose whims may be dangerous, indeed. We are
called to live in peace and mercy: to receive it and to give it to others. That is
true of all monastics, superiors and those governed.
But we are not called to peace at any price whatsoever, which is
the fault of those who do too little to correct. Fear of the
governed is as stupid and pointless as fear of the governor and
neither helps anyone. While too much control may lead the community
to fear the Abbess, too little will leave them equally afraid of each other!
Note carefully that the missing ingredients in either extreme are
love, real charity, as well as a trusting prayer for grace and
guidance. If we are not showing His love to all, something is very wrong.
If mercy does not temper justice (and justice does not temper total inaction!)
something is quite amiss.
Really peaceful people do not avoid confrontation at all costs, if
they do, even they will never have peace. They will have nothing
more than an uneasy truce or more or less perpetual fear. That is not
the loving way to deal with a problem.
The Benedictine way is, as usual, the middle way. Some would put
down the middle way, call it weak, but, as we have seen, it takes a
tremendous amount of guts and grace to do it well. Our way is quite
the reverse of a cop-out: it requires genuine courage and grace, to
say nothing of its chief component, a lot of very frank and
truthful LOVE! Ah, yes, and that mercy which is a mirror of the
Divine Mercy, too!
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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