Holy Rule for Mar. 4
Prayers for the eternal rest of all who died in the many tornadoes in the US, and for all their families and all who mourn them. Prayers, too, for all the injured and homeless. Special prayers for Marysville, Indiana, a town of 1,900 people which authorities say was completely desstroyed. Prayers for all the rescue workers and all trying to help.
Prayers for Carl, a very tense situation with a friendship and frankness issues.
Prayers for Margaret, an elderly lady who's in hospice now with a rapidly advancing brain tumor. She's terribly depressed but wanting desperately to live. Also prayers for her daughter Beth and the rest of her family. Prayers for resignation to God's will, peace and a happy death, should God call her now.
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
March 4, July 4, November 3
Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot be most solicitous
in his concern for delinquent brethren,
for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
And therefore he ought to use every means
that a wise physician would use.
Let him send senpectae,
that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
and induce him to make humble satisfaction;
that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
but that, as the Apostle says,
charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor. 2:8).
And let everyone pray for him.
For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
and exercise all prudence and diligence
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
Let him know
that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls
and not a tyranny over strong ones;
and let him fear the Prophet's warning
through which God says,
"What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves,
and what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4).
Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd
who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains
and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray,
on whose weakness He had such compassion
that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders
and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).
Here it is. The good part to all this penal code, the loving Father!
If you remember the Prologue, the kindness and enthusiastic, loving
zeal that St. Benedict showed there, you will find the more difficult
things he has to write easier to read: because you will see them
always through the lens of his loving concern, his gentle compassion.
In this chapter, that compassion has full rein! This will have a lot
to say to parents and others in authority, too.
Notice at once the difference between Benedictine punishment and the
penal system of the world- in Benedict's day and our own. The secular,
warehousing view of punishment gives little more than idle lip-service to
rehabilitation or genuine conversion. It is pretty much reducible to
punishment for its own sake, a fact that should leave us far less than
surprised at its ineffectiveness. It fails because it does not love
the offender, nor seek to heal. Offenders are quick to grasp this fact.
Benedictine punishment has no reason OTHER than healing, conversion
and love. This chapter makes that perfectly clear. It is a collective
human striving to better image the perfect will of God, Who "desires not
the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live." Its
entire rationale is love for and healing of the erring monastic.
I find it interesting that St. Benedict does not stress in these
preceding chapters the harm done to a community in dealing with
offenses. Obviously, it sometimes happens that all are harmed, or at
least shaken by one's actions. It would have been easy enough to
include this as a rationale for punishment, even as a secondary one,
but he does not. It leaves us with a pure view of loving concern for
the guilty one.
Look at the senpectae- the old, wise ones St. Benedict would send, as
it were "secretly" to console the afflicted one. They are a cherished
monastic tradition, because they point clearly to the kindness
involved in the whole process. In a sense, St. Benedict is telling
the Abbess to play an acceptable form of "good-cop-bad-cop" to help
the guilty one to conversion, to a return to spiritual health.
Parenting styles that miss this Benedictine balance and ideal are
likely to produce angry, maladjusted kids. We have all seen examples
of this, both in hindsight and in the noise of public places. I have
been on trains with mothers who so abused their children with their
yelling that *I* wanted to scream back at those mothers, small wonder
the children did.
Parental love is the only rationale for correction.
If one adds to that list, one is risking one's child and one's whole
vocation. There are too many traps in power of any sort, traps to
serve oneself and not the ones governed.
We confuse the stewardship of authority with the selfishness
of mere power. St. Benedict urges us to never do that, because
he knows it will fail. Love, only love and the mercy which attends
it triumphs! Mercy and love burnish the image of God in ourselves
to a wondrous sheen. So polish up, folks, polish up!
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]