Holy Rule for Apr. 1
Prayers for the eternal rest of Betty, and for her daughter, Jacque and her husband Tom and all her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for the spiritual and temporal health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Mrs. Riali, cancer.
Raymond, recovering from cancer surgery.
Randie, cancerous nodule on her lung.
Deo gratias for:
Carol, cancer is shrinking, she came back from the brink of death, continued prayers.
Nick, doing well after heart operation and cancer, continued prayers.
For a couple having serious marriage problems.
Parents needing assistance from God to do the right thing.
Special intention for Annual Retreat.
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 1, August 1, December 1
Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working
Far From the Oratory or Are on a Journey
Those sisters who are working at a great distance
and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time --
the Abbess judging that such is the case --
shall perform the Work of God
in the place where they are working,
bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
and not neglect to render the task of their service.
Here's a chapter that speaks loud and clear to Oblates in the world.
We must carry our monastery and, to a certain
extent, even its choir, in our hearts. It is a fact that we are away
from the monastery most of the time. We may wish it were otherwise,
God, for His own reasons, may not.
Hence, we need to study with special attention the means to carry not
just the monastery and choir, but the entire Holy Rule and all of our
Order in our hearts. There must our cloisters be built. The reins of
obedience for us come not from walls and stones, not from the
constant presence of a community to help us, but from our free will
and loving gift, from the mindful vigilance of our hearts. This
cloister of the heart, if nurtured, can become in truth a "paradisus
claustralis", a cloistered paradise! But it does take time!
A perennial concern of Oblates is how to say the Office in the world,
or how much of it to say. Actually, that concern is SO perennial that
one can easily get bogged down in it, spinning one's wheels! Satan
doesn't care whether you get caught by temptations to murder or by
other temptations, so long as you get caught!
The answer here is loud and clear, both terribly simple and (like the
perfection of so many simple things,) not a little daunting: "as well
as they can." Now look at this precept, really look at it. That means
that you will never be able to solemnly intone the Hours in many, if
not most of the places you live and work. Which also means that God,
of all the most merciful and loving, clearly understands the limits
of your life.
I hesitate to mention depression too often, but because it is my
personal experience and I know that it has tremendous connections to
the spiritual life for good or ill, I'll risk it! Ever hear about one
of the symptoms of depression being trouble concentrating? Let me
tell you, beloveds, when I can deny any other sign, I can never deny
Twenty minutes of memorized prayers and Psalms takes an
hour or more. And certainly NOT because one is swept up into the
seventh heaven! Quite the reverse! One's mind jumps everywhere, like
an agile monkey on speed leaping from tree to tree in the canopy of
an endlessly confusing jungle. The words are just repeated, with so
little attention, feeling or meaning. And even that is a crushing
effort at times. Sigh...
If you are at all like me, you will feel badly about that: "Oh, no!
I've been distracted at prayer again..." Don't make it any worse than
it already is: God fully knows WHY we are distracted, why we are
limited by anything within or without. So long as you didn't deliberately
intend and set out to pray mindlessly, don't worry. (And no one, I hope, does
that!) God may actually permit those distractions to humble us. Just calm
down and do the best you can.
I have long since resigned myself to ruefully chuckling that
often I am no better at all than a mindless, mechanical prayer wheel,
like those spun in Tibet. I hope God accepts all our prayer wheel
days and I really think He does! So long as we are not deliberately
slovenly or careless about prayer, it delights God, and, as one of
the Fathers observed, even distracted prayer makes the devil mad!
A quick suggestion as a way to bring monastery and choir into our
busy day. This is one of my favorites, one of two prayers proper to
the morning hour of Prime. It is easily memorized and therefore VERY
portable! It can sneak into the tiniest of places in a busy day and
carry the heart right to God and its cloister of peace and truth.
" O Lord God, King of heaven and earth, be pleased this day to direct
and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, our thoughts,
words and deeds according to Your law and in obedience to Your
commandments. Now and forever may we attain salvation and freedom by
Your help, O Savior of the world, Who lives and reigns forever and
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]