Holy Rule for Apr. 4
Prayers, please, for our Br. Isidore, on his feastday, graces and many more, ad multos annos, and for all of us, since St. Isidore has been suggested as a patron for the internet.
Prayer to heal a ten year rift between sisters, now threatening the wider family of cousins and others.
Prayers for a woman and her son, he is living at home since his wife is hospitalized with psychosis, their 4 year old son lives with her parents now. The father is depressed and unable to work and all are very stressed, prayers for the whole family.
Deo gratias, Tristan was born to Kari and Daniel by emergency C-section, prayers that all continue to do well.
Prayers please for Bishop Michael's sister, Pauline, sent home to die with an inoperable brain tumour and also has suffered with Huntingtons Chorea which has made life very difficult for her and her husband and children. She is presently on fluids only and barely conscious; your prayers are asked for a happy death and an easy passing and for all her family.
Prayers for a woman and her husband, both suffering severe kidney problems. Both are losing the function of the kidneys, and although they are expected to recover, they are both now quite weak and susceptible to further illness. Prayers, too, for their financial health as neither can afford to be sick right now.
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.
April 4, August 4, December 4
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.
In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.
After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.
So much is written about Benedictine hospitality that I thought,
after over ten years as guestmaster, I'd write about some of the
things it is NOT, since people sometimes seem confused by this. Yes,
we are told to receive all as Christ, but at the onset a salient
difference or two between Christ Himself and the guests becomes
evident. Christ was sinless, Christ was not a threat to others,
Christ was perfect in mind and body and soul.
One of the first things that happened when the care of the guesthouse
was entrusted to me was the receipt of a list of people who in no way
were ever to be accepted again. For one reason or another, the
community absolutely did not want them here again. A few- very few-
more added themselves to that list in my time. It is useful to
note that in every case these people put either themselves or others
or both at risk for one reason or another. There were some the
monastics were downright afraid of, others whom other guests would
have feared had they only known.
One absolutely stunned into silence an entire group of retreatants of
which she was not a member by an outburst of verbally violent abuse
and belligerence that none had seen coming at all. She really ruined
the retreat for them, destroyed everyone's peace and the peace of the
house. Everyone walked on eggs for the rest of the weekend. Sorry,
doesn't happen here twice.
Another guest used to come here on the bus immediately after
discharge from psychiatric facilities. He was a potential violence
threat and would stop taking his meds on discharge, thinking he could
come to the monastery and "get it all together." Obviously,
disastrously, what happened was quite the reverse and we finally had
to say that we would never accept him again without the opportunity
and freedom to speak with his psychiatrist. He has not been back. We
were not at all doing him any good, we were actually helping him harm
himself. Couldn't do that.
One can demonstrate this principle clearly by going even a notch
above the guesthouse: come to join the monastery addicted to
disrupting the peace and you will be escorted out, probably well
People do not enjoy Benedictine hospitality as an always
and everywhere right. As in any human area, the rights of others must
be considered and sometimes decisively so. A monastery is a haven of
peace, but it has to take steps to ensure that it remains that for as
many as possible.
One of those steps is the hospitality of saying "No more." It is not easy,
it cannot be done hastily, but it is loving.
A lot of discernment is required before one gets to this point, but when one
sadly does, courage and strength are also necessary. As Dorothy Day so
often said, "Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, of each of us,
but it is the only answer."
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]