Holy Rule for Apr. 5
+++ I try hard to add all prayer intentions, but sometimes I forget or one gets lost. Please do not hesitate to write and tell me if I have missed one of yours. Thanks!
Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of the following, for all their families and all who will mourn them.
Dora, in hospice and soon to go.
Katherine, anointed and removed from life support, and for her husband, Dick and all their children and family, esp. Peg, who asked for prayers,
Prayers for Christine, on the anniversary of her Oblation.
Deo gratias, and continued prayers for little Alexi, for whom we prayed. Tumor was removed from his arm bone and seems to be benign.
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 5, August 5, December 5
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let there be a separate kitchen for the Abbot and guests,
that the brethren may not be disturbed when guests,
who are never lacking in a monastery,
arrive at irregular hours.
Let two brethren capable of filling the office well
be appointed for a year to have charge of this kitchen.
Let them be given such help as they need,
that they may serve without murmuring.
And on the other hand,
when they have less to occupy them,
let them go out to whatever work is assigned them.
And not only in their case
but in all the offices of the monastery
let this arrangement be observed,
that when help is needed it be supplied,
and again when the workers are unoccupied
they do whatever they are bidden.
The guest house also shall be assigned to a brother
whose soul is possessed by the fear of God.
Let there be a sufficient number of beds made up in it;
and let the house of God be managed by prudent men
and in a prudent manner.
On no account shall anyone who is not so ordered
associate or converse with guests.
But if he should meet them or see them,
let him greet them humbly, as we have said,
ask their blessing and pass on,
saying that he is not allowed to converse with a guest.
It is the last paragraph which strikes me. Many monasteries no longer
enforce it strictly. However, it brings to mind a rule of
thumb that may be applied in other situations.
Like any rule of thumb, there may be exceptions, but watch the
reactions of monastics whose silence or enclosure is intruded upon
very carefully. You can learn a lot about the monastic in question
When the reaction makes the guest (who, after all, probably didn't
know any better,) feel dirty or small or terribly wrong, you can
safely guess that the monastic in question has a lot of growing up to
do. File that info any way you like, but I'd give her a LOT of
room...I'd smile sweetly when I had to and then give her a very wide
berth! I have never seen a truly holy and wise monastic react in such
a way, never. Watch out for the pursed lips and narrowed eyes, the
shaming attitude, the evident disgust. None of these things are
monastic traits. All of them are signs that a lot of further work is
Silence and enclosure are very effective tools, but they are means to an
end. They can never be ends in themselves. The holy use of these
tools is quite likely to produce wonderful results, but their unholy
use can be just as likely to stall progress and growth outright.
Look at the many Desert Father accounts of guests arriving
unexpectedly. The elder dropped fast, silence and everything,
entertaining with gratitude. Now and then one sees
a different response, a very cold response, when the elder KNOWS the
intentions of the guest are flawed, but we rarely know such things
We are called to bear all things, ALL things sweetly and without a lot
of fuss. That does not mean we have to like them, merely that we have
to be cheerful about them and hide our displeasure. We must accept,
rather than undergo, a wonderful principle from Dom Jean-Marie Dechanet, OSB,
in his book on Christian Yoga.
There is probably a good deal more grace in the smiling acceptance
of an annoyance than there would be in lofty, untrammeled, silent prayer.
If there were not, God, Who is always merciful and generous, would never have
allowed the opportunity to come to us. What we make of its potential
boon is our own affair and, sometimes, our own maturity, as well.
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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