Holy Rule for Apr. 6
A blessed Triduum to all, prayers for all of you!
Prayers for the eternal rest of Donald, Saturday is the anniversary of his death, and for his son, Paul and all who mourn him.
Prayers for a grandmother and her son's family. Issues of unemployment and following financial problems, also a health problem for his wife who is hypersensitive to electric equipments. Their nine year old son also is troubled.
Prayers for Annika, 36 years old, now in treatment for a relapse in alcoholism. Due to some drug abuse (not narcotics) she is prematurely senile, the prognosis for her recovery is not hopeful. Prayers, too, for her 10 year old daughter lives with her grand-parents 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
April 6, August 6, December 6
Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything Else
On no account shall a monastic be allowed
to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
from parents or anyone else,
or from her sisters,
or to give the same,
without the Abbess's permission.
But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
let her not presume to take it
before it has been shown to the Abbess.
And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
to whom it shall be given,
if she allows it to be received;
and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
lest occasion be given to the devil.
Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.
*[I come down rather hard on the ownership of things. I don 't deny that folks
can own things, I just affirm that all goods are from God and given to us with
an eye to the common good of all. Private ownership is not an absolute right: it
comes with responsibilities to others.]
At first glance, it might seem that there is little or nothing for
Oblates in the world in this chapter. Not so! However, we shall have
to look a bit deeper and pick about a bit...
OK, remember the Abbot holds the place of Christ in the community.
Now look again. The monastic is to rely on and look to no one but
Christ, and to receive nothing more or less than what is needed,
unless the Abbot, in Christ's place grants it. Remember the chapter
about no monastic defending another, taking another into their
special protection? One can easily see that this is covered here,
too. No one should ever be able to say: "I am well-off and secure
because Sister X. is my ally." Sister X. takes care of zero. God
takes care of all!
We can have such a distorted of view of our own income and property.
We can think we have "earned" what we have and can therefore use it
with impunity. Not so, and not Christian teaching, either. All goods
are held with stewardship for the common good of all. No ownership is
outright and exclusive, except for the sad ownership of our sins.
No matter what our skills or gifts or how we have developed them, no
matter if we were born with inherited comfort, no matter at all! ALL
of that came from God, every bit. We are literally nothing at all but
beneficiaries. All that we have or hope to have is nothing more or
less than a windfall from God and His mercy.
Now that is what this chapter is really all about, and it applies to
everyone within the cloister and without. St. Benedict wanted to use
these principles to focus his disciples on the truth that everything,
utterly everything comes from Christ, not from Sister X. or the lucky
stroke of having wealthy family or friends elsewhere, or even from
our own work. The job or business itself came from God, so did the
strength to be productive in any way.
Every Benedictine heart, beloveds, must examine itself by what we
learn from this passage in the Holy Rule. Absolutely nothing
whatsoever is ours, everything comes from God. Never take more than
we need, never share less than we ought to share. Freely, fully have
we all received all that we have from God. No less freely should our
hearts let it go, spread it around to others.
Make no mistake that there are at least two ways to react to the
array of God's giftings. One is grateful largesse, a truly holy
detachment from things as we honestly desire others to share in our
blessings. (This is as true of the spiritual goods as it is of the
The other, a most pathetic one, is stinge and miserliness,
a panicky, insecure fear that another might get more or have it
easier than oneself. Nothing I can think of is more unbecoming to any
who have received magnificently, yet we can all think of tragic
examples of just such reactions. Guard very, very carefully against
this last pitfall. I have seen it ensnare monastics,
no one is exempt, and it will throw a dreadful cancer into one's very
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]