Holy Rule for July 1
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of George, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Leslie, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Scott, kidney infection and for his wife, Julie, finishing her radiation next week.
John, having knee surgery.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement
should correspond to the degree of fault,
which degree is estimated by the judgment of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults,
let her be excluded from the common table.
Now the program for one deprived of the company of the table
shall be as follows:
In the oratory she shall intone neither Psalm nor antiphon
nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction;
in the refectory she shall take her food alone
after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance,
that sister shall eat at the ninth,
while if they eat at the ninth hour
she shall eat in the evening,
until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.
Ever run over something unintentionally with a lawnmower? Most of us
have. If you personally have never done such a thing, it would be
far less upsetting to me if you never said so... LOL! Think about it.
Who, in their right mind, would deliberately take a mower that is
costly to repair or replace and aim for an obstacle in the grass?
Face it, while there could be malevolence here, it is very unlikely.
Yet the only case of this lighter excommunication of which I have
personal knowledge was just this dumb. In the 1960's, a junior
monk I knew ran over a water sprinkler while mowing. The guy
didn't mean to do it and, as far as I know, admitted his guilt,
turned himself in. He got this light excommunication for a
while as punishment.
That was one of the problems with "excommunication" (which, by the
way, refers only to communal life, not to the Church or its
Sacraments.) It could be used for silly, innocent mistakes,
unintentional accidents. In cases like the one I noted, it often
stressed the material above the personal. Obviously, the greatest
treasure of the monastery was the monastic, not the water sprinkler!
It could, as such, lack mercy and fall far short of the Gospel,
something the Holy Rule, rightly interpreted, will never call us to do.
As so often happens, we abandon one extreme only to flee madly to its
opposite extreme. We went from too much to too little, sometimes
nothing at all. In the last 35 years or so, I have heard of only one
threat of excommunication and it did not have to be carried out,
thank heavens. Still, we have abandoned the good that was in the
practice: a clear, codified way to let someone know they were out of
line, that something was wrong, that they needed help or reform or
We replaced this (allegedly,) with talking to the individual, a sane
enough response, except that some superiors find this hard
to do well. That's not surprising, given the monastic
aversion to conflict and confrontation. But it is CONFLICT we should
avoid, not loving confrontation. We're called to a lot of the latter. It is
the stuff of which reform and conversion is often generated. The
Rule's system gave a "language" and an idiom to a
superior who may not have been able to "say" it any other way. It
eased the road for the timid.
Take that away, and you have no means of correction in some settings.
Both these extremes are founded on the same false assumption. Both
ascribe to offenders more control over their actions than may
actually be the case. Small wonder neither extreme works terribly well.
Just talking to someone is fine as an alternative, but one has to
actually do it. Some problems in people will neither identify nor
repair themselves. It is folly to think that they will, to presume
that all people have a level of clairvoyance or maturity that many,
in fact, do not.
Not only that, but as the Rule itself points out, some people cannot
understand or "hear" a verbal correction. Things have not changed
as much in the intervening 15 centuries as we might like to think they have.
Some still can't hear. We still need a humane middle point between
nothing and something very extreme.
Parents take warning. Embrace either of these extremes and your
children will be talking about you many, many years later, to
therapists or in bars, or both! Ditto bosses and superiors. Your job
is the exact and complete opposite of ignoring major flaws, of
letting things like that go. If your head is in the sand on any
significant count, everyone in the family suffers including,
Love and prayers,
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Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for al their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Pat, terminal brain cancer, for her happy death.
Deo gratias, David got his contract, prayers for him in his new job.
Debbie , a mother of two young children, just diagnosed with lymphoma leukemia;
Shannon, that she know God's great love for her and be open to his guidance and will;
for financial stability for two persons who are in debt
Andrew, brain cancer, on his 31st birthday.
Lorene, experiencing pains and illness symptoms and worried about results of what this could be. Please pray that she is fine and no disease/illness. Very frightened.
for those still suffering from Hurricane Sandy. May they come out of this tragedy with optimism and find love, peace, health and happiness again.
Paul C. and his family, for God's will to be done.
Prayers for the eternal rest of John F. Kennedy, on the anniversary of his
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
March 23, July 23, November 22
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table
Anyone who does not come to table before the verse,
so that all together may say the verse and the oration
and all sit down to table at the same time --
through his own carelessness or bad habit
does not come on time
shall be corrected for this up to the second time.
If then he does not amend,
he shall not be allowed to share in the common table,
but shall be separated from the company of all
and made to eat alone,
and his portion of wine shall be taken away from him,
until he has made satisfaction and has amended.
And let him suffer a like penalty who is not present
at the verse said after the meal.
OK, before we all get hopelessly mired in the belief that St.
Benedict is REALLY mired in punctuality issues, let's try a parable
reality check. What if every bus (or train or plane or subway,)
waited for the latecomer to arrive? For starters, the schedule of
everyone sitting helpless on that mode of transportation would be
disrupted. Everyone would be late, every single one. Some would miss
work, others a wedding, others still a connection with friends to
leave on vacation. If all public transport followed such a program,
our whole world would be a chaotic mess of very unhappy campers in
Benedictine communities do things together. Usually, that means that
a late arrival at a meal keeps everyone sitting there when already
finished, waiting for the tardy one to eat. (Occasionally a superior
will intervene and end the meal more or less on time, but often that
is not the case. Everybody waits.) This lengthening of the meal then
throws the whole schedule off. The Office cannot suffer, it's times
are inexorable, so what usually gets clipped is free time, recreation
or work. Rob people of these on a regular basis and they can get very
Lateness which is unavoidable is just that, unavoidable. That's a
time when the meal ought to be prolonged, when the others ought to
witness that we "bear one another's burdens" and so fulfill the law
of Christ. Brother X is my brother. I am responsible for a large chunk
of his communal life. If I say that doesn't matter and stroll into
dinner whenever I feel like it, something is terribly wrong with me.
I need to have my skewed vision and values corrected. That's what
this is all about: loving one another rightly.
Much of the Holy Rule which deals with communal life (and is VERY
easy to apply to family life or workplace,) has to do with what should
really be common courtesy and decency. Granted, sometimes those values get
wrapped in ancient language and gesture, making it less easy to see
how simple and modern they are, but those exhortations to polite,
considerate, gentle living are things anyone can follow in any milieu, to great
benefit! Many of those courtesies are threatened or altogether lacking today.
Helping keep them alive may start a conversion in another we will never know
Love and prayers,
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