Holy Rule for July 11
A blessed and grace-filled Solemnity of St. Benedict to all. Let us all pray for
each other and for all the Benedictine family throughout the world and
throughout time, from the Abbot Primate to the freshest Oblate novice. Give
thanks for this holy, striving Family of ours. Were there no St. Benedict and no
Holy Rule, no Benedictine Order, how many of us reading this would never have
known one another, We have so much to be grateful for to God and to St. Benedict.
May God "lead us all alike to everlasting life!"
Prayers, too, for Fr. Benedict of Pluscarden and for all our Benedicts: graces
and blessings and many more. Ad multos annos!!
Prayers for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Tanner, 27, going through a divorce. He took a bunch of Tylenol over the weekend as a "cry for help". He ended up getting very sick but didn't go to the doctor. He is in the hospital, potential liver failure and it doesn't look good for him. Prayers for a miracle that he makes a full recovery and gets the help he needs. He has 2 small children.
the Orthodox Church in America and her recently resigned primate, Metropolitan Jonah.
Lee. that he to get into medical school. He is encountering difficulties based on race combined with a background of serious illness that took him out of college for a couple years.
Craig, as he drives to BC (the roads and traffic can be treacherous) and flies home Wednesday. Prayers for safe travels for Elaine too as she has to go to a big city airport a few hours away to pick him up.
Mark, gall bladder surgery, that all goes well and for a speedy recovery.
Brother Albert Gahr, OSB, who will be making his Solemn Profession today at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA.
Evelyn, in physical rehab; for a speedy return home.
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 11, July 11, November 10
Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own
This vice especially is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots. Let
no one presume to give or receive anything
without the Abbot's leave, or to have anything as his own -- anything
whatever, whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be -- since
they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills at their own
but for all their necessities let them look to the Father of the
monastery. And let it be unlawful to have anything
which the Abbot has not given or allowed. Let all things be common to
all, as it is written (Acts 4:32), and let no one say or assume that
anything is his own.
But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
let him be admonished once and a second time. If he fails to amend, let
him undergo punishment.
Benedictine poverty is easily translatable for the lay monastic, married
or single, into terms of simplicity and detachment, a holy indifference
to non-essentials. As such, it offers a powerful opportunity for a
witness against some of the real falsehoods of modern consumerist
society. This is not (nor need it be,) a preachy attack on today's
values, just a quiet refusal to go along with them.
It involves personal practice and choice, not confrontation.
Benedictine teaching on material goods is based on needs, not desires.
We ought to have all that is necessary and if, as sometimes happens,
that is not possible, we ought not to grumble. Benedictine simplicity
insists that we live in the moment of now with gratitude.
Does your family have all that you really need today? If so, then don't
put your heart on hold till you can swing a below-ground swimming pool.
That's exactly why inordinate desires can be so harmful: they DO put our
hearts on hold, they take us out of the contented present and force us
to live in an uncertain future of "when" and "if".
That future is not real, except for our futures after death. We might
never live to see the earthly future, even the next moment. We have no
way of knowing whether or not we will live till lunch today.
The present is all we have and anything that distracts our view from it
is often a complete waste of time. Living in the now is a great reality
check! It is also the place of contemplative reality: the holiness of
now, of the present instant, standing before God in love, awe and
I always hate discussions of simplicity that are so general that they
leave people thinking: "Well, great, but how do I DO that?" Hence a few
suggestions, not at all as norms, but just as ideas. With them comes a
huge warning for Oblates who are spouses and parents. You can
make choices like this for yourself, in some cases, even for the
household, but you must never force such things on children or spouses.
That can be disastrous and produces the very same loss of serenity that
simplicity is designed to protect us from.
Clothes. Almost everyone can make do with less, male or female. Before I
became a monk, I generally had two pairs of slacks- one khaki and one
navy blue. They looked preppy. They went with everything. Yes, after a
while, people did notice I was always in one or the other, but so what?
The shirts were different and I was clean.
The shirts came from the Salvation Army: years of wear in good clothes
for less than $5 a pop, less than $2 a pop if one waited till sale day.
Recycle in your own home. Towels go down from the bath, to the kitchen,
to rags. With all the rags you will soon accumulate living this way, you
can say goodbye to paper towels, unless there is some reason you really
need them. Cloth napkins? Wow! They even seem a bit upscale and you can
stop buying one-use paper. Trust me, ordinarily
washing them once a week is fine.
This is not stinge, folks. Insofar as possible, consume stuff that is
really good for you, avoid stuff that is wasteful or harmful. We become
immune to the very high levels that our society actually encourages
waste, almost demands it.
How many people over fifty recall their first reactions to disposable
lighters, ballpoint pens and razors when they first came out? It was
like: "Huh??? You throw them away???" When was the last time you bought
a refill for a ballpoint pen? Now one hardly sees any pens BUT
disposable ones. Big, big money and profits were made by the companies
teaching us to throw away and waste the WHOLE item, not just the used
part. We got used to that, sadly.
I went back to non-disposable razors some time ago, but they cost
more than the throw away kind, which have filled who knows how many
garbage dumps in 30 or 40 years. Somebody gave me a Zippo lighter for Christmas
a few years ago. It is a bit of a hassle to keep it in flints and fluid,
but it means that I have spared the planet from at least a little
By the way, you don't do this because it will end over-consumption. It
won't. The world has not moved to Schick razors and Zippos, nor are they
likely to do so any time soon. What it does, and this is important, is
limit your complicity in the nonsense. That, so long as one does not
become self-righteous, can be an immensely freeing thing.
Always remember the Zen principle: the only thing that is lacking is the
sense that nothing is lacking. Modern consumerism thrives on and insists
that we ALWAYS feel something is lacking. Not so, we can be free of
that. Why be lied to any more?
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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