Holy Rule Missed Reading
I missed the 19th, sending the 18th out twice. Here is the missing reading for the 19th.
March 19, July 19, November 18
Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink
"Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that" (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others' sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.
If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2).
But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.
NOTE: Looking at this a few years after I wrote it, I have more pity on Br. X.,
who features in the end of this reflection. I toned down what I said a bit. I
cannot read minds or souls: no one can. Only God knows what motivated Br. X,
though I thought I did when I was younger. That he upset a lot of people in
undeniable, why or how, or the root of his problem is a matter beyond any of us.
It would a terrible wasted opportunity not to briefly mention alcoholism
and other twelve step programs with this reading. So many in ALL walks of
life, our own Benedictine families included, suffer from addictions. May
all who abstain because they must offer the hardships of that road to recovery
for all those who suffer still. May we all remember that addiction is an
illness, not a moral scourge to whip people who suffer from it.
"Above all...abstain from murmuring." The murmuring here (and
everywhere it is mentioned in the Holy Rule,) is mean-spirited
griping about people or conditions. Never for an instant think that
Benedictine standards require one to be blind to real problems.
Real evils ought to be addressed and usually are.
It's hard to write about this, because a certain unwritten law (well,
written in the hearts of monastics!) governs what is and isn't
murmuring. It's an intuitive sort of principle that one learns by
living among and observing other monastics.
Maybe peace is the key to assessing a lot of murmuring. The worst
murumuring monk I ever knew- now dead some years- had a life of nearly
non-stop murmuring and he seemed to report such things with an eye
to harm. I once heard Bro. Patrick refer to this guy as "diabolical" and
that was not an adjective he used lightly.
Virtually nothing and no one measured up to Br. X's standards.
He was awful to live with and I feared him when I was a novice. But
there is the catch: he WAS awful to live with, even for himself. He
perhaps was filled with anger and pain and sought to make the
world around him match. What a convoluted mess!
Listen up, m'dears, I cannot know what another's pain is or how they
should seek help for it, but I do know that the Benedictine way is
NOT to pass that on and not to stand idly by and watch another do so.
Poor Br. X, I pray for his tortured soul and ask you to pray for him, too.
However, it was not his fault alone. There was
an Abbot who listened, there were monks who did, too. A united refusal
to listen to such poison might have helped him, or it might have actually
driven him out, but in fact that did not happen. We all bear a two-sided
obligation to mean murmuring: don't start it, and don't listen to it. Venom
doesn't have any effect if it doesn't get in the bloodstream. See to it that you
never help it on it's way.
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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