Holy Rule for Aug. 4
Prayers for Christians undergoing persecution and many trials, esp. in Syria and Nigeria.
Prayers for A. and his university appeal.
Prayers for spiritual regeneration for Adolfo and his wife, Carmen.
Prayers for Jeevan and fidelity and perseverance in his missionary vocation.
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 4, August 4, December 4
Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests
Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
let the Superior or the brethren meet him
with all charitable service.
And first of all let them pray together,
and then exchange the kiss of peace.
For the kiss of peace should not be offered
until after the prayers have been said,
on account of the devil's deceptions.
In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
let all humility be shown.
Let the head be bowed
or the whole body prostrated on the ground
in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.
After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
and then let all kindness be shown him.
The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
unless it happens to be a principal fast day
which may not be violated.
The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
"We have received Your mercy, O God,
in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.
It is embarrassing for me, as a former guestmaster, to write about this
chapter. My own failures jump out at me all over the place. As some
might say, it "convicts" me again and again. But that is the way with
much of the Holy Rule, for all of us. If we can read a chapter with
smugness, it probably means something is wrong with us!
St. Benedict goes out of his way to make sure that the poor and
pilgrims get a specially focused reception. The point of that special
care is to guarantee that the reverence he insists upon for all might
come their way. That's the key, in his recurrent use of the
inclusive "all" in speaking of hospitality. He wants all to be shown
honor, without respect to class.
In the Middle Ages, benefactions could come from relatively minor
noblemen that far exceed anything we might know today: lands,
endowments, all kinds of things. Whole monasteries were often founded
and initially supported by one feudal lord. In that age, as in our
own, there was little danger of a wealthy benefactor being snubbed.
In fact, sometimes the honor shown a benefactor can even provoke an
opposite response in a monastic who favors underdogs: scorn or terse
The idea here is that even such inverse classism is wrong. The whole
thrust is that due honor be shown to everyone, not only that the poor
be treated as well as the rich, but that the rich be no less warmly
received because of their wealth. The poor and pilgrims come to the
door with zero clout. St. Benedict wants to make certain that will
Having been guestmaster in an age of postal service, telephone and email, I
look back on earlier times and marvel at the holiness it must have
taken to do hospitality in those times. Yes, the very great could
send a courier to warn of their approach, but they often had HUGE
entourages, all of whom expected to be kept more or less in style.
The poor and pilgrims, on the other hand, had no way whatever to call
ahead and reserve. They arrived at the door vulnerable and in great
need, with no way of knowing whether or not the Duke of Burgundy had
just occupied 70 beds or so, to say nothing of stables and fodder for
Looking at the trials of being gracious in such a
perennially unpredictable situation, I have come to the conclusion
that there must be a LOT of guestmaster saints to whomI should be praying
for improvement in my monastic life. The occasional annoyances of my
own job paled in comparison to theirs!
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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