Holy Rule for Aug. 7
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
M., some new activity in areas of her brain MRI may be cancer spreading.
Cheryl, financial troubles, needs a miracle.
Norm, for a happy death embracing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, something he has resisted doing.
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 7, August 7, December 7
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the nature of the
place in which they dwell
and its climate; for in cold regions more will be needed, and in
warm regions less. This is to be taken into consideration,
therefore, by the Abbot.
We believe, however, that in ordinary places the following dress is
sufficient for each monk: a tunic, a cowl (thick and woolly for
winter, thin or worn for summer), a scapular for work, stockings and
shoes to cover the feet.
The monks should not complain about the color or the coarseness of
any of these things, but be content with what can be found in the
district where they live and can be purchased cheaply.
The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments, that they be not
too short for those who wear them, but of the proper fit.
Let those who receive new clothes always give back the old ones at
once, to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor. For it is
sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls, to allow for
night wear and for the washing of these garments; more than that is
superfluity and should be taken away. Let them return their
stockings also and anything else that is old when they receive new
Those who are sent on a journey shall receive drawers from the
wardrobe, which they shall wash and restore on their return. And let
their cowls and tunics be somewhat better than what they usually
wear. These they shall receive from the wardrobe when they set out
on a journey, and restore when they return.
I have heard US religious women speak of formerly
being "incarcerated" in the habit. Knowing the rules of more than a
few communities, I have no doubt that is true. I find that
terribly,immoderately non-Benedictine, way out of balance. However,
and this is certain to displease some, I find the usual response of
US Benedictine women to this problem to be equally extreme and
unwise. The best answer to too much habit is not no habit at all,
nor do I think that would be the moderate response to which
Benedictine hearts would most naturally incline.
Having said that, and underscoring that I am not incarcerated in the
habit, nor do I wish anyone else to be, let me embark on something
more than just a hymn of praise for the habit. It will, trust me, be
very much more of a love song.
My habit is not ALL of me, would that it were! I could greatly
profit from being ALL monk, but it is a large part of me. I have
kissed every piece while donning or doffing it, every single time
for years now. I can assure you that those kisses are
sincere, not mindless.
I love it deeply and the sense of privilege in wearing it has never
The habit doesn't advertise ME to the world, I would be the first to
tell you that that would hardly be worthwhile or honest. It DOES
advertise my Benedictine heritage to the world and of that, I am
very, very proud, for that I am very, very grateful. I am no icon of
holiness, but our habit is. I am an icon-bearer and that is a lofty
thing, a humbling thing and yet a thing greatly desirable.
People have come to me in Boston that really need help who never,
ever would have approached me in an Oxford cloth button down shirt,
in the preppy style of lay clothes I admittedly love. Wouldn't have
happened. Couldn't have happened.
One of those people is dead now, gone to God a new Oblate, a
homebound and nearly blind woman in a wheelchair. She was sunning
herself in her wheelchair, outside her apartment in East Boston and
still had enough eyesight to recognize the habit and call out as I
walked by. Thank God I had my habit on that day! She became one of
our Communities' greatest treasures. I got delegated to invest her
as an Oblate in her own apartment and she went to God BEFORE she
could make her Final Oblation. I hope she made that in heaven. What a gift
Teresa was- and is- to us!
I could go on and on. There was a terribly sincere man on the Boston
Common whose question had just gotten dumped on by an insensitive
priest. He would never have known me otherwise. There was the
European woman who spoke very little English and felt safer asking a
monk for directions.
I love the look of the habit on my brothers and my sisters. Each one
seems to wear it just a little differently. Even in the old days when my
Dominican teachers were
fully habited, I could always tell which was which from behind by
the different ways their veils fell.
In choir, as no place else, does the habit sing to me. Our cowls
(cucullas to some of you,) are voluminous garments of prayer, mini-
enclosures, formal attire of serious business and great holiness.
How deeply proud I am to wear one. Whatever other choices others may
have taken about the habit, I honestly pity any of them without a
choir garment. It is a treasure of unity and joy.
I am, believe me, all too different from my brothers and sisters in
too many respects. (I'm working on that, too.) Our cowls, however,
cover all those things, no matter how briefly, and we are one in
heart and prayer and garb. It lends a dignity that the Office truly
deserves, and yes, I have said Office elsewhere in lay clothes,
plenty of times. Here, I would not be allowed to go to choir that
way and I am glad of it.
I have known people who were taunted, even treated with scarcely
believable meanness for wearing the habit, for choosing the "wrong"
option ( when, in fact, one option only was what was meant!) In
years past, "optional" was often nothing more than a euphemism
for "abolished." And, to be always and everywhere without the habit?
I could never stand that.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Matt and Bettie are celebrating 22 years of marriage, not 201 as they awful typo reads. I thought it was 21 years, but Matt kindly corrected my mistake.