Holy Rule for Aug. 28
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Seamus, in a new high school, his fourth in four years.
Ashley, 27, in hospital with a severe kidney infection complicating her Lupus.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mery and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 28, August 28, December 28
Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random
Every occasion of presumption shall be avoided in the monastery,
and we decree that no one be allowed to excommunicate or to strike
any of her sisters unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
Those who offend in this matter shall be rebuked in the presence of
all, that the rest may have fear.
But children up to 15 years of age shall be carefully controlled
and watched by all, yet this too with all moderation and
discretion. All, therefore, who presume without the Abbess'
instructions to punish those above that age or who lose their
temper with them, shall undergo the discipline of the Rule; for it
is written, "Do not to another what you would not want done to
yourself" (Tobias 4:16).
"Every occasion of presumption shall be avoided in the monastery."
This is about a lot more than saying who can punish whom. This is
pointing out that, whenever there are more than one to be
considered, absolute freedom cannot exist. This is about central
but it is also about the total way one conducts oneself in a home
or workplace or planet that others share.
Ever think about your first home away from your parents house? It
was probably different in a lot of ways, especially if you lived
there alone. Heady freedom that! I recall my own first place very
well and fondly. However, I can assure you, I could not have lived
as I did there had I been in a family, with younger siblings at
home. (OK, it was 1969, so go figure...) Even alone, however, I was
not free to play my stereo at undue volumes at 3 AM. We live on a
common planet, at some point ALL of our lives touch others. When
they do, control
of some sort is necessary if people are to live in peace.
There is a great and treacherous myth of individualism among
Americans and, to a lesser extent, I think, among all Western
European cultures. Consumerism and secularism at levels which are
dangerously opposed to religion promote this fallacy at every turn.
The lie is told that one can be happy, even happiest, without
Christ, without religion. Even Christians subconsciously buy into
more of this nonsense than they often realize. This baggage sneaks
up on us in very subtle ways. We must be equally mindful and
to perceive it!
Non-western cultures often have a much more highly developed sense
of sharing and commonality. The stresses of profit and production
are incongruous to many a more pristine culture. The self is less
exalted than the common good and the common good
seems to be more readily available to all. Face it, when the Amazon
hunters come home, the elderly eat as well as anyone else.
Schweitzer pointed out that Europeans found the Africans lazy,
because they would not work to a point of exhaustion without need.
They worked all right, but when the work was done, they quit. They
had a casual and natural attitude to work, proper to their own
economic system, that drove the Europeans nuts, because the latter
had more of a 40-hours-a-week-and-then-you-rest notion. Both
Schweitzer and I tend to side with the natives on this one!
That myth of total freedom, of self-sufficiency being able to buy
one the right to any activity is totally wrong. Even at 20, in my
richly bohemian digs that I called "Shackri-la", I was not totally
free. I didn't know it back then, but I wasn't. I had no right to
waste water or leave lights on all night or drive drunk. My fantasy
might have been chronologically appropriate as Haight-Ashbury in
San Francisco, but hey, even there, even then, people were not free
in any absolute sense. None of us are.
Every presumed domain of our control which exists on a planet
shared by billions is just that: presumption, of which "every
occasion shall be avoided." No one is an island. Our complete
interdependence is not only objective fact, it is our only hope.
You might never have read this chapter as an ad for ecological
consciousness, but look at the first line again. We are ALWAYS in
this with others and that always means responsibilities to "...not
do to another what one would not have done to oneself."
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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