Holy Rule for Sept. 21
Prayers for the eternal rest of Dan S., who took his own life, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the spiritual and temporal; welfare of the following, for all their loved ones amd all who take care of them:
Brian, due to be operated on again by both an orthopaedic and a plastic surgeon. Things are obviously not going very well and the outcome does not seem likely to be encouraging
Susan, having stomach surgery.
Gary, major heart surgery.
Jen, partial mastectomy for a rare form of breast cancer.
Milton, 92, for his happy death and for his wife, Robyn, and all who will mourn him.
Br. and Fr. Matthew and all our Matthews, on their feastday. Graces galore and many more!
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
January 21, May 22, September 21
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
To fulfill God's commandments daily in one's deeds.
To love chastity.
To hate no one.
Not to be jealous, not to harbor envy.
Not to love contention.
To beware of haughtiness.
And to respect the seniors.
To love the juniors.
To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
To make peace with one's adversary before the sun sets.
And never to despair of God's mercy.
These, then, are the tools of the spiritual craft.
If we employ them unceasingly day and night,
and return them on the Day of Judgment,
our compensation from the Lord
will be that wage He has promised:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).
Now the workshop
in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks
is the enclosure of the monastery
and stability in the community.
Employ them ALL? "Unceasingly, day and night,"??? In the stability of
community?? Give me a break! You have GOT to be kidding. There are
lots of these I couldn't pull off if I spent a year working on each
one alone- and I do NOT have 72 years left. This is beyond me.
You bet it is, folks! It's beyond all of us, but He isn't kidding,
and neither is St. Benedict. Both know something that our egocentric
eyes can miss- it ain't about us or our strength, it is ALL about our
weakness and the complete triumph of grace. The effective use of
these tools loaned us by God is grace and gift. Any successes
besides that are nothing but clever gymnastics.
The ability to become holy comes from God, from grace. No one at all
can do it without that. We must cooperate with His grace and mercy
and gifts. We dare not say we are unable to be holy. Holiness is not
linked to our ability, but to our receptivity to God's grace and His
mercy and will. He makes up for what is lacking in us, for lacks that
we could never supply. That's the wonder of all this!
Now, as for stability, check out the way stones are polished, in a
tumbler. In go all these rather nondescript, encrusted rocks that
only a trained eye could see had something precious about them.
Add a bit of water, a good amount of sand or other annoying grit
and tumble away (and away, and away....) until they come out shiny
gems, with all their rough edges and the hardened muck and mire
of ages gone. Such a simple thing it seems, almost automatic!
Well, maybe, maybe not... Ask one of those rocks! Even while it and
its chums are being polished into jewel-like luster, they and all that
grit are continually scraping and jostling each other. And let's not
even mention all that water that facilitates things! How very like
Benedictine stability in community and the enclosure of the monastery!
Stability is not a lot of good without community, neither is
enclosure. The gritty water essential to both enclosure and stability is
sometimes annoying, tumbling community. The spinning employed, at times
intense, is reality checks, objectivity, outside-referenced truth.
Like any rock tumbler or community, everybody gets to be polished,
one way or the other.
If you are one of the many Benedictines living in the world, just
substitute family or circle of friends or workplace or school for community.
Now substitute your home and heart for monastic enclosure. I think you
get the picture. Community is any connected group, workplace or home.
Enclosure is your home, as well as your heart.
Without being obsessive, or making the people who live with you
crazy, guard what comes into your enclosure, both heart and home.
There is a switch on your TV. There is a less visible, but equally
effective one on your mouth. There is a useful one on your heart and
Enclosure is not a prison, neither should your home be. The Middle
Ages spoke of the "Paradisus claustralis" , the cloistered Paradise.
Every home, for one or for several hundred, must strive for that
paradise. It is comfort and leisure to an extent, it is peace and
order to an extent, it is the proper arena of love and spiritual
growth. The components will necessarily vary from case to case, as
will their balanced levels, but we need them all.
Guard the people who tumble about getting polished with you, too,
especially the annoying ones. Tough, maddening saying, but they are
are the ones doing you the most good! Without the abrasions they share
with you, the process would take much longer!
When I was a kid, I had a small collection of just such polished stones.
My favorite was from the American Southwest and was called Apache
Tears. A clear stone, smoky bronze-like brown, I found it very attractive.
Now, however, after reflecting on the tumbler it went through and after
having lived in community quite a few years myself, I am no longer sure
that it got the "tears" part of its nomenclature just because of its
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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