Holy Rule for Sept. 23
Please pray for Marianne, in bad shape from strokes, and now is having TIA's. Lives in a nursing home.
Please pray for Darlene F., newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She is understandably frightened.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God s never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
January 23, May 24, September 23
Chapter 5: On Obedience
But this very obedience
will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all
only if what is commanded is done
without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling, or objection.
For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God,
since He Himself has said,
"He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will,
for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).
For if the disciple obeys with an ill will
not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart,
then even though he fulfill the command
yet his work will not be acceptable to God,
who sees that his heart is murmuring.
And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this,
he will incur the punishment due to murmurers,
unless he amend and make satisfaction.
Trust me, folks, I am not second-guessing St. Benedict on this one, I
just think there is a chance that he is often misread and that
something not at all contrary to his precepts needs to be emphasized.
Few who share my cynical bent would fail to chafe at a reading of
this passage which implies that we must all be cheerful, denying
optimists, blithely smiling automatons. Yes, we are told not to
murmur, and to put the very best face on our obedience that we
possibly can. Often the real miracle of grace is that we can just
barely obey in silence, without any comment at all. No doubt that is
a tender mercy to those who live with us! We must not read St.
Benedict harshly, even less so God. We must keep the loving parent
image ever before our eyes in both instances.
I want to expand the image of the non-murmuring heart a bit.Some days
one's heart cannot murmur, because it is numb and paralyzed, unable
to do much of anything more explicit than ache. Some days one's heart
is Ground Zero, and everything coming at it seems to be just one more
horrible plane. A brave face or even a blank expressionless
one may be all one can muster.
However, and here's the rub, even when that brave or expressionless
face is all we can do, we can STILL obey cheerfully. How? Well, for
one thing, that cheer is in the will, not the emotions. It is the
readiness of gift. Beyond that, even when sore beset, we can strive
NOT to complain or whine. Face it, no one but God will really
understand our most broken points anyhow. The sooner we learn that,
the less time we will waste on trying to find humans who will.
How very great is the love of God for us at such times. A favorite
image I have used before is very apt here: the heart of God is like a
Mother's refrigerator door, plastered with children's bad, even
ghastly art. (OK, I KNOW it may be age-appropriate art, but bear with
me on this one....)
God is bursting and beaming with pride at our struggling efforts. He
cares not a wit that we are not beaming with feigned cheer ourselves.
With all that mud on our faces, who could see the forced smile
anyhow? There will never be a moment in this life
when God loves us more than He does when we are fallen, crawling on
all fours and still barely hanging on. The effort, always the effort
is what God sees.
Of course, having written all this in plodder-appropriate language
for strays like myself, I have to add that the ideal of genuine joy
and, yes, even cheer, is what we entry-level folks are aiming at. It
was said of Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite university professor
killed by the Nazis for opposing their regime in Holland, that he
seemed as happy in prison as if he had been in his monastery.
One witness said it seemed to make no difference to him. His mind was
always on others. They could only tell he had been beaten by the
blood on his jacket and when someone commented on the fact, he would
downplay it and change the subject. He was always cheerful and
gracious. After two prisons, the Germans sent him to Dachau, where
his weakened condition made him fodder for their "medical"
experiments. He lasted less than a month there, killed by a lethal
injection in July, 1942.
Blessed Titus was a gentle, cultured man, an intellectual giant whose
academic world had no shadow of the horrors that were his end.
Fortunately, for him and for us, Blessed Titus truly understood what
he had studied and it made him a great saint.
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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