Holy Rule for Sept. 28
Prayers, please, for someone 74 with serious pulmonary problems, hoping for a miracle.
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 28, May 29, September 28
Chapter 7: On Humility
As for self-will,
we are forbidden to do our own will
by the Scripture, which says to us,
"Turn away from your own will" (Eccles. 18:30),
and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God
that His will be done in us.
And rightly are we taught not to do our own will
when we take heed to the warning of Scripture:
"There are ways which seem right,
but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell" (Prov. 16:25);
and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless:
"They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will."
And as for the desires of the flesh,
let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us,
when he says to the Lord,
"Every desire of mine is before You" (Ps. 37:10).
Revolutions usually have several things in common: they respond to a
need, they go too far in some areas, not far enough in others and
they tend to brand those not agreeing with them as criminal or
psychotic. Look at Soviet Russia for most of the 20th century and you
will see all of these. Look further back at the French Revolution and
you will find that 1917 in Petrograd offered nothing new, perhaps new
names for certain aspects, but nothing else.
The last decades of the 20th century saw a tremendous psychological
revolution in the West. Its effect were perhaps greatest in some
religious circles, where those once wary of psychology now embraced
it more or less wholesale. Pieces of our psycho-spiritual world view
definitely needed change and correction. Unfortunately, however, like
the Bolsheviks and French before them, some ardent revolutionaries
shot the Imperial family and guillotined a lot of otherwise very fine
people. Their zeal went a bit too far and they were often followed
In those years, a close and scathing look was taken at religious
obedience and the personal will. It certainly was necessary. The
nature of modern, well-educated religious differed considerably
from the conditions of many religious in centuries past.
Sadly, but predictably, the pendulum swung in a very un-Benedictine
fashion to the opposite extreme: question everything and accept
nothing. Personal will, formerly maligned as a foolish, worthless and
even dangerous entity was now elevated to lofty, noble heights that
it frankly did not always deserve. Not astoundingly, both extremes missed
the middle road of truth.
Human will is at once potentially noble, yet dreadfully flawed.
Without God and grace assisting, the prognosis is not good. For
Christians, however, God's grace and aid ARE available, but they come
at the price of cooperation and cooperation demands a certain
sacrifice of our own wills.
It is perhaps harder for us to see that necessity of abandoning our
wills than it has been for many before us. We are traipsing through
the spiritual road with all kinds of extraneous baggage about
autonomy and maturity and self-actualization carried to false
extremes. Balance, always balance, always moderation in the
Our wills can be good and wonderful. It is, after all, with our wills
that we answer God's call. But part of His call is to forget the self
and forget its willful tantrums. Our wills are the natural habitat
and environment of the false self- it thrives there!
It is fatal to spiritual growth and to community to infer too great a
maturity or too little. Monastics are not children, but most adults
have not totally arrived, either! It is foolish to trust those under
our care with nothing, but equally so to empower them to virtually
anything. That's just not how monastic life works. St. Benedict
bluntly says that his followers DESIRE to live under an abbot. If any
have seriously changed their minds about this, maybe it's time to go.
A good superior will keep one from being too easy on oneself, but
will also protect one from being too hard on oneself. I cannot tell
you the number of times submitting a matter to my superior has
resulted in something FAR less gruesome than what I had obsessively
planned for myself!
Some of the wonderful things said about personal will are true, to a
point, but the revolution failed to emphasize the fact that our wills
do NOT come with gyroscopes. As such, their trustworthiness as
compasses is far from absolute.
The superior, the Rule, the Gospel, these are the gyroscopes that
enable us to will true North! Without these helps, our journey could
very easily make the maiden voyage of the Titanic look like a Sunday
afternoon swan boat ride in Boston's Public Gardens.
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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