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Brother Jerome's Reflection: Oct 30

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  • michael_oblate (aka carmelitanum)
    +PAX The computer network for St. Mary s in Petersham is temporarily shutdown in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy so I am posting today for our good Brother
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 29, 2012
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      The computer network for St. Mary's in Petersham is temporarily shutdown in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy so I am posting today for our good Brother Jerome. Please pray they will not lose power because that also means they lose water and heat.

      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

      February 29, June 30, October 30
      Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

      If a brother is found to be obstinate,
      or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
      or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
      and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
      the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
      as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
      If he fails to amend,
      let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
      But if even then he does not reform,
      let him be placed under excommunication,
      provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
      if he is perverse, however,
      let him undergo corporal punishment.

      REFLECTION

      While some today may chafe at these chapters, known as the penal code
      of the Holy Rule, believe me, the modern problem is NOT that they are
      too stringently enforced. Quite the opposite. The Benedictine
      atmosphere of gentle moderation can cloak and empower a lot of
      timidity and cowardice, too. Neither are very loving, they're just
      useful means of avoidance.

      Not all love is tough love, but all love IS tough. When a parent or
      boss or superior chooses their own comfort by avoiding confrontation
      with a problem member, everyone suffers. Those in authority are
      called to love, and love leaves no stone unturned, not even those
      that are horribly difficult to lift.

      The message here for all of us is "Look at your own choir stall",
      which is a Benedictine way of saying "Mind your own business and
      examine your conscience." If you are in authority, or get there
      someday, don't be a flop or an unloving wimp. If you are not in
      charge, don't make yourself one of the problems.

      God's will has to work around and in spite of human frailty, but
      human frailty can and does often put huge obstacles in the way.
      Meanness and abusiveness can destroy others' vocations as well as
      one's own. So can cowardice and inactivity in the name of false
      charity.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA
    • carmelitanum
      +PAX Please continue to pray for the recovery of our good Brother Jerome. Please pray for the happy death and eternal repose of the soul of Brian s brother,
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 29, 2014
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        Please continue to pray for the recovery of our good Brother Jerome.

        Please pray for the happy death and eternal repose of the soul of Brian's brother, Mark, on the 30th anniversary of his death.

        Please pray for Bishop Nicholas of  the Melkites who is having gall bladder surgery.

        Please pray for Daniel who has suffered a severe stroke. He is unable to speak  and the right side of his body is paralyzed.

        Please pray for rapid healing for Mary who is facing cataract surgery.

        Please pray for the happy death and eternal repose of the soul of Ludmilla whose anniversary is Friday.

        Please continue healing prayers for Richard who has multiple health issues.


        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.
         
        February 29, June 30, October 30
        Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults
        (If there is no 29th of February, append this entry to the previous.)

        If a brother is found to be obstinate,
        or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
        or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
        and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
        the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
        as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
        If he fails to amend,
        let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
        But if even then he does not reform,
        let him be placed under excommunication,
        provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
        if he is perverse, however,
        let him undergo corporal punishment.

        REFLECTION

        It is sad, indeed, that a chapter like this ever had to be written,
        sad in St. Benedict's time, sad in our own. How little human beings
        change in some ways! Why on earth would anyone come to a monastic
        struggle with an attitude that says: "I know better. I'm right and
        they're wrong."? Why would anyone persist in staying with such an
        attitude?

        Because they are blind. It's another favorite trick of Satan.
        Blurred or clouded assessments of the reality at hand are his forte.
        Especially when these phony lenses get applied to religious matters,
        the obstinacy and self-righteousness can go to extremes.

        Look, beloveds, every single one of us, from the newest Oblate
        candidate to the Abbot Primate, came to the monastic life, to the
        Holy Rule, to be CHANGED. We came to learn, not to teach. We came to
        reform ourselves, not the monastery. We not only arrived with that
        attitude, we must keep it all of our lives. We came to surrender,
        not to demand.

        That's why this chapter is both so very sad and so very important.
        The monastic at any point in life who has renounced that attitude of
        discipleship has abandoned the struggle. We must hope it is a
        temporary abandonment, because it can be fatal to one's vocation. It
        can undo all the good work we have behind us. It can delude us into
        thinking we are persevering when we have actually long ago quit.

        Superiors and community (or family!) can be a big reality check here
        and that is what this chapter seeks to provide. Gentleness, love and
        tact are in order, but something must be done. One must be very
        careful at such times not to lord it over another smugly. But one
        must also be very careful not to do nothing at all, especially if
        one is in authority. The risk to the falling member is too great to
        ignore.

        If, alas, you find yourself to be that falling member, for heaven's
        sake (quite literally!) LISTEN. That is such a Benedictine trait,
        our Holy Rule begins with that word. If others are that upset, there may
        well be something wrong. Don't deny it. Check it out with all the
        humility you can muster, but be very aware that your humility may
        well be the thing that is currently terribly impaired. Be as honest
        as truthful as you can. Try, try with all your strength, to let
        yourself always be changed for the good, and strive to see that
        good, even when it is hard.

        If you are one of the lucky ones not in this leaking boat, be deeply
        humbled and grateful to God. Pray every day for all of those in the
        Order, the Church, the world, who are sinking. They need our prayers
        badly. Think how different the Titanic might have been with enough
        lifeboats...

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/
        Petersham, MA


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