Holy Rule for Nov. 6
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Charlene, very worried and going to the doctor, prayers it is nothiong serious and that she finds out today.
Larry, having a knee replacement.
Audrey, working claims adjustment in devastated areas of NY, and for all those affected there.
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 8, July 8, November 7
Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be
As cellarer of the monastery
let there be chosen from the community
one who is wise, of mature character, sober,
not a great eater, not haughty, not excitable,
not offensive, not slow, not wasteful,
but a God-fearing man
who may be like a father to the whole community.
Let him have charge of everything.
He shall do nothing without the Abbot's orders,
but keep to his instructions.
Let him not vex the brethren.
If any brother
happens to make some unreasonable demand of him,
instead of vexing the brother with a contemptuous refusal
he should humbly give the reason
for denying the improper request.
Let him keep guard over his own soul,
mindful always of the Apostle's saying
that "he who has ministered well
will acquire for himself a good standing" (1 Tim. 3:13).
Let him take the greatest care
of the sick, of children, of guests and of the poor,
knowing without doubt
that he will have to render an account for all these
on the Day of Judgment.
Let him regard all the utensils of the monastery
and its whole property
as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.
Let him not think that he may neglect anything.
He should be neither a miser
nor a prodigal and squanderer of the monastery's substance,
but should do all things with measure
and in accordance with the Abbot's instructions.
We need to correct our vision here a bit. St. Benedict was writing
1400 years before the world knew Marx and Engels. He far predates the
kind of materialist world view that has grown up in the last hundred
years or so, largely thanks to Communism with a capital "C", but also
thanks to the excesses of capitalism, too.
There is a certain innocence in St. Benedict's time that we lack, and
that can be a trap. St. Benedict's "economic theory" or theology of
material goods is NOT directed to the goods themselves, or to profit
to the max, but to the people (the whole family,) who own them and
the one who uses them. People, first, things later!
In monastery or in family, the message here is that we do not own
things in the ultimate sense, we use and administer them. They are
needed for the common good and are therefore not ours to waste or
expend with impunity. This is very much the theology of private
ownership espoused long after Benedict's time by St. Thomas
Aquinas: we own things in responsible stewardship for the good of
all, since that is how and why God created things. Echoing the ideas
of both saints, Pope Pius XI, in the early half of the 20th century,
said that private property is not an absolute right- it bears
obligations for the common good.
One could offer a very incomplete litany here and say: parent,
teacher, boss, all of you: read this chapter! One could be more
complete and say that anyone who has any charge over things on which
others depend should read this. That would include, at one time or
another, all of us!
We do not realize how much like a cellarer we truly are: all of us
administer things we do not own outright. All property is held in
stewardship, all things are given by God for the commonwealth
(literally!) of all. If we administer some of His wealth unjustly, it is Him
St. Thomas Aquinas was very clear in his teachings about
property rights and responsibilities. God made things- all of
creation- so that people could thrive and save their souls. When we see
to it that some thrive frighteningly more than others and others thrive
not at all, something is terribly amiss.
I am not cellarer, but I was guestmaster. Just as there were limits to
my own control- it was not "my" house- there are
limits to all of the things that all of us own. No one, no one in
Christendom owns outright. There is always the responsibility for the
good of others, for sharing, for kindness and clemency.
Look, too, at St. Benedict's concern, which he voices elsewhere when
dealing with authority, for those with little or no voice: the poor,
the guests, the children, the infirm. St. Benedict, more than once,
tries to guarantee that those who may be half afraid to ask need not
be so, that the authority will go out to meet their needs even before
they have to express them. He is trying to give clout to the
cloutless, and so should we all!
Cling to the line about not vexing others. It is always very, very
cheap and easy to let others live. It usually "costs" us far less
than we are willing to admit on a bad day. As Father Damian of St.
Leo used to say: "If it gives him so much pleasure and me so little
pain, why not?" However, spare yourself a lot of pain and frustration
at the onset by realizing firmly that treating others that way will
in no way guarantee that they will return the compliment, often quite
the reverse. But that isn't the reason one does it. One does it for
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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