Holy Rule for Nov. 8
Continued prayers for Eileen, she does not have a twisted bowel after all, but now has a level of kidney failure, prognosis for treatment uncertain.
Prayers for Sue's husband. He will have surgery next week to have a pacemaker and defibrillator inserted.
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 9, July 9, November 8
Chapter 31: What Kind of Man the Cellarer of the Monastery Should Be
Above all things let him have humility;
and if he has nothing else to give
let him give a good word in answer
for it is written,
"A good word is above the best gift" (Eccles. 18:17).
Let him have under his care
all that the Abbot has assigned to him,
but not presume to deal with what he has forbidden him.
Let him give the brethren their appointed allowance of food
without any arrogance or delay,
that they may not be scandalized,
mindful of the Word of God as to what he deserves
"who shall scandalize one of the little ones" (Matt 18:6).
If the community is a large one,
let helpers be given him,
that by their assistance
he may fulfill with a quiet mind the office committed to him.
The proper times should be observed
in giving the things that have to be given
and asking for the things that have to be asked for,
that no one may be troubled or vexed in the house of God.
"A good word is above the best gift." This applies to us all and it
is so very true. I know we have bad days, I know that sometimes
emotions can all but overpower us, but for the most part, the self-
discipline to say something nice, or at least to refrain from saying
anything harsh, is available and ought to be employed.
One good word, one kind, caring phrase, can change a person's whole
day, whole outlook on a given matter, and sometimes even change another's
whole life. One word can be remembered for years, for decades, for a
lifetime. Unfortunately, this is equally true if the word was hurtful.
The power of the tongue, an awesome, wondrous power to foster growth
or stunt it, to expand or contract the heart of the hearer, this
power is not the cellarer's alone, it belongs to us all. The tongue
can figuratively kill, it can distance others from us, leaving us
finally alone with the predictable isolation of our crankiness.
It can ruin lives, others' and our own. Very often the harsh word is
the one never forgotten, the word whose hurt will surface years and
years after its speaker is off the scene. Think carefully of the harsh
words you recall being said to you, then think with double caution
about joining those "unforgettable" ranks by saying such hurtful
things to others.
Yet there is a further and even more treacherous trap of the hurtful
word: it is cyclical evil. It tempts the one hurt to rehearse all
kinds of comebacks, to hurt the one who hurt first. Never doubt that
when we provoke others to sin we share in their guilt.
Even if, by dint of grace, those hurtful replies are never uttered by the one
we have hurt, great harm is done to another's heart, another's peace,
another's life in the time wasted focusing on the hurt and plotting revenge.
It can also tempt another to throw in the towel, to quit altogether, to remove
oneself from whatever the situation of vulnerability to attack, whether that
be a job, a marriage or a monastery.
Those feelings of flee or fight are triggered by adrenalin, to be
sure, which makes them natural enough, but also very difficult to
combat. Our smart aleck mouths can place another in a painful morass
of flee/fight tortures that we may never know about at all. If they
triumph through grace, we never hear any more of what they suffered,
but their suffering is no less real and no less surely laid at our
How many times are we surprised at what another remembers us having
said (even good stuff!) or the details about a shared day that stand
out in one mind and not in another? Be very, very careful of the
memories we give to others. Those memories will live in their minds,
continuing to potentially cause good or evil, long after we are gone.
Not for nothing did St. James assert that if we have religion and
bridle not our tongues, our "religion is in vain." Truly,
truly, "death and life are in the power of the tongue."
A last caution: if you are the recipient of harsh words, try hard to
make yourself a beneficiary, not a victim. Hurt can focus far too
much on our own imagined worth and importance. Learn the treasure
of a humility that can thrive on the correct management of such situations
and feelings. Don't obsess, don't focus on revenge or compose an
equally cruel comeback. We can waste hours rehearsing comeback
lines for situations that never arise. Time is too precious for that!
Face it, roles change. Some days we are the statue, others we are the
pigeons. Everything comes to us as a means for grace, but also as a
possible means for a fall. Choose grace. Minimize the situation rather than
magnify it. That can make a huge difference!
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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