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Holy Rule for Nov. 28

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for Brad and Alicia and their unborn twin girls. One of the twins has developed problems in utero which may require surgery immediately after
    Message 1 of 58 , Nov 27 12:00 PM
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      Prayers for Brad and Alicia and their unborn twin girls. One of the twins has developed problems in utero which may require surgery immediately after birth, if she survives. Alicia has miscarried before. Prayers, too, for Jim and Claire, worried grandparents of the girls.

      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Abbot Francis Sadlier, OSB, of St. Leo
      Abbey, on the anniversary of his death.

      Prayers for the eternal rest of Betty, on her birthday.

      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 29, July 29, November 28
      Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor

      From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
      let them apply themselves to reading
      up to the end of the second hour.

      At the second hour let Terce be said,
      and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
      At the first signal for the Hour of None
      let everyone break off from her work,
      and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
      After the meal
      let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

      On the days of Lent,
      from morning until the end of the third hour
      let them apply themselves to their reading,
      and from then until the end of the tenth hour
      let them do the work assigned them.
      And in these days of Lent
      they shall each receive a book from the library,
      which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
      These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

      But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
      to go about the monastery
      at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
      and see that there be no lazy sister
      who spends her time in idleness or gossip
      and does not apply herself to the reading,
      so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
      but also distracts others.
      If such a one be found (which God forbid),
      let her be corrected once and a second time;
      if she does not amend,
      let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
      in such a way that the rest may take warning.

      Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
      at inappropriate times.


      Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
      contemplation, more ancient than many later forms.
      Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
      of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
      the centuries since St. Benedict.

      Even in that embellished form, it remains a very, very simple and
      efficient means to contemplative prayer. One simply reads Scripture
      or the Fathers (or Mothers!) slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a
      cow chewing its cud!) on each word and verse. As St. Romuald later
      observed, one waits like a chick for whatever its mother gives it.

      One does not read to get through the book. One reads to see if and
      when the Holy Spirit calls us to higher prayer with a word or phrase
      that strikes the heart. At that point, one should follow one's heart
      and not worry about finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!

      It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
      contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
      concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
      holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
      It must be.

      We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
      ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
      well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
      prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
      with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
      diaper changer of the same ilk!

      The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
      recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
      Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
      it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
      more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
      prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
      at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
      contemplative goal of all these systems.

      This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
      Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
      because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
      very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
      Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
      A Dominican could be reading virtually anything and still know that
      every bit of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
      another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
      face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
      this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
      meet Him because of it!

      Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
      such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, please, for Kathleen, 92, having esophageal surgery, many problems, badly needs prayers. Prayers, please, for Adolfo and his wife, Mary Carmen.
      Message 58 of 58 , Jan 16, 2013
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        Prayers, please, for Kathleen, 92, having esophageal surgery, many problems, badly needs prayers.

        Prayers, please, for Adolfo and his wife, Mary Carmen.

        Prayers for Chris, on his 42nd birthday, graces galore and many more!

        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 17, May 18, September 17
        Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

        In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
        and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
        Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
        and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
        in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
        But if anyone should presume to do so,
        let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
        At the same time,
        the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
        and in observance of the Rule,
        knowing that beyond a doubt
        he will have to render an account of all his decisions
        to God, the most just Judge.

        But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
        be of lesser importance,
        let him take counsel with the seniors only.
        It is written,
        "Do everything with counsel,
        and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).


        The key here is not to contend insolently; there is no proscription
        against telling the Abbot one feels something is amiss, so long as it
        is done respectfully and humbly. We are Benedictines, not fascists;
        we have a Father, not a Fuhrer.

        Human nature being what it is, people are usually more prone to cite
        the Abbot's responsibility to seek counsel than they are to cite the
        equally important proscription against contending with one's Abbot!
        There's a cure for that and many other ills buried within this
        chapter, a telling phrase whose observance promises peace. That
        little gem urges the monastics not to follow their "own heart's

        Follow that gem and peace abounds! For one thing, whether abbot or
        monastic, parent or child, boss or employee, the focus of the
        relationship ceases to become self. None of us are anywheres near the
        big deal we'd either like to be or think ourselves to be! Much of
        what seems earth-shattering to us is really small stuff, indeed.

        This is so important to monastic struggle because it is so intricately
        interwoven with detachment and holy indifference. We must learn how
        to hold onto our inner peace, how to safeguard it from damage at the
        hands of trivia. An abject TERRIBLE day for us, one when we are so
        hurt or angry that the world seems to have stopped, is just another average
        day for the rest of the community. Until, of course we decide we ARE
        the center of the universe and ruin it for them... Cling to that
        knowledge of trivia and less will suffer!

        At that point of recognizing trivia, truth and therefore, humility
        enter into the equation. We need very good "trivia
        detectors" and their default setting must be aimed at ourselves,
        rarely cast elsewhere except in cases of really great need. We can
        keep those detectors more than amply busy just in our own hearts
        and wills! We need to know deception, falsity, trivia, but it is
        essential to know them first in ourselves.

        If these good tools of detection are aimed only at others, the result
        will be pride and a fall, not humility and truth. Jesus said "I am
        the Truth," and to Him we must prefer nothing. Hence, our first
        desire must always be the truth and the truth is that the earth does
        not revolve around us as an axis!

        Our age, particularly, has embraced the idea of "Follow your bliss!"
        Well, maybe...sometimes.... but maybe not, too. Our "bliss" is no
        guarantee of infallibility. Years ago, and for many years of my life,
        I thought my "bliss" would be very different from where I finally wound up.

        As a handy rule of thumb, I would say that the will of God quite
        often looks nothing like bliss at first. Hence, confusing bliss with
        the divine will can be very risky. The will of God often BECOMES
        bliss when we are in the midst of following it, or in hindsight, but we
        have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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