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Holy Rule for Nov. 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Marion, OSB and for all who mourn him. Please pray for Ed, who is really sick with a critical infection around his
    Message 1 of 58 , Nov 29, 2012
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      Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Marion, OSB and for all who mourn him.
      Please pray for Ed, who is really sick with a critical infection around his heart and for his family, especially the little ones who are taking it very hard.

      Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
      grace. God is never absent. Alleluia!
      Thanks so much. JL

      March 31, July 31, November 30

      Chapter 49: On the Observance of Lent

      Although the life of a monk
      ought to have about it at all times
      the character of a Lenten observance,
      yet since few have the virtue for that,
      we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
      the brethren keep their lives most pure
      and at the same time wash away during these holy days
      all the negligences of other times.
      And this will be worthily done
      if we restrain ourselves from all vices
      and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
      to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

      During these days, therefore,
      let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
      as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
      Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
      "with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:6)
      something above the measure required of him.
      From his body, that is
      he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
      and with the joy of spiritual desire
      he may look forward to holy Easter.

      Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot
      what it is that he wants to offer,
      and let it be done with his blessing and approval.
      For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father
      will be imputed to presumption and vainglory
      and will merit no reward.
      Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot's approval.

      REFLECTION

      Because we read St. Benedict's 1500 year old Holy Rule with modern
      eyes, it often seems harsh. To balance our perspective, we need to
      see the radical nature of the Rule when written. Face it, folks, this
      was most definitely a gentler Rule for European wannabes who could
      never hack it in the Egyptian desert in their wildest dreams. His
      introductory paragraph points out his plan of adaptation: "...since
      few have the virtue for that..." Our founder was most certainly writing
      for the struggling plodders of monasticism and he knew it. Keeping
      that uppermost in our minds can be informatively humbling.

      The Desert Fathers were not interested in mitigation in the
      slightest. The early message of the desert was: "Get Lent to the max
      or get lost!" They went FAR beyond Lenten and they did it all year,
      without a break. Any who couldn't reach that ideal were sent away as
      unsuited, not called. If we look carefully at this, perhaps we can
      better see that, from the outset, St. Benedict's fatherly heart was
      with the underdogs, the also rans, the strays and those that others
      could not be bothered with. He must have felt at some point that
      there HAD to be a way for the spiritually challenged to become
      monastics. A millennium and a half later, we are still benefiting
      from his attempts.

      Hence, for us Benedictines, when the Evil One tempts us with his lies
      like: "You could never do that! You could never be THAT holy!" our
      response must be "Yeah, so what? Your point is...???" We have no clue
      of how holy we can be. God alone knows that and God alone will lead
      us and show us in ways we are quite unlikely to ever understand.
      Whenever the demon of discouragement tells us we are far beneath this
      Rule for beginners, we must shrug indifferently and move on, briefly
      impressed for once with the Father of Lies' firm grasp on the obvious.

      Of *COURSE* we are beneath this Rule, beneath any of the earlier
      ones. Duh?!? We're Benedictines. Our Order was founded for people
      like us. That should never, ever be a cause to stop trying, to give
      up or quit. On the contrary, that fact should be a heartening
      confirmation that we are EXACTLY where we belong, in the best
      possible remedial education program for slow learners like us, right
      where God wants us.

      Like a mother to a crying child, devoid of hope, who moans "But I
      CAN'T, I just can't!" St. Benedict is softly saying, "Well,
      just do what you can and that will be OK." Get the picture? OK! Then
      go out, play nice and do what you can today... Don't be surprised if
      you find that God is increasing, sometimes imperceptibly, that "what
      you can" little by little to heights of great holiness, which we will
      achieve all but unawares and only with His help. Someday, we really
      SHALL "run in the way...with hearts enlarged."

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      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).

        REFLECTION

        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
        fancy."

        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
        frequently
        have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance!

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



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