Holy Rule for Dec. 2
Prayers for the eternal rest of Kai, 2, who died of brain cancer, and for all his family, esp. his cousin, Catherine, and all who mourn him.
Prayers for T. and her husband, he is addicted to porn and wants a divorce.
Prayers for Manuela and her son, special intention.
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
April 2, August 2, December 2
Chapter 51: On Brethren Who Go Not Very Far Away
A Brother who is sent out on some business
and is expected to return to the monastery that same day
shall not presume to eat while he is out,
even if he is urgently requested to do so
by any person whomsoever,
unless he has permission from his Abbot.
And if he acts otherwise, let him be excommunicated.
Some of us may recall childhood playmates who were not allowed to eat
at our homes or anywhere else, just at their own home. I know I do.
She came from a VERY close-knit Seventh Day Adventist family.
That girl's family had a high level of what sociologists term
liminality. The term is used often to describe Hasidic Jews and the
Old Order Amish. It is the degree of difference from the rest of the
world that is undertaken voluntarily and its effect is to heighten
the connectedness of the group in question, to strengthen bonds.
Even though he could not have named it that, maybe liminality is
something of what St. Benedict is aiming at in this chapter. Surely
we ARE meant to be communal, to be cenobitic families that are very
closely bonded to one another. Surely a meal is one way of both
stressing that bond and limiting outside competitive ones. There is
also the problem- greater in St. Benedict's day than in our own- of
the monastic dining on heaven knows what that was forbidden.
These days, far less is forbidden to us dietarily as monastics, but
there are still dangers of monastics being wined and dined and
getting far too accustomed to "only-the-best-for-me-thanks!" We are
certainly allowed to eat out, but I think that it is significant
that, in my monastery, we are ordinarily forbidden to eat in expensive places or
in people's homes without permission.
That's just our custom here. In many ways, it is very good, too.
Remember that we usually go out in our habits. I sure don't mind
being seen in Taco Bell or some family restaurant in my habit, but I
would be woefully embarrassed and ashamed to be seen so attired in
the most expensive restaurant in Boston. What kind of a statement
would that make?
Our homes are domestic churches, they are temples. However humble,
they are the banquet halls of a great King.That's what we are called
to remember in this chapter. Our homes are sacred, whether Oblate or Abbot
Primate, we live in the houses of God. To His dwelling place, others must
never be preferred.
Having said that we all dwell in domestic temples, banquet halls of
the Greatest King, let us also take care to invite others to share that
tremendous grace. The simplest meal in such a setting, provided the host sees it
for the splendor of God's presence that it truly is, is a rich blessing for the
indeed. And we are, after all Benedictines: hospitality is one of our
Love and prayers,
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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,
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