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Holy Rule for Dec. 7

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Bob B., who just had his fourth heart attack. Prayers for the eternal rest of all who died at Pearl Harbor on this date, for all
    Message 1 of 58 , Dec 6, 2012
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      Prayers, please, for Bob B., who just had his fourth heart attack.

      Prayers for the eternal rest of all who died at Pearl Harbor on this date, for
      all their loved ones and all who mourn them and for all World War II veterans, living and dead.
      Prayers, too, for the many survivors and surviving families who had their lives changed forever that day.

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

      April 7, August 7, December 7
      Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

      Let clothing be given to the brethren
      according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
      and its climate;
      for in cold regions more will be needed,
      and in warm regions less.
      This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

      We believe, however, that in ordinary places
      the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
      a tunic,
      a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
      a scapular for work,
      stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

      The monks should not complain
      about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
      but be content with what can be found
      in the district where they live and
      can be purchased cheaply.

      The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
      that they be not too short for those who wear them,
      but of the proper fit.

      Let those who receive new clothes
      always give back the old ones at once,
      to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
      For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
      to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
      more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
      Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
      when they receive new ones.

      Those who are sent on a journey
      shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
      which they shall wash and restore on their return.
      And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
      than what they usually wear.
      These they shall receive from the wardrobe
      when they set out on a journey,
      and restore when they return.

      REFLECTION

      Well, I could write another love song to the habit, and I surely do
      love it, but there is an issue here for all who are outside the
      cloister, yet still with the monastic struggle. Clothes do not make
      the monastic, but they do set up some very potent markers, for good
      or ill. The Benedictine job is to find the golden mean, avoiding
      extremes.

      One's clothing sends a message, fair or not. The message it sends may
      very well advance or inhibit any subsequent messages one may try to
      send. Sometimes lay people who are intensely religious will go
      overboard in what can only be called eccentricity in dress. Bad move!
      Right or wrong, our society writes them off at first glance. The odds
      of being a witness who is heard are diminished. We should want our
      appearance to suggest that Jesus Christ is WORTH turning to, not that
      we are simply eccentrics with no fashion sense.

      Simple, decent, clean, middle-of-the-road clothing is a goal
      virtually any Oblate can attain. Not too flashy and costly, but
      neither so tacky or beyond the fringe that it invokes scorn. The
      cheaper the better, but not just for stinge!

      The clothing industry in the West rides roughshod on the backs of a
      LOT of oppressed people in the less developed countries. Buying your
      good clothes used may not stop those awful practices, but it will at
      least stop your direct complicity in them. Buy a used $45 shirt at a
      Salvation Army Thrift Store and your $5 or so will actually go
      towards helping someone in need, not just perpetuating that need.
      Think how you look, but think very carefully of where your money
      goes.

      A further little fussy word here. Think twice about wearing labels
      that show OUTSIDE. I speak as one who once loved buying used shirts
      with some pricey brand's logo emblazoned on the breast. Sigh...
      Conspicuous consumption depends on visible labels like that, and you
      could be adding to a fire you'd rather extinguish. As a monk, I
      became embarrassed to wear such things. It sent the wrong message
      entirely.

      Lastly, almost everyone I know could make do with less clothes. We
      pack a lot of consumerist variety into those closets of ours and that
      sends a message, too. Always remember that the extra coat in our
      chest "belongs to the poor," as St. Basil said.

      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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        +PAX

        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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