Holy Rule for Dec. 7
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 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.
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
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
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
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,
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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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