Holy Rule for Dec. 10
Deo gratias, Kathy, whose chest pains we prayed for, has only got acute bronchitis, her heart tests are all OK.
Lord, help us all as You know and
will. Help us to believe You take care of us. God's will is best. All is mercy
and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 10, August 10, December 10
Chapter 57: On the Artisans of the Monastery
If there are artisans in the monastery,
let them practice their crafts with all humility,
provided the Abbot has given permission.
But if any one of them becomes conceited
over his skill in his craft,
because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery,
let him be taken from his craft
and no longer exercise it unless,
after he has humbled himself,
the Abbot again gives him permission.
If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold,
those responsible for the sale
must not dare to practice any fraud.
Let them always remember Ananias and Saphira,
who incurred bodily death (Acts 5:1-11),
lest they and all who perpetrate fraud
in monastery affairs
suffer spiritual death.
And in the prices let not the sin of avarice creep in,
but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper
than they can be sold by people in the world,
"that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Peter 4:11).
My all-time favorite quote from G. K. Chesterton is: "The artistic
temperament is a disease which afflicts amateurs." Amen!!! Ideally,
Christian life done right would eliminate the phenomenon of prima
donnas of either gender! Monastic life should, too.
The true artist is marked by humility, not because of low self-
esteem, but because of a healthy dose of reality, a firm conviction
that one's gift has been given by God and given with an eye to the
service of all. Christian art, in any form, has no meaning at all
outside of the glory of God and the betterment of the community.
For an artisan to become proud about this would be as ludicrous as
for a priest to be proud of his ability to consecrate, or a lay person
proud of their ability to baptize. Sorry, folks! Doesn't come from us.
Comes from God and we have to always remember our own littleness in
receiving such wonders.
A wrong attitude towards one's gift can quickly turn what God
intended to be a boon to the Christian community into a very large
and unmanageable human cross. Art
in communities must be treasured and held dear, because
it is a gift from a loving God. It is God and His gift that must be
sacrosanct, not some temperamental artist who is just passing that
gift on to others.
The point here is that art must always and everywhere matter less
than the people performing or enjoying it. The brothers and sisters
come first, and they do so from a theological imperative of charity,
much, much more intense than any concept of human reason alone or
canon of aesthetics. In a very real sense, the artist must matter
least of all, must disappear behind the gift, not insist on being
thrust into a foreground.
When a person does liturgy correctly, they vanish behind the veil of
vesture and rubric. They become icon bearers and what is seen is no
longer Staci or Jason, but acolyte and priest. It ought to be so with
artists, but it ought to be so with any gift or skill God has
graciously given us. We truly are NOT the source of the profound
gifts we receive and share. God is. God alone is.
"He must increase, I must decrease..." As soon as we forget that, our
gift becomes a weight dragging us downwards, rather than helping
us to ascend the heights. Good superiors can see this and stop it, but
not all superiors can see it! Let us pray that our gifts will always be focused
by the wise and loving hand of some realist, to whom God has given the gift of
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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