Holy Rule for Dec. 11
Prayers, please, for Diane, having triple bypass surgery, and for all her loved ones and all who take care of her.
Prayers for Kristian, on his 24th birthday, and for Joy and Dick, his parents,
and all their family, for graces and happiness for all.
Lord, help us all as
You know and will. Helps us believe and know that You take care of us. God's
will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so
April 11, August 11, December 11
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
let her not be granted an easy entrance;
but, as the Apostle says,
"Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
and if it is seen after four or five days
that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
and the difficulty of admission,
and that she persists in her petition,
then let entrance be granted her,
and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.
After that let her live in the novitiate,
where the novices study, eat and sleep.
A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
to watch over them with the utmost care.
Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
and whether she is zealous
for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
by which the journey to God is made.
If she promises stability and perseverance,
then at the end of two months
let this rule be read through to her,
and let her be addressed thus:
"Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
If you can observe it, enter;
if you cannot, you are free to depart."
If she still stands firm,
let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
and again tested in all patience.
And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
that she may know on what she is entering.
And if she still remains firm,
after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.
Then, having deliberated with herself,
if she promises to keep it in its entirety
and to observe everything that is commanded,
let her be received into the community.
But let her understand that,
according to the law of the Rule,
from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
which she was free to refuse or to accept
during that prolonged deliberation.
The Holy Rule is an awesome document about 1,500 years old. Since it
is always both these things, it is helpful to look at both past and present
in reading it. In St. Benedict's time, and for many centuries after him,
numerous less than lofty social reasons obtained for joining a
monastery. This was, alas, as true for the nobility and it was for
Got an unmarriageable noble daughter? Ship her off to join the "unclaimed
treasures" abbey, if they won't take her, found and fund of your own.
Got a younger son with no inheritance or title, not the sharpest
knife in the drawer, either? Sounds like a vocation to the Church to
me... Dowager queen or ex-wife a governmental problem? Have I got a
convent for YOU!
For the lower socioeconomic groups, it was often flat out social
climbing to join the monastery. You not only
came out well-dressed and well-fed, but you often got educated in the
bargain, too. If one was not born noble, or if one was less than
wonderful at warfare, the Church was the ONLY way to climb to power.
History has removed or severely limited many of these shoddy reasons
for joining. Hence, it is not always wise to play hard to get with
the reasons for same out of the way. I have known communities who
played too hard to get for too long and now get nothing at all.
Whooops! Poetic justice there!
Before the worst of the vocations crunch came, there was a terrible
myth afloat in the late 60's and early 70's: "the perfect vocation."
Holding out for these ephemeral dreams has seriously harmed more than
one house. Just as women were learning to debunk the Cinderella myth,
many houses fell prey to the foolish notion that Prince or Princess
Charming really WOULD arrive on a charger one day.
It's balance again, always, always balance. This is
true not only of monasteries, but of single Oblates seeking a mate
and of any Oblate seeking to fill a job slot or assign a task to a
child. The apparently "perfect" one may not always be the best bet!
Balance, look at the person, the REAL person,
not the "perfect" one you desire so much that you see an illusion.
Mindfulness, here! Really, really, look at the real, strive to see it
well and then act accordingly. Jesus, after all, IS the Truth.
Ask any employer, many a plodder who was given a chance and knows it
will try harder and actually perform much better than the "dream" who
arrived with all ducks neatly in a row. In any situation in life, it
is crucially important to remember that carved-in-stone standards are
never subjective and people ALWAYS are. Thus, a little flexibility is
going to be required unless you are totally content with never
God is in charge of these things, but God is terribly polite. Get in His way and
He will usually leave you to your own devices, since they can be the most
effective teachers! Be too picky or not picky enough and you will
miss whatever treasure He has for you. Don't take that risk!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day to all in the US who are celebrating today. God be thanked for His many blessings to us all. Prayers for all and especially for the safety of those travelling.
Prayers for Cas, who has gastrointestinal cancer. Prayers, too, for Bev, his wife, and Gabrielle, their daughter. Bev is a classmate of mine from Tampa Catholic High.
Prayers for Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, OSB, newly appointed Prior of the Benedictine community at Norcia, Italy, and continued prayers for them as they recover from the catastrophic damage the earthquake did to their monastery and basilica.
Prayers for Christopher, 13, in hospice care at home with brain cancer and thought to be very close to death. Prayers for his family, too, and for all who will mourn him.
Prayers for Daniel, had an injection for knee pain, knee reduced to bone on bone and will eventually need a replacement.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Greg, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Stella, 92, a Benedictine Oblate, and prayers for her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for B., for her return to the Faith.
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
March 25, July 25, November 24
Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory
When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.
But boys for such faults shall be whipped.
Calm down, we don't whip anybody anymore. It has too often been my
experience that such lines push all the buttons of some readers these
days and blind them to the rest of the good stuff there. We don't
whip now, they did 1,500 years ago, everyone else did, too. Let's not
get so mired in the sensitivities of our own time that we forget how
terribly recent some of them are.
As I have mentioned before, in our house we do kneel in the center
when late for choir, then bow to the superior and go to our
place. We also kneel when we make audible mistakes in Church. And
yes, those things, as I pointed out, can be very useful.
But most Oblates do not have a choir to kneel in, so
what's here for the majority of us? There is the grace of humility,
without which communal life on any level, in monastery, workplace, market or
home would be unlivable.
Every single human community or whatever sort is going to have its
share of kinks, strays and crosses. Every one without fail
will mirror in some sense the fallen brokenness of humanity. The
gamut of human flaws exists in microcosm, in at least some mitigated form,
in every human group.
Even more annoyingly, most, if not all, pieces of our OWN broken
humanity will be modeled, much to our distaste, by others around us. It is,
alas, our own sins and faults in others that tend to annoy us most. Never
forget to check for that. He or she may REALLY tick you off because
of the great similarities between you!
Our job is to see to it that we are part of the solution, not part
of the problem. When, through whatever means, we become part of the problem,
we must own up to it at once and smooth it over as best and as
quickly as we can.
If you can't say "I'm sorry," for heaven's sake- quite literally- start
practicing alone in front of a mirror until the words can somehow
tumble out in public. Until they can, try some useful (though not
perfect,) substitutes, like "Excuse me," or "It was my fault." Work
on words of forgiveness, too, like: "It doesn't matter," or "Oh,
Strive to make light of things. There will never be any
shortage whatever of people who will explode and magnify things out
of all rational proportion, so don't duplicate services! Join the
minority and try to prevent hurricanes in teacups, rather than
Most outrage, most lack of apology, most tempests in teacups stem
from a distorted an unhealthy view of the self. Humility corrects
that imbalance. While you're in front of the mirror practicing
apology, why not try a bit of self-interview?
WHY do these things or persons upset you so? What do you have in
common with those who annoy you most? Most important, just who the
heck ARE you that your perceived slights are such a big deal? Try
reminding yourself that He is God and you are not. Honest reflection on these
points may be a big and promising start.
Love and prayers,