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,
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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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