Holy Rule for Dec. 15
Ardent prayers for all the dead in the Connecticut school shooting. 26 dead included the shooter, apparently by his own hand, and 20 of the dead were children.
Prayers for all the dead, their families and all who mourn them, and for the traumatized children and staff who survived. Prayers for our nation, that this sort of horror doesn't happen again. Prayers for the shooter, too. Prayers that no one even considers doing such a thing again.
Prayers for Fr. Peter Connelly, OSB, of St. Benedict's Abbey, Still River, MA, on his 25th jubilee of Ordination. Ad multos annos, many more.
Prayers for Br. Vincent, on his birthday, ad multos annos, many more.
Prayers for Linda C.'s Mom, she does have a recurrence of breast cancer, and for all her family, they have been through a lot in the past few years.
Prayers for Owen, he didn't get the job from his interviews. Continued prayers for the job God wants him to have, as this has been a long road for him and his family.
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
April 15, August 15, December 15
Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received
If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
provided she is content
with the customs of the place as she finds them
and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
but is simply content with what she finds.
If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
and with the humility of charity,
let the Abbess consider prudently
whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
that the Lord sent her.
If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
her wish should not be denied her,
especially since there has been opportunity
during her stay as a guest
to discover her character.
One of the Desert Fathers (forgive me for not recalling which one,)
said that there is nothing so careful as a monk not living in his
native land. That's very true for most of us, though part two of this
chapter makes it clear that it's not true for everyone. When we
visit, we want people to think the best of the home, the family, the
land from which we came. It is this nobility of striving, this
mindful courtesy that the Desert Father wished to praise. In fact, if
I read it correctly, the implication was that it might even be better
to be a monastic AWAY from one's native land for just those reasons.
There is something striking here. Remember how badly the gyrovagues
and Sarabaites were painted in the types of monks? Well, these were
the wandering ones, and St. Benedict knew very well that a pilgrim
monk at the door could be one of these sorts. He doesn't even mention
He wants them to have a chance to do better, to be healed by
community. If they louse it up, fine, he's not going to lose a lot of
sleep over it, but he does insist they be given a chance to improve.
Given what the monastic world thought of gyrovagues and the like,
that says a LOT for St. Benedict's tolerance and clemency.
Not all of us are in cloisters, but all of us have doors to our lives. The
who come to those doors may be gyrovagues and Sarabaites, but they
may not, too. We have to give them a chance to prove or reveal
themselves. This is true of anyone we encounter. Snap judgments are
not wise, they cheat us out of many gifts. Being too much or too
little on the side of caution are both traps. Tread the middle way,
always the middle way.
This doesn't mean we have to dupe ourselves into perpetual
vulnerability, but it does mean we have to be open, mindful and
listening, really listening to all comers. Listen first, sift later.
Do both, always both.
We can get so used to our lives that we are blind to areas that could
be improved. We can get so used to doing things one way that anything
better is beyond us. Our routines which become sacrosanct are often
not at all that holy!
An outsider's objective view can let us see a good deal about
ourselves. Some things we may want to change, some we may realize are
fine as they are. Either way, the visitor can be a reality check 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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