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Holy Rule for Dec. 16

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Barbara and her nephew, Will. He is in the hospital with a serious gall bladder infection that must be cleared up before he can have
    Message 1 of 58 , Dec 15, 2012
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      Prayers, please, for Barbara and her nephew, Will. He is in the hospital with a serious gall bladder infection that must be cleared up before he can have needed surgery.

      Deo gratias: Emily received a scholarship in a very Providential way. Thanks and prayers for her and her benefactor and her family.

      Prayers for Jimmy, on his birthday, for his eternal rest.

      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 16, August 16, December 16
      Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received


      ++A note on the gender in this excerpt of the Holy Rule. I don't switch the
      genders, that's the way it comes from St. John's daily reading which I cut
      and paste. It is rarely problematic, but today it often gets me posts from Roman
      Catholics asking me what gives...

      The daily changing genders of pronouns, etc, in the Holy Rule come
      from the site at St. John's, not from me. This reading raises some hackles
      nearly every year, because it seems to advocate women's ordination. That,
      however, is not the case. I follow RC teaching in that regard.

      But if as a guest she was found exacting or prone to vice,
      not only should she be denied membership in the community,
      but she should even be politely requested to leave,
      lest others be corrupted by her evil life.

      If, however, she has not proved to be the kind
      who deserves to be put out,
      she should not only on her own application be received
      as a member of the community,
      but she should even be persuaded to stay,
      that the others may be instructed by her example,
      and because in every place it is the same Lord who is served,
      the same King for whom the battle is fought.

      Moreover, if the Abbess perceives that she is worthy,
      she may put her in a somewhat higher rank.
      [And not only with regard to a nun
      but also with regard to those in priestly or clerical orders
      previously mentioned,]*
      the Abbess may establish them in a higher rank
      than would be theirs by date of entrance
      if she perceives that their life is deserving.

      Let the Abbess take care, however,
      never to receive a nun from another known monastery
      as a member of her community
      without the consent of her Abbess or a letter of recommendation;
      for it is written,
      "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tob.

      *[Applicable only to women of some contemporary monastic communities
      in the Anglican Communion.]


      The flip side of a visitor having a few good things to point out is
      one who has very little good to say at all, carping about everything.
      Just as the monastic family is to listen carefully at first to see
      which brand of critic they have, here they are warned that the one
      who is happy with nothing should be politely asked to leave. It is,
      as always, balance. We should fall into neither extreme.

      Monasteries and families are very much alike in their innate sense of
      being more or less OK. Like families, they can sometimes be mistaken
      about this and St. Benedict knows that. However, he also points out
      that there are times when that instinctive feeling of being all right
      IS right, and a visiting malcontent ought not to disrupt it.

      Virtually all of us could use some improvements in our lives,
      especially if we have fallen into some of the peculiar habits that
      seem to thrive among those who live alone. An outside observer, one
      who sees the side of our life previously hidden, can offer some real

      However, someone who wants to overhaul us or our lives wholesale, is
      not a "suitable suitor" or friend! We must learn to live with and
      adapt to others, but I'll bet that many of us who have dated have
      known at least one of those who wanted to remake us from the ground
      up. Not a good idea!

      Religious people can actually be too passive in this respect, quite
      easily. All kinds of things might enter into that judgement, but self-
      emptying and self-destruction are two different things! A human
      relationship is the union of two people, not the total absorption of

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, please, for Kathleen, 92, having esophageal surgery, many problems, badly needs prayers. Prayers, please, for Adolfo and his wife, Mary Carmen.
      Message 58 of 58 , Jan 16, 2013
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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,
        Jerome, OSB

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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