Holy Rule for Dec. 19
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and temporal wlefare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take vcare of them:
Brian, the loss of Roger, his brother, has hit him very hard, continued prayerts for him and all the family and for Roger's eternal rest.
Mary Jane, who has been living with cancer for a while now, and is getting weak. She finds this very hard, since she has always been active in our parish.
Rhoda, cardiac complications and anxiety.
a young boy, Matthew, for whom we have prayed before. His emotional problems have worsened to the point where he is suicidal. His parents, Lisa and Robb, are taking him to an inpatient setting. Prayers, please, too for his frightened parents, his twin Nathan, and younger brother Seth.
Brittany who is starting a process called, "Rush Immunotherapy" for her allergies. Prayers that she does not have an allergic reaction and that the side effects are not bad. Also for Brittany and Orest, traveling in the mountains with a heavy snowstorm and rain, for safe travels.
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 19, August 19, December 19
Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
The juniors, therefore, should honor their seniors,
and the seniors love their juniors.
In the very manner of address,
let no one call another by the mere name;
but let the seniors call their juniors Brothers,
and the juniors call their seniors Fathers,
by which is conveyed the reverence due to a father.
But the Abbot,
since he is believed to represent Christ,
shall be called Lord and Abbot,
not for any pretensions of his own
but out of honor and love for Christ.
Let the Abbot himself reflect on this,
and show himself worthy of such an honor.
And wherever the brethren meet one another
the junior shall ask the senior for his blessing.
When a senior passes by,
a junior shall rise and give him a place to sit,
nor shall the junior presume to sit with him
unless his senior bid him,
that it may be as was written,
"In honor anticipating one another."
Boys, both small and adolescent,
shall keep strictly to their rank in oratory and at table.
But outside of that, wherever they may be,
let them be under supervision and discipline,
until they come to the age of discretion.
Abbot Fidelis, my late novicemaster, used to always say that
Benedictines were "gentlemen monks." At that time, the phrase annoyed
me a good bit, though I never said so. It seemed to have a ring of
faint middle-class respectability about it, not a little bourgeois,
as if we were monks who were "the right sort of people."
It would still annoy me today if, one meant by that phrase nothing
more than all those rather hollow social niceties. Not that there's
anything wrong as such with social niceties, just that I have grown
up in a country where courtesy, "civil" religion and the like often had
precious little to do with faith motives.
Living among monastics will teach one (hopefully!) by osmosis that
many of the common courtesies which have become decidedly UNcommon in
the world are the order of the day here. We get so immersed in that
that often it is hard to even think of what they are, we just do
them. The best example I can come up with right now is that there is
FAR more restraint here against interrupting another's conversation
here than in the world at large. We do it sometimes, I do it too
much, but basically we do NOT "butt in."
There are many other little things, rising when a superior enters,
not sitting until the superior does in chapter, etc. These in
themselves may seem empty at first, but when linked to the charity of
Christ and His Divine Mercy, they become very real gestures of love.
The fact that we don't think of them much after a while in no way
diminishes the Treasure that motivates them, Christ Himself.
Relationships between seniors and juniors are a two-way street. The
behavior of one feeds (or stokes the fires!) of the other. Hey, this
is true of all relationships, in every area of life. Want to be
loved? Give respect. Want to be respected? Give love. It may not work
in every instance, but it must be the first means we try and the only
means we never abandon totally.
Though the Holy Rule clearly exempts (in this passage,) the Abbess,
because she represents Christ, the express command that the Abbess
remember why she is treated as Christ is underscored. The Rule is the
Rule and monastics are human. The treatment we
give to others tends to reflect back upon as from a mirror, often not
without very good reason!
So, yes, my dear Abbot Fidelis, hopefully we ARE gentlemen monks (and
gentle monastics period!) No, we are not like some terribly proper and
equally shallow social gathering of "the right sort" of people. Our motives to
courtesy have a theological basis, not merely a social one. But we ARE gentle
are so because of Him Whom we seek and have come to love.
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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