Holy Rule for Dec. 20
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who takke care of them:
Ben, Sarah, & Jacob traveling across country from Arizona for Christmas. Safe travel as they are driving.
little Myla, in ICU again with serious heart problems, and for her parents,
Simon, who is critically Ill in hospital with pneumonia and broken ribs and leg and is being fed by tubes after a very serious car accident and another friend who broke his arm & is feeling guilty after the accident.
Mrs. Service, 50, possibly dying of cancer, and for her seminarian son who has been called to fly home to be with her. Two other seminarians have lost theiir mothers this month and another seminarian's father had a serious heart attack. Prayers for them all.
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, BJL
April 20, August 20, December 20
Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess
In the constituting of an Abbess
let this plan always be followed,
that the office be conferred on the one who is chosen
either by the whole community unanimously in the fear of God
or else by a part of the community, however small,
if its counsel is more wholesome.
Merit of life and wisdom of doctrine
should determine the choice of the one to be constituted,
even if she be the last of the order of the community.
But if (which God forbid)
the whole community should agree to choose a person
who will acquiesce in their vices,
and if those vices somehow become known to the Bishop
to whose diocese the place belongs,
or to the Abbots, Abbesses or the faithful of the vicinity,
let them prevent the success of this conspiracy of the wicked,
and set a worthy steward over the house of God.
They may be sure
that they will receive a good reward for this action
if they do it with a pure intention and out of zeal for God;
as, on the contrary, they will sin if they fail to do it.
Monasteries can forget sometimes that they are not their own, one of
the unavoidable risks of Benedictine autonomy. While it was usual, in
St. Benedict's day, for monasteries to be under their local bishop
(and still is usual in the East today,) St. Benedict says something
even more telling. The local laity should intervene if the monastery
conspires to elect a loser! Now THAT is going a long way!
Monasteries become dear to those around them, and a sense of
ownership for their local monastery arises in many hearts. St.
Benedict actually endorses that. The monk is not his own, but neither
is the whole community. We belong to the Church, we belong to our own
locale, we belong to the people in a very special way. It entitles
them to warn us that we may have gone amiss and it obliges us to
always recall that our monasteries have ripple effects!
Many of us in the workplace or school, some of us even in marriage,
are forced to deal with people who were NOT chosen for their "merit
of life and wisdom of doctrine." That can be very tough, but grace
and the Holy Rule are there to strengthen us.
The single most important thing the one governed can do to thwart bad
government is NOT to mirror the behavior which is at fault. Two
wrongs can never make a right. All too often, for whatever reason,
people push our buttons and get exactly the sick response from us
that they sickly need. Try not to let that happen. Put a control on
your buttons. Never stoop to the level that annoys you, and believe
me, that stooping is easy to do.
Hard and perennial truth, but many of the things which annoy us most
in others are our own sins, in one form or another.We might reflect those
faults in different areas, in different ways, but this can only help
us in denial. Look, look very carefully at the person who makes you
the most angry. Most of us will not have to look honestly for very
long to see why we are affected strongly.
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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