Holy Rule for Dec. 24
Prayers for Sarah B., very sick, and for her parents.
Pryares for Pam, in her 40s and the mother in a beautiful faith-filled family with 3 children (10,12, 15). She has a diagnosis of end-stage pancreatic cancer. She began chemotherapy to have time to say farewells, but is only expected to live a few months. "We aren't counting on a miracle," says her husband John, "but we will gladly accept one." Prayers for all her family, too.
Some people want to make an offer on Elaine and Craig's home, but have to sell their condo first, prayers that all goes well and they get an offer.
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 24, August 24, December 24
Chapter 66: On the Porter of the Monastery
At the gate of the monastery
let there be placed a wise old woman,
who knows how to receive and to give a message,
and whose maturity will prevent her from straying about.
This porter should have a room near the gate,
so that those who come may always find someone at hand
to attend to their business.
And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails her,
let her answer "Thanks be to God" or "A blessing!"
Then let her attend to them promptly,
with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God
and with the warmth of charity.
Should the porter need help,
let her have one of the younger sisters.
If it can be done,
the monastery should be so established
that all the necessary things,
such as water, mill, garden and various workshops,
may be within the enclosure,
so that there is no necessity
for the sisters to go about outside of it,
since that is not at all profitable for their souls.
We desire that this Rule be read often in the community,
so that none of the sisters may excuse herself
on the ground of ignorance.
When a phone or doorbell rings, whether in a great Benedictine abbey
or an urban Benedictine apartment, we have the opportunity to
practice the hospitable grace that the Holy Rule requires of all.
Dorothy Day's friend and mentor, Father Hugo, used to say that we
love God as much as the one we love the least.
That would readily translate for me. I LOVE to see certain guests arrive,
look forward to it as soon as I hear they are coming. Those are not the
receptions on which I should judge my hospitality. The tough-to-love
The point here is that we ARE Benedictines, whether our answering
style of door or phone makes that evident or not. I might not like to think
so, but the anonymity of just saying "Hello," on the phone, without my
name or title does not entitle me to be harsh or gruff or rude. All of us are
bound by something Benedictine within us to be kind and gracious to all
who call or visit.
Someone who calls a monastery for the first time can be driven
away or attracted by the way they are dealt with on the phone.
A vocation could driven away by a smartingly cold response. To
risk alienating someone because of our own moods might mean that we
cheat someone out of a spiritual respite they sorely need.
I can't tell you how many people who just called us out of nowhere in the
last 12 years have become real members of our family, greatly
beneficial to themselves and to us. Anyone of those first experiences
could have been irreparably soured by a cranky phone manner. Look at
what all of us would have lost had that happened.
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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