Holy Rule for Dec. 26
Prayers for William, intestinal mass and treatment not yet decided on.
Prayers for Rev. Victoria and her Church. Her Church was burglarized badly just before Christmas.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Oh Jang Kyun, who died after being in a coma for a month folwing a car accident. None of the family has any religious faith, apparently neither did Oh Jang.
Why not this year make a new tradition: pray for your "Christmas list", that is
all people with whom you exchanged Christmas greetings, all through
Christmastide. It is a warm and loving custom.
Prayers, please, for all who have lost someone dear over the holidays. It
can be so awful for them and then the pain can recur year after year. Prayers,
too, for all those addicts for whom this season of feasting in food and drink
can be a particularly trying time of temptation. May God bless and strengthen
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. JL
April 26, August 26, December 26
Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things
If it happens
that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
with all meekness and obedience.
But if she sees that the weight of the burden
altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
let her submit the reasons for her inability
to the one who is over her
in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
And if after these representations
the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
let the subject know that this is for her good,
and let her obey out of love,
trusting in the help of God.
Buried in chapters whose names may throw us off there are usually
gems, one just has to dig a bit more carefully. Granted, impossible
tasks are rarely asked of anyone these days, much less Oblates who
live outside the monastery, but there is a beautiful method given
here which has the widest of applications.
Most interpersonal conflict arises from one being or feeling wronged.
Escalation often follows when one tries to express their displeasure
to the offender. Even people who are truly wrong do not enjoy being
humiliated or treated as if they were nothing. Upset by another's
actions, it is easy to lose one's cool. When both parties blow up, a
relentless cycle of discord is born.
The method given here for approaching one's superior is a masterpiece
of crisis intervention and prevention for almost any situation in
"...in a quiet way and at an opportune time, without pride,
resistance, or contradiction."
We ought to carve that on the walls of every mediation center in the
world, on the doors to every marriage counselor and above every
complaint desk (or, as they euphemize them these days, "Customer
Service," but what's in a name?)
Look at what is called for here: composure and calm, timing, respect
for the other person (Gandhi would even say love for the foe,) non-
violence and non-contentiousness. Use this approach with
disagreements and many of them will melt away. One reason Gandhi's
non-violence worked was that he employed all of these things, the
opponent was never denied her worth or dignity. When his followers
pared the list, they failed. This is the recipe for lasting results,
not for a temporary subjugation.
Jesus, of course, gives us a three step process to redress wrongs: go
to the person alone, if that doesn't work go with a witness, if even
that fails, then haul them up before the whole assembly. We can
consider ourselves absolved if we follow all those steps and may feel
justified, but if we undertake ANY of those steps, especially the
first one, without the calm prescribed by St. Benedict, our effort is
all but guaranteed to fail. We can sputter out: "I went to her and I
got NOWHERE!" Ah, yes, but HOW did you go? "He wouldn't even listen
to the whole community!" Neither would you, if made to feel that
small and worthless in public.
Very often our manner of dealing with others says a great deal about
how we esteem ourselves. A balanced dignity and self-love is shown in
the Holy Rule's approach. It will go a longer way toward ending
conflict than a "wronged prima donna" move. Sometimes prima donnas
of either gender are filled with angry self-hatred.
Watch people fight and it will be easy to see that many consider any
slight or offense against themselves to be THE original sin. Sigh...
Give people like that a lot of room. Being wrong is not a capital
offense, everybody does it at one time or another. People who
demonstrate anything else by their actions damage their own standing
in the group as well, and rightly so.
Remember that every disagreement hurts the whole group. A family at
dinner with two not speaking is a tense affair. You cannot calm a
child by saying "This is between your Father and me! It has nothing
to do with you." But it does, it really does. A community in choir
after a huge blow-up between two members is not an exquisite taste of
mystical prayer. Everybody suffers. That's why fixing these fender-
benders is so important and why St. Benedict gave us a way that is so
very likely to achieve results.
Now THAT'S creative peacemaking!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day to all in the US who are celebrating today. God be thanked for His many blessings to us all. Prayers for all and especially for the safety of those travelling.
Prayers for Cas, who has gastrointestinal cancer. Prayers, too, for Bev, his wife, and Gabrielle, their daughter. Bev is a classmate of mine from Tampa Catholic High.
Prayers for Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, OSB, newly appointed Prior of the Benedictine community at Norcia, Italy, and continued prayers for them as they recover from the catastrophic damage the earthquake did to their monastery and basilica.
Prayers for Christopher, 13, in hospice care at home with brain cancer and thought to be very close to death. Prayers for his family, too, and for all who will mourn him.
Prayers for Daniel, had an injection for knee pain, knee reduced to bone on bone and will eventually need a replacement.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Greg, and for all his family and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Stella, 92, a Benedictine Oblate, and prayers for her family and all who mourn her.
Prayers for B., for her return to the Faith.
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
March 25, July 25, November 24
Chapter 45: On Those Who Make Mistakes in the Oratory
When anyone has made a mistake
while reciting a Psalm, a responsory,
an antiphon or a lesson,
if he does not humble himself there before all
by making a satisfaction,
let him undergo a greater punishment
because he would not correct by humility
what he did wrong through carelessness.
But boys for such faults shall be whipped.
Calm down, we don't whip anybody anymore. It has too often been my
experience that such lines push all the buttons of some readers these
days and blind them to the rest of the good stuff there. We don't
whip now, they did 1,500 years ago, everyone else did, too. Let's not
get so mired in the sensitivities of our own time that we forget how
terribly recent some of them are.
As I have mentioned before, in our house we do kneel in the center
when late for choir, then bow to the superior and go to our
place. We also kneel when we make audible mistakes in Church. And
yes, those things, as I pointed out, can be very useful.
But most Oblates do not have a choir to kneel in, so
what's here for the majority of us? There is the grace of humility,
without which communal life on any level, in monastery, workplace, market or
home would be unlivable.
Every single human community or whatever sort is going to have its
share of kinks, strays and crosses. Every one without fail
will mirror in some sense the fallen brokenness of humanity. The
gamut of human flaws exists in microcosm, in at least some mitigated form,
in every human group.
Even more annoyingly, most, if not all, pieces of our OWN broken
humanity will be modeled, much to our distaste, by others around us. It is,
alas, our own sins and faults in others that tend to annoy us most. Never
forget to check for that. He or she may REALLY tick you off because
of the great similarities between you!
Our job is to see to it that we are part of the solution, not part
of the problem. When, through whatever means, we become part of the problem,
we must own up to it at once and smooth it over as best and as
quickly as we can.
If you can't say "I'm sorry," for heaven's sake- quite literally- start
practicing alone in front of a mirror until the words can somehow
tumble out in public. Until they can, try some useful (though not
perfect,) substitutes, like "Excuse me," or "It was my fault." Work
on words of forgiveness, too, like: "It doesn't matter," or "Oh,
Strive to make light of things. There will never be any
shortage whatever of people who will explode and magnify things out
of all rational proportion, so don't duplicate services! Join the
minority and try to prevent hurricanes in teacups, rather than
Most outrage, most lack of apology, most tempests in teacups stem
from a distorted an unhealthy view of the self. Humility corrects
that imbalance. While you're in front of the mirror practicing
apology, why not try a bit of self-interview?
WHY do these things or persons upset you so? What do you have in
common with those who annoy you most? Most important, just who the
heck ARE you that your perceived slights are such a big deal? Try
reminding yourself that He is God and you are not. Honest reflection on these
points may be a big and promising start.
Love and prayers,