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Holy Rule for Dec. 30

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for Sr. Lany Jo, ASCJ, recovering from knee and torn cartilage surgery. Prayers for the happy death of Mrs. Service, she has cancer in her lungs
    Message 1 of 58 , Dec 29, 2012
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      Prayers for Sr. Lany Jo, ASCJ, recovering from knee and torn cartilage surgery.

      Prayers for the happy death of Mrs. Service, she has cancer in her lungs and breasts and has been sent home to die. Prayers for all her family, too.

      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 30, August 30, December 30
      Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have

      Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
      which separates from God and leads to hell,
      so there is a good zeal
      which separates from vices and leads to God
      and to life everlasting.
      This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
      with the most fervent love.
      Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
      most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
      whether of body or of character;
      vie in paying obedience one to another --
      no one following what she considers useful for herself,
      but rather what benefits another;
      tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
      fear God in love;
      love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
      prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
      And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!


      This chapter, full of self-evident and beautiful prose should serve
      as a short rule of life, a summary of all that has gone before it.
      Live this one, and you're all right: the details from the other
      chapters will take care of themselves. Little wonder then that its
      principal points are love, obedience and humility, practiced in the
      chastity of wholeness. (Chastity, it must be recalled, is proper to
      every state in life. It is the well-ordered, balanced and wholesome
      use of sexuality.) Even less wonder that, to call Scripture in to witness
      here, "the greatest of these is love." Merton's one-line Holy Rule
      summary also applies: "Love is the Rule."

      The beauty here is so great that we often do not spend enough time
      looking at its opposite: "the evil zeal of bitterness." What a great
      turn of phrase! Like many of us, St. Benedict seems to have known
      some whose bitterness turned into an energetic zeal, a way of life, a
      broken power line in a windy world that could strike others or
      themselves without warning.

      And "zeal" is precisely the word! People can put such frighteningly
      zealous levels of effort into self-loathing bitterness. It becomes a
      full-time job, one which requires so much energy that it's a marvel
      that they continue.

      Bitter anger, self-hatred, ill-will towards many,
      these are viciously involuted cycles, cancers of the soul. They turn
      on the self, malignantly. They injure and alienate others to make
      one's twisted world view remain correct. They never rest, the fist
      is always clenched, the hand never open.

      I have known two monks with this dreadful problem, both now long
      dead. Thank heavens, they both persevered to the end and one hopes
      that was enough, because, frankly, little else could be said for
      them. They both guaranteed that their own lives were hell and pretty
      much ensured smaller doses of hell for the rest of us living with

      When I was much younger and living with those embittered monks, it
      was hard to look at them with much pity or calm. It isn't now, thank
      God, and I have spent considerable time praying for both of them, as
      well as for a few of their "runners-up"! While all things are
      possible with God, the terrible thing is that this self-hatred never
      gets fixed in some people. It can be a life sentence. Then, prayer is
      the only answer.

      In any situation, but perhaps worse when the sufferer is one's spouse
      or parent or child, this bitterness is a terrible cross, for both the
      sufferer and those around her. It might seem cold comfort to say that
      it can make us all saints, but it truly is not cold comfort at
      all. Being saints is the only thing, ultimately, that matters. I hope
      by now some of my crosses of the past are praying for me, protecting
      me, by their prayers, from what once ailed them and forgiving me for
      the times I provoked them!

      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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