Holy Rule for Jan. 2
The Christmas Octave is over, but the season of Christmastide lasts till the
Baptism of the Lord, later this month, so keep on praying for those you have
exchanged greetings, cards or gifts with. Make your intentions include those of
years past, too, a nice way to include in prayer thosse dear ones no longer with
Prayers, please, for vocations to St. Mary's Monastery. Please ask God to send
us some good men in 2013.
Lord, help us 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 2, May 3, September 2
Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
"Whoever has ears to hear,
hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
And what does He say?
"Come, My children, listen to Me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
"Run while you have the light of life,
lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).
Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
did not last all year. What IS perpetually in style is wakefulness
Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it.
This is why a daily examination of conscience is so necessary.
Compline, the traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a
very apt place for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures
death, we prepare also for death, by examining our faults and asking
The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.
The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
year, every day.
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,