Holy Rule for Jan. 4
Prayers, please, for our Prioress, Mother Mary Elizabeth, on her feastday:
graces galore and many more! Prayers, too, for all celebrating St. Elizabeth Ann
Seton as their patron, and for the eternal rest of Br. Aelred Seton.
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 4, May 5, September 4
Having our loins girded, therefore,
with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
let us walk in His paths
by the guidance of the Gospel,
that we may deserve to see Him
who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).
For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom,
we must run to it by good deeds
or we shall never reach it.
But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet,
"Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent,
or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14:1)?
After this question,
let us listen to the Lord
as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying,
"The one Who walks without stain and practices justice;
who speaks truth from his heart;
who has not used his tongue for deceit;
who has done no evil to his neighbor;
who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."
This is the one who,
under any temptation from the malicious devil,
has brought him to naught (Ps. 14:4)
by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart;
and who has laid hold of his thoughts
while they were still young
and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 136:9).
It is they who,
fearing the Lord (Ps. 14:4),
do not pride themselves on their good observance;
convinced that the good which is in them
cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord,
glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14:4),
using the words of the Prophet,
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113, 2nd part:1).
Thus also the Apostle Paul
attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself,
"By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
And again he says,
"He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).
Ever have that funny feeling of surprise that the world and time and
life and events go resolutely on, even when you are stalled in
heartbreak? It is a strange egocentricity that allows us to feel
that. I remember clearly such a feeling when my father died. I was
not quite eleven. My world was shattered, everything had stopped or
changed or been put on hold.
Child that I was, it stunned me slightly to notice from the car
window on the way to the cemetery that it was just another sunny day
for everyone else. People were working, shopping, going to school.
The world WAS going on, nothing had changed for them. It made me feel
strangely even more alone in my pain: he wasn't as important to the
rest of the world as he was to me.
We can still have these feelings as adults, but hopefully we are at
least more used to them and less inclined to think the world really
DOES stop when we think it should. Tough though that can still be,
it is reality and reality is truth and truth, after all, is not
only humility but also what Jesus called Himself.
What does all this have to do with the Prologue? The same sort of
really unfortunate egocentricity can let us think that we are the
center of the known universe in other ways, can allow us to foolishly
think that our gifts or the tiny packets of virtues we have stashed
here and there are our own. No way, folks! It is grace, it is gift,
ALL is gift, beginning with our very existence!
Everything good, in every way is all from God, not us. We dare glory
in nothing but Him, for we would be less than nothing without His
grace acting in us. He is the Source that allows us to be good.
If a city has clean, wondrous, spring water, no one in their right
mind praises the pipes. No, one praises the purity of the Source. So
it is with us, m'dears, pipes one and all, nothing more or less. God
is the Source, God's mercy and love and grace and gift are the purest
of waters. We are His conduits and we dare not glory, except in the
Lord! "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory!"
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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