Holy Rule for Jan. 5
Prayers for Amanda, 27, Aubrey, 5, and Bailey, 15, all of whom died in a house fire, and all their family and all who mourn them, also for two others in the hospital after the fire.
Brad and Alicia and their newborn twin girls, Ayla and Bryn, each weighing under three pounds at birth and multiple health issues. Both losing wieght, too.
Prayers for Craig that he gets house listings and sales for his real estate. The situation is becoming dire as he cannot pay mortgage, etc. Also prayers for Craig whose back went into spasms last night, probably from the stress. He can hardly move.
Prayers for Brittany and Orest flying back to BC this morning, for a safe trip and for the insurance for the car accident they had coming for Christmas to be worked out.
Prayers for healing for all of Elaine's family relationships as there has been some stress and hurt feelings.
Prayers for Father Francis, discerning whether to leave the priesthood that he is given the strength to stay a priest.
Deo gratias: Carol had a good stress test and her daughter, Melissa, got a tuition grant to go to school.
Prayers for Doug, in the hospital with a severe diabetic ulcer on his foot, may need surgery, MRI pending.
Prayers, please, for Jo; really tough examinations and an even tougher job situation.
Deo gratias for past prayers answered
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. Allis mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
January 5, May 6, September 5
Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
"Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
I will liken to a wise person
who built a house on rock.
The floods came,
the winds blew and beat against that house,
and it did not fall,
because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).
Having given us these assurances,
the Lord is waiting every day
for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
And the days of this life are lengthened
and a respite granted us for this very reason,
that we may amend our evil ways.
As the Apostle says,
"Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
For the merciful Lord tells us,
"I desire not the death of the sinner,
but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).
People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
Richard cleans like a dream and our world looks a lot better whenever
he's been here!
If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
every time you open the fridge just in case, then fine, this portion
was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
and a buffer, of course!
Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
time..." Orthodox St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."
Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a thrill!
Such a gift! Just can't wait to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
different from that of our modern Christianity.
We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
and grace. All of us, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of Baptism, but
not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
nor Benedictines. Big news there!
What St. Benedict is saying is "OK, this is our approach. There are,
of course, others, but if you want to use ours, you this is what you have
to do." "Repent!" St. John the Baptist cried again and again in the desert,
and somewhere along the way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God,
stepped into the Jordan. Face it, folks, if He can answer the call to repent,
anyone can! He had no need at all!
What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
have to repent.
Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
though. Like a pro! Most of the new paint in the house is his work.)
All joking aside, great thanks are due to many of our Oblates and
guests, all of whom make ours a shared ministry of hospitality. This
great team effort results in people being a lot more comfortable here! Say
a prayer of thanks with me for all of them! All of them help us receive
Christ at our door.
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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