Holy Rule for Jan. 9
Prayers for Paul, that he may endure the present challenges.
Deo gratias, Doug's toe removal surgery went well. continued prayers for his recovery.
Prayers for Martin, having a knee replacement on Wednesday, for a smooth course and no post-op infection, please God.
Prayers for Al, who had a massive stroke.
Prayers for Amy, regaining her health after a bout with an eating disorder.
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 9, May 10, September 9
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!
Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.
Folks, the abbot is a parent, so, while I am writing about abbots in
my experience, this is also true of parents, or any authority
position. Stick with me, you'll see what I mean in the end.
It will no doubt come as a great relief to other cranky types like
me to note that the leaven gently kneaded into the minds of certain
disciples often seems to have a downright under whelming effect. A
hallmark of us curmudgeonly types is impatience: we do not suffer
fools gladly, the miracle is that we endure them at all. Most of all,
we want those fools FIXED, right now, or yesterday at the latest!
The tragedy of this is that, in assuming we can recognize fools so
terribly well, we completely miss the fool at work in ourselves.
That's not the only issue, though. This leaven-in-the-dough stuff
works two ways. Throw a measure of leaven into a heap of cornmeal and
you'll wind up with a different critter than several cups of
buckwheat or flour would produce. For all I know, you could probably
throw yeast into concrete and wind up with a meringue-like patio.
Both components are essential to the change, both elements affect the
Abbot and monastic, parent and child, boss and employer, all these
are very, very intricate duets of God's mercy and grace. Neither may
be very evident to one while in the midst of things! Time and wisdom
and hindsight bring a different view. Beyond that, all of us change:
the characters in the catalyst are always changing, no matter how
subtly. God has done some awesomely loving fine-tuning here!
God uses human means to accomplish His will, as my dear
professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, so often said. Ah, but the abbacy scores
doubly on this maxim. A very human abbot is elected by a very human
community. Sometimes, abbots are elected to counteract each other.
The human community gets tired of the very human tendency of an abbot
to stress one thing above others. Hence, tight reins are often
replaced with loose ones and vice versa.
Those human means which God uses are often quite firmly addicted to
extremes. The extremes then vex a majority to the opposite extreme.
(I know this is the Marxist dialectic and I know it is not always
true, but it does have a kernel of application. Even a stopped clock is right
twice a day.) Sometime after we are all so fatigued with polarization that we
have briefly stopped watching, perhaps a median virtue ensues!
And what about that leaven that I couldn't notice having much effect?
Well, neither I nor anyone else knows, save the person and God. Some
die, some leave before the effect is seen. Leaven works. It may work
slowly, it may work in a variety of ways, but leaven does
something sooner or later! Faith and trust in God's Divine Mercy
require that we have a LOT of patience with bread cast on waters in
A final note, much, maybe even MOST of the leavening work of grace
and sanctification in our own hearts and souls takes place unnoticed, the
silent, unsung, yet constant workings of the Divine Mercy. Usually we
don't even realize it until a long while after its completion. One
day we wake up and finally notice something is different, something is
better in us. Such secret works are all the
gratuitous gift of the Leaven of all leavens Himself! Deo gratias!!!!
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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