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Holy Rule for Jan. 10

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for P., his marriage has ended against his will and he needs to sell his house and get back on track spiritually. Lord, help us all as
    Message 1 of 58 , Jan 9, 2013
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      Prayers, please, for P., his marriage has ended against his will and he needs to sell his house and get back on track spiritually.

      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 10, May 11, September 10
      Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

      Let the Abbess always bear in mind
      that at the dread Judgment of God
      there will be an examination of these two matters:
      her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
      And let the Abbess be sure
      that any lack of profit
      the master of the house may find in the sheep
      will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.

      On the other hand,
      if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
      on a restless, unruly flock
      and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
      then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
      and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
      "I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
      Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
      "But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
      And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
      punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.


      Be of good cheer, all abbots and parents! St. Benedict wrote this
      over a thousand years before the dawn of psychiatry. He was very holy
      and very wise, but he was a creation of his own times. I think it is
      safe to say that, in St. Benedict's time and for many centuries
      afterward, there was a tendency to look at most behavior as choice,
      not compulsion. Things were somewhat more black and white. Under a
      system such as that given in the first half of this reading, many, if
      not most parents of today would lose without a doubt.

      I needed exactly the parents I got, so did my Dad, so did my Mom, so
      did their parents. That's just another way of saying that we are all
      victims of victims,a concept of which St. Benedict probably would
      never have dreamed. But in some way each of us is a victim of
      something, as are our parents and so on.

      Consider the marvel of God's tailoring one abbess to 50 nuns; quite a
      deal, isn't it? Now consider this. For each of us to get our perfect
      victims of victims, here's a PARTIAL picture of God's fine tuning.
      Obviously, the whole chain has to fit or it comes out wrong. We each
      have 8,388,608 21st great-grandparents, with a total of parents and
      grandparents in those 24 generations of 16,777,214.

      That total is comfortably more than the combined populations of the
      cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, Tampa, Washington, DC, and the
      entire State of Missouri. And, for a person alive today, that would
      probably only get you back to about the year 1000 AD. Begin to get
      the picture of how God has thought of us (and them!) from all
      eternity? There's a lot more than 50 nuns going on here, in fact,
      there was a different and equal set of forbears for each of those 50
      nuns AND their abbess.

      By the way, St. Benedict had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit.
      Hence, although he wrote the second part of today's reading, about
      the acquittal of the abbess who's done her best, without the benefit
      of modern psychology, it nevertheless fits right in to our current
      awareness. No one can give what they don't have (or, if they do, it's
      only the working of grace that makes that possible.) I can't teach
      you Hebrew, I don't know it. But, if I was suddenly presented with
      the fact that I'd HAVE to teach Hebrew, I'd buy a beginning text and
      we'd stumble through somehow together. How very like parenting,
      except that, for most of our partial crowd of sixteen million, there
      were no textbooks!

      Parents and abbatial types, take heart. God not only CAN use
      anything, He HAS to use anything. The human standards throughout
      history after Eden have made that more than certain. God knows and
      loves each of us. He is more parent than we are and He is, unlike
      ourselves, perfect.

      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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