Holy Rule for Jan. 13
Prayers for Bishop Michael Putney, 66, Bishop of Townsville, Australia, has been diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer. Doctors have given him a few months.
Please pray for Taylor, a 2 yr old currently getting 4 days of high-dose chemo prior to a stem cell transplant (her own cells) for neuroblastoma. The treatment could kill her and she still has a 40% chance of recurrence.
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 13, May 14, September 13
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
In her teaching
the Abbess should always follow the Apostle's formula:
"Reprove, entreat, rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2);
threatening at one time and coaxing at another
as the occasion may require,
showing now the stern countenance of a mistress,
now the loving affection of a mother.
That is to say,
it is the undisciplined and restless
whom she must reprove rather sharply;
it is the obedient, meek and patient
whom she must entreat to advance in virtue;
while as for the negligent and disdainful,
these we charge her to rebuke and correct.
And let her not shut her eyes to the faults of offenders;
but, since she has the authority,
let her cut out those faults by the roots
as soon as they begin to appear,
remembering the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo (1 Kings 2-4).
The well-disposed and those of good understanding
let her correct with verbal admonition the first and second time.
But bold, hard, proud and disobedient characters
she should curb at the very beginning of their ill-doing
by stripes and other bodily punishments,
knowing that it is written,
"the fool is not corrected with words" (Prov. 18:2; 29:19),
"Beat your son with the rod,
and you will deliver his soul from death"(Prov. 23:13-14).
As our world grows more populated and less personalist, "One size
fits all" becomes a favorite chant of marketing. We all know that's
usually not true, and it is surely not true of parenting or
governing, as St. Benedict points out. This chapter firmly
contradicts the lie of such marketing. We are all individuals, all
treasures with different needs. Generic brand parenting will not do.
I was a miserable failure at discipline when teaching high school
sophomore English. I am sure it is an experience neither they nor I
would like to repeat. I tried to treat them like college students or
adults, a point they had not reached.
In my naivete, I expected them to respond. When they didn't, matters
escalated between us, but not into anything that did much good. I was
terribly at fault: I didn't see who they were, I gave them what *I* would
have liked to have had, but I was already in my mid-thirties with a lot of
I wasn't serving their needs, because I didn't know who or what they
were, nor, in that first year, did I even know how to find out! So,
like many before me, I substituted what I would want or need and
proclaimed that would fit all. Wrong! NOT!
Any abbess or parent who wants to try my way, not St. Benedict's,
will quickly find that it is as hard on them as it is on their
charges. My year of high school teaching was horrid and I hated it. My
students hated it, too. It was terrible for both of us at many, many
points. The light that entered in from time to time, the genuine
enjoyment of each other was only a flash that appeared rarely, faded
soon. I pray for those kids (and for those who taught me!) every day
of my life.
St. Benedict is not only moderate and balanced, he sees the person
clearly. He is a personalist of the first rank. Practice his
principles of government without the checks and balances of this
portion and you will be very displeased with the results. It
sometimes takes St. Benedict a while to make his point. Cut him short
before he has, and you will often wind up very sorry. Always let him
finish: the whole is a thing of beauty, but the parts may fall far
short of that.
Our own Abbot Anselm, once wisely commented that most preaching
is preaching to oneself, meaning that we give others what we need to
hear. Sadly, I think he's right. I know I have often done that.
Mercifully, God alone can bring good out of anything, so He can even
use our wrong-headedness to bring others to Him. He can do that with
obedience, too. If we give Him a bit less chaos by following
St. Benedict's methods rather than our own, it will be better for all
To a certain point, some people thrive on a lot of leeway, others do
not. Some people need rigid order, others will wither under that. A
superior who is into super control will soon be left with none but
those who need that and a few conflicted types who can at least
A superior who is too easy-going can also do harm. Sad is the
community where the only thing will ever get all the horses back into
the barn is death, and a few of them exist. They were produced by
mutual efforts of bad government and bad response.
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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