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Holy Rule for Jan. 16

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers for Craig and Elaine who are travelling to BC that all of their travels are safe as they are flying, driving on highways at night etc. and there
    Message 1 of 58 , Jan 15, 2013
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      +PAX

      Prayers for Craig and Elaine who are travelling to BC that all of their travels are safe as they are flying, driving on highways at night etc. and there is snow/freezing rain and fog. Prayers that while Craig and Elaine are in BC that God shows them if He wants them to move out there and He blesses them with good jobs etc. so they can make the move.

      Prayers for Michael, on a week's retreat for ordination to the diaconate.

      Prayers for Bob, in severe pain and having an MRI.

      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 16, May 17, September 16
      Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

      Whenever any important business has to be done
      in the monastery,
      let the Abbot call together the whole community
      and state the matter to be acted upon.
      Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
      let him turn the matter over in his own mind
      and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
      The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
      is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

      Let the brethren give their advice
      with all the deference required by humility,
      and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
      but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
      and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

      However, just as it is proper
      for the disciples to obey their master,
      so also it is his function
      to dispose all things with prudence and justice.

      REFLECTION

      Benedictine government is not pure democracy, but it was a lot more
      representative than Church government in its time or, for that
      matter, our own. It was also vastly more democratic than secular feudalism!

      Over nearly 15 centuries of Benedictine history, constitutions have divided
      the powers of abbot and community more specifically. There are times-
      not many, to be sure- when a chapter CAN thwart an abbot. There are
      times the abbot cannot act alone. But, by and large, our superiors
      have been left with a lot more power than the US President or the
      Queen of the United Kingdom, but less power than the average bishop.

      The way of St. Benedict is hardly mob rule, but it does ensure a
      voice to those governed, a voice that must be listened to, even when
      it is not definitive. How different history might be if people only had as
      much voice as the Holy Rule allows.

      There is no way at all that the world was ready for pure democracy in
      St. Benedict's time, in diocese or monastery or state. Large majorities of
      the populace were illiterate, few indeed were educated, and there were no
      means of mass communication. Whole empires, like the Aztec and Incan,
      rose without the slightest awareness that there were other people on
      the planet, nor was the rest of the world aware of them. It almost makes
      feudalism look like a really good idea for the times.

      And maybe it was, but it has ceased to be for our own time. There are
      clearly levels of education, communication and general ability in the
      population today that call for more participation, not less. Tough
      saying, but St. Benedict was writing for a society whose rank and
      file was largely full of really rustic types.
      True, they got a lot of their rough edges honed down in the monastic
      setting, but they were not as capable of contributing to decision-making
      as people are today.

      I am not writing this with an axe to grind, saying that the world should
      follow the Benedictine model. (Though that would certainly be my personal wish.)
      What I am trying to point out is the perennial wealth and freshness to be found
      in St. Benedict's Holy Rule. Its wisdom is as germane today as it was almost
      1,500 years
      ago. It bears the proud hallmark of both truth and wisdom: it is ageless.


      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA







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    • 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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        +PAX

        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).

        REFLECTION

        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
        fancy."

        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
        frequently
        have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham



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