Holy Rule for Jan. 18
Prayers for Sacred Heart Parish Confirmation class, on retreat this weekend, may alll the graces they need flow freely.
Update on Elaine:(Not the Elaine we have been praying for about BC move,) She had very extensive surgery for cancer on Dec. 12, and has been recovering much faster than they had expected, since she has other serious health problems. She wishes to thank all for their prayers, which she feels helped tremendously.
Prayers for Dot, in her 80's, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and slowing down.
Elaine we have been praying about loves BC so far, having a good visit. Prayers for her and Craig and whatever God wills.
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 18, May 19, September 18
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the
whole soul, the whole strength.
Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
Then not to murder.
Not to commit adultery.
Not to steal.
Not to covet.
Not to bear false witness.
To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
To chastise the body.
Not to become attached to pleasures.
To love fasting.
To relieve the poor.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the sick.
To bury the dead.
To help in trouble.
To console the sorrowing.
To become a stranger to the world's ways.
To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
St. Benedict follows Christ's teaching of the two greatest
commandments, putting them first in his list. He had, however, also
lived in community, so look what he puts at #3: not to murder!
In the PBS drama The Best of Friends, Dame Laurentia Maclachlan, OSB,
Abbess of Stanbrook and friend of George Bernard Shaw, said that the
miracle was not that so many nuns could live together, but that they'd
never had a murder.
In a very real sense, living the first two instruments would render
the rest of the Holy Rule more or less superfluous commentary. If we
lived them, no doubt God would reveal the rest to us in time. Ah, but
there's the rub: in time...
We can easily forget that the Holy Rule is a time and labor-saving
device. It was not written for arbitrary control, it was written to
save us the lengthy process of learning all its wisdom unaided. The Rule not
only saves us a lot of time and trial and error, it also frees us to
do good long before our own stumbling efforts could ever have
produced as much fruit.
A final note about preferring "nothing to the love of Christ." This
line is so popular and frequently duplicated that we can become blind
to it, shrugging and saying: "Oh, yeah...favorite Benedictine
phrase..." Stop today and look at it, REALLY look at it. People often
glance and look away because they fail to prefer nothing, but hey,
that's the human condition! You, me and most of us strugglers are in
the same boat, so relax and look at what it means carefully.
If we truly preferred nothing to the love of Christ, we would be
sinless saints. We would need no other rule! Small wonder that most
of us read and look away in embarrassment. But ALL of us, every one,
can chisel at that mountain day by day, resolutely. A day in which
the seemingly tiniest and most token of obstacles to the love of
Christ is conquered and removed is a day of great rejoicing in
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta observed, "We can do no great things,
only small things with great love." We HAVE to start small, because,
for most of us, if it weren't for small, we'd never start at all! Ah,
but those tiniest things done with love delight the heart of the
Divine Merciful Christ as none could ever imagine! Go for it!!!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers, please, for the following, and for all their families and all who take care of them:
Barbara, dementia worsening, major meltdown on Friday, and for her husband, Jim.
a member of Jane's family newly diagnosed with cancer.
Al. His vision is critical to his work. He had cataract surgery and now the lens that was implanted will have to be removed Monday and replaced with a new one. Doc says there is a high risk of a detached retina. Please pray that God will guide the surgeon's hands and for complete healing.
Denise, that she get her marriage blessed and return to the Sacraments.
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
February 1, June 2, October 2
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
For the Scripture says,
"The one who perseveres to the end,
is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
"Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!
And to show how those who are faithful
ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
"For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
they go on with joy to declare,
"But in all these trials we conquer,
through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
Again, in another place the Scripture says,
"You have tested us, O God;
You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
You have brought us into a snare;
You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
it goes on to say,
"You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).
Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).
Be careful how you read this fourth step of patience. It is an ideal,
presented in its most flawless form. It is not an unreachable goal, but neither
should we expect significant progress before noon today. It is our call and
our vocation, but it is a lifelong task.
The danger for schleps like me is that this step can give one an image
of a perfect, 1950's TV sitcom Mom: shirt dress, high heels and pearls as
everyday wear, cookies and milk always forthcoming in a kitchen as clean
as a surgical suite and never a hair out of place. Full make-up on rising
and wears hat and matching gloves to shop. PUHLEEEZE! Give me a break.
Real patience in action is not at all like that.
Patience in action is a fierce struggle. Never think that it's easy for
others and therefore something is wrong with you: it isn't easy
for anyone. One of the biggest flaws of the "I'm OK and you are
not..." school of ministry is that it makes people think exactly
this. "It's easy for her and there's something terribly wrong with
me." Neither is true.
The Rule and Scriptures were meant for strugglers. They were written
for real, average people, halt and lame, battle-scarred veterans like
you and me, for people who have weathered life, but barely. Hey,
there may be cookies and milk, but you'll probably have to get the
plate yourself and brush aside a LOT of blood, sweat and tears to
find one. Oh, and please drink the milk fast and take as much as you
can... the fridge broke today.
Patience is surely one of the most important fuels that perseverance
runs on, but don't be surprised if it often is not very high octane!
Neither should it surprise you if your engine is not a slant V-8, but
rather a very cheap lawnmower that has trouble starting. Patience
is ENDURANCE, not ease. It may, after years of struggle, confer a
great peace and serenity, but it rarely, if ever, feels like that in
the middle of things.
Brother Patrick Creamer, OSB, of Saint Leo Abbey in Florida, taught
me patience and perseverance. He was able to do so because he was so
transparent about his own struggles. Many others tried to tell me how
hard it was, but their lack of candor made me dismiss their warnings
as tokenism. It certainly didn't seem to be hard for them. I couldn't
believe them. Patrick, my late and beloved mentor, was so very different.
Patrick entered the monastery in 1954, when he was 40, after a long
career at sea. He missed being at sea so much (and for so long!) that
it magnified many of the every day crosses of monastic life. Abbot
Marion, who loved brothers and had a very tender spot for them, used
to send Patrick to the beach for a weekend occasionally, in years
when that sort of thing didn't often happen. Abbot Marion was wise enough
to know he'd lose Patrick if he didn't get a salt air fix now and then.
Even the beach trips were not enough alone. Patrick told me he was
tempted to leave every single day for ten years. Patrick, when I
lived with him, literally stayed packed with a hidden suitcase for
years and boasted of his ability to be gone in an hour. As a novice,
my heart used to be selfishly in my throat. I wanted him to go, if
that was what he was supposed to do, but I really didn't want to lose
I can also tell you that, during the worst
of those years, Patrick helped scores of folks who came to him, because a
transparently wounded person usually can. I can also tell you that
Brother Patrick finally decided to stay: when he was 83 or so!! What a
witness of hope that was to me, to others struggling like me.
Please, let us all be given patience. But when we get it, however
little at a time, let NONE of us be "perfect" TV Moms. Let us all be Patricks,
let us show others how terribly hard, yet doable it can be.
Patrick held forth from his infirmary room until his death
at two weeks short of 90. A steady stream of visitors never waned.
On the head of his bed and on the shaving mirror over his sink were
two small notes, written in his own inimitable hand: "Lord, let me
come to You." They broke my heart the first time I saw them. I still
didn't want to lose him. But I know how right he was and how richly he
deserves that loving embrace for which he so patiently waited.
Love and prayers,
Jerome LEO, OSB (again and again you'll see why I took the second
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]