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Holy Rule for Jan. 20

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Continued prayers for Craig and Elaine and their job hunt in British Columbia. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is mercy
    Message 1 of 144 , Jan 19, 2013

      Continued prayers for Craig and Elaine and their job hunt in British Columbia.

      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 20, May 21, September 20
      Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

      To fear the Day of Judgment.
      To be in dread of hell.
      To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
      To keep death daily before one's eyes.
      To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life.
      To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
      When evil thoughts come into one's heart, to dash them against Christ
      And to manifest them to one's spiritual mother.
      To guard one's tongue against evil and depraved speech.
      Not to love much talking.
      Not to speak useless words or words that move to laughter.
      Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
      To listen willingly to holy reading.
      To devote oneself frequently to prayer.
      Daily in one's prayers, with tears and sighs, to confess one's past
      sins to God, and to amend them for the future.
      Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh; to hate one's own will.
      To obey in all things the commands of the Abbess, even though she
      herself (which God forbid) should act otherwise, mindful of the
      Lord's precept, "Do what they say, but not what they do."
      Not to wish to be called holy before one is holy; but first to be
      holy, that one may be truly so called.


      The first four on today's list are not very palatable to many modern
      ears, but, like all of the Instruments of Good Works, they are
      important, they are interrelated and each one helps one fulfill the
      others. Arguably, one could say that the focus of the first four is
      the fifth: "To keep constant guard over the actions of one's life."

      We seem to have largely "gotten over" dreading Judgment. We went from a
      paralyzing, Jansenistic, scrupulous fear of it right into a smug
      assurance that everyone passes the test with honors. Well, there's got to
      be truth hidden between those two false extremes somewhere!

      I know, beyond any doubt that I shall be both delighted and very,
      very embarrassed and ashamed to meet God face to face, to find that
      my faith has been confirmed. Ah, joy at the confirmation, but oh,
      crushing shame at the simultaneous confirmation of how very far short
      of Him I have fallen, through choice, through laziness, through
      negligence, through sin.

      One can dread that realization without thinking that God is some
      intrinsically mean sort, just waiting for one to trip up, hunting for the
      slightest loophole to nail us. Quite the opposite is the truth! God's awesome
      Divine Mercy seeks every possible way to bring us to Himself and
      His rewards of bliss. Every possible way!!

      Let us admit that we have been all too good at tripping
      on our own: God has no need to duplicate services there! Fearing
      judgment is part and parcel of knowing who we are. We have all
      sinned. And I know I have failed faith, hope and love, again and again
      and again, usually with no more excuse than selfishness.

      We keep goals in sight while training. Forget the Olympic gold and
      you will quite likely forget why you are training so hard. For us,
      between now and the "Olympics" of death, it is only the training that
      matters. It is also good to recall that, as Benedictines, our goal is
      NOT simply to "pass", but to stand on the podium.

      That's not because we are any better, it is only because
      we ourselves have added great holiness to our goal. Why else embrace
      the Rule? Keeping "death daily before our eyes," we are ALWAYS at
      the Olympics, thanks to our vow of conversion of manner of life, we
      are daily in training, every minute, in fact.

      All of these four lead to the fifth, keeping guard over one's
      actions, or mindfulness. Here is a great connection between the
      Benedictine way and the Buddhist way.

      The Buddhists have a saying that monastics can preach a sermon just
      by the way they walk. That's what the care of mindfulness can do!
      Just wait till we get to the 12th degree of humility, which says that
      the monastics' humility will shine through their outward appearance,
      whether walking or sitting or working or praying.

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers for the at least 37 killed and 15 injured in a plane crash in Kyrgyzstan. For the eternal rest of the dead, the recovery of the wounded and for
      Message 144 of 144 , Jan 16



        Prayers for the at least 37 killed and 15 injured in a plane crash in Kyrgyzstan. For the eternal rest of the dead, the recovery of the wounded and for the families of all. Prayers, too, for those who lost homes or property, half of the village was destroyed by the crash.


        The Salesians invite all to join them in praying a novena to Mary Immaculate, Help of Christians, for the release of kidnapped Fr. Tom in Yemen. The novena is from January 15-23.


        Prayers for the eternal rest of JP. For whom we prayed, and for all his family, especially his son, and all who mourn him.


        Prayers for John, facing two hours of dental implant surgery on Tuesday, may all go well and may he recover quickly.


        Prayers for Donna, on her birthday, graces galore and many more, ad multos annos!


        Prayers for the eternal rest of Br. Augustine, 58, of the Maronite monks in Petersham, Holy Trinity Monastery, and for his Community, family and all who mourn him.


        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 is anywhere 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
        Petersham, MA




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