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Holy Rule for Jan. 22

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Continued prayers, please, for Martin, as he recovers from his knee replacement surgery. Say a prayer, please for me, on the 54th anniversary of my
    Message 1 of 144 , Jan 21, 2013
      +PAX

      Continued prayers, please, for Martin, as he recovers from his knee replacement surgery.

      Say a prayer, please for me, on the 54th
      anniversary of my Confirmation and for my Dad, Jerome, whose name I took first
      in that Sacrament.

      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 22, May 23, September 22
      Chapter 5: On Obedience

      The first degree of humility is obedience without delay.
      This is the virtue of those
      who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ;
      who, because of the holy service they have professed,
      and the fear of hell,
      and the glory of life everlasting,
      as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior,
      receive it as a divine command
      and cannot suffer any delay in executing it.
      Of these the Lord says,
      "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45).
      And again to teachers He says,
      "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).


      Such as these, therefore,
      immediately leaving their own affairs
      and forsaking their own will,
      dropping the work they were engaged on
      and leaving it unfinished,
      with the ready step of obedience
      follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands.
      And so as it were at the same moment
      the master's command is given
      and the disciple's work is completed,
      the two things being speedily accomplished together
      in the swiftness of the fear of God
      by those who are moved
      with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
      That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way,
      of which the Lord says,
      "Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14),
      so that,
      not living according to their own choice
      nor obeying their own desires and pleasures
      but walking by another's judgment and command,
      they dwell in monasteries and desire to have an Abbot over them.
      Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord
      in which He says,
      "I have come not to do My own will,
      but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).

      REFLECTION

      Ever wonder what was so great about obedience? What is so hot about
      dumping our own wills? Sometimes our wills are innocent, sometimes they're even
      downright good. Let's be truthful, sometimes our own wills seem even
      BETTER than the choices presented to us by other circumstances. What
      gives?

      Good rhetorical question, that one: what GIVES. Genuine obedience is
      a gift, to God and to all His people. Make the monastic better and
      you have made the home or monastery better, and so the neighborhood,
      the city, the state and onwards to the whole world. We forget the
      ripple effect, because we cannot clearly see it. We are not giving
      that gift to falsehood, but to truth. If we look at particle physics, it is
      very true that what we do with our hearts really DOES affect the whole
      universe.

      Our self-gift of obedience heightens truth in the world, and Jesus
      is the Truth. There is a very incarnational aspect of obedience. Like
      Mary, we are, in our own halt and lame, partial ways, birthing God.
      In our actions Christ today can become visibly human in us, in our
      tiniest drop of fresh water, the sea becomes less salty, the desert,
      less dry. No one can make the Sahara a rain forest alone, and God
      knows that, but He wants us to try, to be part of the solution, not
      the problem. Enough drops together WOULD make the Sahara bloom.

      Obedience and humility are conjoined twins which share one heart:
      both will die if they are separated. Humility, in its healthiest
      perfection, is truth and that truth births bits of God into the
      world, confetti mosaics that the wind of the Spirit can blow into
      fuller, more accurate portraits. Yes, humility is the most often
      mentioned of connections, but the root of humility is truth and the
      root of truth is God. Obedience without humility would be no
      better than a Nazi lockstep.

      All of us spend large portions of our lives carefully building a
      false self, who lives in a false world, with matching false
      imperatives. Merton speaks of this false self again and again. The
      goal of monastic struggle is to uncover and nurture the TRUE self,
      the true world view and values. We often cheerfully ignore the real
      imperatives of God and life, substituting our own and elevating them
      to a level they truthfully (literally!) do not deserve. It's a moral
      displacement activity. We fail altogether in one area, so we
      compensate by raising another. Trouble is, the other one raised is
      so often false, or made false by its unjust elevation. Sigh...
      It becomes a vicious circle.

      Give a good parent a critically ill child and you will find out
      what's true or important in a hurry. Everything gets dropped at once,
      without hesitation or care. Everything. Give a single person a really
      bad case of the flu and you will soon find imperatives pared to very
      few. (The flu or any illness is a superlative teacher: if it doesn't
      matter when you're that sick, it often doesn't matter, period!)

      See what obedience points us toward? Obedience says: here is Jesus, the
      Truth. Embrace Him now, don't wait for the threatened child or the
      ghastly flu to scare you into appropriate action. The Truth Whom
      we only sometimes see in crisis is here all along. Keep what you have learned
      from crisis. Live it all the time. Make it a gift, because it is one
      that will enrich others AND yourself!

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

        +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 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).

        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 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
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

         

         

         

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