Holy Rule for Jan. 24
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Alan's wiffe and family, having a terrible time with his sudden death, and for his eternal rest and all who mourn him.
Sarah, 5, brain tumor.
John, surgery for an aneurysm.
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 24, May 25, September 24
Chapter 6: On the Spirit of Silence
Let us do what the Prophet says:
"I said, 'I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth.'
I was mute and was humbled,
and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38:2-3).
Here the Prophet shows
that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times
to refrain even from good speech,
so much the more ought the punishment for sin
make us avoid evil words.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important,
permission to speak should rarely be granted
even to perfect disciples,
even though it be for good, holy edifying conversation;
for it is written,
"In much speaking you will not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19),
and in another place,
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).
For speaking and teaching belong to the mistress;
the disciple's part is to be silent and to listen.
And for that reason
if anything has to be asked of the Superior,
it should be asked
with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.
But as for coarse jests and idle words
or words that move to laughter,
these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban,
and for such conversation
we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.
Ever wonder why speech is considered so dangerous? Because it can
build up the false self, the very false self that we are trying to
tear down with our other hand. Our arms can easily reach to the
shoulders of that false self, patting it on the back and congratulating it.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The false self will grow and thrive badly enough
on its own. Why on earth would we wish to offer it any mindless
Let me speak for myself, here. Probably 90% of what comes out of my
mouth other than prayer is unnecessary. A further percentage I am
afraid to even stab at is downright harmful to me. I don't imagine I
am terribly far from average in this respect. And talk about damage
from second-hand speech. There are LOTS of things I wish I had never,
ever heard. Wow, if only we would guard silence as zealously as smoke-
free zones. Wouldn't that be right in line with fearing that which
can destroy the soul more than that which kills the body alone? I
seem to recall Someone having something to say along those lines.
We aren't Trappists in the world. We cannot control our spaces as if
they were monasteries, but we can and must control our own mouths.
Total silence would likely be read as uncaring rudeness, but what
about some alternative forms of silence? What if one resolved to
speak not at all, all day, except in words of kindness, mercy or
support, to never open one's mouth except to affirm.
Now there's a thought. Could I have a seat in the no-griping section,
please? Pursue that line of thinking, be creative. Fast for a week
from contention and see what happens. Try a day of not talking at all
about yourself. Try a whole day of asking others about themselves!
One way or another, increase the levels of good one can do with
speech and diminish those of harm.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21)"
Not just the tongue, folks, but the keyboard and any other writing
instrument, too! Serenity cannot coexist with meanness of thought,
word or deed. Doesn't happen. Serenity can be held only in a field of
gentleness and deep, tender mercy!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Donna, on her birthday, may she draw closer and closer to Christ. Ad multos annos!
Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, D., for whom we prayed a while ago, is cancer free and only needs yearly checkups. Prayers for his continued health.
Prayers for the health of Joe, prostate cancer.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, Jenn, for whom we prayed during her open heart surgery, is being discharged to her home. Prayers for her continued health.
Prayers for L., recovering from knee surgery.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Br. Augustine, near the anniversary of his death, 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 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,