Holy Rule for Jan. 26
Prayers, please, for Mary, mid-fifties, kidney transplant on Tuesday at a high risk of rejection, rushed back to surgery for bleeding, and for her husband and two sons and all her family.
Prayers for Elaine that she gets a response and the forgiveness from the people she has made amends with.
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 26, May 27, September 26
Chapter 7: On Humility
The first degree of humility, then,
is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes
and beware of ever forgetting it.
Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded;
let his thoughts constantly recur
to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins
those who despise God,
and to the life everlasting which is prepared
for those who fear Him.
Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices,
whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will,
and check also the desires of the flesh.
Wow! Fearing God and hell-fire! It's a safe bet that this chapter was
not the darling of the 1970's! But, if we look at it properly,
there's nothing to get upset about here.
God is perfect Unity, He is totally of a whole. He is all He is at
once and utterly. Human beings, on the other hand, have minds that
are finite and cannot wrap their intellects around such a perfectly
holistic God without problems. One of those problems is what seem to
us to be contradictions in God: His total, absolute Justice and His
unfathomable, infinite Divine Mercy. Since we have a hard time
figuring out both at once, we have a tendency to let one cancel out
the other. God, to many, is either ALL hell-fire and dread or ALL
pushover and cuddly. NOT!!
Sorry, folks, but the nature of heresy is to take a real part of the
truth and make it ALL of the truth, the only truth. Foul up the
delicate balance here and you are in deep trouble. Face it, God's
perfections don't seem to trouble Him any- perfection shouldn't,
after all- so why should they get us hung up? Deep breath, lots of
faith and let's go on...
God is all at once, God is perfect, God does not change. OK, fine.
But we change, time in which we are immersed changes, has to change.
It is the nature of things. Hence, our convergences with God occur at
different times, points and conditions. The whole equation changes,
not because God changes, but because we do and must. Stop and think,
the encounter between God and one lost in sin is different from the
same person encountering God after years of conversion. The encounter
between a living soul and one after death is different, not because
God is, but because we are.
We see different Persons of the Trinity predominant in different ages
of salvation history. Might we not just as safely assume that
different attributes of God predominate at different times in His
dealings with us? Anyone who has lived any length of time at all with
God can tell you that aridity and tenderness, loving kindness and
seeming absence, joy and seriosity play off each other singly or in
groups, like light dancing through the kaleidoscopes of our soul's
broken glass and shattered gems. The pattern is always changing. All
the elements are always there, but they are constantly regrouping,
forming new and dare one say hardly boring designs!
So, always try to remember that WE are the kaleidoscopes and that the
Light shining through them does not change, even though our scattered
bits may reflect it differently, to ourselves and to others. Check
out the revelations of St. Catherine of Genoa and other mystics: the
SAME Love that delights the soul is also the fire purifies it. She
said that paradise had no gates: any who want may enter. Ah, but by
choice, to enter there would be hell, indeed, for some. A priest
once wrote that if the gates of hell were open, no one would leave.
Same God, same Love, different us! His changeless Love will be hell
for some, bliss for others. Choose bliss!!
The justice is always there, but so is the mercy. Jesus told St.
Faustina that now, in this life, is the time for mercy, which will
never, ever be denied a soul. Dump that chance in this life and
justice will be what you deal with in the next.
It seems simplistically harsh, but it isn't. We are swimming, all but
drowning in a sea of infinite mercy right now. When we leave that
sea, we will wind up on the shore of justice, unless we have
guaranteed that mercy is already ours. By asking, just by asking and
God is not itching to nail us, eager to condemn. But we can tie His
hands- we are the only creatures who can do so! We can insist on
justice by rejecting His mercy. Not a smart move... His mercy and justice are
part of a whole, they both perfectly reflect and employ His love.
What changes is not God, but us. What changes is our willingness to
accept or reject His overtures at any given moment.
So, yeah, God is watching us all the time. But also, yeah, God
forgives us the second we turn to him and trust in His mercy. God
knows we aren't perfect, so He isn't surprised that we fall.
We, on the other hand, can be distressingly wrong about how perfect
we are! Our falls shock us badly, because we have so little humility.
Think there might be a connection there about God doing or using all
things to further His will? Our very falls teach us humility that we
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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,