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Holy Rule for Jan. 28

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual and physical welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Martin, in a lot of pain
    Message 1 of 144 , Jan 27, 2013

      Prayers, please, for the spiritual and physical welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

      Martin, in a lot of pain after knee replacement surgery.

      Seamus, going through a spiritual crisis.

      Lauren, 41, who is dealing with alcoholism and depression and the constellation of negativity; Lauren is divorced but is plagued by an ex-husband who won't leave her alone.

      Maria, 34, who is having brain surgery on Thursday to remove a tumor; Maria is a wife, mother of 2 year old, and a teacher.

      John, seeing his cardiologist on Monday.

      Kay, elderly, suffering from some painful wounds in her foot and a compression fracture in her spine. The doctors are giving her some heavy narcotics to ease the pain, but those depress her appetite and thus contribute to a more general weakness.

      Roechelle, 19, is having surgery for a blood clot twisted around her lower spine. She cannot walk now. Very delicate surgery, prayer for wisdom for the Dr.

      Mary Ellen, an Oblate who is recovering from recent successful cancer surgery.

      Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
      grace. God is never absent, prside Him! Thanks so much. JL.

      January 28, May 29, September 28
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      As for self-will,
      we are forbidden to do our own will
      by the Scripture, which says to us,
      "Turn away from your own will" (Eccles. 18:30),
      and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God
      that His will be done in us.
      And rightly are we taught not to do our own will
      when we take heed to the warning of Scripture:
      "There are ways which seem right,
      but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell" (Prov. 16:25);
      and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless:
      "They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will."

      And as for the desires of the flesh,
      let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us,
      when he says to the Lord,
      "Every desire of mine is before You" (Ps. 37:10).


      Revolutions usually have several things in common: they respond to a
      need, they go too far in some areas, not far enough in others and
      they tend to brand those not agreeing with them as criminal or
      psychotic. Look at Soviet Russia for most of the 20th century and you
      will see all of these. Look further back at the French Revolution and
      you will find that 1917 in Petrograd offered nothing new, perhaps new
      names for certain aspects, but nothing else.

      The last decades of the 20th century saw a tremendous psychological
      revolution in the West. Its effects were perhaps greatest in some
      religious circles, where those once wary of psychology now embraced
      it more or less wholesale, and not always with the best of tool kits in
      either theology or psychology.

      Pieces of our psycho-spiritual world view definitely needed change
      and correction. Unfortunately, however, like the Bolsheviks and the French
      before them, some ardent revolutionaries shot the Imperial family and
      guillotined a lot of otherwise very fine people. Their zeal went a bit too
      far and they were often followed unquestioningly.

      In those years, a close and scathing look was taken at religious
      obedience and the personal will. It certainly was necessary.
      Sadly, but predictably, the pendulum swung in a very un-Benedictine
      fashion to the opposite extreme: question everything and accept
      nothing. Personal will, formerly maligned as a foolish, worthless and
      even dangerous entity was now elevated to lofty, noble, nearly infallible
      heights that it frankly did not deserve.

      Not astoundingly, both extremes missed the middle road of truth.
      ("Virtue stands in the middle way." Thanks very much, Aristotle and
      St. Thomas Aquinas.) Going too far in either direction is perilous,
      extremes become vices.

      Human will unaided is at once potentially noble, yet dreadfully
      flawed. Without God and grace assisting, the prognosis is not good.
      For Christians, however, God's grace and aid are available, but they
      come at the price of cooperation and cooperation demands a certain
      sacrifice of our own wills.

      It is perhaps harder for us to see that necessity of abandoning our
      wills than it has been for many before us. We are traipsing through
      the spiritual road with all kinds of extraneous 1970's baggage about
      autonomy and maturity and self-actualization carried to false
      extremes. Balance, always balance, always moderation in the
      Benedictine way!

      Our wills can be good and wonderful. It is, after all, with our wills
      that we answer God's call. But part of God's call is to forget the false self
      and forget its willful tantrums. Our wills are the natural habitat
      and environment of the false self- it thrives there!

      It is fatal to spiritual growth and to community to infer too great a
      maturity or too little. Monastics are not children, but most adults
      have not totally arrived, either! It is foolish to trust those under
      our care with nothing, but equally so to empower them to virtually

      That's just not how monastic life works. St. Benedict
      bluntly says that his followers DESIRE to live under an abbot. We
      want and need that compass for true North, we affirm that when we
      embrace the Holy Rule, whether newest Oblate novice or Abbot
      Primate. Obedience is central to our spiritual path.

      A good superior will keep one from being too easy on oneself, but
      will also protect one from being too hard on oneself. I cannot tell
      you the number of times submitting a matter to my superior has
      resulted in something far less gruesome than what I had obsessively
      planned for myself!

      Most of the wonderful things said about personal will are true, to a
      point, but the revolution failed to emphasize the fact that our wills
      do NOT come with gyroscopes. As such, their trustworthiness as
      compasses is far from absolute.

      The Gospel, the Rule, the superior: these are the gyroscopes that
      enable us to will true North! Without these helps, our journey could
      very easily make the first and last voyage of the Titanic look like a Sunday
      afternoon swan boat ride in Boston's Public Garden.

      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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