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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 143 , Jan 27, 2013
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      +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 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).

      REFLECTION

      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
      anything.

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





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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, please, for the following, and for all their families and all who take care of them: Barbara, dementia worsening, major meltdown on Friday, and
      Message 143 of 143 , Jun 1, 2013
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        +PAX
        Prayers, please, for the following, and for all their families and all who take care of them:

        Barbara, dementia worsening, major meltdown on Friday, and for her husband, Jim.

        a member of Jane's family newly diagnosed with cancer.

        Al. His vision is critical to his work. He had cataract surgery and now the lens that was implanted will have to be removed Monday and replaced with a new one. Doc says there is a high risk of a detached retina. Please pray that God will guide the surgeon's hands and for complete healing.

        Denise, that she get her marriage blessed and return to the Sacraments.

        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

        February 1, June 2, October 2
        Chapter 7: On Humility

        The fourth degree of humility
        is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
        when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
        and contradictions
        and even any kind of injustice,
        enduring all without growing weary or running away.
        For the Scripture says,
        "The one who perseveres to the end,
        is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
        and again
        "Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!


        And to show how those who are faithful
        ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
        the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
        "For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
        we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
        8:36).
        Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
        they go on with joy to declare,
        "But in all these trials we conquer,
        through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
        Again, in another place the Scripture says,
        "You have tested us, O God;
        You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
        You have brought us into a snare;
        You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
        And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
        it goes on to say,
        "You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).


        Moreover, by their patience
        those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
        in adversities and injuries:
        when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
        when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
        when forced to go a mile, they go two;
        with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
        and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

        REFLECTION

        Be careful how you read this fourth step of patience. It is an ideal,
        presented in its most flawless form. It is not an unreachable goal, but neither
        should we expect significant progress before noon today. It is our call and
        our vocation, but it is a lifelong task.

        The danger for schleps like me is that this step can give one an image
        of a perfect, 1950's TV sitcom Mom: shirt dress, high heels and pearls as
        everyday wear, cookies and milk always forthcoming in a kitchen as clean
        as a surgical suite and never a hair out of place. Full make-up on rising
        and wears hat and matching gloves to shop. PUHLEEEZE! Give me a break.
        Real patience in action is not at all like that.

        Patience in action is a fierce struggle. Never think that it's easy for
        others and therefore something is wrong with you: it isn't easy
        for anyone. One of the biggest flaws of the "I'm OK and you are
        not..." school of ministry is that it makes people think exactly
        this. "It's easy for her and there's something terribly wrong with
        me." Neither is true.

        The Rule and Scriptures were meant for strugglers. They were written
        for real, average people, halt and lame, battle-scarred veterans like
        you and me, for people who have weathered life, but barely. Hey,
        there may be cookies and milk, but you'll probably have to get the
        plate yourself and brush aside a LOT of blood, sweat and tears to
        find one. Oh, and please drink the milk fast and take as much as you
        can... the fridge broke today.

        Patience is surely one of the most important fuels that perseverance
        runs on, but don't be surprised if it often is not very high octane!
        Neither should it surprise you if your engine is not a slant V-8, but
        rather a very cheap lawnmower that has trouble starting. Patience
        is ENDURANCE, not ease. It may, after years of struggle, confer a
        great peace and serenity, but it rarely, if ever, feels like that in
        the middle of things.

        Brother Patrick Creamer, OSB, of Saint Leo Abbey in Florida, taught
        me patience and perseverance. He was able to do so because he was so
        transparent about his own struggles. Many others tried to tell me how
        hard it was, but their lack of candor made me dismiss their warnings
        as tokenism. It certainly didn't seem to be hard for them. I couldn't
        believe them. Patrick, my late and beloved mentor, was so very different.

        Patrick entered the monastery in 1954, when he was 40, after a long
        career at sea. He missed being at sea so much (and for so long!) that
        it magnified many of the every day crosses of monastic life. Abbot
        Marion, who loved brothers and had a very tender spot for them, used
        to send Patrick to the beach for a weekend occasionally, in years
        when that sort of thing didn't often happen. Abbot Marion was wise enough
        to know he'd lose Patrick if he didn't get a salt air fix now and then.

        Even the beach trips were not enough alone. Patrick told me he was
        tempted to leave every single day for ten years. Patrick, when I
        lived with him, literally stayed packed with a hidden suitcase for
        years and boasted of his ability to be gone in an hour. As a novice,
        my heart used to be selfishly in my throat. I wanted him to go, if
        that was what he was supposed to do, but I really didn't want to lose
        him.

        I can also tell you that, during the worst
        of those years, Patrick helped scores of folks who came to him, because a
        transparently wounded person usually can. I can also tell you that
        Brother Patrick finally decided to stay: when he was 83 or so!! What a
        witness of hope that was to me, to others struggling like me.

        Please, let us all be given patience. But when we get it, however
        little at a time, let NONE of us be "perfect" TV Moms. Let us all be Patricks,
        let us show others how terribly hard, yet doable it can be.

        Patrick held forth from his infirmary room until his death
        at two weeks short of 90. A steady stream of visitors never waned.
        On the head of his bed and on the shaving mirror over his sink were
        two small notes, written in his own inimitable hand: "Lord, let me
        come to You." They broke my heart the first time I saw them. I still
        didn't want to lose him. But I know how right he was and how richly he
        deserves that loving embrace for which he so patiently waited.

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome LEO, OSB (again and again you'll see why I took the second
        name!)
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA



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