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Holy Rule for Jan. 29

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, John had an all clear from his cardiologist and has been referred back to his general practitioner. Continued prayers
    Message 1 of 143 , Jan 28, 2013
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      Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, John had an all clear from his cardiologist and has been referred back to his general practitioner.

      Continued prayers for twins Bryn and Ayla, they are still in delicate condition and cannot go home. Prayers for their parents and grandparents, too.

      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 29, May 30, September 29
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires,
      for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.
      Hence the Scripture gives this command:
      "Go not after your concupiscences" (Eccles. 18:30).
      So therefore,
      since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov. 15:3)
      and the Lord is always looking down from heaven
      on the children of earth
      "to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 13:2),
      and since our deeds are daily,
      day and night,
      reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us,
      we must constantly beware, brethren,
      as the Prophet says in the Psalm,
      lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways
      and becoming unprofitable (Ps. 13:3);
      and lest, having spared us for the present
      because in His kindness He awaits our reformation,
      He say to us in the future,
      "These things you did, and I held My peace" (Ps. 49:21).


      Notice how this portion of the chapter harks back to the Prologue:
      God watches us, and His angels, as well. God waits for our
      reformation. All that beautiful prose of progress and hope in the
      Prologue is intimately linked to humility. Without humility, we
      aren't going anywhere!

      Something else is going on here, since we ourselves must watch and be
      on our guard. We can often forget the fact that
      God or the Angels are watching, but we can never miss our own
      vigilance. We always know when we are being careful and the message
      here is to live carefully all the time, to be mindful, to be on the
      lookout for deceptions and traps.

      "Go not after your concupiscences." Some older translations render
      this "lusts", while the New English Bible has "passions." I do not think
      that the issue here is as narrow as sexual desire. I am not at all sure that a
      monk of St. Benedict's time would have limited it that strongly.

      Read the Desert Fathers and the Eastern Orthodox monastics of today and
      you will find that the "passions" have, in their works, a far more
      expanded sense, encompassing any desire that can go to extremes. And,
      let us face it, just about all desires, short of the desire to love
      God, can go to extremes!

      There is something reminiscent of a Buddhist principle here: all
      suffering is rooted in desire.
      The Buddhists certainly did not mean just sexuality. They meant, as I
      think St. Benedict did, detachment from everything, a holy
      indifference to one's condition. That's tough to pull off, and most
      human beings will never go the whole way, but every step in the
      direction of such serenity leaves us freer, freer for God, freer to
      be what He created us to be.

      We live in a secular age that goes far beyond merely baptizing our
      desires: it GLORIFIES them! The late 20th century was unmistakably
      the zenith of the self in human thought. We were actually challenged
      to "follow your bliss." Gee, that sounded nice the first time I heard

      But, on the other hand, what a trap. Let me be the first to assure
      you that my blisses have gotten me repeatedly into one heck of a lot
      of trouble. We cannot become like Rousseau and assume a noble savage
      image here. We aren't that noble, though we can usually count on the
      savage part...

      Some of our "blisses" are wrong. They are bound to be. And some of
      them, even though neutral, are bound to make us crazy if we make them
      too important. "Go not after thy lusts" means a lot more than just
      sex, it means any inordinate desire. Balance, beloveds, always balance!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • 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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        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.
        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).


        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

        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
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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