Holy Rule for Feb. 2
Prayers for the eternal rest of Jim, on his birthday. He died without the Sacraments.
Prayers for the spiritual and physical welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Beverly, DJ and Rita, health issues, special intention for Beverly, too..
Jill, trying to quit smoking.
Special intention for B.
Deo gratias, JS passed an important test, but still, much hard work ahead and important career choices.
Deo gratias for past prayers answered.
Mick, husband and father of three, has been found to have a brain mass, testings over the next few days to determine more.
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 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).
To hide one's symptoms from one's physician is to court misdiagnosis.
If you lie to your therapist, why bother with analysis? Both these
tactics obscure illness rather than produce health. The "health" they
seek is nothing more than a falsehood, an illusion based on an
It is natural for us to wish to wish that parents and abbots think
the best of us. It is supernatural to want them to know the truth
when they need to know it to help us. That "natural" tendency in us,
however, is founded on a very unlovely kink: the desire to ALWAYS
look good, ALWAYS seem in control, even when we are floundering in
deep trouble. If parents or bosses or abbots think very highly of us,
this temptation is even stronger; we'd rather not burst their bubble,
we think it is to our advantage not to do so.
The monastery is a school of the Lord's service, but it is a hospital
of sorts, too. When we place ourselves under the care of the Holy
Rule and an abbot, we have admitted our need for care, for treatment,
for progress. Why deny ourselves any of those things now? I'm not
sure, but I'll bet there are tons of easy ways to fake one's way out
of chemical dependency treatment. Why bother? Unlike many in
substance abuse treatment, we came to Benedictinism of our own accord.
In Eastern monasticism, the tradition is for the disciple to confess
thoughts to the elder every day. This is considered a crucially
important part of monastic formation. It humbles the disciple and it
leaves the elder in a much better position to train and advise.
Granted, with many monastics in and out of house, most abbots would
be unable to do this daily, but every monastic needs a confessor or
spiritual director or spiritual co-struggler who can really know
what's going on in their souls.
Parents know how it feels when a child has need of them and never
lets them know. It is an awful feeling and often the child's reasons
(like fear or deceit,) for keeping them in the dark hurt even more.
No parent, no boss and no abbot is perfect. They are all human and
flawed, just like us. However, when we avoid trusting them with some
of our dark side, we cheat ourselves of a chance to see their
greatness called forth in compassion, mercy and wisdom.
Balance, common sense and moderation obtain here, too. It is one
thing not to tell one's abbot or boss something because one wishes to
be thought well of, quite another to realize that some things, when
there truly is no need to tell them, are best left unsaid. As Father
Damian of St. Leo is fond of saying: "The truth is not always
nourishing." However, SOMEONE needs to know: a spiritual director
or confessor. We are too weak to trod the path alone and far too
prideful. Let's not miss the chance of humbling ourselves.
Family life, in either monastery or home church, must be founded on
truth and reality to be healthy. All of us have seen flaming examples
of dysfunction when it is not. Even though sometimes a mother will
say: "For heaven's sake, don't tell your father!" there has to be
SOME connection with reality. Not only is humility the reality of
truth, but Jesus, too is the Truth. Why on earth bother seeking Him
if we don't want Truth? Let this truth, however, always be told in
gentleness and charity. There is a difference between the virtue of
honesty and the vice of brutal frankness, as my confessor, Fr. Roger,
used to say.
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,