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Holy Rule for Feb. 9

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Fr. Ralph and Shirley, both have physical health issues. Prayers for Nathan and Sarah, 22 weeks on in pregnancy with Andrew, who is
    Message 1 of 143 , Feb 8, 2013
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for Fr. Ralph and Shirley, both have physical health issues.

      Prayers for Nathan and Sarah, 22 weeks on in pregnancy with Andrew, who is due in June. For a safe pregnancy and delivery and for all three to grow as a family. (Andrew is their first.)

      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 9, June 10, October 10
      Chapter 7: On Humility

      The twelfth degree of humility
      is that a monk not only have humility in his heart
      but also by his very appearance make it always manifest
      to those who see him.
      That is to say that whether he is at the Work of God,
      in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road,
      in the fields or anywhere else,
      and whether sitting, walking or standing,
      he should always have his head bowed
      and his eyes toward the ground.
      Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment,
      he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment
      and constantly say in his heart
      what the publican in the Gospel said
      with his eyes fixed on the earth:
      "Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven"
      (Luke 18:13; Matt. 8:8);
      and again with the Prophet:
      "I am bowed down and humbled everywhere" (Ps. 37:7,9; 118:107).

      REFLECTION

      Alcoholics Anonymous jokes about what they call "Two-steppers," that
      is, people who decide to jump right from Step 1, acknowledging their
      problem, to Step 12, carrying the message to others, with nothing in
      between! Wrong! Doesn't work that way...

      Benedictines sometimes see a similar mistake in novices and humility.
      Bingo, they go right to the twelfth degree with nothing to build
      their external humility on but the images of popular fiction and such.

      My friend, Bishop Basil, tells me that his Spiritual Father used to tell him:
      "Beware the monk whose humility you're always tripping over." Amen!!!
      Genuine humility is not affected or showy, it is quite the reverse!
      People who learn that have a chance to stay, people who don't often
      leave because no monastery fits their model, though they
      may keep looking for one that does!

      Second Section of the Reading:

      Having climbed all these steps of humility, therefore,
      the monk will presently come to that perfect love of God
      which casts out fear.
      And all those precepts
      which formerly he had not observed without fear,
      he will now begin to keep by reason of that love,
      without any effort,
      as though naturally and by habit.
      No longer will his motive be the fear of hell,
      but rather the love of Christ,
      good habit
      and delight in the virtues
      which the Lord will deign to show forth by the Holy Spirit
      in His servant now cleansed from vice and sin.

      This crucially important second part is why none of those two-steppers
      quite make it AND why the first section is spared from
      Jansenism. (Jansenism, you may recall, was a heresy which held that
      we could NEVER be worthy, NEVER do enough penance and so forth. In
      its sad extremes, it harked to a sort of Pelagian attitude, implying
      that we might be able to do something to save ourselves if we did a lot of
      harsh stuff!
      But, of course, even that would never be enough. It was a terribly mean
      idea of God.)

      Humility is NOT affected, not presupposing, hence efforts to LOOK
      humble when one is not so will fall woefully short of the mark. No
      Academy Awards for this one! When they call for the envelope, it will
      be empty!

      Genuine humility is the most unself-conscious thing in the
      world. It produces the external demeanor without any further ado,
      because the person actually (and usually unwittingly!) BECOMES the
      truth they are striving to live. Humility shows up in the face, in
      everything, just as years of bitterness or years of love often do.

      You couldn't hide humility if you wanted to, but you don't need to,
      because the true humility is rarely even noticed and those who are
      less humble tend to discount the really humble as nobodies. In one
      sense, they are quite right! Both would agree on that!

      If one never gets to the joy and love of the end of this passage,
      there will be no reason not to look artificially rather glum over
      sins that one probably doesn't believe at heart are great anyhow.
      This is where some monastics miss the mark. They can stop at the
      perpetual gloom and dread point, without realizing the contemplative
      joy and love beyond that.

      Monasticism is true, but the Gospel is more so. Neither Jansenism nor
      perpetual gloom would play very well with Matthew, Mark, Luke or
      John. That means they wouldn't play well with St. Benedict, either,
      as his second portion surely guarantees. Love and joy and humility
      are an inseparable trio! When fear is cast out, gloom goes right
      along with it!

      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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