Holy Rule for Feb. 27
Update on Shannon, whose eye surgery we prayed for, more scar tissue had to be removed than anticipated, but the success rate for avoiding retinal detachment is 80%. Deo gratias and continued prayers for her recovery.
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 27, June 28, October 28
Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery
If the community is a large one, let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life, and let them be appointed
deans. These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God and the instructions of their
Let men of such character be chosen deans that the Abbot may with
confidence share his burdens among them. Let them be chosen not by
rank but according to their worthiness of life and the wisdom of
If any of these deans should become inflated with pride and found
deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time. If he will
not amend, then let him be deposed and another be put in his place
who is worthy of it.
And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.
Did anyone read this as I did at first, many years ago, and
wonder: "Why did St. Benedict give them an academic name
like "deans"? Well, it was probably the other way around! Since the
first schools were monastic ones, it is quite likely that the
term "dean" entered academia via the Holy Rule!
Surely the academic gown of today is a modified form of our
Benedictine choir robe, the cowl or cuculla. In fact, Benedictines
used to wear their cucullas with the appropriate academic hoods as
their formal dress at graduations and the like. With all due respect
to the johnny-come-latelies like the Dominicans, Franciscans and
Jesuits, when they don full academic regalia, they're wearing a
derived form of our choir habit!
But, enough of trivia...This chapter repeats another important
consideration in St. Benedict's plan: people are not to be
overburdened. This theme is less noticeable than the more important
ones of moderation and the like, but it is there. Again and again,
the Holy Rule says that people should have help with their charges,
certain officials should even be exempted from serving in the
Two things are going on here, both very important. Surely the first
is kindness, gentle consideration for human frailty. The second,
however, is every bit as defining and important: we are not our
work, we are not our jobs, our vocation and worth is only connected
such things tangentially at best. Our motto is Prayer AND Work. The
message is that neither of these should make the other impossible.
This message is equally important for both choir monastics and
Oblates. If your work is so much that your prayer suffers,
something is wrong. However, especially true for those of us in the
secular world, if your prayer is so much that your job or children
or marriage suffers, something is REALLY wrong. If your work
deprives your family or spouse, it might be time to look at
changing it, time to rearrange goals and priorities a bit.
One of the occasional problems of modern life everywhere is not
just that we are too busy, but that we FOCUS too much attachment
and will on stuff that really doesn't matter. Change that focus.
Picture your job today if you had died yesterday. The important
stuff would still get done by someone else. The rest, your own
agenda, would go merrily
down the tubes.
Well, learn from that! A LOT of our own agendas are worth little
more than that: going down the tubes. So why waste so much time and
spiritual and emotional energy on them? As it does so frequently,
the Holy Rule and Benedictine life tell us: "Get real!"
Train yourself- and it is not always easy- to learn what NOT to
care about at all, what does not, and should not matter one bit.
That is the detachment that is truly holy. It is not all that hard
to learn, either, if one keeps at it and asks God for His grace,
without which we can do
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,