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Holy Rule for Feb. 27

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX 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
    Message 1 of 143 , Feb 26, 2013
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      +PAX

      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
      Abbot.

      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
      their doctrine.

      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.

      REFLECTION

      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
      refectory.

      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
      to
      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
      nothing good.

      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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