Holy Rule for Mar. 1
Prayers for Janet, a crisis of faith. May she return to the Cathoic Faith of her upbringing and adulthood.
Prayers for Elaine, that a sore by her eye heals and is not skin cancer.
Deo gratias, Marie's hand is getting better and she might not need surgery on it. Continued prayers, please.
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
March 1, July 1, October 31
Chapter 24: What the Measure of Excommunication Should Be
The measure of excommunication or of chastisement should correspond
to the degree of fault, which degree is estimated by the judgment
of the Abbess.
If a sister is found guilty of lighter faults, let her be excluded
from the common table. Now the program for one deprived of the
company of the table shall be as follows: In the oratory she shall
intone neither Psalm nor antiphon nor shall she recite a lesson
until she has made satisfaction; in the refectory she shall take
her food alone after the community meal,
so that if they eat at the sixth hour, for instance, that sister
shall eat at the ninth,
while if they eat at the ninth hour she shall eat in the evening,
until by a suitable satisfaction she obtains pardon.
Let's face it, St. Benedict has a lot to say about excommunication-
a clumsy term, perhaps, because people often assume it means
excommunication from the Church, which is the only sense of the
word we commonly have today. It does not, of course mean that, just
a punishment of exclusion from certain community functions.
Let's face something else, at least in this chapter. Fasting an
extra three hours might not be lovely, but no intoning in choir?
What bad news! Gosh... Even many of us who CAN sing would look at
that as a nice break!
And eating alone? Well, the extra fast was a drag, but I sure
missed that reader and the tedious book we've been reading.
What awful luck!
See the difference in perception a millennium or so can make? That
may be a large part of why the penal code is not followed today:
some of its punishments simply make little sense to modern
monastics, some seem mean, and others (as above,) seem like
The rest of this applies with great ease to family situations,
marital situations and the workplace. Something must be gleaned
from all this legislation for punishment: the one at fault must be
told when something is wrong. That, after all, is the only reason
for punishment, to be a wake up call to the less than brilliant.
Unfortunately, the monastic hatred of personal confrontation
endemic in our ranks assumes
sufficient brilliance for all to sooner or later figure out that
they are amiss. It just ain't so, folks, sorry! Things fester when
they go ignored for years. Things that someone should have dealt
with gently, but firmly and even summarily, in formation or
childhood, torture the family in later years.
Look, it is hard, VERY hard, to confront a predictably stubborn or
difficult child or monastic or spouse or employee.
It's easy to see why one would rather not do so. But the Holy Rule
asks many things that are difficult of us, and this one is
for the good of all, both the offender and the offended. The false
charity that omits to make
these difficult corrections goes a long way to making everyone's
life awful in the future.
Also, in workplace especially, bear in mind that the authority
figure here is the abbot, not the rank and file. One dare not
assume all those prerogatives as a peer and equal. Fraternal
correction will get a chapter of its own later on, but it is not a
mantle to be assumed lightly. We must beware of the other extreme:
becoming universal policing agents for all and sundry. A tiny spark
of Gestapo flickers in many human hearts. Do nothing
to fan the flame!
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,