Holy Rule for Mar. 2
Pryaers for our dear Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, and for the Church and Cardinals who must elect the next Pope.
Prayers, please, for Debbie and her parish. Their music director of twenty years has been fired and the choir is disbanded, with many people hurt. Prayers for all involved.
Prayers for Cheryl, on her retirement, and for Br. Bede, taking over as her successor.
Prayers for Br. Joseph, who renewed his vows.
Belated prayers for my Dad, Jerome, and his eternal rest. His death anniversary was Leap Year Day (+1960)
March 2, July 2, November 1
Chapter 25: On Weightier Faults
Let the brother who is guilty of a weightier fault be excluded both
from the table and from the oratory. Let none of the brethren join
him either for company or for conversation.
Let him be alone at the work assigned him, abiding in penitential
sorrow and pondering that terrible sentence of the Apostle where he
says that a man of that kind is handed over
for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in
the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). Let him take his meals alone in
the measure and at the hour which the Abbot shall consider suitable
for him. He shall not be blessed by those who pass by, nor shall
the food that is given him be blessed.
Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and St. Benedict
gives the two points between which a spectrum of other methods may
be employed. He does not want a one-size-fits-all system of
correction and clearly says so more than once.
Think of any parent or authority figure you have ever heard
criticized. If punishment was in any way involved, it is most
likely that the fault was in doing too much or too little. A cruel
person can make employees or children or monastics live in terror.
Punishment is relentless and swift and often comes without warning.
This may result in slavish compliance or outright rebellion, but it
never results in a healthy self, for authority or subject. We are
not called to live in dread of unwittingly angering some
intransigent despot, whose whims may be dangerous, indeed. We are
called to live
in peace and mercy: to receive it and to give it to others. That is
true of all monastics, superiors and those governed.
But we are not called to peace at any price whatsoever, which is
the fault of those who do too little to correct. Fear of the
governed is as stupid and pointless as fear of the governor and
neither helps anyone. While too much control may lead the community
to fear the
Abbess, too little will leave them equally afraid of each other!
Note carefully that the missing ingredients in either extreme are
love, real charity, as well as a trusting prayer for grace and
guidance. If we are not showing
His love to all, something is very wrong. If mercy does not temper
justice (and justice does not temper total inaction!) something is
Really peaceful people do not avoid confrontation at all costs, if
they do, even they will never have peace. They will have nothing
more than an uneasy truce or more or less perpetual fear. That is not
the loving way to deal with a problem.
The Benedictine way is, as usual, the middle way. Some would put
down the middle way, call it weak, but, as we have seen, it takes a
tremendous amount of guts and grace to do it well. Our way is quite
the reverse of a cop-out: it requires genuine courage and grace, to
say nothing of its chief component, a lot of very frank and
truthful LOVE! Ah, yes, and that mercy which is a mirror of the
Divine Mercy, too!
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,