Holy Rule for Mar. 4
Prayers,please, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Beverly; a series of health issues and a task she needs to do
B, BB and JS, special intentions
JO, tough work and school situation - please pray for discernment
Cameron, her mother has recently died and she is in deep grief
J and D, still trying to kick smoking
R and DJ, health issues, especially relative to pain
Ben, healing from recent surgery
Deo gratias for past prayers answered .
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 4, July 4, November 3
Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot be most solicitous
in his concern for delinquent brethren,
for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
And therefore he ought to use every means
that a wise physician would use.
Let him send senpectae,
that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
and induce him to make humble satisfaction;
that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
but that, as the Apostle says,
charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor. 2:8).
And let everyone pray for him.
For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
and exercise all prudence and diligence
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
Let him know
that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls
and not a tyranny over strong ones;
and let him fear the Prophet's warning
through which God says,
"What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves,
and what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4).
Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd
who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains
and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray,
on whose weakness He had such compassion
that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders
and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).
Here it is. The good part to all this penal code, the loving Father!
If you remember the Prologue, the kindness and enthusiastic, loving
zeal that St. Benedict showed there, you will find the more difficult
things he has to write easier to read: because you will see them
always through the lens of his loving concern, his gentle compassion.
In this chapter, that compassion has full rein! This will have a lot
to say to parents and others in authority, too.
Notice at once the difference between Benedictine punishment and the
penal system of the world- in Benedict's day and our own. The secular,
warehousing view of punishment gives little more than idle lip-service to
rehabilitation or genuine conversion. It is pretty much reducible to
punishment for its own sake, a fact that should leave us far less than
surprised at its ineffectiveness. It fails because it does not love
the offender, nor seek to heal. Offenders are quick to grasp this fact.
Benedictine punishment has no reason OTHER than healing, conversion
and love. This chapter makes that perfectly clear. It is a collective
human striving to better image the perfect will of God, Who "desires not
the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live." Its
entire rationale is love for and healing of the erring monastic.
I find it interesting that St. Benedict does not stress in these
preceding chapters the harm done to a community in dealing with
offenses. Obviously, it sometimes happens that all are harmed, or at
least shaken by one's actions. It would have been easy enough to
include this as a rationale for punishment, even as a secondary one,
but he does not. It leaves us with a pure view of loving concern for
the guilty one.
Look at the senpectae- the old, wise ones St. Benedict would send, as
it were "secretly" to console the afflicted one. They are a cherished
monastic tradition, because they point clearly to the kindness
involved in the whole process. In a sense, St. Benedict is telling
the Abbess to play an acceptable form of "good-cop-bad-cop" to help
the guilty one to conversion, to a return to spiritual health.
Parenting styles that miss this Benedictine balance and ideal are
likely to produce angry, maladjusted kids. We have all seen examples
of this, both in hindsight and in the noise of public places. I have
been on trains with mothers who so abused their children with their
yelling that I wanted to scream back at those mothers, small wonder
the children did.
We confuse the stewardship of authority with the selfishness
of mere power. St. Benedict urges us to never do that, because
he knows it will fail. Love, only love and the mercy which attends
it triumphs! Mercy and love burnish the image of God in ourselves
to a wondrous sheen. So polish up, folks, polish up!
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,