Holy Rule for Mar. 11
Prayers, please, for the following:
Graham, an infant who has had surgery to correct a birth defect. He also has a blood clotting disorder which complicates everything.
Gianna, who has an important gymnastics meet.
Marlene, dying, and for her happy death and all who are keepiong vigil with her.
Paul, who had a heart attack and now is very stressed over the abuse of his daughter, Kyie, 15, by his ex-wife. And prayers for Kylie.
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 11, July 11, November 10
Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own
This vice especially
is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots.
Let no one presume to give or receive anything
without the Abbot's leave,
or to have anything as his own --
whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be --
since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills
at their own disposal;
but for all their necessities
let them look to the Father of the monastery.
And let it be unlawful to have anything
which the Abbot has not given or allowed.
Let all things be common to all,
as it is written (Acts 4:32),
and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.
But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
let him be admonished once and a second time.
If he fails to amend,
let him undergo punishment.
There are certainly Gospel counsels to poverty: "Go, sell all that
you have..." was the reading that led St. Anthony the Great into the
desert. There are also ascetic benefits to any detachment, freeing
one from reins that tie the spirit to earthbound stagnation. There
are, however, very pragmatic reasons behind poverty, too.
If Communism had kept God and truly embraced equality, it might have
worked! A lifelong student of the Romanovs (but not of economics,) I
have never been able to figure out why Russia had such a hard time
financially after the revolution. The wealth of the nobility was
beyond the West's wildest dreams, even royalty was aghast at Russian
splendor. Had that been resolutely dissolved and divided equitably, I
have a hard time figuring out why so many were in such great need.
But, of course, the Bolsheviks did not keep God, which left their
altruism for sharing wide open for human corruption to take over,
which it did. George Orwell's parable, "Animal Farm" was right on the
money: the pigs moved into the farmhouse and nothing changed except
who was in charge, in fact, things actually got worse in the barnyard.
Aside from human jealousy, or from righteous indignation at unjust
levels of economic dispersion, property possesses another
characteristic which makes it very wise for monastics to seek to
limit it. The world uses wealth and goods to establish rank, to
confirm (or, God save us, confer,) power. This view was neatly
expressed by a tongue in cheek bumper sticker of a few years
back: "The one who dies with the most toys wins."
The last thing a monastic needs is rank. The same goes for power,
unless one is already very, very holy and very mature, wise enough to
use either rank or power with sanctity. That's a point few of us have
reached. Without that necessary growth in holiness, either rank or
power can be absolutely fatal to the monastic search and struggle.
Our states in life demand different levels of goods. This is
especially true of Oblates who are parents or spouses. We must never
dare to force our simplicity on those beloved non-Oblates in our
midst! Still, there are excellent examples of detachment and
simplicity in the midst of plenty. Not all of them were canonized saints,
The last Grand Duchess of Russia, Olga, sister of Tsar Nicholas
II, died in 1960. She was a picture of no-fuss simplicity all of her
life, long before revolution and exile. She died in a friend's
apartment in Toronto, above a barber shop, not in the Winter Palace.
Not a word of complaint from her at all. Her primary interests had
been being a colonel's wife and a mother to her two sons. Nothing
else mattered to her. What little she had left was shared with admirable
generosity. Of all the Imperial family, Olga was best suited to
exile, because she had always been used to simplicity and even to
Love and prayers,
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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 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);
"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.
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).
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
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
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