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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Donna, on her birthday, may she draw closer and closer to Christ. Ad multos annos!
Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, D., for whom we prayed a while ago, is cancer free and only needs yearly checkups. Prayers for his continued health.
Prayers for the health of Joe, prostate cancer.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, Jenn, for whom we prayed during her open heart surgery, is being discharged to her home. Prayers for her continued health.
Prayers for L., recovering from knee surgery.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Br. Augustine, near the anniversary of his death, 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 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,