Holy Rule for Mar. 17
A blessed feast of St. Patrick to all, special prayers for our troubled Church
in Ireland and prayers that the truly religious aspects of today are restored.
Please say a prayer for the eternal rest of my dear mentor, Bro. Patrick
Creamer, OSB. He taught me so much of what I pass on and he always LOVED his
Pryaers for the eternal rest of Jean, 55, a pastoral associate who died of cancer, and for all her family and all who mourn her, esp. Emilia.
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 17, July 17, November 16
Chapter 38: On the Weekly Reader
The meals of the sisters should not be without reading.
Nor should the reader be
anyone who happens to take up the book;
but there should be a reader for the whole week,
entering that office on Sunday.
Let this incoming reader,
after Mass and Communion,
ask all to pray for her
that God may keep her from the spirit of pride
And let her intone the following verse,
which shall be said three times by all in the oratory:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Your praise."
Then, having received a blessing,
let her enter on the reading.
And let absolute silence be kept at table,
so that no whispering may be heard
nor any voice except the reader's.
As to the things they need while they eat and drink,
let the sisters pass them to one another
so that no one need ask for anything.
If anything is needed, however,
let it be asked for by means of some audible sign
rather than by speech.
Nor shall anyone at table presume to ask questions
about the reading or anything else,
lest that give occasion for talking;
except that the Superior may perhaps wish
to say something briefly for the purpose of edification.
The sister who is reader for the week
shall take a little ablution before she begins to read,
on account of the Holy Communion
and lest perhaps the fast be hard for her to bear.
She shall take her meal afterwards
with the kitchen and table servers of the week.
The sisters are not to read or chant in order,
but only those who edify their hearers.
It is a safe bet that Oblates who don't live alone rarely eat in silence, so
it would be easy to ask what on earth this chapter has for them, for all of us,
in fact. Easy! Another reminder to bless every action and service, no matter how
small is here. So is the kindhearted father Benedict: let the reader have a
little something before reading, so the hunger doesn't overwhelm. (It is
funny how quickly we become accustomed to eating at EXACTLY this or that time...
Twenty minutes later can start some stomach rumblings!) A third and perhaps
less obvious point is that, when it comes to the spiritual life and its
nourishment, St. Benedict does not like to waste time. He makes judicious use of
the time we feed our bodies to feed our hearts, minds and souls!
Let's start with that wasted time idea.. Look at some of the other areas we
waste time actively, or passively, because we have no choice. Grocery store
lines come to mind, so do waiting for elevators or trains or buses, to say
riding on same. An excellent opportunity for silent prayer! One could also
carry a small book all the time, popping it out when the occasions arise. I used
to study college texts in line at the store. I was working full-time and I
needed every minute. But we all need every minute to grow spiritually, because
we don't know how many of those minutes we have!
Driving, if one has a tape or cd deck in the car, can be a time to "make up"
for some of that lectio divina we never seem to have enough hours in a day to
finish. I speak as one formerly hopelessly addicted to rock 'n roll oldies- I
was a radio DJ, after all- there are a lot of tapes I could have played that
would have done far more for me than the Beach Boys or the Dave Clark 5!
(Though I will always hold both dear!) No radio or
tape in your car? Make sure you have a Rosary.. There's plenty of time for one
and you will find that traffic jams, while still aggravating, can be less so
when something worthwhile to do is close at hand.
Oblates who live alone surely can play a tape of reading while they eat, but
I strongly feel that even families, if the children are old enough to
understand, can glean something here. What about a brief, very brief reading at
the beginning of each meal, right after grace? Could be most anything, but the
Saint of the Day, a free e list, has perfect length Saint bios with a quote and
short point or two to ponder. (Subscribe at: _http://www.americancatholic.org_
(http://www.americancatholic.org/) ) You and your family will learn about the
Saints, about the faith. This can be done in less than 3 minutes or so, then
(hopefully!) discussion and questions follow.
You might, also, try a different kind of "silence" at meals. What about a
"fast" from all talk that doesn't praise or compliment, an occasional meal when
you agree to do nothing but tell each other the good things you appreciate about
each member? Not shabby! Or maybe a meal when we never mention ourselves,
only others at table? There are all kinds of tricks to turn conversation into
something saving rather than harming, and total silence is only one approach!
And don't forget that little gem about blessing every action. If grace before
meals (maybe even after, too!) is not already a custom, make it so. This is
not turning your family into monastics, it is a basic Christian practice that we
should never have lost.
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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