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,
[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,