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Holy Rule for Mar. 18

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for T., badly needing to get through a messy divorce. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is mercy and grace.
    Message 1 of 143 , Mar 17, 2013
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      Prayers, please, for T., badly needing to get through a messy divorce.

      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 18, July 18, November 17
      Chapter 39: On the Measure of Food

      We think it sufficient for the daily dinner,
      whether at the sixth or the ninth hour,
      that every table have two cooked dishes
      on account of individual infirmities,
      so that he who for some reason cannot eat of the one
      may make his meal of the other
      Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren;
      and if any fruit or fresh vegetables are available,
      let a third dish be added.

      Let a good pound weight of bread suffice for the day,
      whether there be only one meal or both dinner and supper.
      If they are to have supper,
      the cellarer shall reserve a third of that pound,
      to be given them at supper.

      But if it happens that the work was heavier,
      it shall lie within the Abbot's discretion and power,
      should it be expedient,
      to add something to the fare.
      Above all things, however,
      over-indulgence must be avoided
      and a monk must never be overtaken by indigestion;
      for there is nothing so opposed to the Christian character
      as over-indulgence
      according to Our Lord's words,
      "See to it that your hearts be not burdened
      with over-indulgence" (Luke 21:34).

      Young boys
      shall not receive the same amount of food as their elders,
      but less;
      and frugality shall be observed in all circumstances.

      Except the sick who are very weak,
      let all abstain entirely
      from eating the flesh of four-footed animals.


      The Benedictine golden mean is that of the Lord Himself: we avoid
      over-indulgence because it burdens our hearts. This is true of any
      over-indulgence: food, drink, property. Our hearts are truly burdened
      by our excess, weighed down, kept from flight. Our hearts lag and
      fall with the awful results of having ourselves in charge of them!

      For those in the developed countries, this chapter on food can be a
      very good starting point of surrender. The Western nations in general
      and the U.S. in particular are spoiled rotten with food. Our notoriously poor
      diet choices are to blame for many health risks and I confess that I am
      just as guilty as anyone, even if I am trying to do a little better. Might
      not food be one of the healthiest and most logical places for ascetic striving

      The questions of diet raised here were looked at in purely monastic
      terms, as self-denial and penitential living. No one knew about
      cholesterol or fiber or many of the illnesses associated today with
      eating habits.. Wasn't in their vocabulary.

      Fast forward to 2011. Red meat tastes great. I love it. NOTHING like
      a medium rare prime rib! Sadly, that is true in more than one sense,
      especially if you eat all the fat! Today we know that the
      eating habits encouraged here are worth a lot more than simple
      asceticism, they are healthy. Given that, something a lot more
      binding than the Holy Rule bids us look more closely: the 5th
      commandment, which insists that we not kill ourselves, either, that
      we guard our health.

      Granted, the times of meals stated here do not fit very well into a
      40 hour week of work and school. Not to worry. Our call here is to
      adapt. The content of monastic meals can be a big boon to health.
      Less meat, more beans, less beef, more chicken, buy decent bread and
      eat more of it. Or make your own! (Remember that bread machine that
      hardly got used after Christmas?) These are things one can gradually
      introduce to a family, too, provided one is a good cook. An extra
      meatless day or two a week is hardly noticed if you serve really good
      fare. Try dishes from the peasant cuisines of the world that stretch
      a very little meat a very long way.

      This Benedictine-inspired diet will not only be better for you and
      your family, it will benefit the planet, too. Grain-fed beef makes a
      horrible dent in the ecology and economy of the world, to say nothing
      of throwing effort and harvests into cattle that could feed starving
      human beings.

      Remember that earlier injunction about treating the goods of the
      monastery as sacred vessels of the altar? Well, the greatest goods
      any monastery or family has are its members and the planet that
      supports them. To own that fact is the beginning of a Benedictine
      ecology. Our diets are excellent places to make choices healthy for
      us and all the planet. We need to find the balance- and that is often hard.
      But, with God's help and mercy, we can do all!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 143 of 143 , Jun 1, 2013
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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 contradictions
        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);
        and again
        "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
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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