Holy Rule for Mar. 20
Prayers, please, for the following:
Gerry B., prostate cancer....surgery March 25.
Joseph P., Brain tumor....young man with 1 young child.
Ida & John G., Elderly & both in the hospital. Possible 2nd amputation in the future.
Don, having surgery Tuesday.
Hilda, having a recurrence of cancer.
Jacqueline, not doing well at all.
Adrienne also doing poorly.
Agnes, and 80-plus year old woman due to have surgery and who is quite frightened about it.
Elaine and Craig, moving to British Columbia.
Aiden, having brain surgery to remove a tumor. Prayers for his safety, his family and all the doctors working on him.
JM, badly needing to find direction and purpose in life.
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 20, July 20, November 19
Chapter 41: At What Hours the Meals Should Be Taken
From holy Easter until Pentecost
let the brothers take dinner at the sixth hour
and supper in the evening.
From Pentecost throughout the summer,
unless the monks have work in the fields
let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour;
on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour.
This dinner at the sixth hour shall be the daily schedule
if they have work in the fields
or the heat of summer is extreme;
the Abbot's foresight shall decide on this.
Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.
From the Ides of September until the beginning of Lent
let them always take their dinner at the ninth hour.
In Lent until Easter let them dine in the evening.
But this evening hour shall be so determined
that they will not need the light of a lamp while eating,
Indeed at all seasons
let the hour, whether for supper or for dinner, be so arranged
that everything will be done by daylight.
While I wrote this largely about the US, it is, in many points, very
easily applied to the developed world in general. I am trying
to become more and more conscious of my international audience!
In the US, we can be so glutted with food. Far from want, we are
surrounded, even bombarded with plenty- and not all of it that
nourishing! Consumerist marketing turns things upside down: food
becomes more or less solely for pleasure, not need.
It's a fair guess that this attitude to food in the US has influenced
our attitude to fasting negatively. Now we look on the least thing as
a dreadful privation, when those of us Roman Catholics who are over fifty
can clearly recall meatless Fridays every week, all year and fasting from
midnight on water only for Communion, even if you were just 7 years old!!
When the US Bishops addressed the issue of Friday abstinence, they
did not abolish it. They merely said some other form of penance might
be substituted. Whoops! That got lost in a big hurry. How many of us
Catholics do something penitential on Friday when we do not
abstain from meat? Might be time to take a really hard look at that.
As always, Oblates in the world must find ways that they can fast or
abstain without imposing monastic ways on their non-monastic
families. However, it is worthy of note that Friday abstinence is of
the Church, not the Holy Rule and might be safely re-instituted, with
careful explanation as to WHY we do it, for whole families. The
meatless idea might be easiest for many, but what if something else
in addition was done to really set Friday apart? Skip one, just one half-hour TV
show and you have a slot for a devotional family practice like
Scripture sharing or the Rosary. Could we imagine just 30 minutes
once a week of TV gone? Find something that works for you and
then be faithful to it.
Our spirits are like our bodies in many respects. If we get soft, we
get weak, if we get lazy, our energy actually diminishes while our
total lives suffer from that inactivity. That's why Christian life
itself, not just monastic life, is a life requiring a fair amount of
discipline, of pushing oneself, of self-denial. Those values still
exist in the secular world, but are usually only invoked for profit, fame,
power or sex. See what I mean? We need badly to get our acts together
in the affluent, developed nations.
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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