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,
[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,