Holy Rule for Mar. 21
A blessed feast of the Passing of St. Benedict to all! Prayers for all
Benedictines and Oblates, please.
Deo gratias, Michael L:oPiccolo has his catheter removed. So far so good, prayers that all gets back to normal for him.
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following:
Christy's son, who tiok his own life, and for Christy and all his family and all who mourn him.
Mary's husband and all his family and all who mourn him, esp. Mary.
Prayers for the following:
Kathy, her home burned to the ground and she lost everything, including her beloved dogs. She had no fire insurance.
Doris, 85, having heart valve surgery tomorrow.
Stephen, struggling with alcoholism and staying on the right path.
Brie, corneal irritation and scrapes on her inner eyelid.
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 21, July 21, November 20
Chapter 42: That No One Speak After Compline
Monastics ought to be zealous for silence at all times,
but especially during the hours of the night.
For every season, therefore,
whether there be fasting or two meals,
let the program be as follows:
If it be a season when there are two meals,
then as soon as they have risen from supper
they shall all sit together,
and one of them shall read the Conferences
or the Lives of the Fathers
or something else that may edify the hearers;
not the Heptateuch or the Books of Kings, however,
because it will not be expedient for weak minds
to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour;
but they shall be read at other times.
If it be a day of fast,
then having allowed a short interval after Vespers
they shall proceed at once to the reading of the Conferences,
as prescribed above;
four or five pages being read, or as much as time permits,
so that during the delay provided by this reading
all may come together,
including those who may have been occupied
in some work assigned them.
When all, therefore, are gathered together,
let them say Compline;
and when they come out from Compline,
no one shall be allowed to say anything from that time on.
And if anyone should be found evading this rule of silence,
let her undergo severe punishment.
An exception shall be made
if the need of speaking to guests should arise
or if the Abbess should give someone an order.
But even this should be done with the utmost gravity
and the most becoming restraint.
I certainly can sing and have sung the praises of the Grand Silence. It
is lovely and warm and wonderful and familiar and comforting. All of
that! But I also know that for many Oblates to read those words will
only underscore painfully the fact that many can NOT have such a
silence to restore them. So, what about them? What does this chapter
have for those whose lives and vocations make Grand Silence an
Well, first, and most briefly, we all have to seek out and cherish
the moments of silence and solitude that may find us from time to
time. Our society teaches us to be surrounded by noise. There may be
times we are all but unaware of that we can diminish that noise, or
when its removal may surprise us. Learn to make the most of such
times! Try as best you can to increase them, so long as you are not
stepping on the toes of others, like your family!
But, perhaps even more importantly, those who are denied this silence need to be
keenly aware that the sacrifice of a thing often gives greater spiritual growth
than its possession would. That is,
admittedly, terribly cold comfort, but it is so very true. The
longing heart, the broken heart, the unfulfilled heart, these are all
very ripe fields for the love and mercy of God. Not that such mercy
and love will necessarily be felt! Often, quite the reverse!
God loves the broken heart with the most tender of compassions: its breached
walls make His entry easier.
That is why trust and faith are so important at times of deprivation
or feelings of desolation or aridity.. It is through trust that we reap the
knowing, even though it may not make us feel any better, that Christ
is mercy, is not mean, is not absent and is NEVER uncaring. Never.
As St. John Chrysostom said: "God is never the enemy of His creatures."
Jesus told St. Faustina that He was even more close to her in times
of desolation, when she could not feel Him, than He was in the
closest of ecstasies. He also told her, when she was in the dull ache
of suffering days that seemed endless, that in heaven she would long
for such days. Why? Because then she would know their worth!
Trust me, beloveds, I know how this can sound. There have been (and
still are!) times in my life when hearing words like those I write
this morning could only trigger aversion in me. But they are true.
Maddening, I know, but true......!
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,