Holy Rule for Apr. 1
Pryaers for the following:
Margaret, for whom we prayed, is not doing well. Prayers for her and all the staff caring for her, and esp. for her son, Ordice, heart and other health issues, and all her family.
Cathy, cancer is vigourously back, mastectomy next week, fluid on her lungs and facing more cheno.
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
April 1, August 1, December 1
Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working
Far From the Oratory or Are on a Journey
Those sisters who are working at a great distance
and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time --
the Abbess judging that such is the case --
shall perform the Work of God
in the place where they are working,
bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
and not neglect to render the task of their service.
Here's a chapter that speaks loud and clear to Oblates in the world.
We must carry our monastery and, to a certain
extent, even its choir, in our hearts. It is a fact that we are away
from the monastery most of the time. We may wish it were otherwise,
God, for His own reasons, may not.
Hence, we need to study with special attention the means to carry not
just the monastery and choir, but the entire Holy Rule and all of our
Order in our hearts. There must our cloisters be built. The reins of
obedience for us come not from walls and stones, not from the
constant presence of a community to help us, but from our free will
and loving gift, from the mindful vigilance of our hearts. This
cloister of the heart, if nurtured, can become in truth a "paradisus
claustralis", a cloistered paradise! But it does take time!
A perennial concern of Oblates is how to say the Office in the world,
or how much of it to say. Actually, that concern is SO perennial that
one can easily get bogged down in it, spinning one's wheels! Satan
doesn't care whether you get caught by temptations to murder or by
other temptations, so long as you get caught!
The answer here is loud and clear, both terribly simple and (like the
perfection of so many simple things,) not a little daunting: "as well
as they can." Now look at this precept, really look at it. That means
that you will never be able to solemnly intone the Hours in many, if
not most of the places you live and work. Which also means that God,
of all the most merciful and loving, clearly understands the limits
of your life.
I hesitate to mention depression too often, but because it is my
personal experience and I know that it has tremendous connections to
the spiritual life for good or ill, I'll risk it! Ever hear about one
of the symptoms of depression being trouble concentrating? Let me
tell you, beloveds, when I can deny any other sign, I can never deny
Twenty minutes of memorized prayers and Psalms takes an
hour or more. And certainly NOT because one is swept up into the
seventh heaven! Quite the reverse! One's mind jumps everywhere, like
an agile monkey on speed leaping from tree to tree in the canopy of
an endlessly confusing jungle. The words are just repeated, with so
little attention, feeling or meaning. And even that is a crushing
effort at times. Sigh...
If you are at all like me, you will feel badly about that: "Oh, no!
I've been distracted at prayer again..." Don't make it any worse than
it already is: God fully knows WHY we are distracted, why we are
limited by anything within or without. So long as you didn't deliberately
intend and set out to pray mindlessly, don't worry. (And no one, I hope, does
that!) God may actually permit those distractions to humble us. Just calm
down and do the best you can.
I have long since resigned myself to ruefully chuckling that
often I am no better at all than a mindless, mechanical prayer wheel,
like those spun in Tibet. I hope God accepts all our prayer wheel
days and I really think He does! So long as we are not deliberately
slovenly or careless about prayer, it delights God, and, as one of
the Fathers observed, even distracted prayer makes the devil mad!
A quick suggestion as a way to bring monastery and choir into our
busy day. This is one of my favorites, one of two prayers proper to
the morning hour of Prime. It is easily memorized and therefore VERY
portable! It can sneak into the tiniest of places in a busy day and
carry the heart right to God and its cloister of peace and truth.
" O Lord God, King of heaven and earth, be pleased this day to direct
and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, our thoughts,
words and deeds according to Your law and in obedience to Your
commandments. Now and forever may we attain salvation and freedom by
Your help, O Savior of the world, Who lives and reigns forever and
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,