Holy Rule for Apr. 3
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Antonello, late 30's, who died with a strange blood disease, and for all his family and all who mourn him. Special prayers for his friend, Sr. Mary Joseph and for all the high school students he taught.
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 3, August 3, December 3
Chapter 52: On the Oratory of the Monastery
Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer;
and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
When the Work of God is ended,
let all go out in perfect silence,
and let reverence for God be observed,
so that any sister who may wish to pray privately
will not be hindered by another's misconduct.
And at other times also,
if anyone should want to pray by herself,
let her go in simply and pray,
not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.
She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore,
shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory
when the Work of God is ended,
lest another be hindered, as we have said.
Would to God that the oratories of our hearts were as easy to keep
clean as those of our monasteries! Having been sacristan, in my
youth, of the large and lovely Abbey Church at St. Leo, FL, I can
assure you that Benedictines tend to be very good about this part of
the Holy Rule. One usually gets a Church in good condition and it is
not too hard to keep it that way. In fact, doing so was only one of
my several charges at the time!
Ah, but those cardiac oratories! How easily they can get cluttered
and more or less stay that way! God alone knows how many times I have
written books or articles, essays or posts in mid-prayer, how many
times I have "capably and completely" reformed Order or monastery,
Church, liturgy or world! I certainly hope He isn't counting too
closely, and I have a fair certainty that He isn't. One of the Desert
Fathers said that, if God counts distractions in psalmody, no one
would be saved!
The aim is good, beloveds, but about the time I envision my heart
dancing in pure prayer like Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in the
moonlit park, Jerome's Jezebel of a heart petulantly clumps out in a
sleazy mini-skirt, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels. My jaded
streetwalker of a heart is the easy and willing prey of a wide field
of distractions and infidelities! Jerome's Jezebel is a harlot
But, m'dears, and hopefully to lesser degree than my own, ALL of our
hearts have that Jezebel lurking within, dying to be asked to dance,
dancing alone, if need be! No smooth sophistication of a fox trot to
Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter for us. Nope! Many times, the
best we can do is stumble about disorientedly to a musically barren
gangsta rap, whose harsh dissonance and strident attacks of
percussion all too closely mirror our chaotic world.
Calm down! The Divine Aim of our poor hearts is their Author and
Maker. Better than anyone and FAR better than ourselves, He knows the
limitations of His creations! How often God must be like a tender and
loving and delighted mother who tries with all her might to keep from
laughing at a child's graceless attempts at being exquisite grace.
Truly, in many a stumbling child there is GREAT poetry in motion, but
not at all in the way that the child THINKS there is! So it is with
God and ourselves. Relax, therefore, and rejoice! Again I say,
rejoice! Our great and merciful God flat out delights in our efforts
and knows from the start that we shall be far more like funny home
videos than the best and most tasteful films ever produced. Funny how
we often lack the humility to see that ourselves! If we seek to gain
it, Satan, who loves to see us despondent and discouraged, will be
trounced but good.
It is our efforts which delight God, not our results. He knows that
the results we seek are far beyond many of us. The more clearly we
come to know that, the more adequate our sense of our own abject
poverty of skills, the greater our peace shall be. And in that peace
we shall find God, the loving parent on Whose long-suffering insteps
we tiptoe and dance, in Whose tender arms we swoon like children
dreaming of a grand ballroom with mirrors!
Oh, yeah, ESPECIALLY the mirrors part!!
Love and prayers and a fox trot or two!
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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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