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!
[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,