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Holy Rule for Apr. 4

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for our Br. Isidore, on his feastday, graces galore and many more! Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best. All is
    Message 1 of 144 , Apr 3 3:24 PM
      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for our Br. Isidore, on his feastday, graces galore and many more!

      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 4, August 4, December 4
      Chapter 53: On the Reception of Guests

      Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
      for He is going to say,
      "I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
      And to all let due honor be shown,
      especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

      As soon as a guest is announced, therefore,
      let the Superior or the brethren meet him
      with all charitable service.
      And first of all let them pray together,
      and then exchange the kiss of peace.
      For the kiss of peace should not be offered
      until after the prayers have been said,
      on account of the devil's deceptions.

      In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing,
      let all humility be shown.
      Let the head be bowed
      or the whole body prostrated on the ground
      in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

      After the guests have been received and taken to prayer,
      let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them.
      Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification,
      and then let all kindness be shown him.
      The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest,
      unless it happens to be a principal fast day
      which may not be violated.
      The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts.
      Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands;
      and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.
      After the washing of the feet let them say this verse:
      "We have received Your mercy, O God,
      in the midst of Your temple" (Ps.47:10).

      In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
      the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
      because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
      for as far as the rich are concerned,
      the very fear which they inspire
      wins respect for them.

      REFLECTION

      It is embarrassing for me, as a former guestmaster, to write about this
      chapter. My own failures jump out at me all over the place. As some
      might say, it "convicts" me again and again. But that is the way with
      much of the Holy Rule, for all of us. If we can read a chapter with
      smugness, it probably means something is wrong with us!

      St. Benedict goes out of his way to make sure that the poor and
      pilgrims get a specially focused reception. The point of that special
      care is to guarantee that the reverence he insists upon for all might
      come their way. That's the key, in his recurrent use of the
      inclusive "all" in speaking of hospitality. He wants all to be shown
      honor, without respect to class.

      In the Middle Ages, benefactions could come from relatively minor
      noblemen that far exceed anything we might know today: lands,
      endowments, all kinds of things. Whole monasteries were often founded
      and initially supported by one feudal lord. In that age, as in our
      own, there was little danger of a wealthy benefactor being snubbed.
      In fact, sometimes the honor shown a benefactor can even provoke an
      opposite response in a monastic who favors underdogs: scorn or terse
      civility.

      The idea here is that even such inverse classism is wrong. The whole
      thrust is that due honor be shown to everyone, not only that the poor
      be treated as well as the rich, but that the rich be no less warmly
      received because of their wealth. The poor and pilgrims come to the
      door with zero clout. St. Benedict wants to make certain that will
      not matter.

      Having been guestmaster in an age of postal service, telephone and email, I
      look back on earlier times and marvel at the holiness it must have
      taken to do hospitality in those times. Yes, the very great could
      send a courier to warn of their approach, but they often had HUGE
      entourages, all of whom expected to be kept more or less in style.

      The poor and pilgrims, on the other hand, had no way whatever to call
      ahead and reserve. They arrived at the door vulnerable and in great
      need, with no way of knowing whether or not the Duke of Burgundy had
      just occupied 70 beds or so, to say nothing of stables and fodder for
      his horses!

      Looking at the trials of being gracious in such a
      perennially unpredictable situation, I have come to the conclusion
      that there must be a LOT of guestmaster saints to whomI should be praying
      for improvement in my monastic life. The occasional annoyances of my
      own job paled in comparison to theirs!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 144 of 144 , Jan 16

        +PAX

         

        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).

        REFLECTION

        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
        fancy."

        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

         

         

         

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