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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 143 , Apr 3, 2013
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      +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


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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX 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
      Message 143 of 143 , Jun 1, 2013
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        +PAX
        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 contradictions
        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);
        and again
        "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.
        8:36).
        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).

        REFLECTION

        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
        him.

        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
        name!)
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA



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