Holy Rule for Apr. 6
Prayers, please, for the eternaal rest of Art, 80, and for all his family and all who mourn him, esp. Don.
Prayers please for a woman's marriage. Especially for her husband Pete who wants nothing to do with God and Church.
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
April 6, August 6, December 6
Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything Else
On no account shall a monastic be allowed
to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
from parents or anyone else,
or from her sisters,
or to give the same,
without the Abbess's permission.
But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
let her not presume to take it
before it has been shown to the Abbess.
And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
to whom it shall be given,
if she allows it to be received;
and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
lest occasion be given to the devil.
Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.
*[I come down rather hard on the ownership of things. I don 't deny that folks
can own things, I just affirm that all goods are from God and given to us with
an eye to the common good of all. Private ownership is not an absolute right: it
comes with responsibilities to others.]
At first glance, it might seem that there is little or nothing for
Oblates in the world in this chapter. Not so! However, we shall have
to look a bit deeper and pick about a bit...
OK, remember the Abbot holds the place of Christ in the community.
Now look again. The monastic is to rely on and look to no one but
Christ, and to receive nothing more or less than what is needed,
unless the Abbot, in Christ's place grants it. Remember the chapter
about no monastic defending another, taking another into their
special protection? One can easily see that this is covered here,
too. No one should ever be able to say: "I am well-off and secure
because Sister X. is my ally." Sister X. takes care of zero. God
takes care of all!
We can have such a distorted of view of our own income and property.
We can think we have "earned" what we have and can therefore use it
with impunity. Not so, and not Christian teaching, either. All goods
are held with stewardship for the common good of all. No ownership is
outright and exclusive, except for the sad ownership of our sins.
No matter what our skills or gifts or how we have developed them, no
matter if we were born with inherited comfort, no matter at all! ALL
of that came from God, every bit. We are literally nothing at all but
beneficiaries. All that we have or hope to have is nothing more or
less than a windfall from God and His mercy.
Now that is what this chapter is really all about, and it applies to
everyone within the cloister and without. St. Benedict wanted to use
these principles to focus his disciples on the truth that everything,
utterly everything comes from Christ, not from Sister X. or the lucky
stroke of having wealthy family or friends elsewhere, or even from
our own work. The job or business itself came from God, so did the
strength to be productive in any way.
Every Benedictine heart, beloveds, must examine itself by what we
learn from this passage in the Holy Rule. Absolutely nothing
whatsoever is ours, everything comes from God. Never take more than
we need, never share less than we ought to share. Freely, fully have
we all received all that we have from God. No less freely should our
hearts let it go, spread it around to others.
Make no mistake that there are at least two ways to react to the
array of God's giftings. One is grateful largesse, a truly holy
detachment from things as we honestly desire others to share in our
blessings. (This is as true of the spiritual goods as it is of the
The other, a most pathetic one, is stinge and miserliness,
a panicky, insecure fear that another might get more or have it
easier than oneself. Nothing I can think of is more unbecoming to any
who have received magnificently, yet we can all think of tragic
examples of just such reactions. Guard very, very carefully against
this last pitfall. I have seen it ensnare monastics,
no one is exempt, and it will throw a dreadful cancer into one's very
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,