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,
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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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