Holy Rule for Apr. 7
Prayers, please, for the follwoing:
Andy, a high school teen diagnosed with a brain tumor, and for Gert, his mother, and his father and siblings.
JS, super tough presentation.
Jimmy, seeks job. 2 possibilities , one he hopes for in North Carolina.
Tabitha, serious auto accident injuries
Rita and DJ, pain management, side effects of diabetes
Beverly, that her tests are ok and special intention
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 7, August 7, December 7
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.
We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.
The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.
The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.
Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.
Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.
I have heard US religious women speak of formerly
being "incarcerated" in the habit. Knowing the rules of more than a
few communities, I have no doubt that is true. I find that terribly,
immoderately non-Benedictine, way out of balance.
However, and this is certain to displease some, I find the usual
response of US Benedictine women to this problem to be equally
extreme and unwise. The best answer to too much habit is not no habit
at all, nor do I think that would be the moderate response to which
Benedictine hearts would most naturally incline.
Having said that, and underscoring that I am not incarcerated in the
habit, nor do I wish anyone else to be, let me embark on something
more than just a hymn of praise for the habit. It will, trust me, be
very much more of a love song.
My habit is not ALL of me, would that it were! I could greatly profit
from being ALL monk, but it is a large part of me. I have kissed
every piece while donning or doffing it, every single time for many
years now. I can assure you that those kisses are sincere, not
mindless. I love it deeply and the sense of privilege in wearing it
has never left me.
The habit doesn't advertise ME to the world, I would be
the first to tell you that would hardly be worthwhile or honest.
It DOES advertise my Benedictine heritage to the world and of that, I
am very, very proud, for that I am very, very grateful. I am no icon
of holiness, but our habit is. I am an icon-bearer and that is a
lofty thing, a humbling thing and yet a thing greatly desirable.
Our custom is to wear the habit everywhere. My brothers, for the most part, just
plain live in the habit, never taking it off, except to paint or do
heavy gardening. Wearing the habit in Boston and Athol on the street has
been the source of some interesting experiences.
People have come to me in Boston really needing help who never,
ever would have dared approach me in an Oxford cloth button down
shirt, in the preppy style of lay clothes I admittedly love. Wouldn't
have happened. Couldn't have happened.
One of those people is dead now, gone to heaven a new Oblate, a
homebound and nearly blind woman in a wheelchair. She was sunning
herself, outside her apartment in East Boston and
still had enough eyesight to recognize the habit and call out as I
walked by. Thank God I had my habit on that day! I got delegated to invest her as
an Oblate in her own apartment and she went to God BEFORE she could
make her Final Oblation. She made that in heaven. What a gift Teresa
was- and is- to us!
I could go on and on. There was a terribly sincere man on the Boston
Common whose question had just gotten dumped on by an insensitive
priest. He would never have known me otherwise. There was the
European woman who spoke very little English and felt safer asking a
monk for directions.
There is, to me at least, great beauty in the habit, on others and
even on myself. Every now and then I am caught off guard by my own
reflection in a window or by my shadow and have to remind
myself: "That monk you see is YOU." Well, a little bit of him is and
I'm working on the rest, but it still never fails to alarm me, every
In choir, as no place else, does the habit sing to me. Our cowls
(cucullas to some of you,) are voluminous garments of prayer, mini-
enclosures, formal attire of serious business and great holiness. How
deeply proud I am to wear one. Whatever other choices others may have
taken about the habit, I honestly pity any of them without a choir
garment. It is a treasure of unity and joy.
I am, believe me, all too different from my brothers and sisters in
too many respects. Our cowls, however,
cover all those things, no matter how briefly, and we are one in
heart and prayer and garb. It lends a dignity that the Office truly
deserves, and yes, I have said Office elsewhere in lay clothes,
plenty of times. Here, I would not be allowed to go to choir that way
and I am glad of it.
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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