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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Donna, on her birthday, may she draw closer and closer to Christ. Ad multos annos!
Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, D., for whom we prayed a while ago, is cancer free and only needs yearly checkups. Prayers for his continued health.
Prayers for the health of Joe, prostate cancer.
Deo gratias and prayers of thanks, Jenn, for whom we prayed during her open heart surgery, is being discharged to her home. Prayers for her continued health.
Prayers for L., recovering from knee surgery.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Br. Augustine, near the anniversary of his death, 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 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,