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Nov. 10

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX Prayers, please, for an anonymous person who is having gall bladder removal surgery on Wednesday. (Believe me, I really can spell cholecystectomy, I just
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 10, 2003

      Prayers, please, for an anonymous person who is having gall bladder
      removal surgery on Wednesday. (Believe me, I really can spell
      cholecystectomy, I just wanted to translate it....) Prayers, too, for
      St. Leo Abbey on their patronal feast. God's will is best. All is
      mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL

      March 11, July 11, November 10
      Chapter 33: Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own

      This vice especially
      is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots.
      Let no one presume to give or receive anything
      without the Abbot's leave,
      or to have anything as his own --
      anything whatever,
      whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be --
      since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills
      at their own disposal;
      but for all their necessities
      let them look to the Father of the monastery.
      And let it be unlawful to have anything
      which the Abbot has not given or allowed.
      Let all things be common to all,
      as it is written (Acts 4:32),
      and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.

      But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice,
      let him be admonished once and a second time.
      If he fails to amend,
      let him undergo punishment.


      Benedictine poverty is easily translatable for the lay monastic,
      married or single, into terms of simplicity and detachment, a holy
      indifference to non-essentials. As such, it offers a powerful
      opportunity for a witness against some of the real falsehoods of
      modern consumerist society. This is not (nor need it be,) a preachy
      attack on today's values, just a quiet refusal to go along with them.
      It involves personal practice and choice, not confrontation.

      Benedictine teaching on material goods is based on needs, not
      desires. We ought to have all that is necessary and if, as sometimes
      happens, that is not possible, we ought not to grumble.
      Benedictine simplicity insists that we live in the moment of now with

      Does your family have all that you really need today? If so, then
      don't put your heart on hold till you can swing a below-ground
      swimming pool. That's exactly why inordinate desires can be so
      harmful: they DO put our hearts on hold, they take us out of the
      contented present and force us to live in an uncertain future
      of "when" and "if".

      That future is not real. We might never live to see it. We have no
      way of knowing whether or not we will live till lunch today. The
      present is all we have and anything that distracts our view from it
      is often a complete waste of time. Living in the now is a great
      reality check!

      I always hate discussions of simplicity that are so general that they
      leave people thinking: "Well, great, but how do I DO that?" Hence a
      few suggestions, not at all as norms, but just as ideas. With them
      comes a huge warning for Oblates who are spouses and parents. You can
      make choices like this for yourself, in some cases, even for the
      household, but you must never force such things on children or
      spouses. That can be disastrous and produces the very same loss of
      serenity that simplicity is designed to protect us from.

      Clothes. Almost everyone can make do with less, male or female.
      Before I became a monk, I generally had two pairs of slacks- one
      khaki and one navy blue. They looked preppy. They went with
      everything. Yes, after a while, people did notice I was always in one
      or the other, but so what? The shirts were different and I was clean.
      The shirts came from the Salvation Army: years of wear in good
      clothes for less than $5 a pop, less than $2 a pop if one waited till
      sale day.

      Recycle in your own home. Towels go down from the bath, to the
      kitchen, to rags. With all the rags you will soon accumulate living
      this way, you can say goodbye to paper towels, unless there is some
      reason you really need them. Cloth napkins? Wow! They even seem a bit
      upscale and you can stop buying one-use paper. Trust me, ordinarily
      washing them once a week is fine.

      This is not stinge, folks. Insofar as possible, consume stuff that is
      really good for you, avoid stuff that is wasteful or harmful. We
      become immune to the very high levels that our society actually
      encourages waste, almost demands it.

      How many people over fifty recall their first reactions to disposable
      lighters, ballpoint pens and razors when they first came out? It was
      like: "Huh??? You throw them away???" When was the last time you
      bought a refill for a ballpoint pen? Now one hardly sees any pens BUT
      disposable ones. Big, big money and profits were made by the
      companies teaching us to throw away and waste the WHOLE item, not
      just the used part. We got used to that, sadly.

      I went back to non-disposable razors some time ago, but they cost a
      good deal more than the throw away kind, which have filled who knows
      how many garage dumps in 30 years. Somebody gave me a Zippo lighter
      for Christmas two years ago. It is a bit of a hassle to keep it in
      flints and fluid, but it means that I have spared the planet from at
      least a little plastic.

      By the way, you don't do this because it will end over-consumption.
      It won't. The world has not moved to Schick razors and Zippos, nor
      are they likely to do so any time soon. What it does, and this is
      important, is limit your complicity in the nonsense. That, so long as
      one does not become self-righteous, can be an immensely freeing thing.

      Always remember the Zen principle: the only thing that is lacking is
      the sense that nothing is lacking. Modern consumerism thrives on and
      insists that we ALWAYS feel something is lacking. Not so, we can be
      free of that. Why be lied to any more?

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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