Holy Rule for May 4
Prayers for the spiritual and bodily well-being of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Michael and Genny LoPiccolo, he needs a further two hours of prostate surgery and she needs a pacemaker with third wire and defibrillator.
11 year old Natalie - She has suffered with epilepsy all her life, Recently she has gotten very ill, her body hurting and swollen to the point that she is so weak and can hardly walk. She just spent 6 days at Children's Hospital but they are not able to find the source of her illness.
Bernadette, as she struggles with memory loss, illness and a widow's loneliness.
Herb and Cathie, both are fighting cancer. Cathie has been given a short time to live and Herb is not doing well either. Herb is on palliative care and in a lot of pain so they did radiation today to shrink one of the tumours that they think is causing him all the pain. Prayers for Pat also. Pat is Herb's wife and Cathie's sister.
Brian, pursuing consecration as a diocesan hermit.
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 3, May 4, September 3
And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.
The tenderness of St. Benedict, as well as his tender image of God,
is evident all through this portion, harking back to his fatherly
affection at the beginning of the Prologue. The intensity, the
sweetness of the last lines today is so great that it borders on too
much. This must be St. Benedict at his all but gushingly most
sincere, and that is a good time to listen with extra care to him,
since he doesn't just gush on every other page!
In the midst of all this sweetness, look at the question he puts in
the Lord's mouth: "Who is the one who will have life and desires to
see good days?" Granted, it is a quote from the Psalms, but St.
Benedict could have used something else, or written his own, or
employed a rhetorical question. He didn't, though, he used this one
and that is most fortunate.
He does not have God in the teeming marketplace hollering out: "Who
wants to be a monk? Who wants to be a nun? Who wants to be an
Oblate?" (Chuckle: if God DID call out "Who wants to be an Oblate?",
how many people you know would yell back: "What's an Oblate??") No
doubt, for some on the monastic way, those may have been the first
questions. For many others, it was not nearly that direct.
This question allows us to ponder (if God and you will pardon the
phrase,) the Divine sneakiness. How many of the stories we hear of
how people came to the monastic way and were drawn to the Benedictine
life give witness to God's loving "sneakiness." God cannot lie and
His query here is not a lie, but He can certainly CHOOSE the truth He
uses to draw us. Like any parent of a stubborn child, He knows that
some approaches work better than others.
There is a lot more than sneakiness in this question, however. How
many times, when speaking of monastic life, or married life, or any
vocation, do we stress its harsher aspects? To some extent, monastic
life and married life get the brunt of this: "Oh, it isn't easy,
blah, blah, blah...It's no cinch, there's a lot of hardship." OK,
there is, no problem there, but there is also a lot of sweetness if
any vocation is done right.
How many people would have gotten married if the proposal included a
litany of night-feedings and diaper pails, much less if the proposal
could have announced the birth of a severely handicapped child or the
paralysis of the spouse or the tragedy of an auto accident far in the
future? We do both marriage and monastic life a great harm when we
emphasize only the difficult things.
There IS joy in marriage, great joy, and there is in the monastic
way, too. Just like any good proposal, God asks us to respond to the
good things He is offering and they are not slight!
By the way, a traditional joke used when a monastic is writing his or her
profession chart is to tell the person to leave a lot of space between the
lines: so God can add things later!! He has a way of doing that, with or
without the spaces between the lines!!
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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