Holy Rule for July 11
A blessed and grace-filled Solemnity of St. Benedict to all. Let us all pray for
each other and for all the Benedictine family throughout the world and
throughout time, from the Abbot Primate to the freshest Oblate novice. Give
thanks for this holy, striving Family of ours. Were there no St. Benedict and no
Holy Rule, no Benedictine Order, how many of us reading this would never have
known one another, We have so much to be grateful for to God and to St.
Benedict. May God "lead us all alike to everlasting life!"
Prayers, too, for Fr. Benedict of Pluscarden and for all our Benedicts: graces
and blessings and many more. Ad multos annos!!
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following, for all their families and all who mourn them:
Arthur, and for his widow, Anne, that she return to the Church.
Larry and his wife who predeceased him and for their grown children.
Please pray for Len, for whom we prayed. Len has now had a heart attack and is awaiting heart surgery. Please also pray for Anne, his
wife in this difficult time.
Prayers for Chris, job coming to an end, for severance pay, early retirement or whatever God wills for his life. Prayers for his healing would be appreciated as well.
Prayers for Rose, multiple health issues linked to Hepatitis C and her left knee needs replacement.
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
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
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 gratitude.
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, except for our futures after death. We might
never live to see the earthly future, even the next moment. 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! It is also the place of contemplative reality: the holiness of
now, of the present instant, standing before God in love, awe and
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
more than the throw away kind, which have filled who knows how many
garbage dumps in 30 or 40 years. Somebody gave me a Zippo lighter for Christmas
a few 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
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,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Vern, for whom we have been praying, and for his parishioners at St. Francis in Bechertown, Massachusetts, his family and friends and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the eternal rest of 700 refugees who died in the Mediterranean, on their way to Italy, and for all their families and all who mourn them.
Prayers for Syro-Malabar catholic Bishop Jacob, who is donating one of his kidneys to save the life of a 30 year old Hindu man, Sooraj. Prayers they both have safe and successful surgeries and that Sooraj’s body doesn’t reject the kidney.
Prayers for newly elected Archabbot Kurt Stasiak, OSB, of St. Meinrad Archabbey, and for his Community. May he serve the Lord many years in his new role.
Prayers for toddler Grace, who has Downs Syndrome and must have minor stomach surgery later this month. Her parents worry, since she will have to be under general anesthesia.
Prayers for a young boy fighting for his life, in critical condition after being hit by a semi truck, and for his Mom and brothers and all his family.
Please say a prayer for me, too. It's my birthday.
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 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).
A caution here: the Holy Rule uses the Septuagint version's numbering
of the Psalms, not the Hebrew. Since most Bibles today use the latter
system, even many Catholic editions, you might find that the Psalm
referred to in this passage, which I strongly recommend you read
through, is 32, not 31.
Psalm 31 (32) is a wonderful exposition of sin and forgiveness. It
begins by recounting the joy of one whose sin has been forgiven, then
proceeds to unfold how concealing sin affects one and confessing sin
heals one. In v. 3-4, immediately prior to the 5th verse which St.
Benedict quotes, we find the following: "I kept it secret and my
frame was wasted. I groaned all the day long for night and day Your
hand was heavy upon me. Indeed, my strength was dried up as by the
Guilty secrets control us, they rob us of our freedom, they destroy
our peace. Long before one's frame is wasted (though that, too will
eventually happen,) one's mind and spirit are trashed, laid low by
the relentless fear of discovery. We shall have a MUCH harder time
spiritually, if we try to keep our guilty secrets totally hidden.
What the guilty one is fleeing is within herself, and
travels right along with her. Ever see a news clip about a fugitive
who successfully hid for decades and then was caught? I wonder what
kind of life they had in the meantime, a life never free, a life that
always had to fear. This is not what Jesus called us to.
One may not belong to a tradition which practices sacramental
confession, but all of us need the abscesses of our secret guilt
lanced and drained somehow. AA, a spiritual program which can fit
itself to any religion or no religion, insists that without confession to at
least one other trustworthy person, our faults are likely to rule us forever.
Don't spill your beans to just anyone, but don't hold them festering
within, either! [A heavy PS, too: if you do belong to a Church that
has sacramental Confession, GO!! Too many put that off at great
risk and harm to themselves.]
What keeps us chained to our dirty secrets is lack of faith, lack of
trust: no one will love me if they know this, not God, not anyone.
Well, the ending verses of Psalm 31(32) deal quite neatly with this
"Many sorrows have the wicked, but those who trust in the Lord,
loving mercy surrounds them. Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, exult, you
just! O come, ring out your joy, all you upright of heart!" (Ps.
Not only does God forgive, but the guilty one now freed is accounted
as among the just and the upright of heart, without any further ado.
Now THAT is Divine Mercy! No heart is more full of such infinite
mercy than the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Trust Him!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You. Jesus, meek and
humble of Heart, make our hearts like unto Yours.
Love and prayers,