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]
- +PAXPrayers for Dot, 86, COPD, on her birthday.Continued prayers for Beckham, surgery to remove bladder blockage was successful, kidney damage remains to be determined.Deo gratias, Bone scan for DJ shows cancer is contained in the prostate and he will have surgery Sept 30. Of your kindness please continue to pray that surgery will eradicate all the cancer.God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Thanks so much! JL
January 7, May 8, September 7
And so we are going to establish
a school for the service of the Lord.
In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
our hearts expand
and we run the way of God's commandments
with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
Thus, never departing from His school,
but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.
"Our hearts expand..." they truly do. Mine has already been
wonderfully stretched and pulled and enlarged beyond my wildest
dreams, often with me kicking and screaming every inch of the way. I
have no doubt that it will grow bigger still, capable of holding
more, but I know I could not stand that now, it would be too much.
God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than
anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to
The biggest factor that I can see in God's work of heart renovation
for me has been intercessory prayer. When you renovate a building,
you have to tear down some walls, a dusty, ugly, painful mess. Ah,
but the light and air and space that one finds in those new areas
where walls had stood! In praying for God's people, I learned to love
them, more prayer equaled more love and so it spiraled upward and
The rain for my roots was that work in progress, the expansion of my
heart. It's not the same as other loves I have known and in no way as
graphic or immediate or intimate, but oh, it is deep. I am sure it is
not incompatible with married love, but God seemed to want it so for
me. True to form, I argued with Him for years about that and still do
When a novice in my twenties, I used to look at two real saints of
St. Leo Abbey, Brothers David Gormican and Raphael Daly, both now
gone to God. I am not even sure I thought it had become easier for
them at the end of their lives, I thought, with the mindlessness so
easy for me then, that they were just so old they didn't care
My dear friend Ann Chatlos was a FABULOUS cook and she had been at it
for years. One day I went to see her and we sat talking in her
kitchen, she was fiddling around, nothing special. Frankly, I didn't
even notice any activity that would have produced a meal. She finally
turned around and said to me: "Stay for dinner." I asked when it
would be ready and she said, "Now." I was floored. While we spoke, a
pie, chicken and roast potatoes and something else I forget had been
going on. A full meal with nothing out of cans and a homemade
dessert, yet it appeared that she had just been chatting.
That's the nonchalance of Brother David and Brother Raphael. It
wasn't that they didn't care, it was that things of sanctity had
become so much second nature to them that many of those around them
never noticed that dinner was ready. May that nonchalance of sanctity
come to us all, and may Brothers David and Raphael and Ann, now also
with God, pray us there.
Love and prayers,