Holy Rule for July 15
Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Richard, whom we prayed for yesterday. May God have swamped his soul in His Divine Mercy at the last. Prayers, too, for Molly, his sister, and all his 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
March 15, July 15, November 14
Chapter 36: On the Sick
Before all things and above all things,
care must be taken of the sick,
so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person;
for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" (Matt 25:36),
and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me"
But let the sick on their part consider
that they are being served for the honor of God,
and let them not annoy their sisters who are serving them
by their unnecessary demands.
Yet they should be patiently borne with,
because from such as these is gained a more abundant reward.
Therefore the Abbess shall take the greatest care
that they suffer no neglect.
For these sick let there be assigned a special room
and an attendant who is God-fearing, diligent and solicitous.
Let the use of baths be afforded the sick
as often as may be expedient;
but to the healthy, and especially to the young,
let them be granted more rarely.
let the use of meat be granted to the sick who are very weak,
for the restoration of their strength;
but when they are convalescent,
let all abstain from meat as usual.
The Abbess shall take the greatest care
that the sick be not neglected by the cellarers or the attendants;
for she also is responsible for what is done wrongly by her disciples.
"Before all things and above all things..." is a very strong
statement. If St. Benedict meant that, and we must assume he did,
monasteries and families should not only make sure that the sick are
full and equal members, but even that they have priority. The sick
bear a responsibility in this: they are not to "vex" those caring for
them, but even if they fail in that, they must be borne with
Let's face it, at a certain point, the sick are definitely "out of
the loop" in human society. This is even more true of the long-term,
chronically ill. This is, of course, very typical primate behavior-
for a nomadic troop of baboons, it would be fine. Christianity and
Benedictinism, however call us to rise far above such limitations of
natural response. We are called to be more than natural. We are bound
to strive for the SUPERnatural.
Even in monasteries, especially large ones, the sick can be shelved
and forgotten by some members. Rest assured that, unless wheeled to
church or refectory, the sick are quite likely to never lay eyes on
certain members. In this aspect, the monastics mirror a similar flaw
in the secular world and in many families: out of sight, out of mind.
The concerns of one's active daily life can lead to a certain
selfishness, and the Holy Rule is trying to prevent this. We must be
different from the world, different from that nomadic troop of
primates. We must be more. Both Gospel and Rule, baptism and monastic
commitment demand that.
Oblates in the world, there is a rich field of endeavor here and you
will hardly have to get in line to enter it. Nursing homes freak you
out? There are adult day care programs that might be easier for you.
I used to do four Communion services a week in such places when I was
in Boston, and, had I been able, they would have gladly let me do
more. When I left to come here, every single one of
those services dropped to once a month or less. There is work for you
to do if you want to get yourself commissioned as a Eucharistic
minister and go for it. These were people that not only the world,
but even the Church had largely forgotten. The chance to do anything
for them enriched my life immeasurably.
Does even day care get to you? Then turn to the families of the
chronically ill. To a large extent, they often share the isolation of
the patient in a very real and very unfair way. Find some ways to not
forget them, to give them a breath of normalcy and relief and you
will find their lives, the patient's life and your own changing for
the better. Everyone can do something, and there is plenty to do!
Ask most people what the hallmark of the Benedictine Order is and
they will likely respond with either liturgy or hospitality. Our Holy
Rule's prescription that all guests be received as Christ is
justifiably famous, as is our concern for the liturgy. However,
another hallmark less attended to is this chapter's insistence that
we receive and serve Christ in the sick, too. Would that we deserved
to have people choosing between THREE hallmarks for their answer-
care of the sick, liturgy and hospitality!
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,