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]
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,