Holy Rule for July 23
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 23, July 23, November 22
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table
Anyone who does not come to table before the verse,
so that all together may say the verse and the oration
and all sit down to table at the same time --
through his own carelessness or bad habit
does not come on time
shall be corrected for this up to the second time.
If then he does not amend,
he shall not be allowed to share in the common table,
but shall be separated from the company of all
and made to eat alone,
and his portion of wine shall be taken away from him,
until he has made satisfaction and has amended.
And let him suffer a like penalty who is not present
at the verse said after the meal.
And let no one presume
to take any food or drink
before or after the appointed time.
But if anyone is offered something by the superior
and refuses to take it,
then when the time comes
that he desires what he formerly refused
or something else,
let him receive nothing whatever
until he has made proper satisfaction.
Communal monasticism, even long before St. Benedict, established a
close similarity between Church and refectory. One fed the soul, one
fed the body, and, with reading, the soul and mind as well! Not
surprisingly, a ritual grew up around the communal meal with its
longer, formal, chanted grace, the silence and reading, that would
make one think very much of Church, indeed!
Oblates have to be very careful that they do not "impose" their
monasticism on their families. On the other hand, all things being
equal, it is certainly within reason to expect our families to be at
least theistic, even Christian, if in fact they are! (If we do not
have the blessing of a family or spouse of similar or identical faith,
then scrupulous respect for that difference must obtain.) Having said
that, a formal grace, no matter how short, is hardly a Draconian
imposition on a family of believers, no matter how nominal that
belief may be.
Silence, of course, is hardly a family option, but peace surely is!
Cease-fire, folks! Truce! Once grace is said, every effort to avoid
dissension and fighting should be made! They really aren't very good
for digestion, let alone spiritual growth. Think how many times one
hears someone say: "Oh, yeah, we HAD to say grace as kids, but then
all-out war broke loose." Don't let them happen. It inoculates most of
the grace that prayer could bring. No prayer is a magic wand that
forgives whatever follows!
I have lived alone as an Oblate in the world. I know at least some of
the loneliness and longing that goes with that. I urge single Oblates
(and confess that I was not always clever in this respect myself!) to
surround their dining in the evening with some kind of formality.
Single people often fail to take very good care of themselves. Make
your evening meal a time when you do that.
Say or chant a careful grace. Light a candle, perhaps. Play a tape
of something nourishing to the soul, whether words or music. It doesn't
matter if you're eating tuna out of a can or a frozen dinner. Enhance that time
with things good for you and good for your monastic struggle. For all the
disadvantages of single life in the world, there are also some
advantages! Make sure you gift yourself with the graces your
situation does offer. Turn off the news and the phone ringer. Take
the little bit of heaven that is there for you!
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,