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Dec. 1: World AIDS Day

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX It s World AIDS day, please remember all with HIV/AIDS in prayer today. Please also pray for Richard Piper, who died peacefully yesterday and for Jennifer
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2003

      It's World AIDS day, please remember all with HIV/AIDS in prayer
      today. Please also pray for Richard Piper, who died peacefully
      yesterday and for Jennifer and John, his daughter and son-in-law and
      all Richard's family. They thank you all for your prayers.
      Prayers, too, for Wayne, widespread cancer found just before
      retirement and for his family and friends. Thanks for your prayers
      for me. I am feeling much better. Tough meds, these! God's will is
      best. All is mercy and grace! Thanks so much! JL

      This is a re-run of last year's, but I thought it fit rather well. JL

      April 1, August 1, December 1

      Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working Far From the Oratory or Are on
      a Journey

      Those sisters who are working at a great distance
      and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time --
      the Abbess judging that such is the case --
      shall perform the Work of God
      in the place where they are working,
      bending their knees in reverence before God.

      Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
      shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
      but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
      and not neglect to render the task of their service.


      Look, if you think your marriage vows take a powder while you're
      traveling on business, chances are a lot of people pity your spouse.
      There are jobs that we do not carry with us. We are not surgeons,
      welders or toll booth ticket-takers at home- at least hopefully! But
      marriage is not a job, it's a vocation and so is monastic life.
      Vocations stay with one everywhere, at all times and places. One is
      ALWAYS a spouse, always a parent, always a monastic.

      Hey, it is World AIDS Day, and there are a lot of similarities
      between monasticism done right and HIV. I should know- I've been HIV+
      nearly 14 years and a monk for nearly 12. For rather crass starters,
      both get in your blood and if they do, there is no cure! Done right,
      both are always with you. Since my diagnosis I have never awakened
      groggy enough to forget I was positive. Not once. Even in my dreams,
      I am always HIV+, never once have I dreamed of my current self
      otherwise. I wish I could say exactly the same of monasticism, but
      even there, my dreams that are not flashbacks are most usually about
      Jerome, not my secular name Phil!

      Writ large across my heart are the letters "HIV" and I am still
      working on making "OSB" stand out in equally high relief there! At
      some point, if we are lucky, we realize that our vocation really is
      who we've become. We can actually become what God wills, not just
      what we had planned ourselves.

      My high school buddy, Sr. Lany Jo, still refers to me as Phil on
      occasion. I often jokingly remind her that Phil is dead- a
      distressing half-truth at best, since Phil can be damnably stubborn
      about refusing to expire totally... Quickly, I add, "Of course, if
      you want Phil, I could resurrect him with very little trouble. Just
      give me a really big bottle of liquor and a piano bar full of good-
      looking customers. No problem!" Lany is very quick to assure me that
      she prefers the monk she Southernly refers to as Jerry Lee, and to
      reassure me that, while she loved Phil, she loves Jerry Lee much more!

      Virus and vows! Beloveds, sometimes I wish I had neither, but I always
      have both! Most of the time, I am glad of that, in very mysterious
      ways, mysteriously grateful for both. In my case, at least, neither
      would have been my totally free first choice, but they are undeniably
      where God has placed me and both have done me a world of good, most
      often through their hassles, but also through their ordinary days!
      Cured of either tomorrow, I would never be the same exactly. Nothing
      could completely obliterate the years that either have given me,
      nothing could completely uproot their lessons in my heart.

      We live in a secular society that urges us to follow our dreams.
      Well, m'dears, I have swooned at the poetry in that one for more
      decades than I care to admit, but it ain't always true. Why on earth
      should we ascribe an infallibility to our own dreams that we are
      unwilling under any but the most exceptionally extreme circumstances
      to apply to anyone else? Whoops! There's a real passing chance our
      dreams may be wrong, may have to be given up. I am living proof to
      myself that fighting that surrender is hard as hell and just as
      useless. Yes, choice often enters into whom we become, but not
      always, and sometimes the things that become us are the ones we quite
      pointedly have NOT chosen.

      Few, if any, choose to be gay or straight, some do not choose to be
      parents, some choose one spouse only to find that person changes
      horrifically later on and nobody in their right mind chooses to
      become HIV+. Many, many things are in some ways forced upon us, but
      those things can become fully graced things of wonder, if only we let
      God work. If only we would ...

      Love and prayers,

      Jerome Leo, OSB
      Petersham, MA
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