A blessed Feast of St. Nicholas to all! Prayers, please, for
Pat, recovering from gall bladder surgery. God's will is best. All is
mercy and grace. Thanks so much! -JL
April 6, August 6, December 6
Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything Else
On no account shall a monastic be allowed
to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
from parents or anyone else,
or from her sisters,
or to give the same,
without the Abbess's permission.
But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
let her not presume to take it
before it has been shown to the Abbess.
And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
to whom it shall be given,
if she allows it to be received;
and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
lest occasion be given to the devil.
Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.
Part of this is about equality, part of it is about depending on
one's community for everything. But there is another part that is
more readily available to monastics and Oblates in the world, a
certain cloister of the heart, a partial flight from the secular.
Outside news, to which we all can become so easily addicted, is not
always useful, let alone nourishing. When I was a pastoral associate
in Boston, I was the slave of the weather channel: knew the five day
forecast ALL the time. Then I moved here- no cable anywhere- and
pretty much let God surprise me each morning with whatever was
available. Granted, traveling on foot and by subway to do a lot of
ministry in Boston, I did have a greater need to know, but not THAT
We get a Sunday paper (the NY Times,) once a week and that is it. If
something really big happens between Sundays, the regulars who come
to Mass will tell us. That's how we found out about Princess Diana.
Our contractor told us about 9/11. We were in Mass, praying for the
world anyway, with no clue that the towers were literally falling as
we prayed, that the Pentagon was on fire and thousands were dead.
It really didn't matter, in one sense, whether we knew or not: we
were already praying. Our prayers did not need details to be
effective. The heart of God was already breaking, already knew, HAD
already known from all time and beyond. We were just begging Him to
look at His people while not knowing which ones needed it most. That
made no difference. We ALWAYS know less than Him. It is the usual
You may be sure we all watched Diana's funeral, and you may be sure
we all watched the 9/11 news. We're not dinosaurs and we cared
deeply. However, having lived on both sides now (what a song cue for
Judy Collins!) of the media divide, I can assure you that a whole lot
of extraneous stuff got mixed in with a very little bit of worthwhile
There is much that is false, truly false and illusory in the
world. We all know that quite well. What we can miss is that media's
job is to make a lot of things much, much more real and pressing than
they are or will ever be. That sort of illusion we can easily do
This is in no way obscurantist or anti-intellectual, but a part of
the monastic heart actually LIKES to be out of touch in some areas
and profits from same. No one has to live in a cave, but I, as I
imagine most of us without any dream of large stock holdings, would
have managed quite well without knowing about EnRon in excruciating
detail. In a country where it only recently became illegal to take the
life of a late-term abortion baby born fully alive, I'll do fine
without a daily (and I do mean daily,) vital signs watch on a whale
that beached itself, quite possibly with excellent reasons known to
the whale alone, on Cape Cod. There's a lot of stuff we DON'T need to
know, and in not knowing some of it there lies a great peace!
Love and prayers,