A blessed solemnity of the Immaculate Conception to all who celebrate
that. Say a prayer for Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, founder of the
American Cassinese Congregation, who died on this day in 1887. God's
will is best. All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
Prayers for Cliff Gawne-Mark, please, as he makes his final Oblation
at St. John's Abbey! Ad multos annos, Cliff!
April 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
This chapter may appear to have little to say to Oblates until one
gives a more evangelical twist to it: "where your treasure is, there
your heart shall be also." The monastic who has separate sources of
income has a safety net, a way to ask for things (or get them without
asking!) that would otherwise unlikely be available. Not only is this
bad for the common unity, it is bad for the monastic, too. It
scatters one's focus and diminishes one's dependency on God. It
leaves dangling threads of control all over one's life.
Oblates in the world, have to have some source of income, whatever
that may be, but they can readily and profitably examine where their
treasure lies. They can also make sure that those who depend on them
have all they truly need, yet keep them from getting spoiled or
carried away with consumerist fluff. Especially at this holiday
season, when the television is filled with a horrendous glut of
materialist orgy, our Benedictine hearts should say: "Enough really
But do we say that, or are we to some degree sucked into the lunacy
of a secular winter fest? (One can no longer even say "pagan" of the
secular winter fest. At least the pagans, whatever their lacks may
be, believe in SOMETHING and worship. That can no longer be said of
much of the world's hoopla at this time of year.) We have an awesome
responsibility to be witnesses against that secular falsehood,
against the extremes of consumerism which rob so many of life and
maim our planet which we must share.
Benedictine attitudes toward poverty are not deprivation, but they
are not excess, either. Always, always moderation. For us, virtue
truly does stand in the middle way!
Love and prayers,