Catching up: Dec. 25
A blessed and holy Christmas to all of you! Prayer for Samantha on
her birthday yesterday, too, please! God's will is best. All is mercy
and grace! Thanks so much! JL
April 25, August 25, December 25
Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey
Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.
When brethren return from a journey,
at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
on the day they return,
let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
and beg the prayers of all
on account of any faults
that may have surprised them on the road,
through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
or through idle talk.
And let no one presume to tell another
whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
because this causes very great harm.
But if anyone presumes to do so,
let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
And let him be punished likewise who would presume
to leave the enclosure of the monastery
and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
without an order from the Abbot.
Rare is the person who can manage to stay employed without at least a
slightly different persona at work. We are one thing there, because
we have to be, but when we clock out, much, if not all of the work
persona is shed. In fact, we usually have a whole repertoire of
different selves, being one thing with our grandmother and quite
another with a childhood friend we have known all our lives, one
thing with the promising new date and quite another with the spouse
of many years!
Secular society has enlarged upon this tendency to its own ends.
Because the tendency is so deeply rooted in us, we may fail to see
its dangers when carried to extremes. Thanks to a society often
glaringly unassisted by revelation, we have the unhappy concept of
different umbrellas, different sets of ethics to cover different
areas of life. "Hey, religion is fine if you want it, but this is
BUSINESS!" or "I may be a Christian, but this is public service. I
was elected by a constituency that expected me to leave some of that
Gospel stuff at the door." Well, folks, such notions do not always
wash well. In fact, they really don't wash at all.
The message of the Holy Rule and of the Gospel is that there is one
umbrella, period. There is one persona, period. Granted, in the
latter, shades and gradations may last throughout most of our
struggling lives, but the goal is clear. All monastic, all Christian,
all the time. One heart, one umbrella, one Lord, one faith, one
That work persona that we drop when we clock out, the totally free
and other person we are on days off or on trips away can be an OK
notion in relation to work. Wouldn't we find someone who was a
salesperson or teacher or secretary or manager ALL the time to be a
dreadful drip? The concept fails, however, when it is applied to
vocations, to any vocation at all. One does not take a vacation from
being married or a parent or ordained or a monastic.
Do I hear loud screams in cyber-space as I mention BALANCE again?
Sorry, but it is true. There is a balanced way to be under one
umbrella all the time that we must strive to achieve. Yes, I am
different with different friends, we all are, we have to be, charity
demands that. But there is a commonality between all the threads of
our behavior. We are monastics. We are freer within defined limits.
It is to the balance of those defined limits that this chapter refers.
At Petersham, we still follow this custom of prayer for one who will
be away overnight. The prayers are said in the refectory, after
grace. One is blessed leaving and returning, while kneeling in the
center of the ref. It's just a way of saying, as a community, that we
all know that maintaining that one umbrella can be tough, especially
when one is away alone. We want to support each other with our
prayers, we want our brother to know that our hearts are with him all
Love and prayers,