Prayers, please, for me. I have to diminsh my roosters by four today
and am not looking forward to it. Pray that I be skillful and
merciful, please! God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
Thanks so much. JL
January 3, May 4, September 3
And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.
This is perhaps my all-time favorite reading from the Holy Rule. The
gentle, loving tenderness of both the Divine Merciful Christ and our
holy Father Benedict are here in abundance. One is tempted to merely
bask in the warmth, rather than write, but I will try to write!
Lest any of us (which, as the Holy Rule would say, God forbid,) tend
to pride at undertaking the monastic way, this one deflates that
balloon in a hurry. Christ seeks US. What mercy! Our very being is
nothing but an act of His love and mercy, all that we have is His
love and His mercy, yet, on top of all that, He seeks US! We're
talking God here, not some other created being. We're talking the
Alpha and Omega, end all and be all, the First Cause, you name it.
The very force of life and light and truth and love and mercy in the
cosmos, before all time, names us, knows us and calls us.
I can get carried away writing about the Prologue, so indulge me here
as I do so. Beloveds, for so you are to me, our fractured hearts and
sin-veiled eyes just cannot see the way, nor can we name the hurts or
their cures well. God and God alone can pierce that darkness and He
offers to do so before we even ask. This is awesome grace, this is
enough for a lifetime's meditation on humility. Hard things to come
in the struggle are real, but their harshness is in some way
illusory: "Behold, in His loving-kindness, the Lord shows us the way
In the midst of all this sweetness, look at the question he puts in
the Lord's mouth: "Who is the one who will have life and desires to
see good days?" Granted, it is a quote from the Psalms, but St.
Benedict could have used something else, or written his own, or
employed a rhetorical question. He didn't, though, he used this one
and that is most fortunate.
St. Benedict does not have God in the teeming marketplace hollering
out: "Who wants to be a monk? Who wants to be a nun? Who wants to be
an Oblate?" (Chuckle: if God DID call out "Who wants to be an
Oblate?", how many people you know would say: "What's an Oblate??")
No doubt, for some on the monastic way, those may have been the first
questions. For many others, it was not nearly that direct.
This question allows us to ponder (if God and you will pardon the
phrase,) the Divine sneakiness. How many of the stories we hear of
how people came to the monastic way and were drawn to the Benedictine
life give witness to God's loving "sneakiness." God cannot lie and
His query here is not a lie, but He can certainly CHOOSE the truth He
uses to draw us. Like any parent of a stubborn child, He knows that
some approaches work better than others.
I know Brother Bernard Aurentz, now dead, joined St. Leo because he
liked Florida and thought the monastery was on the Gulf of Mexico!
The picture of a palm tree by water in a vocation ad sure sold him!
He just didn't realize they were on a large lake, 40 miles inland!
God didn't deceive him, He just didn't make the geography evident
until the guy arrived and stayed for the rest of his life. God
doesn't trick us in a wrong way, but He often allows us to do the
right thing for the wrong reason! No doubt He knows that's the only
way He could have gotten us in the door!
There is a lot more than sneakiness in this question, however. How
many times, when speaking of monastic life, or married life, or any
vocation, do we stress its harsher aspects? To some extent, monastic
life and married life get the brunt of this: "Oh, it isn't easy,
blah, blah, blah...It's no cinch, there's a lot of hardship." OK,
there is, no problem there, but there is also a lot of sweetness if
any vocation is done right.
How many people would have gotten married if the proposal included a
litany of night-feedings and diaper pails, much less if the proposal
could have announced the birth of a severely handicapped child or the
paralysis of the spouse or the tragedy of an auto accident far in the
future. We do both marriage and monastic life a great harm when we
emphasize only the difficult things. There IS joy in marriage, great
joy, and there is in the monastic way, too. Just like any good
proposal, God asks us to respond to the good things He is offering
and they are not slight!
Love and prayers,