Prayers, please, for Paisius, suffering from a severe and as yet
undiagnosed gastrointestinal condition, and for his father, William,
soon to have a second hernia surgery. God's will is best. All is
mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL
January 5, May 6, September 5
Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
"Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
I will liken to a wise person
who built a house on rock.
The floods came,
the winds blew and beat against that house,
and it did not fall,
because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).
Having given us these assurances,
the Lord is waiting every day
for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
And the days of this life are lengthened
and a respite granted us for this very reason,
that we may amend our evil ways.
As the Apostle says,
"Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
For the merciful Lord tells us,
"I desire not the death of the sinner,
but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).
People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
Richard cleans like a dream and my world looks a lot better whenever
he's been here!
If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
every time you open the fridge just in case, than fine, this portion
was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
and a buffer, of course!
Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
time..." St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."
Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a
gift! Just can't for to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
different from that of our modern Christianity.
We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
and grace, all, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of baptism, but
not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
nor Benedictines. Big news there! What St. Benedict is saying is "OK,
this is our approach. There are, of course, others, but if you want
to use ours, you this is what you have to do." "Repent!" St. John the
Baptist cried again and again in the desert, and somewhere along the
way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God, stepped into the
Jordan. Folks, if HE can answer the call to repent, anyone can! He
had no need at all!
What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
have to repent.
Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
though. Like a pro!)
All joking aside, great thanks are due to Richard, to Mary, to Cas
and Maureen, to Marje and Bill, Oblates all, and to many of our
guests, like the Wolfeboro Women, all of whom make this a shared
ministry of hospitality. This great team effort results in people
being a lot more comfortable here than they would be with nothing but
ole non-icebox-cleaning me! Say a prayer of thanks with me for all of
Love and prayers,