Please forgive my lateness today. A fraudlent (but honestly real-
looking,) message came yesterday, purporting to be from my ISP,
Earthlink, which asked me to change my password. Don't do it, folks,
it's a scam. I was foolish enough to be suckered in by it and really
did change my password, which left me with a host of problems today,
finally solved! The people involved want access to one's financial
info. Mercifully, mine is zero!!
Prayers, please for Sr. Mary Frances and her Dad. He has Alzheimer's
and pneumonia, also for Carol's eldest daughter and her safety on the
road, and for Carol! God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
Thanks so much! JL
January 10, May 11, September 10
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Let the Abbess always bear in mind
that at the dread Judgment of God
there will be an examination of these two matters:
her teaching and the obedience of her disciples.
And let the Abbess be sure
that any lack of profit
the master of the house may find in the sheep
will be laid to the blame of the shepherd.
On the other hand,
if the shepherd has bestowed all her pastoral diligence
on a restless, unruly flock
and tried every remedy for their unhealthy behavior,
then she will be acquitted at the Lord's Judgment
and may say to the Lord with the Prophet:
"I have not concealed Your justice within my heart;
Your truth and Your salvation I have declared" (Ps. 39:11).
"But they have despised and rejected me" (Is. 1:2; Ezech. 20:27).
And then finally let death itself, irresistible,
punish those disobedient sheep under her charge.
Be of good cheer, all abbots and parents! St. Benedict wrote this
over a thousand years before the dawn of psychiatry. He was very holy
and very wise, but he was a creation of his own times. I think it is
safe to say that, in St. Benedict's time and for many centuries
afterward, there was a tendency to look at most behavior as choice,
not compulsion. Things were somewhat more black and white. Under a
system such as that given in the first half of this reading, many, if
not most parents of today would fry without a doubt.
I needed exactly the parents I got, so did my Dad, so did my Mom, so
did their parents. That's just another way of saying that we are all
victims of victims,a concept of which St. Benedict probably would
never have dreamed. But in some way each of us is a victim of
something, as are our parents and so on.
Consider the marvel of God's tailoring one abbess to 50 nuns; quite a
deal, isn't it? Now consider this. For each of us to get our perfect
victims of victims, here's a PARTIAL picture of God's fine tuning.
Obviously, the whole chain has to fit or it comes out wrong. We each
have 8,388,608 21st great-grandparents, with a total of parents and
grandparents in those 24 generations of 16,777,214.
That total is comfortably more than the combined populations of the
cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, Tampa, Washington, DC, and the
entire State of Missouri. And, for a person alive today, that would
probably only get you back to about the year 1000 AD. Begin to get
the picture of how God has thought of us (and them!) from all
eternity? There's a lot more than 50 nuns going on here, in fact,
there was a different and equal set of forbears for each of those 50
nuns AND their abbess.
By the way, St. Benedict had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit.
Hence, although he wrote the second part of today's reading, about
the acquittal of the abbess who's done her best, without the benefit
of modern psychology, it nevertheless fits right in to our current
awareness. No one can give what they don't have (or, if they do, it's
only the working of grace that makes that possible.) I can't teach
you Hebrew, I don't know it. But, if I was suddenly presented with
the fact that I'd HAVE to teach Hebrew, I'd buy a beginning text and
we'd stumble through somehow together. How very like parenting,
except that, for most of our partial crowd of sixteen million, there
were no textbooks!
Parents and abbatial types, take heart. God not only CAN use
anything, He HAS to use anything. The human standards throughout
history after Eden have made that more than certain. God knows and
loves each of us. He is more parent than we are and He is, unlike
If a six year old child had been forced to plan the Coronation of the
Queen, it probably would have been MUCH different. For one thing,
there'd probably have been a lot more elephants and clowns in the
parade! Most of us with any kind of hearts would have smiled at the
child's efforts, been surprised that they actually did so well. That,
m'dears, is exactly the attitude of God toward us, except that He
isn't surprised: He knew all along that we could do well!
Love and prayers,