Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am very grateful for all of you! JL
March 29, July 29, November 28
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.
At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.
On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.
But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.
Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.
The Holy Rule quite rightly forbids us to associate with others at
inappropriate times. What we need to realize is that inappropriate
times can be determined by people and situations, as well as
schedules. Sometimes some things or some people make interaction on
certain levels not only inappropriate, but downright morally wrong.
When another person is insistent on pursuing exchanges that are good
for neither you nor them, it is wrong to associate with that person
until the climate significantly changes. It is disruptive of peace:
theirs, yours and those around both of you. Don't be surprised if you
have difficulty convincing the other party of this state of affairs.
People often forge full steam ahead because they are, for one reason
or another, totally blind to the mistakes and damage of doing so.
People who lack peace themselves are often relentless in their
attempts to destroy it in others. Don't let them. You need your peace
for your search for God. Pray for them and calm down.
Always remember that people in a lot of pain or hurt or anger can
espouse terribly false and dysfunctional rules of engagement (the war-
like terminology was not carelessly chosen here,) which probably seem
entirely healthy, moral and just to them. That is an illusion and
your obligation of charity in such an instance is not to feed the
illusion further. At some tragic point, the only help for one who
persistently plays unhealthy games is to refuse to play at all and
pray for them. We are morally responsible for our complicity in
further enabling such dysfunction.
For Christians and especially for monastics, relationships may never
be totally sundered. There must always be prayer, always concern,
even if it is perforce indirect, unknown and unseen by any but God.
One must always pray for the salvation of all. On the other hand,
even for us, relationships can become so terribly toxic that more
direct contact is not only unwise, but sometimes even immoral, too.
If that happens, cling to prayer. It's really all you have in such a
When a relationship is stalled in toxic stalemate, it is wrong to
continue pounding one's head against the same stone wall interminably
because of some mistaken notion by either party that charity demands
it. Charity does no such thing, neither does justice. Charity demands
the best for all and sometimes that can mean a lot of distance
bolstered by prayer. Sometimes one has to say "Enough!" Failing to do
so could be very unjust and a serious disservice to both parties.
If someone needs help that you cannot, truly cannot provide, for
heaven's sake urge them to get it, but don't go on delaying the
process by helping them expend energy on useless wheel-spinning. Pray
for them and move away. Offer to come back when you CAN be of help,
if such a time ever arrives, but get out of the way of the paramedics
if you can't give the help necessary. You run the risk of doing much
more harm than good.
Always forgive, always pray. But sometimes one can and even must do
both without returning to business as usual. That is terribly hard
and, since people in pain can be terribly manipulative, not likely to
be made any easier for you. Tough it out, though. It is important.
Neither charity nor justice nor the Gospel nor God Himself require us
to continue to pummel a thoroughly beaten dead horse into an
unpalatable slimy, bones, teeth, hooves and all. Don't be deluded
into thinking that ever. When you have done what you could and
failed, move away, give someone else a chance, and pray with all your
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA