Holy Rule for Mar. 12: Really right this time!
March 12, July 12, November 11
Chapter 34: Whether All Should Receive in Equal Measure What Is
Let us follow the Scripture,
"Distribution was made to each
according as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).
By this we do not mean that there should be respecting of persons
(which God forbid),
but consideration for infirmities.
She who needs less should thank God and not be discontented;
but she who needs more
should be humbled by the thought of her infirmity
rather than feeling important
on account of the kindness shown her.
Thus all the members will be at peace.
Above all, let not the evil of murmuring appear
for any reason whatsoever
in the least word or sign.
If anyone is caught at it,
let her be placed under very severe discipline.
Look, I am almost always running repeats now, usually from over a year
ago. I have gone through the Holy Rule three or more times and there are only so
many hours in a day... However, this is a repeat without shame!
My heart keeps going back to this one I wrote in March, two years ago,
largely because it was one huge love-song to my brothers and a litany
of my own infirmities, which they so lovingly ignore.
However, I did not get up the nerve to tell all my lists one very
important piece of information when it first appeared. Some of you
have joined after that, so now you'll get the whole picture. I think
you will agree that it says even more wonderful things about my
communities here, monks and nuns, that they would take me.
The important difference unmentioned before was that I was diagnosed
as HIV+ two years before I became a diocesan hermit, and six years
before I arrived here. When the post is read with that knowledge, you
can really see how great my community is!
And, by the way, for those just finding out, my health is superb! I
thought I'd be long dead by now, but I'm not even sick yet. On meds and
Love and prayers,
I came here nearly six years ago as a professed diocesan hermit who
was an Oblate. From the beginning, I have lived in the guesthouse,
because caring for the guesthouse was the mutual arrangement under
which I moved here from Boston. From day one that meant all kinds of
exceptions with permission for me. My life in a Boston rectory had
been very different from my brothers' lives here. My superior told me
to pretty much bring the life I had with me and make adjustments as
necessary after I arrived.
Well, it's astounding at how few adjustments got made... at least by
me. It was my brothers who accepted the exceptions. The grace and
charity with which they did so was- and continues to be- an
outstanding example of how this chapter can be lived. Not only did
they not murmur (I quite expected that they might,) they simply loved
me, took me for the stray and loser and roaring exception that I am
without further ado. It humbled me then and it humbles me still. I
stand in awe of my brothers, every single one of whom is younger (in
age, not profession,) than me. They are vastly better monks. I
probably couldn't live their life exactly for more than 20 minutes or
so. That does not matter to them. I do. Wow!
That can really make one deeply grateful and yes, my infirmities do
humble me and no, I don't feel important because of the kindness they
show me. I feel only gratuitous love, richly undeserved. That, my
friends is what we get from God, and that is what all our communities
should be giving to the weak ones in our midst. In home, work, school
or cloister we should all be giving the strugglers what I have
Our Congregation requires a legal contract between Community and
Oblate for claustral oblation. Hence, when I transferred everything
here and dropped the diocesan connection, the Chapter formally
approved my embarrassing life of exceptions. I used to think that the
exceptions were all that could be seen, but I know that's not true.
My brothers see Jerome, that's all. Nothing more, nothing less. By
their loving deeds they freely accord me a fullness and equality of
membership that I would never dream of demanding, and they do so
repeatedly. It is they who remind me that I belong here, not the
other way around! They never remind me in a patronizing way, either.
It's more like: "DUH?! You're one of us, you know!" And I am, I
really am, but only by God's grace and that of my brothers, nothing
at all of me.
How I wish all of you could get to know my Community. If you saw them
in action (and me in INaction!) it would preach a far more eloquent
sermon on this chapter than anything I could ever write. By the way,
I surely am accepted by my sisters here, too, but I chose to write
today of the closer ties I have with my own community of brothers.
Love and prayers,
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