Holy Rule for Mar. 15
Prayers, please, for Christie, a brilliant girl who simply freezes up on
standardized tests and doesn't do well. Already through grad school,
one more such exam stands between her and teaching certification and
this is her second try. She only missed by 4 points last time. Prayers for
her and for God's will! God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
Thanks so much! JL
March 15, July 15, November 14
Chapter 36: On the Sick
Before all things and above all things,
care must be taken of the sick,
so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person;
for He Himself said, "I was sick, and you visited Me" (Matt 25:36),
and, "What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me"
But let the sick on their part consider
that they are being served for the honor of God,
and let them not annoy their sisters who are serving them
by their unnecessary demands.
Yet they should be patiently borne with,
because from such as these is gained a more abundant reward.
Therefore the Abbess shall take the greatest care
that they suffer no neglect.
For these sick let there be assigned a special room
and an attendant who is God-fearing, diligent and solicitous.
Let the use of baths be afforded the sick
as often as may be expedient;
but to the healthy, and especially to the young,
let them be granted more rarely.
let the use of meat be granted to the sick who are very weak,
for the restoration of their strength;
but when they are convalescent,
let all abstain from meat as usual.
The Abbess shall take the greatest care
that the sick be not neglected by the cellarers or the attendants;
for she also is responsible for what is done wrongly by her disciples.
Visitors quite characteristically remark on the peace of Benedictine
monasteries. They surely ought to be able to notice something very
different from the world at large, something would probably be very
wrong with the house if none could. On the other hand, no matter how
politely we may respond to those who exclaim how peaceful things are,
I'll bet that most monastic hearts- and maybe all- sinkingly
say: "Yeah, but you don't LIVE here..."
My dear theology professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, used to always say: "The
mills of God grind slowly, yet exceeding fine...." She meant that in
a karma sort of way, what goes around comes around sooner or later.
However, today's reading and life in community have taught me to see
an additional meaning. The mills of God truly DO turn very slowly.
Sometimes their windmill blades are barely stirred by a hesitant
breeze. No wonder that outsiders and first-time visitors cannot
notice them grinding the wheat!
Ah, denied the fall-into-the-ground-and-die brand of outright
martyrdom, our grains of wheat must be ground into flour, a process
of immolation no less complete, but most uncomfortably slower! (St.
Teresa of Avila said that the martyrs "bought Heaven cheaply" winning
with one swing of the axe what we must struggle on many years to
acquire.) Don't make the mistake of looking only at the beauty of the
ripe wheat swaying gently in the breeze and sunlight and the
smoothness of a sack of pre-sifted flour. Between those two comes a
LOT of the grindstone! To say nothing of the sickle at first...oh,
yeah, and that winnowing part- I almost forgot.
What on earth does all this have to do with care of the sick? Ah, you
have been patient and that is commendable. Take heart, the point of
all this is at hand.
The borders between sickness and meanness and evil are often blurred
to indistinguishable levels. One age posited demons for epilepsy, our
own sees exculpating psychological illness or impairment behind all
manner of skullduggery. We have too little time, in many cases, to
waste a lot of time with thorny and perhaps impossible diagnoses. In
charity, we are usually obliged to assume that the meanest of people
are simply not well. We do, after all, have to think the best of
That can be damnably maddening. We WANT to ascribe blame when hurt or
wronged. Every flawed human nerve in our body can begin to cry: "No
quarter, no mercy!" Gee, in a flawed human way of speaking, wouldn't
it be nice if we could! But we can't, we simply cannot. If we do, we
become so unlike the mercy of Christ, the love of God, that our souls
are in very great peril. This can sabotage our spiritual struggles in
Hence, the care of the sick comes very much into play with the way we
deal with those who hurt or harm us. This is a far different affair
from doormat policy. Any who have ever worked in health care could
readily attest that the sick must often be treated with a lot of less
than lovely stuff: cautery, surgery, pumps and tubes and even, yes,
at times, amputation. (I had catheterized probably hundreds of people
before I was ever catheterized myself. It was most informative. How I
wish my training had started with that procedure being done to me. I
never did it to a patient the same way again.)
Hey, all of us are nice, good people in our own eyes much of the
time. Our biggest gaffs are usually those to which we are all but
completely blind. We must realize that this is not just true of
ourselves, but of others as well. And, perhaps most difficult of all,
we must see that sometimes WE are the ones who really need to be in
the waiting room for cautery or amputation... Sigh... Ain't life and
Hence, whenever a relationship or person truly does require
remediation, we must behave as we would like to be treated in the
same circumstance. Compassion, love and gentle kindness, not
patronization or scorn or abrupt roughness must rule the day. Many of
us have experienced both the kind of nurse one loved and the kind
that one would gladly forget if one could! Which sort of treatment do
you wish to give?
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- +PAXA few days ago, four religious novices of The Sisters of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child perished in a car accident in Nigeria. Prayers for their eternal rest, and for their families and Community and for all who mourn them.Prayers for Fr. Dunstan celebrating his Silver Jubilee of profession today, may God grant him many graces and many more years, ad multos annos! Prayers, too, that the process of getting his visa to return to Petersham is expedited, and prayers for his Dad, Ian, who still has many problems relating to his care.Prayers for K., that he be successful in the job he is writing exams for today which will potentially lead to an interview and job offer. If K. gets the job it gives E. a chance for full-time regular employment.Prayers for safe travels for Pope Francis, as he goes to Mexico, and special prayers for unity and oncord to prevail when he meets Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba. May their meeting bear much fruit.Prayers for the return of Elizabeth and Ellen to the Sacraments.Deo gratias for 30 years of sobriety for C. And many more!!!
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All
is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
Chapter 10: How the Night Office Is to Be Said in Summer Time
From Easter until the Calends of November
let the same number of Psalms be kept as prescribed above;
but no lessons are to be read from the book,
on account of the shortness of the nights.
Instead of those three lessons
let one lesson from the Old Testament be said by heart
and followed by a short responsory.
But all the rest should be done as has been said;
that is to say that never fewer than twelve Psalms
should be said at the Night Office,
not counting Psalm 3 and Psalm 94.
Put another spin on this and you will find, especially if you are an
Oblate, that St. Benedict intends at least some aspects of his
monastic program to adapt themselves to the environment in which the
monastic lives. Do not wear yourself out trying to make the very
square peg of a relentless monastic life fit into the intractably
round hole of a life in the world. Don't try to make your kids (or
spouse!) understand that you are going to be monastic, no matter if
they are or aren't. For one thing, if you in any way diminish your
primary vocation, like marriage or parenthood, you are not going to
be monastic at all! The key to our struggle is obedience and
humility, not control of others.
There is a tremendous (and very beneficial!) humility in truthfully admitting
that an Oblate's life often doesn't allow saying the whole Office. I have no
doubt at all that, in some cases, there is vastly more merit in that humbling
truth than there would be in lots of psalmody. In fact, if one's primary
vocation, like marriage or parenthood, demands otherwise, I can easily see
where it could sometimes be quite wrong, indeed, to try to say the whole
Office. St. Benedict foresaw just such situations in chapters like this one,
where the inescapable changes in season moderated things.
In an Oblate's life, there are many things other than merely seasonal which
may often be every bit as compelling.
Love and prayers,