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Holy Rule for Apr. 11

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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX A blessed Easter to all! Love, JL April 11, August 11, December 11 Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters When anyone is newly come for the
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 11, 2004
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      +PAX

      A blessed Easter to all! Love, JL

      April 11, August 11, December 11
      Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

      When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
      let her not be granted an easy entrance;
      but, as the Apostle says,
      "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
      If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
      and if it is seen after four or five days
      that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
      and the difficulty of admission,
      and that she persists in her petition,
      then let entrance be granted her,
      and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

      After that let her live in the novitiate,
      where the novices study, eat and sleep.
      A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
      to watch over them with the utmost care.
      Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
      and whether she is zealous
      for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
      Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
      by which the journey to God is made.

      If she promises stability and perseverance,
      then at the end of two months
      let this rule be read through to her,
      and let her be addressed thus:
      "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
      If you can observe it, enter;
      if you cannot, you are free to depart."
      If she still stands firm,
      let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
      and again tested in all patience.
      And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
      that she may know on what she is entering.
      And if she still remains firm,
      after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

      Then, having deliberated with herself,
      if she promises to keep it in its entirety
      and to observe everything that is commanded,
      let her be received into the community.
      But let her understand that,
      according to the law of the Rule,
      from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
      nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
      which she was free to refuse or to accept
      during that prolonged deliberation.

      REFLECTION

      The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
      entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
      Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
      the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
      lives, and one which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes
      to, again and again, day after day.

      "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
      have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
      our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
      however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
      and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
      heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
      always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
      it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
      frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

      If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
      St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
      hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
      is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
      one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
      I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if they
      are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
      folly.

      After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manner obliges us to
      ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
      entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
      stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
      seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

      This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
      of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
      three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
      elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
      it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@...
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
      Petersham, MA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jerry Lee
      +PAX Prayers of Deo gratias and thanksgiving for Shadow, the lost cat, who has returned home and for Connie, his grateful human! Prayers for all parents and
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 11, 2005
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        +PAX

        Prayers of Deo gratias and thanksgiving for Shadow, the lost cat, who has returned home and for Connie, his grateful human!
        Prayers for all parents and children estranged from each other, may God reunite them. Prayers, please, for a pastor whose flock in engaging in some very ungrateful meanness against their shepherd. Prayers, too, for Marcie, breast cancer, and for Sandy, whose cancer has spread to her liver. Prayers for Maime, 6, and terminal cancer, for her happy, peaceful death, for her parents and all who love her. Prayers for Phil, emergency abdominal surgery went well, but he lost a great deal of blood and is in a lot of pain. Lord, help them as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Thanks so much. JL

        April 11, August 11, December 11
        Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

        When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
        let her not be granted an easy entrance;
        but, as the Apostle says,
        "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
        If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
        and if it is seen after four or five days
        that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
        and the difficulty of admission,
        and that she persists in her petition,
        then let entrance be granted her,
        and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

        After that let her live in the novitiate,
        where the novices study, eat and sleep.
        A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
        to watch over them with the utmost care.
        Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
        and whether she is zealous
        for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
        Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
        by which the journey to God is made.

        If she promises stability and perseverance,
        then at the end of two months
        let this rule be read through to her,
        and let her be addressed thus:
        "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
        If you can observe it, enter;
        if you cannot, you are free to depart."
        If she still stands firm,
        let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
        and again tested in all patience.
        And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
        that she may know on what she is entering.
        And if she still remains firm,
        after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

        Then, having deliberated with herself,
        if she promises to keep it in its entirety
        and to observe everything that is commanded,
        let her be received into the community.
        But let her understand that,
        according to the law of the Rule,
        from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
        nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
        which she was free to refuse or to accept
        during that prolonged deliberation.

        REFLECTION

        The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
        entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
        Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
        the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
        lives, and one which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes
        to, again and again, day after day.

        "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
        have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
        our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
        however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
        and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
        heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
        always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
        it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
        frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

        If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
        St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
        hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
        is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
        one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
        I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if they
        are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
        folly.

        After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manner obliges us to
        ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
        entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
        stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
        seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

        This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
        of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
        three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
        elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
        it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome, OSB
        jeromeleo@...
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jerry Lee
        +PAX Continued prayers, please, for Sr. Eileen, experiencing repeated kidney shutdowns. Oblates are praying for her particularly at 3pm, the Hour of Mercy, the
        Message 3 of 16 , Apr 11, 2006
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          +PAX

          Continued prayers, please, for Sr. Eileen, experiencing repeated kidney shutdowns. Oblates are praying for her particularly at 3pm, the Hour of Mercy, the hour Christ died on the Cross, also for Joy, off life support and out of ICU, but investigating hospice care.

          Prayers for Shirley, one of our faithful prayer warriors and an Oblate who does much for St. Leo Abbey. She feel just before Palm Sunday Mass at the Abbey and broke her elbow and ulna. She sees an orthopedic surgeon today about repair. Since she must type at her work, ardent prayers for a speedy recovery and also for a special intention of hers! Prayers for John, cerebral hemorrhage, severe heart disease, doctors are not too optimistic. He has been away from God since losing his eldest son in 1998, but seems to perhaps be slowly drifting back. Prayers that he returns to the arms of God! Prayers for his son who died, for his other son, Wim, his nephew, Harry, and all their family.

          Prayers for Mary Kenny and Comet, her dog, who live with us in the guesthouse. Comet is 14 and has been sick several days, she goes to the vet today and Mary is very concerned. Prayers for the health of both! Lord, help us 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

          April 11, August 11, December 11
          Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

          When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
          let her not be granted an easy entrance;
          but, as the Apostle says,
          "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
          If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
          and if it is seen after four or five days
          that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
          and the difficulty of admission,
          and that she persists in her petition,
          then let entrance be granted her,
          and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

          After that let her live in the novitiate,
          where the novices study, eat and sleep.
          A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
          to watch over them with the utmost care.
          Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
          and whether she is zealous
          for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
          Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
          by which the journey to God is made.

          If she promises stability and perseverance,
          then at the end of two months
          let this rule be read through to her,
          and let her be addressed thus:
          "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
          If you can observe it, enter;
          if you cannot, you are free to depart."
          If she still stands firm,
          let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
          and again tested in all patience.
          And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
          that she may know on what she is entering.
          And if she still remains firm,
          after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

          Then, having deliberated with herself,
          if she promises to keep it in its entirety
          and to observe everything that is commanded,
          let her be received into the community.
          But let her understand that,
          according to the law of the Rule,
          from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
          nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
          which she was free to refuse or to accept
          during that prolonged deliberation.

          REFLECTION

          The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
          entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
          Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
          the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
          lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
          again and again, day after day.

          "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
          have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
          our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
          however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
          and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
          heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
          always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
          it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
          frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

          If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
          St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
          hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
          is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
          one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
          I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if they
          are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
          folly.

          After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
          ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
          entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
          stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
          seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

          This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
          of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
          three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
          elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
          it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!

          Love and prayers,
          Jerome, OSB
          jeromeleo@...
          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
          Petersham, MA

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
          +PAX Prayers for safe journeying for Fr. Anselm, off on one of his many Abbot Visitor trips this morning. Prayers, please, for Bob, our liver transplant, who
          Message 4 of 16 , Apr 10, 2007
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            +PAX

            Prayers for safe journeying for Fr. Anselm, off on one of his many Abbot
            Visitor trips this morning.

            Prayers, please, for Bob, our liver transplant, who has been life-flighted
            to another hospital. He is not coherent, but conscious, unknown if this is a
            side-effect of the treatment for the hepatitis to stop the fibrosing of the
            liver. His wife, Petrina, is beside herself and flying to Oahu to be with him.
            Their son, Jesse, who broke his foot, is coming home Wednesday from Florida.
            This family really needs our prayers. 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

            April 11, August 11, December 11
            Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

            When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
            let her not be granted an easy entrance;
            but, as the Apostle says,
            "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
            If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
            and if it is seen after four or five days
            that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
            and the difficulty of admission,
            and that she persists in her petition,
            then let entrance be granted her,
            and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

            After that let her live in the novitiate,
            where the novices study, eat and sleep.
            A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
            to watch over them with the utmost care.
            Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
            and whether she is zealous
            for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
            Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
            by which the journey to God is made.

            If she promises stability and perseverance,
            then at the end of two months
            let this rule be read through to her,
            and let her be addressed thus:
            "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
            If you can observe it, enter;
            if you cannot, you are free to depart."
            If she still stands firm,
            let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
            and again tested in all patience.
            And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
            that she may know on what she is entering.
            And if she still remains firm,
            after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

            Then, having deliberated with herself,
            if she promises to keep it in its entirety
            and to observe everything that is commanded,
            let her be received into the community.
            But let her understand that,
            according to the law of the Rule,
            from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
            nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
            which she was free to refuse or to accept
            during that prolonged deliberation.

            REFLECTION

            The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
            entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
            Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
            the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
            lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
            again and again, day after day.

            "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
            have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
            our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
            however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
            and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
            heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
            always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
            it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
            frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

            If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
            St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
            hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
            is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
            one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
            I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if
            they
            are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
            folly.

            After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
            ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
            entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
            stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
            seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

            This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
            of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
            three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
            elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
            it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!

            Love and prayers,
            Jerome, OSB
            _brjeromeleo@..._ (mailto:brjeromeleo@...)
            _http://www.stmarysmonastery.org_ (http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/)
            Petersham, MA






            ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • jeromeleo@stmarysmonastery.org
            +PAX Prayers of Deo gratias: Ann Marie s doctor appointment went better than she expected and she is hopeful. Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and
            Message 5 of 16 , Apr 10, 2008
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              +PAX


              Prayers of Deo gratias: Ann Marie's doctor appointment went better than she expected and she is hopeful.

              Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their dear ones and all who take care of them:

              Two infants, Josephine and Sarah, both quite ill with unknown causes.

              Fr. Corapi, surgery pending.

              J., for self-confidence and balance after some difficult times, especially for faith and trust.


              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

              April 11, August 11, December 11
              Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

              When anyone is newly come for the reformation of her life,
              let her not be granted an easy entrance;
              but, as the Apostle says,
              "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
              If the newcomer, therefore, perseveres in her knocking,
              and if it is seen after four or five days
              that she bears patiently the harsh treatment offered her
              and the difficulty of admission,
              and that she persists in her petition,
              then let entrance be granted her,
              and let her stay in the guest house for a few days.

              After that let her live in the novitiate,
              where the novices study, eat and sleep.
              A senior shall be assigned to them who is skilled in winning souls,
              to watch over them with the utmost care.
              Let her examine whether the novice is truly seeking God,
              and whether she is zealous
              for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.
              Let the novice be told all the hard and rugged ways
              by which the journey to God is made.

              If she promises stability and perseverance,
              then at the end of two months
              let this rule be read through to her,
              and let her be addressed thus:
              "Here is the law under which you wish to fight.
              If you can observe it, enter;
              if you cannot, you are free to depart."
              If she still stands firm,
              let her be taken to the above-mentioned novitiate
              and again tested in all patience.
              And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read to her,
              that she may know on what she is entering.
              And if she still remains firm,
              after four months let the same Rule be read to her again.

              Then, having deliberated with herself,
              if she promises to keep it in its entirety
              and to observe everything that is commanded,
              let her be received into the community.
              But let her understand that,
              according to the law of the Rule,
              from that day forward she may not leave the monastery
              nor withdraw her neck from under the yoke of the Rule
              which she was free to refuse or to accept
              during that prolonged deliberation.

              REFLECTION

              The most important thing that St. Benedict asks of all of us on
              entrance into the monastic way is whether we truly seek God. Whether
              Abbot Primate or newest Oblate novice, that is what we are asked by
              the Holy Rule. It is a question we shall be asked for the rest of our
              lives, and one to which we must strive (and often struggle!) to say yes,
              again and again, day after day.

              "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let us seek Him Whom we
              have found." In truth a certain "finding" of God is necessary to whet
              our appetite, to lead us to seek Him more deeply. Once that happens,
              however, we can go on seeking God for the rest of time and eternity
              and never get to the end of His infinite love and mercy. Even in
              heaven the journey will go on, with us always being creature and Him
              always loving Creator. We will never end our quest, but we will love
              it, we will never reach the essence of God, but that will never
              frustrate us in heaven. It's an adventure we shall love.

              If we do not seek God, there is no point whatever in becoming a monastic.
              St. Bernard once said something to the effect that, if one is going to go to
              hell, one should choose the broad way of the world, where at least there
              is comfort of a sort on the way, not the narrow way of the monastery, where
              one would go from hard life to hell. I haven't paraphrased him too well, but
              I hope it is clear enough. No one should waste time with monastic life if
              they
              are not seeking God, seeking to go deeper into Him. To do so would be
              folly.

              After novitiate, our commitment to conversion of manners obliges us to
              ever seek, to ever try to improve, to never give up the quest
              entirely. A Benedictine who has stopped trying to be better and
              stopped seeking God is in deep, maybe even fatal trouble. We always
              seek and strive. It is the very stuff of our lives as monastics.

              This chapter, by the way, led to the traditional division we now have
              of the Holy Rule into dates that will result in it all being read
              three times a year. The novices had to hear it three times anyway and
              elsewhere St. Benedict had asked that all in community hear
              it "frequently." Hence, this system was devised to cover both fronts!

              Love and prayers,
              Jerome, OSB
              http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
              Petersham, MA




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Br. Jerome Leo
              Mea culpa, I hit send before changing the date in the subject line. I really did send out April 11 today, but it is marked as the 10. Sigh... BJL [Non-text
              Message 6 of 16 , Apr 10, 2011
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                Mea culpa, I hit send before changing the date in the subject line. I really did send out April 11 today, but it is marked as the 10. Sigh... BJL

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX Prayers, pleae, for a baby girl (I have misplaced her name, but God knows...) 1 1/2 years old, birth defects in her hips may cause lifelong problems.
                Message 7 of 16 , Apr 11, 2011
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                  +PAX

                  Prayers, pleae, for a baby girl (I have misplaced her name, but God knows...) 1 1/2 years old, birth defects in her hips may cause lifelong problems. Surgery is anticipated, she is now in a body cast; prayers for her parents, family and all who take care of her.

                  Prayers for Mary Lou S., hepatitis and having a months treatment.

                  Anne, whom we prayed for, will likely be moved out of ICU in the next day or so, they will then likely remove her tracheotomy, prayers for that to go smoothly, that she continue to make progress and can expel the congestion and fluid in her lungs. Prayers, too, for John, her husband and all who take care of her.

                  Osacr's Mom, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her eternal rest and for Oscar and all her family, snd all who mourn her. Prayers, too, for her husband, who died last month, may they both rest in peace

                  Prayers for the 12 dead and 12 wounded in a Brazil shooting in a school, for all their families and all who mourn the dead, also for the gunman, who took his own life, may mercy have triumphed at the last instant.

                  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

                  April 12, August 12, December 12
                  Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters

                  When she is to be received
                  she promises before all in the oratory
                  stability,
                  fidelity to monastic life
                  and obedience.
                  This promise she shall make before God and His Saints,
                  so that if she should ever act otherwise,
                  she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.
                  Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document
                  in the name of the Saints whose relics are there
                  and of the Abbess who is present.
                  Let her write this document with her own hand;
                  or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request,
                  and let the novice put her mark to it.
                  Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar;
                  and when she has placed it there,
                  let the novice at once intone this verse:
                  "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live:
                  and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118[119]:116).
                  Let the whole community answer this verse three times
                  and add the "Glory be to the Father."
                  Then let the novice prostrate herself at each one's feet,
                  that they may pray for her.
                  And from that day forward
                  let her be counted as one of the community.
                  If she has any property,
                  let her either give it beforehand to the poor
                  or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery,
                  reserving nothing at all for herself,
                  as indeed she knows that from that day forward
                  she will no longer have power even over her own body.
                  At once, therefore, in the oratory,
                  let her be divested of her own clothes which she is wearing
                  and dressed in the clothes of the monastery.
                  But let the clothes of which she was divested
                  be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there.
                  Then if she should ever listen to the persuasions of the devil
                  and decide to leave the monastery (which God forbid),
                  she may be divested of the monastic clothes and cast out.
                  Her document, however,
                  which the Abbess has taken from the altar,
                  shall not be returned to her, but shall be kept in the monastery.

                  REFLECTION

                  It is thrilling to me to know that, more than 1500 years later, we
                  are still doing professions in the way St. Benedict did. A few things
                  added, but the elements are there: writing and signing the document,
                  placing it on the altar, the Suscipe ("Receive me, O Lord...") are all
                  tremendously ancient and holy rites. What a privilege we have to
                  belong to such a family.

                  The Church approves religious rules. This is the basis for asserting
                  that our Holy Rule is inspired by the Holy Spirit, because the Church
                  gave its seal of approval. The Church, however, is indubitably older
                  and often wiser than monastic life. It predates every form of optional religious
                  commitment. It is the blessing of the Church which makes official
                  monastic life possible for any and all of us.

                  This is just a prelude to saying that the wisdom of the Church long
                  ago stopped people from making solemn vows, a life-long commitment
                  difficult to break, right out of novitiate. Not only does this longer
                  program protect people, to a certain extent, from making a mistake,
                  it also spares the monastery from having a lot of misfits with chapter
                  votes running the show. There are many I have known who left in
                  simple vows that I remain eternally grateful for the fact that they
                  were never chapter members!

                  A year may well have been enough in St. Benedict's time. People had
                  vastly shorter life spans, it was a bigger chunk of their lives. They
                  also had to grow up more quickly and their options were fewer by far
                  than those of our own day.

                  Oblates, therefore, can garner a few kernels of truth in this chapter
                  about commitment, that bugbear of the post-Word War II generation and
                  beyond. Modern people find it terribly hard to commit, some never
                  manage it at all. As such, a bit of wisdom older than our own age may
                  be very useful in our everyday lives.

                  Whether it's a marriage or engagement or job or volunteer chairperson
                  position, don't jump at things. Read the Rule, so to speak, three
                  times at least! Look, look, look as mindfully as you can at the truth
                  and reality of the situation. I have a friend who suffered
                  terribly in a relationship which he ALWAYS insisted was just wonderful
                  and worth the effort, any effort, no matter who could see otherwise. He
                  clung to this denial until he got dumped. Out of fear, he did not really
                  LOOK at the situation.

                  Benedictines are not people afraid of commitment, but we live in a
                  world where many are. Our witness here must be care and balance. We
                  must resolutely walk BETWEEN the extremes of foolhardy haste and
                  crippling fear. In the world of today, that is no small witness and
                  no easy task. Pull this one off, and you have a done a service to
                  many, not just to yourself!

                  Love and prayers,
                  Jerome, OSB
                  http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                  Petersham, MA





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                • Br. Jerome Leo
                  +PAX For those so inclined: there is a movement underway to try and get as many folks as possible to pray a Rosary on Good Friday, if possible between noon and
                  Message 8 of 16 , Apr 12, 2011
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                    For those so inclined: there is a movement underway to try and get as many folks as possible to pray a Rosary on Good Friday, if possible between noon and 3pm, for the intentions of world peace and a return of moral values in our communities.

                    Anastasia, for whom we have often prayed in the past, has now decided she can't take care of her baby. This is a complex situation, too involved to explain all here, but many ardent prayers are needed and prayers for the poor baby, too.

                    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

                    April 13, August 13, December 13
                    Chapter 59: On the Sons of Nobles and of the Poor Who Are Offered

                    If anyone of the nobility
                    offers his son to God in the monastery
                    and the boy is very young,
                    let his parents draw up the document which we mentioned above;
                    and at the oblation
                    let them wrap the document itself and the body's hand in the altar
                    cloth.
                    That is how they offer him.

                    As regards their property,
                    they shall promise in the same petition under oath
                    that they will never of themselves, or through an intermediary,
                    or in any way whatever,
                    give him anything
                    or provide him with the opportunity of owning anything.
                    Or else,
                    if they are unwilling to do this,
                    and if they want to offer something as an alms to the monastery
                    for their advantage,
                    let them make a donation
                    of the property they wish to give to the monastery,
                    reserving the income to themselves if they wish.
                    And in this way let everything be barred,
                    so that the boy may have no expectations
                    whereby (which God forbid) he might be deceived and ruined,
                    as we have learned by experience.

                    Let those who are less well-to-do make a similar offering.
                    But those who have nothing at all
                    shall simply draw up the document
                    and offer their son before witnesses at the oblation.

                    REFLECTION

                    It's always nice to read Chapter. 59, because it is the source of our
                    having Oblates today. Thanks be to God for the myriad blessings and
                    graces that have come to the Benedictine family through Oblates and
                    for the graces they have received from their bonds to the Order! It
                    is hard for me to imagine where we would be without Oblates.

                    Those who are seen help us with labors and goods, and those who are
                    unseen, help us with a treasure of prayers whose vastness we dare not
                    even guess until we finally see clearly in heaven. In most cases, by
                    numbers, Oblates outnumber the professed of the community, so God
                    must have known how badly we needed them. It is most likely their
                    prayers that kept us going all these years.

                    The living and the dead, the strugglers and those already in heaven,
                    help us move the great throng of our Order forward through history.
                    What heaven must be like! The Oblates there are united to God,
                    already freely conversant with St. Benedict, with heroes and heroines
                    we can only read about. How delighted they must have been to be
                    welcomed by a family far more numerous than they ever imagined.

                    They were not strangers to those Benedictines of centuries past. Why?
                    Because the saints of the past hold us dear throughout our time of
                    trial. They already know us, they have been praying for us all along,
                    even if we have not met them yet in person. When I read Anglo-Saxon
                    Benedictine history, a favorite hobby of mine, I am just learning their
                    names. They already know my name: they have prayed for me for years
                    before I even cracked a book.

                    When an Oblate joins our ranks, becoming a member of this great
                    family, there are graces beyond counting in store. Ours is a family
                    of saints, of great holiness. It is also a family of strugglers, the
                    mediocre, the halt and lame and the beginning. The communion of
                    saints is replicated in miniature in our own Order. All that great sanctity,
                    past and present, comes, in the eternal now of heaven, to our aid.
                    The weak are carried by the strong. It is easy to forget the miracle
                    that signing one little Oblation chart on the altar effects.

                    If I could (and did!) write a love song for the habit, I could write one as
                    great for Oblates. How much they have changed and enriched my life,
                    how deeply I find my days entwined around Oblates from all over the
                    world. Prayers and insights shared back and forth, friendships that
                    have sprung up in cyberspace, the wonderful gift of having others spread
                    far and wide who share the journey with me, these are all gifts of grace to
                    me, inestimable gifts! My life would be so much diminished without the
                    gifts of light and joy, love and edification that you bring to me. Thanks so
                    very, very much!!

                    Thank God for our Oblates. Thank God for the chance He led St.
                    Benedict to give to them and to ourselves!

                    Love and prayers,
                    Jerome, OSB
                    http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                    Petersham, MA



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                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mentyal and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: The Oblate Study
                    Message 9 of 16 , Apr 13, 2011
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                      Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mentyal and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                      The Oblate Study group at St. Timothy's, and their loyal friend, Fr. Bob.

                      Jean, brutally beaten and raped by an unknown person at her place of work. May Jesus watch over her and her family through the days, weeks, and months ahead.

                      A. N., depression and feeling the lack of extended family sorely, also stomach problems.

                      Stuart, rotator cuff surgery cancelled because two masses were found on his lungs. CAT scan and lung work up pending, during which he will be hospitalized.

                      Barbara, in ICU, Pneumonia &other health issues.

                      RoseAnn, positive tests & no health insurance,searching for help.

                      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

                      April 14, August 14, December 14
                      Chapter 60: On Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery

                      If any ordained priest
                      should ask to be received into the monastery,
                      permission shall not be granted too readily.
                      But if he is quite persistent in his request,
                      let him know
                      that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule
                      and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor,
                      that it may be as it is written:
                      "Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?"

                      It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot
                      and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass,
                      but only by order of the Abbot.
                      Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself,
                      knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule;
                      but rather let him give an example of humility to all.

                      If there happens to be question of an appointment
                      or of some business in the monastery,
                      let him expect the rank due him
                      according to the date of his entrance into the monastery,
                      and not the place granted him
                      out of reverence for the priesthood.

                      If any clerics, moved by the same desire,
                      should wish to join the monastery,
                      let them be placed in a middle rank.
                      But they too are to be admitted only if they promise
                      observance of the Rule and stability.

                      REFLECTION

                      One of the quintessential questions of the Holy Rule is that of
                      Jesus: "Friend, for what have you come?" This question is not just
                      for priests, but for each of us, for all Christians and all monastics.
                      The only acceptable answer to the question is: "To seek
                      God." That might be rephrased in any of a number of ways, but that's
                      the main event, the only game in town, the end all and be all of
                      Benedictine monastic life.

                      It is very necessary, in stating that we seek God, to admit that we
                      haven't altogether found Him yet, nor will we ever do so before
                      death. Even in the beatific vision of heaven itself, we creatures
                      will never, ever get to the root of our Creator, to the "ground zero"
                      of God. Ain't gonna happen. We will just keep going deeper and
                      loving more for eternity. The more we know, the more we will love,
                      but we shall never know all!

                      Another way of saying this is that we need to come to the Holy Rule
                      and to the Gospel and to Christ admitting how frighteningly little we
                      DO know. If we think an MDiv or an MD or a BS have
                      corrected that problem, even slightly, well, maybe
                      that degree is just about all we've gotten from the experience.

                      For heaven's sake, after spending so many years of my life trying to
                      become clever, or thinking I was, what a tremendous relief it is to
                      be dumb: pluperfectly, fallibly, humanly, screamingly, shriekingly
                      DUMB! Boy, I love it! Ignorance truly *IS* bliss, just like they told
                      ya! Truly, with Socrates, we ought to know enough to know that we
                      know nothing! Realizing that the very best of us has nothing but the
                      barest tip of the iceberg is a great and tender mercy, indeed!

                      In one sense, I heartily recommend it. It is the only position from
                      which one may learn anything at all. Get too smart (or think you
                      have!) and you will never listen, failing yet another Benedictine
                      hallmark. You won't learn because all your energy will go into
                      composing your rejoinder or response. Such people do not learn. They
                      merely joust. Life is more than that, much more. Tons more.

                      Love and prayers,
                      Jerome, OSB
                      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                      Petersham, MA






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                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Judy, suffering
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 14, 2011
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                        Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                        Judy, suffering from dementia, and for her husband, Jim, tirelessly caring for her. Many close family members involved.

                        Dan and his family, his father passed yesterday after years of suffering after a devastating stroke.For his Dad's eternal rest and for all who mourn him.
                        Bertha who is being cared for by hospice and her family- for her happy death and may she go straight to the arms of God.

                        Cas and Bev on their 31st anniversary, many blessings and many more. Ad multos annos!

                        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

                        April 15, August 15, December 15
                        Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

                        If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
                        wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
                        let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
                        provided she is content
                        with the customs of the place as she finds them
                        and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
                        but is simply content with what she finds.
                        If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
                        and with the humility of charity,
                        let the Abbess consider prudently
                        whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
                        that the Lord sent her.

                        If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
                        her wish should not be denied her,
                        especially since there has been opportunity
                        during her stay as a guest
                        to discover her character.

                        REFLECTION

                        We can get so used to our lives that we are blind to areas that could
                        be improved. We can get so used to doing things one way that anything
                        better is beyond us. Our routines which become sacrosanct are often
                        not at all that holy!

                        An outsider's objective view can let us see a good deal about
                        ourselves. Some things we may want to change, some we may realize are
                        fine as they are. Either way, the visitor can be a reality check of
                        great worth.

                        One of the Desert Fathers (forgive me for not recalling which one,)
                        said that there is nothing so careful as a monk not living in his
                        native land. That's very true for most of us, though part two of this
                        chapter makes it clear that it's not true for everyone. When we
                        visit, we want people to think the best of the home, the family, the
                        land from which we came. It is this nobility of striving, this
                        mindful courtesy that the Desert Father wished to praise. In fact, if
                        I read it correctly, the implication was that it might even be better
                        to be a monastic AWAY from one's native land for just those reasons.

                        There is something striking here. Remember how badly the gyrovagues
                        and Sarabaites were painted in the types of monks? Well, these were
                        the wandering ones, and St. Benedict knew very well that a pilgrim
                        monk at the door could be one of these sorts. He doesn't even mention
                        it. He wants them to have a chance to do better, to be healed by
                        community. If they blow it, fine, he's not going to lose a lot of
                        sleep over it, but he does insist they be given a chance to improve.
                        Given what the monastic world thought of gyrovagues and the like,
                        that says a LOT for St. Benedict's tolerance and clemency.

                        Not all of us are in cloisters, but all of us encounter others. The people
                        we meet may be gyrovagues and Sarabaites, but they
                        may not, too. We have to give them a chance to prove or reveal
                        themselves. This is true of anyone we encounter. Snap judgments are
                        not wise, they cheat us out of many gifts. Tread the middle way,
                        always the middle way.

                        Another thing to watch is the fact that we often may take any suggestions
                        as criticism and bristle at the very mention of them. Often, criticism may
                        have been the last thing the speaker intended, genuine charity may have
                        been the only concern. There may be times when God intends the use
                        of a person as His instrument in a critique He deems worthy. All of
                        these things must be considered. The person we regard as a meddling
                        annoyance could sometimes be God's tender and loving gift to us!

                        This doesn't mean we have to dupe ourselves into perpetual
                        vulnerability, but it does mean we have to be open, mindful and
                        listening, really listening to all comers. Listen first, sift later.
                        Do both, always both.

                        Love and prayers and the occasional laugh,
                        Jerome, OSB
                        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                        Petersham, MA




                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                        +PAX Big Deo gratias, and a more than usual update, but God has been so good! Steven, age 32, husband and father to two young sons underwent heart surgery
                        Message 11 of 16 , Apr 15, 2011
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                          Big Deo gratias, and a more than usual update, but God has been so good! Steven, age 32, husband and father to two young sons underwent heart surgery today. You've put him in the list of intentions twice and so I wanted to hurry and let you know that it pleased God that all went well today!

                          Though it was more complex than expected, the result is that the doctor was able to locate and destroy all of the targeted tissue. There is a small chance it could grow back but the doctor says that if it does not grow back within 6 months, Steve is cured. Steve woke astonished and grateful that he could already feel his heart beating normally.Thanks from Krystal, his Mom, who asked, and prayers for her and all his family, all who take care of him.

                          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


                          April 16, August 16, December 16
                          Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

                          But if as a guest she was found exacting or prone to vice,
                          not only should she be denied membership in the community,
                          but she should even be politely requested to leave,
                          lest others be corrupted by her evil life.

                          If, however, she has not proved to be the kind
                          who deserves to be put out,
                          she should not only on her own application be received
                          as a member of the community,
                          but she should even be persuaded to stay,
                          that the others may be instructed by her example,
                          and because in every place it is the same Lord who is served,
                          the same King for whom the battle is fought.

                          Moreover, if the Abbess perceives that she is worthy,
                          she may put her in a somewhat higher rank.
                          [And not only with regard to a nun
                          but also with regard to those in priestly or clerical orders
                          previously mentioned,]*
                          the Abbess may establish them in a higher rank
                          than would be theirs by date of entrance
                          if she perceives that their life is deserving.

                          Let the Abbess take care, however,
                          never to receive a nun from another known monastery
                          as a member of her community
                          without the consent of her Abbess or a letter of recommendation;
                          for it is written,
                          "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tob.
                          4:16).

                          *(The gender switch is built in at the Collegeville OSB site.) [Applicable
                          only to
                          women of some contemporary monastic communities
                          in Protestant Communions.]

                          REFLECTION

                          Not all criticism is good. Every person at the door of your
                          workplace, home or monastery is a challenge for virtue from God. They
                          may even be doing His will unwittingly by their pickiness or
                          crankiness, but they are not therefore necessarily right.

                          That means that every single criticism should be carefully weighed.
                          Sometimes the message God sends is positive, sometimes
                          negative, sometimes merely an exercise in endurance! Trust me, I
                          worked in the guest house for over twelve years... The person who
                          annoys you could be right, but not always!

                          Some of us are so complacent that we badly need to be taken down a
                          bit. Others, however, have such wounded self-esteem that they will
                          need protection, need to be careful and yes, MINDFUL enough to
                          balance what is said to them by critical types. Hear what people say,
                          but sift it very carefully. They might be wrong.

                          Some people, I have no doubt, are sent to us for no
                          reason other than to teach us to recognize such fools as those of
                          whom St. Paul speaks and suffer them [hopefully!] gladly, or at least
                          start working at suffering them civilly. I usually find myself STILL
                          working at "civilly." Gladly is a pretty tall order!

                          Some of us, too, need to listen to this while putting ourselves in
                          the role of the guest or the listeners. I remember a priest in the mid
                          1970's, who thought every single homily should "shake 'em up a bit." Well,
                          yes and no and neither, at times. Not every "pearl" of wisdom is
                          cultured!

                          For one thing, he missed the fact that, by that time, most of the
                          flock had been "shaken up" quite regularly for 7 years or so, and
                          not always for the best nor always by the brightest. People quite
                          rightly get weary of that. They tune out.

                          He got his chance at first, but it wasn't long before our only response
                          was annoyance, followed soon thereafter by relative deafness. ("Oh no,
                          look who's celebrant today...") He missed the balance and when one
                          misses balance, one largely fails.

                          Even "Father Disturbus" had the occasional good idea, but that got
                          buried in the avalanche of not so hot stuff. Learn, if you don't
                          already know, how to filter people like that. Even a stopped clock is
                          right twice a day and there might be something worthwhile buried in all
                          the rest.

                          Strive to never be a person like that. Don't make a life calling out of
                          shaking people up, they'll get over you fast. You don't want that to happen,
                          you want to keep their attention until they can hear Christ in your speech
                          and see Him in your life. Jostling nerves is not the best way to attract others
                          to the Gospel.

                          But neither should a timidly, uncharitable politeness make you afraid to
                          speak when it is really necessary and might actually help. The monastic
                          tendency to avoid conflict, often at virtually any cost, is not always kind.
                          It is often nothing more than cowardice. As usual m'dears, balance, ALWAYS
                          balance! And ALWAYS kindness. When you have to say something difficult,
                          the loving tone will most likely be heard, the strident one will usually
                          serve only to make matters worse and hurts deeper.

                          It is a sad fact that many of the "Disturbi" of the world
                          have no clue, none at all, how annoying they are. Try very hard to
                          ascertain whether or not you're one of them, and if you are, please
                          stop! For everyone's sake.

                          Love and prayers,
                          Jerome, OSB (who can be a bit of a Disturbus at times himself!)
                          http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                          Petersham, MA



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                          +PAX Prayers, please, the eternal rest of William Collett, father of our Oblate, Bill Collett, and for all his family and all who mourn him. Prayers for the
                          Message 12 of 16 , Apr 16, 2011
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                            Prayers, please, the eternal rest of William Collett, father of our Oblate, Bill Collett, and for all his family and all who mourn him.

                            Prayers for the happy death of Elizabeth's Father, at home awaiting God's call, and for Elizabeth and all his family, and all who will mourn him.

                            Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Dot, for whom we have prayed before. Breast cancer surgery three years ago and now a cancerous growth has been found in her remaining breast. She also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is very bad. Prayers, too, for her family who are willing and trying to help.

                            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

                            April 17, August 17, December 17
                            Chapter 62: On the Priests of the Monastery

                            If an Abbot desire
                            to have a priest or a deacon ordained for his monastery,
                            let him choose one
                            who is worthy to exercise the priestly office.

                            But let the one who is ordained
                            beware of self-exaltation or pride;
                            and let him not presume to do anything
                            except what is commanded him by the Abbot,
                            knowing that he is so much the more subject
                            to the discipline of the Rule.
                            Nor should he by reason of his priesthood forget
                            the obedience and the discipline required by the Rule,
                            but make ever more and more progress towards God.

                            Let him always keep the place which he received
                            on entering the monastery,
                            except in his duties at the altar
                            or in case the choice of the community and the will of the Abbess
                            should promote him for the worthiness of his life.
                            Yet he must understand
                            that he is to observe the rules laid down by deans and Priors.

                            Should he presume to act otherwise,
                            let him be judged not as a priest but as a rebel.
                            And if he does not reform after repeated admonitions,
                            let even the Bishop be brought in as a witness.
                            If then he still fails to amend,
                            and his offenses are notorious,
                            let him be put out of the monastery,
                            but only if his contumacy is such
                            that he refuses to submit or to obey the Rule.

                            REFLECTION

                            The other day I passed the assistant manager of our local supermarket
                            cleaning up a bad mess on the floor with sweeping compound. I stopped
                            and told him that was the best possible thing his employees could
                            see. I congratulated him, saying that his employees would more likely
                            do anything for him gladly. They had seen him do it first.

                            This chapter applies to anyone who rises at work or at school or even
                            in the home. Much is required of those to whom much is given! When a
                            Benedictine gets a promotion, the basic willingness to do anything
                            necessary ought to remain firmly in place!

                            Authority, when it is placed over us, is to be reverenced and obeyed,
                            when it is placed in our own hands, it is to serve, not to reign! All
                            of us get the opportunity to live under authority or to administer
                            same. Our Benedictine hearts should make it readily evident to any
                            who observes us that our style in either area is decidedly different!

                            There's another thing both the world and religious life could profit
                            from learning. Authority in the Holy Rule is not permanent, not even
                            in the case of an Abbot, whom St. Benedict says may, even ought to be
                            removed in extreme cases. So often, in cloister or world, once we
                            have kicked someone upstairs, we are hesitant to ever put them
                            downstairs again. That shouldn't be. It gives the person and the
                            community an excellent potential for learning and teaching humility.
                            Whenever anyone handles authority badly, really badly, they should
                            not be rewarded with continued administration. Alas, that is often
                            not the case.

                            Love and prayers,
                            Jerome, OSB
                            http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                            Petersham, MA


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                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                            +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Estebins, complex
                            Message 13 of 16 , Apr 17, 2011
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                              Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                              Estebins, complex and unjust immigration mess, ardent prayers for him and God's perfect justice and will, also for Cate, Elizabeth and Liz, trying to help him and for safe travels as Liz and Cate travel out of state to his court hearing as advocates.

                              Marianne, age 87, who had a serious stroke yesterday and is not doing very well. Unable to swallow and has right-sided weakness. She seems worse today than yesterday, so please pray for her and for her family, especially daughter Dianne with whom she has been living, and Joyce, Marianne's sister.

                              Janet who is recovering from surgery and is doing well.

                              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! JL

                              April 18, August 18, December 18
                              Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community

                              Let all keep their places in the monastery
                              established by the time of their entrance,
                              the merit of their lives and the decision of the Abbot.
                              Yet the Abbot must not disturb the flock committed to him,
                              nor by an arbitrary use of his power ordain anything unjustly;
                              but let him always think
                              of the account he will have to render to God
                              for all his decisions and his deeds.

                              Therefore in that order which he has established
                              or which they already had,
                              let the brethren approach to receive the kiss of peace and Communion,
                              intone the Psalms and stand in choir.
                              And in no place whatever should age decide the order
                              or be prejudicial to it;
                              for Samuel and Daniel as mere boys judged priests.

                              Except for those already mentioned, therefore,
                              whom the Abbot has promoted by a special decision
                              or demoted for definite reasons,
                              all the rest shall take their order
                              according to the time of their entrance.
                              Thus, for example,
                              he who came to the monastery at the second hour of the day,
                              whatever be his age or his dignity,
                              must know that he is junior
                              to one who came at the first hour of the day.
                              Boys, however, are to be kept under discipline
                              in all matters and by everyone.

                              REFLECTION

                              I have known one monk of St. Leo who perhaps may have been delighted
                              to be the most senior monk by age and entrance, but he is long gone
                              now. The others I have known, who either held the first place or
                              hovered near it, could not have cared less, might even chuckle about
                              it if reminded. I like their way better.

                              Rank is a handy way to organize people in line, but after that, its
                              usefulness quickly diminishes. Rank that one desires or seeks can be
                              downright pernicious and fatal to a monastic life. If you look at
                              this chapter closely, it is not hard to see that St. Benedict wanted
                              his monastics to pretty much take their place and forget about it-
                              going any higher or lower had nothing to do with their own decision
                              anyhow and they should be at peace.

                              There's the rub: to be at peace! We need peace, we need inner
                              serenity. It is no accident that it became our motto, PAX. That peace
                              of soul is a fertile earth in which God tills His bountiful fields of
                              graces. It is the foundation we need to build houses firm.

                              Ever notice the readily apparent peace in a famous politician who has
                              decided not to run anymore? Whether you like the man or not, a great
                              freedom and relief is soon noticeable. It was so in Jimmy Carter,
                              who, when free to be just Jimmy Carter, went on to do wonderful
                              things. This renunciation is different, far different from quitting.
                              Mere quitting shows up in a very bad light. What I think we are
                              seeing is the light of a heart that has learned what NOT to
                              desire, even if only partially.

                              By the way, there's no need for any of us reading this to think we
                              need to dream up a standard of WHAT we desire and perhaps should not.
                              The Holy Rule has already done that for us, 1,500 years ago: "Let them
                              prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ."

                              Love and prayers,

                              Jerome, OSB
                              http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                              Petersham, MA






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                            • Br. Jerome Leo
                              +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Joe and Lori.
                              Message 14 of 16 , Apr 18, 2011
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                                +PAX

                                Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                                Joe and Lori. Joe's father died last week and now Lori had heart by-pass surgery today, and prayers for their nephew Jordan who lives with them.


                                Betsy and Alexis, sisters. Betsy is in her late teens, lost her job in January and has had no luck getting new employment. Meanwhile, today while learning to drive with Betsy, Alexis hit a parked car.


                                Sidney, who gave the Lord ownership of his life a few years ago and by His strength has been drug and alcohol free ever since. Deo Gratias!


                                Gary and Mitchell, brothers. Gary has had a very rough time with substance abuse, but has given his life over to God and is now fully employed and is very thankful for his blessings, while Mitchell recovers from mental illness.

                                Robert, hospitalized with cancer and not doing well.

                                for the intentions of Peg M. and Christine S.

                                Seminarian David, who has to travel home and for his brother, critically ill and perhaps near death and for all their family. For his brother's happy death, should God call him home.

                                Bill W., on the anniverary of his Oblation.

                                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

                                April 19, August 19, December 19
                                Chapter 63: On the Order of the Community
                                The juniors, therefore, should honor their seniors,
                                and the seniors love their juniors.

                                In the very manner of address,
                                let no one call another by the mere name;
                                but let the seniors call their juniors Brothers,
                                and the juniors call their seniors Fathers,
                                by which is conveyed the reverence due to a father.
                                But the Abbot,
                                since he is believed to represent Christ,
                                shall be called Lord and Abbot,
                                not for any pretensions of his own
                                but out of honor and love for Christ.
                                Let the Abbot himself reflect on this,
                                and show himself worthy of such an honor.

                                And wherever the brethren meet one another
                                the junior shall ask the senior for his blessing.
                                When a senior passes by,
                                a junior shall rise and give him a place to sit,
                                nor shall the junior presume to sit with him
                                unless his senior bid him,
                                that it may be as was written,
                                "In honor anticipating one another."

                                Boys, both small and adolescent,
                                shall keep strictly to their rank in oratory and at table.
                                But outside of that, wherever they may be,
                                let them be under supervision and discipline,
                                until they come to the age of discretion.

                                REFLECTION

                                Abbot Fidelis, my late novicemaster, used to always say that
                                Benedictines were "gentlemen monks." At that time, the phrase annoyed
                                me a good bit, though I never said so. It seemed to have a ring of
                                faint middle-class respectability about it, not a little bourgeois,
                                as if we were monks who were "the right sort of people."

                                It would still annoy me today if, one meant by that phrase nothing
                                more than all those rather hollow social niceties. Not that there's
                                anything wrong as such with social niceties, just that I have grown
                                up in a country where courtesy, "civil" religion and the like often had
                                precious little to do with faith itself. Such things, though
                                indubitably polite, sometimes seemed to me to be the basically
                                disconnected veneer of an often mediocre faith. They can be the
                                exercise of a genuine charity and animated faith, but sometimes
                                they are not.

                                Living among monastics will teach one (hopefully!) by osmosis that
                                many of the common courtesies which have become decidedly UNcommon in
                                the world are the order of the day here. We get so immersed in that
                                that often it is hard to even think of what they are, we just do
                                them. The best example I can come up with right now is that there is
                                FAR more restraint here against interrupting another's conversation
                                here than in the world at large. We do it sometimes, I do it too
                                much, but basically we do NOT "butt in."

                                There are many other little things, rising when a superior enters,
                                not sitting until the superior does in chapter, etc. These in
                                themselves may seem empty at first, but when linked to the charity of
                                Christ and His Divine Mercy, they become very real gestures of love.
                                The fact that we don't think of them much after a while in no way
                                diminishes the Treasure that motivates them, Christ Himself.

                                So, yes, my dear Abbot Fidelis, we ARE gentlemen monks (and gentle
                                monastics period!) No, we are not like some terribly well-off and
                                properly stuffy social elite. But we ARE gentle and we are so because of
                                Him Whom we seek and have come to love more and more as we better
                                see His ineffable mercy.

                                Love and prayers,

                                Jerome, OSB
                                http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                                Petersham, MA






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                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of Mrs. Wynn, mother of our Sister Mary Frances, who died this morning, and for Sr. Mary Frances, her sister, Mary, and all
                                Message 15 of 16 , Apr 19, 2011
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                                  +PAX

                                  Prayers for the eternal rest of Mrs. Wynn, mother of our Sister Mary Frances, who died this morning, and for Sr. Mary Frances, her sister, Mary, and all their family and all who mourn Mrs. Wynn.

                                  Prayers for the eternal rest of Donald, and for all his family and all who mourn him.

                                  Prayers please for a happy death for Mary, 83, who had a stroke early this week and is still unconscious and not expected to recover. Prayers too for her family and friends at this time.

                                  Prayers for Shirley and her family, she has metastatic throat cancer.

                                  Prayers for a baby having all day brain surgery, his heart has been weakened by his condition, prayers, too, for his family and all who take care of him.

                                  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

                                  April 20, August 20, December 20
                                  Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

                                  In the constituting of an Abbess
                                  let this plan always be followed,
                                  that the office be conferred on the one who is chosen
                                  either by the whole community unanimously in the fear of God
                                  or else by a part of the community, however small,
                                  if its counsel is more wholesome.

                                  Merit of life and wisdom of doctrine
                                  should determine the choice of the one to be constituted,
                                  even if she be the last of the order of the community.

                                  But if (which God forbid)
                                  the whole community should agree to choose a person
                                  who will acquiesce in their vices,
                                  and if those vices somehow become known to the Bishop
                                  to whose diocese the place belongs,
                                  or to the Abbots, Abbesses or the faithful of the vicinity,
                                  let them prevent the success of this conspiracy of the wicked,
                                  and set a worthy steward over the house of God.
                                  They may be sure
                                  that they will receive a good reward for this action
                                  if they do it with a pure intention and out of zeal for God;
                                  as, on the contrary, they will sin if they fail to do it.

                                  REFLECTION

                                  There is an old monastic saying that holds that "The community gets
                                  the Abbot it deserves and the vocations it deserves." Like most
                                  generalizations, this one has kernels of both falsity and truth.
                                  Heresy is obviously taking a small truth and making it the only truth
                                  and this is no different. It is rash (even if sometimes seemingly
                                  handy!) to try to fit the inscrutable workings of the Holy Spirit, of
                                  our all-merciful God and His love into such a small compartment of
                                  phrase! There is infinitely more to God's loving plan than that.

                                  God has a plan from all eternity which none may ultimately thwart. Even
                                  those who seek to impede that plan serve only to further its cause, whether
                                  they want to or not, whether they know it or not. God can use anything.

                                  And *A* plan is exactly the right phrase: God has ONLY one plan, with
                                  only one goal: the salvation of all. God lacks a plan B because none is
                                  necessary. God uses ALL human agency, of any kind, to further the
                                  perfect good of His plan. God can turn absolutely every human
                                  event, good or evil, to useful means to further that perfect plan of love,
                                  mercy, salvation and good- yes, even joy!- for all.

                                  However, there IS that kernel of truth! I have certainly lived
                                  through times myself and seen them elsewhere which gave
                                  frightening credence to one or both halves of the axiom! There is a
                                  human side to these things, God DOES use human means to accomplish
                                  His perfect Will and we, let us face it, are far from perfect
                                  ourselves!

                                  On that human side of things, like does tend to attract like. A house
                                  where holiness is at least frequent, if not common, is likely to
                                  elect an Abbot good and holy enough to nurture that. Unfortunately,
                                  houses often elect one Abbot to counterbalance the effects, (not
                                  always delightful,) of his predecessor, so a lot of things come into
                                  play here. A house where holiness abounds is likely to attract holy
                                  vocations.

                                  The grim truth that the saying does NOT address is that even good and
                                  holy houses are thirsting badly for vocations these days. Something
                                  else, something other, something strange has been added to imbalance
                                  the equation and no one can be sure just what. Pray, pray with all
                                  your hearts for vocations, good and holy vocations to the monastic
                                  life on every level, as monks, as nuns, as Oblates. With our dimmed
                                  vision looking through glasses darkly, we can neither see nor know
                                  perfectly what wonders of His Will God is working now, much less why!
                                  Just pray for His Will for all of us!

                                  Love and prayers,

                                  Jerome, OSB
                                  http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                                  Petersham, MA






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                                • Br. Jerome Leo
                                  +PAX Prayers, please, for our superior, Father Anselm, on his patronal feastday, Ad multos annos!! Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best.
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Apr 20, 2011
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                                    Prayers, please, for our superior, Father Anselm, on his patronal feastday, Ad multos annos!!

                                    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

                                    April 21, August 21, December 21
                                    Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

                                    Once she has been constituted,
                                    let the Abbess always bear in mind
                                    what a burden she has undertaken
                                    and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
                                    and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
                                    than to preside over them.
                                    She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
                                    that she may have a treasure of knowledge
                                    from which to bring forth new things and old.
                                    She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
                                    Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
                                    that she herself may obtain mercy.
                                    She should hate vices;
                                    she should love the sisterhood.


                                    In administering correction
                                    she should act prudently and not go to excess,
                                    lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
                                    she break the vessel.
                                    Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
                                    and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
                                    By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
                                    on the contrary, as we have already said,
                                    she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
                                    in the way which may seem best in each case.
                                    Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.


                                    Let her not be excitable and worried,
                                    nor exacting and headstrong,
                                    nor jealous and over-suspicious;
                                    for then she is never at rest.


                                    In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
                                    and whether the work which she enjoins
                                    concerns God or the world,
                                    let her be discreet and moderate,
                                    bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
                                    "If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
                                    they will all die in one day."
                                    Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
                                    the mother of virtues,
                                    let her so temper all things
                                    that the strong may have something to strive after,
                                    and the weak may not fall back in dismay.


                                    And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
                                    so that after a good ministry
                                    she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
                                    who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
                                    "Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt.
                                    24:27).

                                    REFLECTION

                                    The priest who taught me moral theology was a brilliantly educated,
                                    theologically progressive man. As such, it was rather alarming to
                                    hear him say: "To fail the law in one respect is to fail it in all."
                                    Those are harsh and terrifying terms, but if one examines the Letter
                                    of St. James, from which the principle comes, he was very right. The
                                    Holy Spirit has left no doubt about this one...

                                    One cannot keep all the law faithfully while grievously sinning
                                    against one portion of it. The law, any law is a whole. It does not
                                    admit of fragmentation. Granted, the people following any law are
                                    flawed subjectively and then a whole set of other considerations must
                                    come into play. But the law is a whole.

                                    View even just this chapter through that lens of wholeness, let alone
                                    the entire Holy Rule, and you will quickly come to the conclusion
                                    that its fulfillment is beyond human capability. And you will be
                                    quite right. It is. You cannot do this stuff without grace. Lots of
                                    it. Impossible otherwise.

                                    Hence, ardent prayers for all in authority of any kind, religious or secular,
                                    ought to be a lifelong, daily habit. Their task is not easy. They need our
                                    prayers very much, and it is the least service of thanks we can render them
                                    for their ministry to us, a ministry St. Paul tells us was given them by God.

                                    Check out the Abbess. No human person can administer that kind of
                                    authority without a great deal of prayer and a great deal of help
                                    from God. No one at all can be this wise or balanced or loving or
                                    moderate on their own lights. That's far too high an order for
                                    natural virtue alone. A lot of that prayer must come from others, too,
                                    so always, always pray for your Abbot, for all abbots, for all in authority.

                                    Hence, it should come as no great shock that people in authority fail
                                    this standard right and left, all the time. I know in murmuring
                                    circles it is always treated as if it were news that an Abbot could
                                    be that limited, but it really isn't at all. To even half-way clever
                                    students, this should be a real no-brainer. It is the usual human
                                    condition of people in power to be imperfect: bosses, abbots,
                                    parents, spouses, the whole lot. In fact, that is the usual condition
                                    of all humanity and especially the murmurers!

                                    Was the person in charge mean to many for the sake of one? There
                                    might be a reckoning for that. One can also cause the flock to be
                                    overdriven simply by doing nothing in a given instance, or not doing
                                    enough. There might be a reckoning for that, in fact, St. Benedict
                                    promises us there will be and not a light one, either.

                                    Dare we HOPE that such retribution will be forthcoming, that exacting
                                    justice will be done, to Abbots, to anyone in authority, to anyone who
                                    ticks us off? No way, not unless we want it for ourselves, too! Jesus
                                    gave us that standard in the Our Father: we ask God to use our own
                                    standards of forgiveness for others in forgiving us. Mercy, folks, always
                                    mercy and to all!

                                    We must deal with God's mercy in this life or we shall deal with His justice in
                                    the next.
                                    May God spare us ALL from exact justice. Not a single one of us could stand
                                    it. None of us could endure getting what we truly deserve. That is why mercy
                                    is God's greatest attribute and why it is paramount. I know with all my heart
                                    the Christ's Divine Mercy is my only hope- and it is a very sure hope!! His
                                    loving kindness to us all is absolutely reliable in the infinite extreme.

                                    The awful thing about authority is that sometimes, even when one gets
                                    it right, one can get clobbered. There are also people who have left
                                    because the Abbot was right. Try to remember that. If you're in
                                    authority, be prepared to weather that, if you're not, try to help
                                    those who must endure it for good reasons which they cannot reveal.

                                    The key to this perplexing puzzle is the radically flawed human
                                    weakness of both those in authority and those under it. We all
                                    stumble together, half-blind, halt and lame, in an largely unlighted
                                    tunnel to God. God alone at the end of that tunnel is the Light.
                                    Prayer and grace offer us flashes on the way and we need them badly,
                                    but any level of honest surprise at the limitations of such humanity
                                    is really not the mark of a terribly observant mind.

                                    Now for the clincher: this is not just a model for Abbots, but for
                                    all of us with any authority, in fact, for all of us period. This is
                                    the way Benedictines should treat others, seniors, juniors, all
                                    people. This Christ-like attitude ought to pervade every parent,
                                    teacher, boss, nurse and grocery clerk, all of us.

                                    Now THAT, is a REALLY tall order! Sure is! You can only do it
                                    with grace, with prayer and God's all-merciful help.

                                    Love and prayers,

                                    Jerome, OSB
                                    http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
                                    Petersham, MA


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