My apologies to all for missing days lately. My cat, Dame Maggie, 17
years old, seems to be dying. There has been a lot of back and forth
to the vet and that has been very hard on both of us. My community
has been wonderful, I am so proud to be theirs! I ask your prayers
for God's will for me and for Maggie. Please pray that He allows her
to die at home and naturally, too.
Thanks so much! Jerome
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.
I have known one monk of St. Leo who may perhaps 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 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. I think it may well be true of Al Gore already. 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
By the way, there's no need for any of us reading this to think we
need to take inventory 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,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA