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Holy Rule for Dec. 13

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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX Prayers, please, for a happy and safe delivery for Hilda and Kevin, whose first child is due Tuesday, and for Lucia & Rod, the proud grandparents!
    Message 1 of 30 , Dec 13, 2004
      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for a happy and safe delivery for Hilda and Kevin, whose first child is due Tuesday, and for Lucia & Rod, the proud grandparents! Prayers, too, for Cheryl, MRI for shoulder problems and hoping surgery will not be needed, also for alleviation of the pain she suffers in the meantime. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Alleluia. 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 boy'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

      This is the chapter that allows us to have (and be!) Oblates. How
      different would all of our lives be if this chapter had never been
      written!

      Reflect a moment on how rich your life WOULDN'T be if you had no
      Benedictine family, think about brothers, sisters and friends whom you
      would not know, about what you would have missed. For starters, many
      of us would not be on at least a couple of the forums this appears on-
      they wouldn't exist! Our wonderful fraternity in cyberspace would perhaps
      have never happened at all.

      In my own life there would have been no St. Leo, no Brother Patrick, no
      Petersham or Pluscarden. My college degree would never have happened
      and my dear friend, Jean Ronan, would never have even met me, let alone
      taught me theology.

      Every single thing I ever received from the Benedictine Order, all the example,
      all the awe and joy, and yes, even all the pain that formed me, would never
      have existed, nor would I have had any role in the lives of my Benedictine
      family of brothers and sisters. Nada. Zilch.

      Europe would look a lot different, probably worse, and the Book of Common
      Prayer would be devoid of all those wonderful OSB elements like Morning
      Prayer and Evensong. Even the architecture of Anglican Churches would
      differ: the monastic choir-in-sanctuary style would probably be unknown.

      Often the best way to access a treasure is to imagine its loss. We can take
      for granted things which are of inestimable value. Make today's chapter an
      opportunity for such an assessment. Carry it even further, to some other dear
      and wonderful things in your life. What if there were no Church? What if you had
      no family ? (I know, I know... sometimes that sounds tempting! But even in
      dysfunctional families, you would NEVER be exactly who you are without them.)
      Often the best appreciation of how things are can be had by such reflections!

      We all owe a great, great deal to St. Benedict and to his sons and
      daughters. Let us pray for our Benedictine family and give thanks,
      deep thanks for the gift we have all received!



      Love and prayers,

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

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jerry Lee
      +PAX Prayers, please, for Madeline, 18 months, and for her distraught parents, Kevin and Susan, her great aunt, Maureen, who asked, and all their family. What
      Message 2 of 30 , Dec 13, 2005
        +PAX

        Prayers, please, for Madeline, 18 months, and for her distraught parents, Kevin and Susan, her great aunt, Maureen, who asked, and all their family. What was thought to be a persistent ear infection turns out to be a tumor on her brain at the base of her skull. Biopsy results pending. Prayers for Matt and his children as an important custody case court date nears this week, especially for Matt's trust in God, as he is perforce acting as his own attorney. Prayers for Sam and his wife and their daughter Amy, as they near the anniversary of a traumatic car accident in which Amy was injured and her fiance killed. We had prayed for them at that time, but the anniversary is especially tough on all concerned. Lastly, prayers for our guesthouse furnace, which is shutting off again, even after a thorough check this weekend and it is supposed to go to 0 degrees F or below tonight. Lord, help them 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 boy'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

        This is the chapter that allows us to have (and be!) Oblates. How
        different would all of our lives be if this chapter had never been
        written!

        Reflect a moment on how rich your life WOULDN'T be if you had no
        Benedictine family, if the Order had never even been founded. Think about
        brothers, sisters and friends whom you would not know, about what you
        would have missed. For starters, many of us would not be members on at
        least a couple of the forums this appears on- they wouldn't exist! Our wonderful
        fraternity in cyberspace would have never happened at all.

        In my own life there would have been no St. Leo, no Brother Patrick, no
        Petersham or Pluscarden. My college degree would never have happened
        and my dear friend, Jean Ronan, would never have even met me, let alone
        taught me theology.

        Every single thing I ever received from the Benedictine Order, all the example,
        all the awe and joy, and yes, even all the pain that formed me, would never
        have existed, nor would I have had any role in the lives of my Benedictine
        family of brothers and sisters. Nada. Zilch.

        Europe would look a lot different, probably worse, and the Book of Common
        Prayer would be devoid of all those wonderful OSB elements like Morning
        Prayer and Evensong. Even the architecture of Anglican Churches would
        differ: the monastic choir-in-sanctuary style would probably be unknown.

        Often the best way to access a treasure is to imagine its loss. We can take
        for granted things which are of inestimable value. Make today's chapter an
        opportunity for such an assessment. Carry it even further, to some other dear
        and wonderful things in your life. What if there were no Church? What if you had
        no family ? (I know, I know... sometimes that sounds tempting! But even in
        dysfunctional families, you would NEVER be exactly who you are without them.)
        Often the best appreciation of how things are can be had by such reflections!

        We all owe a great, great deal to St. Benedict and to his sons and
        daughters. Let us pray for our Benedictine family and give thanks,
        deep thanks for the gift we have all received!



        Love and prayers,

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

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
        +PAX Prayers for Anna, a big move and adjusting to a new home in a different state. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina, prohibitive rents fueled by rising
        Message 3 of 30 , Dec 12, 2006
          +PAX

          Prayers for Anna, a big move and adjusting to a new home in a different
          state. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina, prohibitive rents fueled by rising
          insurance rates meant she had to leave her home of many years, a very tough
          move, but her outlook is positive and full of faith. Prayers of thanks and Deo
          gratias: Margaret, for whom we prayed, has come through her arterial surgery
          well and her daughter, Mary is at home, her pet Luigi well enough to come home,
          too. Blessings on them all! Deo gratias for Gabrielle, for whom we prayed,
          now on meds for her kidney infection and doing well, prayers for Bev, her Mom,
          who is battling a severe and lingering cold. 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 boy'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

          This is the chapter that allows us to have (and be!) Oblates. How
          different would all of our lives be if this chapter had never been
          written! While I dwell on the Order as a whole in this reflection, how
          drastically different and how impoverished my life would be without
          Oblates. How very deeply my life is shaped by so many of you and
          how very grateful for that I am!

          Reflect a moment on how rich your life WOULDN'T be if you had no
          Benedictine family, if the Order had never even been founded. Think about
          brothers, sisters and friends whom you would not know, about what you
          would have missed. For starters, many of us would not be members on at
          least a couple of the forums this appears on- they wouldn't exist! Our
          wonderful
          fraternity in cyberspace would have never happened at all.

          In my own life there would have been no St. Leo, no Brother Patrick, no
          Petersham or Pluscarden. My college degree would never have happened
          and my dear friend, Jean Ronan, would never have even met me, let alone
          taught me theology.

          Every single thing I ever received from the Benedictine Order, all the
          example,
          all the awe and joy, and yes, even all the pain that formed me, would never
          have existed, nor would I have had any role in the lives of my Benedictine
          family of brothers and sisters. Nada. Zilch.

          Europe would look a lot different, probably worse, and the Book of Common
          Prayer would be devoid of all those wonderful OSB elements like Morning
          Prayer and Evensong. Even the architecture of Anglican Churches would
          differ: the monastic choir-in-sanctuary style would probably be unknown.

          Often the best way to access a treasure is to imagine its loss. We can take
          for granted things which are of inestimable value. Make today's chapter an
          opportunity for such an assessment. Carry it even further, to some other dear
          and wonderful things in your life. What if there were no Church? What if you
          had
          no family ? (I know, I know... sometimes that sounds tempting! But even in
          dysfunctional families, you would NEVER be exactly who you are without them.)
          Often the best appreciation of how things are can be had by such reflections!

          We all owe a great, great deal to St. Benedict and to his sons and
          daughters. Let us pray for our Benedictine family and give thanks,
          deep thanks for the gift we have all received!



          Love and prayers,

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



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX Prayers, please for three men investigating St. Mary s Monastery vocationally, two are visiting now. May they find God s will for them and do it
          Message 4 of 30 , Dec 11, 2008
            +PAX

            Prayers, please for three men investigating St. Mary's Monastery vocationally, two are visiting now. May they find God's will for them and do it accordingly.

            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

            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
            undesirables with chapter votes running the show. There are many,
            many I have known who left in simple vows for whose exit I remain
            eternally grateful! Thanks be to God that they were never chapter
            members with votes. What a zoo that would have been!

            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 baby boomer
            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 a job or a 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.

            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

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Br. Jerome Leo
            +PAX Prayers for Pat, on her 53rd birthday. Ad multos annos and thanks for the gift of her to so many. Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of
            Message 5 of 30 , Dec 17, 2008
              +PAX

              Prayers for Pat, on her 53rd birthday. Ad multos annos and thanks for the gift of her to so many.

              Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Roberta, for whom we prayed, she has gone to God, and prayers for all who mourn her, especially Todd.

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

              Eleanor, a 72 year old lady who fell and is in the hospital undergoing tests.


              a pet dog "Cassie" who is 14 years old and dying. She has been a very close pet for the whole family. Prayers for all her humans, please.



              Tom, glaucoma recently diagnosed, more tests in January to determine the extent.



              Kasey, viral infection,



              Gianna, strep thoat



              Michael S., renal failure.



              Lord, help us all as you know and will. God's will is best. All is mery and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. 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

              St. Benedict, who has stressed fairness in so many ways, even
              equality, also insists on order, hence the title of this chapter. But
              it is an order which is largely established by God: the time of
              entrance. God calls when He chooses, whomever He chooses. When that
              person responds, that, for the most part, is going to determine their
              place in community.

              Families, too, need order. Yes, fairness and equality are important,
              but every child is not the equal of their siblings: anarchy would
              result. Imagine a teenager exactly equal to a toddler sibling, unable
              to interfere at all in the baby's whims to destroy its nursery or
              harm itself.

              We are used to hearing sibling rivalry horror stories that traipse
              far into adult life as psychological baggage. How many of them might
              have been avoided if, as St. Benedict prescribed for his family,
              order was never decided by capriciousness and affection was equal.

              Children cannot understand favoritism and rightly so. But a child
              could be a bit more comfortable with rewards for good behavior,
              "the merit of" their siblings lives. That might annoy them, true, but at
              least it is something they, too, can work towards. Arbitrary
              affectional preference is not.

              Note that St. Benedict leaves the Abbot free to advance anyone for
              his own reasons, but immediately tacks on a warning that the Abbot
              must not disturb his flock and that he must give an account of his
              stewardship. Abbots are human, not infallible. Human affection can
              enter into their choices and St. Benedict warns them against that.
              (PS: They have not always listened, but he did warn them...LOL!)

              Love and prayers,
              Jerome, OSB

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







              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • 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 Betty, for whom we
              Message 6 of 30 , Dec 18, 2008
                +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

                Betty, for whom we have been praying is at home with hsopice are and in a lot of pain. Her Mom did get to see her after all, Deo gratias, continued prayers for all.

                Elaine, craniotomy after head injury from a fall.

                Bill who we prayed for earlier this year is having problems heart problems.



                Jim who is having problems with depression.



                Alan. He has made the decision to return to the Catholic Church after over 30 years away. Pray that his return to full communion with the Church goes smoothly.


                Harold. He's on his second week of hospitalization. After healing from pneumonia, blood clots were found in his lungs, necessitating another week in the hospital for heparin therapy. Pray the clots dissolve soon and he can go home.

                Heather and Stephen, expecting a child in July, after suffering a miscarriage this past summer.

                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 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

                St. Benedict, who has stressed fairness in so many ways, even
                equality, also insists on order, hence the title of this chapter. But
                it is an order which is largely established by God: the time of
                entrance. God calls when He chooses, whomever He chooses. When that
                person responds, that, for the most part, is going to determine their
                place in community.

                Families, too, need order. Yes, fairness and equality are important,
                but every child is not the equal of their siblings: anarchy would
                result. Imagine a teenager exactly equal to a toddler sibling, unable
                to interfere at all in the baby's whims to destroy its nursery or
                harm itself.

                We are used to hearing sibling rivalry horror stories that traipse
                far into adult life as psychological baggage. How many of them might
                have been avoided if, as St. Benedict prescribed for his family,
                order was never decided by capriciousness and affection was equal.

                Children cannot understand favoritism and rightly so. But a child
                could be a bit more comfortable with rewards for good behavior,
                "the merit of" their siblings lives. That might annoy them, true, but at
                least it is something they, too, can work towards. Arbitrary
                affectional preference is not.

                Note that St. Benedict leaves the Abbot free to advance anyone for
                his own reasons, but immediately tacks on a warning that the Abbot
                must not disturb his flock and that he must give an account of his
                stewardship. Abbots are human, not infallible. Human affection can
                enter into their choices and St. Benedict warns them against that.
                (PS: They have not always listened, but he did warn them...LOL!)

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







                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Br. Jerome Leo
                +PAX December 18 O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law: Come,
                Message 7 of 30 , Dec 18, 2008
                  +PAX

                  December 18
                  "O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in
                  the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law:
                  Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us!"

                  Adonai, the Hebrew word meaning "Lord" had its vowel points used
                  under the divine Name in Hebrew to warn the reader to substitute the
                  euphemism "Lord" rather than say God's Name. Applied to Jesus, in
                  symbolic shorthand this says that Jesus is the God of the Covenant.
                  In NT Greek, this was rendered "Kyrios" and therein lies an
                  interesting connection to another antiphon, that of the Magnificat on
                  Ascension. There, in the words of St. John's Gospel, Jesus tells His
                  Father: "I have made known Your Name." The name here is Yahweh, since
                  the Greek referent is Kyrios. In other words, to say Adonai of Jesus
                  is plainly to say that Jesus is God, is Yahweh.

                  The use of "house" here is in the sense of "family", Jesus is the
                  Ruler of the family of Israel. One may see a survival of that usage
                  of house in our modern reference to the "house" of Windsor to mean
                  the whole royal family. (Believe it or not, the Windsor reference
                  came from me, the Yank.)

                  The stress of connections between Yahweh and Jesus is repeated twice
                  more: it was Jesus Who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, Jesus Who
                  gave the Law on Sinai. The first has always been a more popularly
                  known patristic idea in the East. I have had Western priests come
                  hesitantly close to arguing with me when I have expressed that very
                  strong tradition in the East of Christ in the burning bush. Perhaps
                  they are to be forgiven for forgetting an antiphon that only comes
                  once a year, but lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the
                  law of faith.

                  A third and final identification of Jesus with Yahweh is the image of
                  the outstretched arm. The OT is rich with references to this. It is
                  with "outstretched arm" that God shows His power and might, leads His
                  people out of Egypt, delivers them from dangers. Just as Jesus was
                  identified with the burning bush and the Law, so now He is linked to
                  the Passover itself.







                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • 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: Deo gratias,
                  Message 8 of 30 , Dec 19, 2008
                    +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:

                    Deo gratias, Harold, for whom we prayed, has been discharged to his home.

                    Ruth, cardiac ablation to correct an overly fast heartbeat.

                    Jim, job and holiday stress affecting depression.

                    Delores, advanced Lou Gehrig's disease and for her family, difficult choices about her care now.

                    Betty, who has two small brain tumors pressing on her pituitary gland, a reoccurence after surgery to remove a golf ball sized tumor. And for her family, who neglects her terribly.

                    Fred, hospitalized for the past two weeks for atypical pneumonia. He has had to have a tracheotomy and is not responding to the antibiotics, plus he has had to be restrained and sedated. Also your prayers for his worried wife Phyllis, who has herself come down with bronchitis.

                    Josephine and Art, who made their Final Oblation on Sunday. Deo gratias and many years!

                    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

                    Monasteries can forget sometimes that they are not their own, one of
                    the unavoidable risks of Benedictine autonomy. While it was usual, in
                    St. Benedict's day, for monasteries to be under their local bishop
                    (and still is usual in the East today,) St. Benedict says something
                    even more telling. The local laity should intervene if the monastery
                    conspires to elect a loser! Now THAT is going a long way!

                    Monasteries become dear to those around them, and a sense of
                    ownership for their local monastery arises in many hearts. St.
                    Benedict actually endorses that. The monk is not his own, but neither
                    is the whole community. We belong to the Church, we belong to our own
                    locale, we belong to the people in a very special way. It entitles
                    them to warn us that we may have gone amiss and it obliges us to
                    always recall that our monasteries have ripple effects!

                    Many of us in the workplace or school, some of us even in marriage,
                    are forced to deal with people who were NOT chosen for their "merit
                    of life and wisdom of doctrine." That can be very tough, but grace
                    and the Holy Rule are there to strengthen us.

                    The single most important thing the one governed can do to thwart bad
                    government is NOT to mirror the behavior which is at fault. Two
                    wrongs can never make a right. All too often, for whatever reason,
                    people push our buttons and get exactly the sick response from us
                    that they sickly need. Try not to let that happen. Put a control on
                    your buttons. Never stoop to the level that annoys you, and believe
                    me, that stooping is easy to do. It is even commonly (the adjective
                    here is no accidental choice!!) done.

                    Hard and perennial truth, but most of the things which annoy us most
                    in others are our own sins, in one form or another. We are rarely so
                    vigilant or crusading about other matters. We might reflect those
                    faults in different areas, in different ways, but this can only help
                    us in denial. Look, look very carefully at the person who makes you
                    the most angry. Most of us will not have to look honestly for very
                    long to see why we are affected strongly.

                    On another note entirely, for Oblates who are single and dating, what
                    about using the criteria given for an Abbess for checking out a mate?
                    Granted the pickings might be slim, but we should always look to
                    people who are good, who will help us grow spiritually as potential
                    partners. This age, when so many are unchurched, may have convinced
                    many single folks that spirituality is something they can do alone,
                    without their partners. Well, sometimes it is, to be sure, but it is
                    a harder road. Indifference is one thing, but if a partner is
                    downright opposed, it can be a VERY hard road.

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









                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual. mental and phsyical health of all those who suffer from depressions worsened during this holiday season. Prayers for
                    Message 9 of 30 , Dec 20, 2008
                      +PAX

                      Prayers, please, for the spiritual. mental and phsyical health of all those who suffer from depressions worsened during this holiday season.

                      Prayers for us in Central Massachusetts, we have a heavy snow storm going on, which is why I am late today. So far, we still have power and all utilities.

                      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

                      Anyone reading this would perhaps quite rightly think: "Wow!
                      That's a tall order to fill!" They would, of course, be right.

                      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. For every one of
                      us the model here is exquisite. Read it over and over and etch it
                      into your very heart. This is St. Benedict at his best!

                      Pay particular attention to the deceptively short paragraph about
                      not being "excitable and worried," along with its other cautions. Its
                      warning that such things mean we shall never be at rest is a very
                      important one. Without such, rest, without a certain level of serenity
                      and peace, the spiritual journey is very, very tough going, indeed.
                      We badly need that restful serenity to focus on Christ and the tasks
                      of our souls at hand.

                      "Now THAT," he said in an unusually short reflection, "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



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel: You open and none may close, You close and none may open. Come and deliver from the chains of prison
                      Message 10 of 30 , Dec 20, 2008
                        +PAX

                        "O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel: You open and none
                        may close, You close and none may open. Come and deliver from the
                        chains of prison those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of
                        death."

                        The Hebrew word for key means something that opens, while the Greek and Latin
                        terms both refer to something which closes. Jesus is the Key and He
                        can open us to infinite possibilities, just as He can also close us
                        to shut us away from dangers. He can open our prisons and free us,
                        but He can also lock the city gates for our safety. When He opens,
                        none may close, when He closes, none may open: when Jesus makes an
                        election or decision for us it is irrevocable.

                        The key is a symbol of authority. Even today, in the blessing of an
                        abbot or abbess, a very important symbolic act is the handing over of
                        the keys to the abbey, clearly pointing to the authority enjoyed over
                        it by the one newly blessed. Jesus speaks of the keys of the kingdom
                        on heaven, and demonstrates that He Himself holds them by His ability
                        to hand them over to His Church. Isaiah 22:22 repeats the antiphon
                        almost word for word, but it is not necessarily a messianic passage.
                        It refers to a civil ruler whom God supports. His key of the house of
                        David underscores the approval God gives to all his acts. St. John
                        applies this passage to Jesus, and the liturgy follows suit.

                        Most appropriately, since today we praise the supreme divine
                        authority of Jesus with the symbol of a key, we ask Him to open our
                        prisons of darkness and unlock the chains of sin and death that bind
                        us still. It might be useful to remember that, as He opens, none may
                        close. Hence, if He frees us from sin and death, from the various
                        prisons of darkness we languish in, none may send us back there, save
                        ourselves alone.



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                        +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following and for all their loved ones and all taking care of them: Nick. He
                        Message 11 of 30 , Dec 21, 2008
                          +PAX

                          Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following and for all their loved ones and all taking care of them:

                          Nick. He has heart problems and now kidney failure. It doesn't look good.

                          Carolyn, for whom we prayed, life support has been removed and the waiting is very hard on Lynda and all concerned.

                          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 22, August 22, December 22
                          Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery

                          It happens all too often that the constituting of a Prior
                          gives rise to grave scandals in monasteries.
                          For there are some who become inflated with the evil spirit of pride
                          and consider themselves second Abbots.
                          By usurping power
                          they foster scandals and cause dissensions in the community.
                          Especially does this happen
                          in those places where the Prior is constituted
                          by the same Bishop or the same Abbots
                          who constitute the Abbot himself.
                          What an absurd procedure this is
                          can easily be seen;
                          for it gives the Prior an occasion for becoming proud
                          from the very time of his constitution,
                          by putting the thought into his mind
                          that he is freed from the authority of his Abbot:
                          "For," he will say to himself, "you were constituted
                          by the same persons who constitute the Abbot."
                          From this source are stirred up envy, quarrels, detraction,
                          rivalry, dissensions and disorders.
                          For while the Abbot and the Prior are at variance,
                          their souls cannot but be endangered by this dissension;
                          and those who are under them,
                          currying favor with one side or the other,
                          go to ruin.
                          The guilt for this dangerous state of affairs
                          rests on the heads of those
                          whose action brought about such disorder.

                          REFLECTION

                          When I read the line about those governed "currying favor with one
                          side or the other," I thought immediately of the children of divorce.
                          Children, however, are quite perceptive, and it is not just divorce,
                          but any noticeable drift between parents that they will manipulate.
                          That is why, in family and monastery, unity in authority is very
                          important.

                          St. Benedict tries to guarantee this by letting the Abbot choose his
                          own Prior, parents can do it by a struggle to overcome their own
                          personal differences for the good of the children. This is not to say
                          that the parents can necessarily get over their problems, but that
                          they must at least try to be consistent with the children, for the
                          children's sakes. As St. Benedict points out, this choosing of sides
                          in child or monastic, can lead to ruin.

                          Why does it lead to ruin? Because manipulation to some degree puts us
                          in charge of ourselves, something no child and very, very few
                          monastics are strong enough to be. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux
                          said: "The one who has himself for a master has a fool for a
                          disciple." One reason we took obedience upon ourselves was our
                          knowledge of our own weakness. This knowledge can fade and dim with
                          time, we can be convinced we know better. Sometimes, perhaps, we do,
                          but in most cases, obedience is a real protection from harm.
                          Benedictines not only are not in charge of themselves, but, as the
                          Holy Rule defines cenobitic community life, they "desire" this lack
                          of control. They "desire to live under a Rule and an Abbot."

                          One cannot expect children to be wise enough to see how good and
                          necessary obedience is at every turn, but it shouldn't be much of a
                          stretch for us adults!

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

                          Petersham, MA

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                          +PAX I realize that most modern renderings have O Rising Dawn , but indulge me in this one. As a lover of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I vastly prefer the much more
                          Message 12 of 30 , Dec 21, 2008
                            +PAX

                            I realize that most modern renderings have "O Rising Dawn", but
                            indulge me in this one. As a lover of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I vastly
                            prefer the much more poetic "O Dayspring" And besides, who said
                            translation must be pedestrian to be relevant? (It often seems
                            someone must have....) "Daypsring" also carries the hopeful connotation of
                            Spring-to-come, of Resurrection, a powerful thought on the first day of
                            winter!


                            "O Dayspring, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice; come
                            and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death."

                            I wonder if the appearance of today's sun image landed on the winter
                            solstice accidentally. Given the Middle Ages' fascination with such
                            things, one would suspect it was deliberate choice. Just as the
                            natural sun ebbs to it weakest point, the Sun of Justice Who shall
                            never diminish, is proclaimed. The images today, while reflected in
                            both Old and New Testaments are more from nature than those of the
                            days preceding.

                            Jesus calls Himself the Light and the Life. Surely the sun gives
                            both, and so, here, does the Sun of Justice. We could not live without
                            the sun; our planet would be a barren, frozen wasteland without it.

                            The image of dawn, of the dayspring, holds a further message: the sun
                            at noon is at its peak of light and heat, but the gentler sun of both
                            rising and setting is not only softer and less extreme, but floods
                            the sky and the earth with its lovelier color and majesty. This is yet
                            another
                            repetition of the theme of gentleness/strength.

                            The reference to the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:1-2) contrasts two
                            experiences of the Messianic power "glowing like a furnace." For the wicked,
                            it will burn them like chaff, but for those who fear God's name, "the sun of
                            righteousness shall rise with healing." Jesus' power and majesty and
                            strength are truly a balm to us.

                            Naturally, to Christian (and especially Benedictine!) ears, the most
                            obvious connections here will be those of the Benedictus, the
                            Canticle of Zachary in Luke 1:78-79, the "Oriens ex alto", the
                            dayspring from on high, which shall burst forth and shine on all
                            those "who sit in darkness and the shadow of death." The message
                            today is the end of darkness, the end of shadow, the end of death.
                            The Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness has dispelled them all.

                            The Radiance of the Light eternal is found in Hebrews 1:3 as an
                            attribute of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. My favorite
                            translation, the New English Bible, renders it thus: "...the Son Who
                            is the effulgence of God's splendour and the stamp of God's being and
                            sustains the universe by His word of power." The Son is, as we say in
                            the Creed, truly "Light from Light." He would not have to do anything
                            to end the world, He would have to STOP doing something, stop willing
                            it and us, stop sustaining it. The creation is the daily and ever
                            present act of the Son, something ongoing in His will maintaining all
                            that is.

                            Those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death are not just a
                            group of outsiders. There are many such corners of gloom in our own
                            souls, to which we frequently retire for a holiday from the struggles
                            of grace. Today we invite the Sun to illuminate even those recesses,
                            to leave us no place to hide from Him in the damp and chill of
                            selfishness.








                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                            Some folks missed this one, don t know what I did, but here it is at last! December 18 O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in the
                            Message 13 of 30 , Dec 21, 2008
                              Some folks missed this one, don't know what I did, but here it is at last!

                              December 18
                              "O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in
                              the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law:
                              Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us!"

                              Adonai, the Hebrew word meaning "Lord" had its vowel points used
                              under the divine Name in Hebrew to warn the reader to substitute the
                              euphemism "Lord" rather than say God's Name. Applied to Jesus, in
                              symbolic shorthand this says that Jesus is the God of the Covenant.
                              In NT Greek, this was rendered "Kyrios" and therein lies an
                              interesting connection to another antiphon, that of the Magnificat on
                              Ascension. There, in the words of St. John's Gospel, Jesus tells His
                              Father: "I have made known Your Name." The name here is Yahweh, since
                              the Greek referent is Kyrios. In other words, to say Adonai of Jesus
                              is plainly to say that Jesus is God, is Yahweh.

                              The use of "house" here is in the sense of "family", Jesus is the
                              Ruler of the family of Israel. One may see a survival of that usage
                              of house in our modern reference to the "house" of Windsor to mean
                              the whole royal family. (Believe it or not, the Windsor reference
                              came from me, the Yank.)

                              The stress of connections between Yahweh and Jesus is repeated twice
                              more: it was Jesus Who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, Jesus Who
                              gave the Law on Sinai. The first has always been a more popularly
                              known patristic idea in the East. I have had Western priests come
                              hesitantly close to arguing with me when I have expressed that very
                              strong tradition in the East of Christ in the burning bush. Perhaps
                              they are to be forgiven for forgetting an antiphon that only comes
                              once a year, but lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the
                              law of faith.

                              A third and final identification of Jesus with Yahweh is the image of
                              the outstretched arm. The OT is rich with references to this. It is
                              with "outstretched arm" that God shows His power and might, leads His
                              people out of Egypt, delivers them from dangers. Just as Jesus was
                              identified with the burning bush and the Law, so now He is linked to
                              the Passover itself.





                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • 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: a promising young
                              Message 14 of 30 , Dec 22, 2008
                                +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:

                                a promising young lady being led astray by
                                pagan influences and for her father who feels frustrated, fearful and
                                guilty because of his lapses in her upbringing.

                                Deo Gratias: Frank, for whom we prayed is responding to treatment and is no longer in immediate danger. Tests are still required to find out all of what's wrong, though.

                                Len, severe heart problems and now unexplained bleeding (sub rosa-bowel, nose, some in abdomen).

                                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 23, August 23, December 23
                                Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery

                                To us, therefore, it seems expedient
                                for the preservation of peace and charity
                                that the Abbot have in his hands
                                the full administration of his monastery.
                                And if possible let all the affairs of the monastery,
                                as we have already arranged,
                                be administered by deans according to the Abbot's directions.
                                Thus, with the duties being shared by several,
                                no one person will become proud.


                                But if the circumstances of the place require it,
                                or if the community asks for it with reason and with humility,
                                and the Abbot judges it to be expedient,
                                let the Abbot himself constitute as his Prior
                                whomsoever he shall choose
                                with the counsel of God-fearing brethren.


                                That Prior, however, shall perform respectfully
                                the duties enjoined on him by his Abbot
                                and do nothing against the Abbot's will or direction;
                                for the more he is raised above the rest,
                                the more carefully should he observe the precepts of the Rule.


                                If it should be found that the Prior has serious faults,
                                or that he is deceived by his exaltation and yields to pride,
                                or if he should be proved to be a despiser of the Holy Rule,
                                let him be admonished verbally up to four times.
                                If he fails to amend,
                                let the correction of regular discipline be applied to him.
                                But if even then he does not reform,
                                let him be deposed from the office of Prior
                                and another be appointed in his place who is worthy of it.
                                And if afterwards he is not quiet and obedient in the community,
                                let him even be expelled from the monastery.
                                But the Abbot, for his part, should bear in mind
                                that he will have to render an account to God
                                for all his judgments,
                                lest the flame of envy or jealousy be kindled in his soul.

                                REFLECTION

                                The overwhelming majority of us, myself included, are never going to
                                be a Prior or Prioress. Firm grasp on the obvious there!! What,
                                however, may we glean from this chapter? There are at least several
                                possibilities.

                                First, even if your position gives you a certain level of honor,
                                never be so stupid as to believe it, to become proud, to take
                                yourself far too seriously. Cling to a self-knowledge of your
                                limitations, your sins and failings, especially when being praised.

                                Yes, we are human, yes, it is nice to hear those things, yes,
                                sometimes they are even close to the truth, but praise, rank and
                                honor can be awful traps. Like crack cocaine, they can addict us the
                                first time we really give in to them. Great caution is in order here.

                                Second, every commitment to Christ, Baptism, Oblation or Profession,
                                obliges us to a higher standard of self-control. The Holy Rule,
                                because speaking of a superior official, uses the phrase "raised above the
                                rest." This is given as a reason to more carefully observe the Holy Rule.

                                We should read therein that ANY commitment which separates us
                                and sets us further apart for the service of God means that we must
                                more carefully observe the precepts of the Rule. Even though it can
                                be quite annoying to hear, how often someone will say, immediately
                                after a litany of transgressions the person has committed, "And she
                                is an OBLATE!" (Or Franciscan Third Order, or whatever.) People
                                expect more of us because of our religious inclinations and we should
                                not disappoint them.

                                Third, and perhaps most important of all, no one, save God alone, is
                                indispensable. No one. Want to see the change that your removal from
                                the scene will effect? Stick your forearm into a bucket of water, and
                                then pull it out. Same thing, folks, the waters close right in and
                                things go on quite nicely. The higher water level while our arm was
                                there was only illusion anyway. This fact can work in happy concert
                                with the above warning about taking ourselves too seriously. Usually,
                                when we THINK we're hot stuff, we aren't, and even if we truly are at
                                some point, it is FAR better not to know that, and a LOT easier for
                                the spiritual struggle.

                                Yes, we ARE important, we are infinitely important to God and, as a
                                result, to each other. But what makes us so is holiness and love and
                                struggling for virtue, not power. What makes us most like Him is
                                humility.

                                Love and prayers,
                                Jerome, OSB







                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                +PAX O King of the nations [Gentiles] and Desired of all, You are the cornerstone that binds two into one: Come, and save humankind whom You formed out of
                                Message 15 of 30 , Dec 22, 2008
                                  +PAX

                                  "O King of the nations [Gentiles] and Desired of all, You are the
                                  cornerstone that binds two into one: Come, and save humankind whom
                                  You formed out of clay."

                                  The antiphons before today were heavily Jewish in their Messianic
                                  content and this one begins that way, but then presents a radical
                                  stumbling to Israel's usual position. The Jews of Jesus' time were not
                                  exactly noted for rabid ecumenism. Their customary ecumenical stance was, alas,
                                  rather closely akin to that of the Catholic Counter-Reformation: "Someday
                                  they'll all come crawling and groveling to us on OUR terms." Sadly, the New
                                  Israel can, at times, all too closely resemble the Old in some respects.

                                  No problem for the Jews with "King of nations" (Jer. 10:7) or the
                                  Desired of all, (Hag.2:8) these fit the old pattern comfortably.
                                  There is even a cornerstone tradition in Isaiah 28:16, but "as the
                                  foundation of Sion," not a union with all peoples. The jarring note
                                  is in "the cornerstone that binds the two into one." This is
                                  definitely not the way Israel expected the Gentiles to "wake up and
                                  get with it." This is God Himself being the binder, even part of the
                                  bond, the very cause of unity. This is that perfect union which does
                                  not make those united feel smaller or less, because God Himself is
                                  thrown into the breach of union.

                                  Just as Christ has broken down the walls dividing us from the Father,
                                  so is He also the cause and source of our unity with all humanity.
                                  This is very Pauline, expressed in both Eph.2:14 and Gal.3:29 as
                                  Christ being the peace between Jew and Gentile. That wall, humanly
                                  speaking, between Jew and Gentile was very high. Jews could not eat
                                  with Gentiles, many civil observances of foreign lands were
                                  proscribed for them and their refusal to follow these was a source of
                                  frequent persecution. In Mosaic law, Jewish nationality was conferred
                                  by birth from a Jewish mother. The children of a Jewish man and a non-
                                  Jewish wife would not even be Jews, a fact still true today.

                                  The quote from Galatians has further applications to human
                                  unity: "There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male
                                  and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus. But if you
                                  thus belong to Christ, you are the issue of Abraham and so heirs by
                                  promise." Here we see not only the wall dividing Jew and Gentile torn
                                  down, but even the customary way of becoming Jews and heirs to the
                                  promise overthrown. No Jewish male could confer birth membership in Israel.
                                  It travelled through the mother. Christ makes it clear that He unites
                                  all in a new dispensation, one which supersedes the old. It is
                                  significant that a role limited to women, in an age that scorned
                                  them, is ascribed to Jesus by St. Paul, hardly the greatest fan of
                                  women himself, without so much as a shrug of apology.

                                  The Old Israel cherishes promises and waits for their fulfillment.
                                  The New Israel, in its delight that the Messiah has come, often
                                  forgets that it, too, must wait for the fulfillment of the promise
                                  and that the waiting is terrible, painful frustration. No one can
                                  look at the quote from Galatians and smugly assume that we are there.
                                  Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, religious hatreds,
                                  misogyny and misandry color our world and sometimes even our Church.
                                  Hate crimes fill the news all too often. (Once would be too often...)
                                  We have made a stab at slave and free, but little more than that.

                                  What we miss is that these changes have already been effected,
                                  perfectly, in Christ. The unity, the equality, promises are here:
                                  they are REAL. All that impedes their full realization is just that:
                                  their "real-ization" and discovery in our human hearts. The way to
                                  bring about the promise is to live as if it were already here:
                                  because it is! If every person did that, even to their own personal
                                  cost and detriment, you would see changes in our world and churches
                                  literally overnight.

                                  Lastly, there is a reality check that is not too palatable to our
                                  modern ears, the reminder that we were formed out of clay. Several
                                  decades of self-affirming pop psychology in the late 20th century may
                                  have done their work a bit too well in some of us. The Latin "limus"
                                  which is here rather flatteringly rendered as "clay" has the more
                                  common sense of "mud, slime, or mire." Even if we now realize that
                                  the creation of humanity was not a literal case of God making patty-
                                  cake with clay, the message here is quite clear. The most cursory
                                  examination of conscience will reveal how close to our origins we can
                                  often slip. (You potters out there should pardon the pun...)

                                  If this reflection may have inflamed a few, please do not blame Abbot
                                  Lawrence. Most of this was me, after reading Parsch.






                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • 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: Brittany,
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Dec 23, 2008
                                    +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:

                                    Brittany, continued healing from dental surgery.

                                    Margaret who is in denial about melanomas that are greatly concerning the specialist

                                    Wyn who is having a series of scans for problems in her throat and neck .

                                    Peter and Ann on their 36th wedding anniversary

                                    Deo gratias: Bill who had a heart attack is doing better. He had 2 stints put in and there was no lasting damage from the heart attack. He is on a strict do nothing regimen which his wife will enforce.

                                    Lord, help us all as
                                    You know and will. God's wi;; is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never
                                    absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

                                    April 24, August 24, December 24
                                    Chapter 66: On the Porter of the Monastery

                                    At the gate of the monastery
                                    let there be placed a wise old woman,
                                    who knows how to receive and to give a message,
                                    and whose maturity will prevent her from straying about.
                                    This porter should have a room near the gate,
                                    so that those who come may always find someone at hand
                                    to attend to their business.
                                    And as soon as anyone knocks or a poor person hails her,
                                    let her answer "Thanks be to God" or "A blessing!"
                                    Then let her attend to them promptly,
                                    with all the meekness inspired by the fear of God
                                    and with the warmth of charity.

                                    Should the porter need help,
                                    let her have one of the younger sisters.

                                    If it can be done,
                                    the monastery should be so established
                                    that all the necessary things,
                                    such as water, mill, garden and various workshops,
                                    may be within the enclosure,
                                    so that there is no necessity
                                    for the sisters to go about outside of it,
                                    since that is not at all profitable for their souls.

                                    We desire that this Rule be read often in the community,
                                    so that none of the sisters may excuse herself
                                    on the ground of ignorance.

                                    REFLECTION

                                    Modern monasteries in our Order rarely have gatehouses, let alone
                                    porters waiting at them. In one way, that's too bad, because one
                                    often sees visitors come to a monastery without a clue as to where to
                                    go first, or how to contact someone. On the other hand, it would
                                    wasteful to employ one person full-time at such an endeavor in our
                                    smaller communities of today, since whole days may go by in many
                                    places with few or none needing assistance.

                                    What we have today is the phone, and phone manners are how this best
                                    translates into modern life for both Oblates and professed. I have
                                    certainly known monks who have answered the phone with an attitude
                                    that vaguely said: "You've got some nerve putting me out like this,
                                    disturbing me, etc." One certainly wouldn't want to call such a
                                    monastery twice. If one had never called one before, it is unlikely
                                    that one would want to try another, to go for 2 out of 3, just in
                                    case. See the responsibility we have?

                                    When a phone or doorbell rings, whether in a great Benedictine abbey
                                    or an urban Benedictine apartment, we have the opportunity to
                                    practice the hospitable grace that the Holy Rule requires of all.
                                    Dorothy Day's friend and mentor, Father Hugo, used to say that we
                                    love God as much as the one we love the least.

                                    That would readily translate here. I LOVE to see certain guests arrive,
                                    look forward to it as soon as I hear they are coming. Those are not the
                                    receptions on which I should judge my hospitality. The tough-to-love
                                    ones are.

                                    The point here is that we ARE Benedictines, whether our answering
                                    style of door or phone makes that evident or not. I might not like to think
                                    so, but the anonymity of just saying "Hello," one the phone, without my
                                    name or title does not entitle me to be harsh or gruff or rude. All of us are
                                    bound by something Benedictine within us to be kind and gracious to all
                                    who call or visit.

                                    Someone who calls the guesthouse for the first time can be driven
                                    away or attracted by the way they are dealt with on the phone.
                                    A vocation could driven away by a smartingly cold response. To
                                    risk alienating someone because of our own moods might mean that we
                                    cheat someone out of a spiritual respite they sorely need.

                                    I can't tell you how many people who just called us out of nowhere in the
                                    last 12 years have become real members of our family, greatly
                                    beneficial to themselves and to us. Anyone of those first experiences
                                    could have been irreparably soured by a cranky phone manner. Look at
                                    what all of us would have lost had that happened.

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






                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                                    +PAX Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the solemnity, today s antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The Roman Church
                                    Message 17 of 30 , Dec 23, 2008
                                      +PAX

                                      Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the
                                      solemnity, today's antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The
                                      Roman Church formerly made more extensive use of the Jewish custom of
                                      beginning feasts the night before, spanning sunset to sunset, but now
                                      reserves that practice for Sundays and solemnities. Too bad, in a
                                      way. First Vespers of many lesser feasts used to be a joy, and it was
                                      a further connection to our Jewish roots.

                                      A bit of trivia, for which I am indebted to Joyce, who learned it in a
                                      Dominican
                                      college in the 50's. If you take the first letters of the second words (after
                                      the initial O,) which begin each antiphon, you get the acronym: SARCORE.
                                      Read backwards, on Dec. 24, that spells "Ero cras" Latin for "Tomorrow I
                                      will be (there)".
                                      Now some monastic of the Middle Ages must have had a lot of time on his (or
                                      her!)
                                      hands to figure that one out.


                                      "O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of Nations and their
                                      Savior: come, and save us, O Lord our God!"

                                      Emmanuel- God with us- this was a radical fulfillment of the
                                      Messianic prophecies which the Jews had never dreamed would happen: a
                                      divine Messiah. Though the promises all refer to and fit Jesus, the
                                      Messiah expected by the Israelites was not divine. To their
                                      reasoning, none could be literally divine, really the Son of God.
                                      Their expectation of a saving ruler did not assume that God would
                                      share His very nature and essence with the Anointed One.

                                      Emmanuel reflects an entirely Christian and entirely new theology,
                                      one of Incarnation and an immanence hitherto unknown. God with us,
                                      sharing every hardship of humanity in His own flesh, dwelling not in
                                      a Temple spiritually, but as flesh and blood among humanity, wishing
                                      to remain with us until the end of time. This is a dramatic contrast
                                      to the affection, yet distance with which the Lord was regarded in
                                      the Old Testament.

                                      Emmanuel- God with us- it finally springs the liturgical construct
                                      of "waiting" all these weeks and admits that we knew He was there all
                                      along. Advent has that flavor, of a pretended waiting for Him Whom we
                                      know to have already arrived. We place ourselves in the shoes of
                                      those who had Him not in order to better appreciate Him Whom we have
                                      had all along.

                                      We hail Christ as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 32:22,) and echo the
                                      dying words of Jacob in Gen. 49:10, " The scepter will not pass from
                                      Judah, nor a ruler form his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent.
                                      He is the expectation of the nations." We ask Him to save us. The
                                      Latin "Salva" , the imperative form of "to save," is related
                                      to "salus", health, wholeness. We are asking for a holistic well-
                                      being of mind, soul and body when we thus ask to be saved. We
                                      are, in fact, asking to finally be made perfect, fully whole and sound,
                                      something only God can do!

                                      Lastly, we no longer beat around the bush, (burning or otherwise!) We
                                      come right out and directly call Jesus "our Lord and our God." It is
                                      the crowning acclamation of faith to a long season of expectation.

                                      A blessed late Advent and Christmas to you all. I have enjoyed
                                      sharing these with you because I truly feel they are the best poetry
                                      left in the liturgy of the West, even beating out the now pared-down
                                      Exultet at Easter!









                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                                      +PAX A very blessed and holy Christmas to you all. May Christ bring each of us ever closer and closer to Himself. Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental
                                      Message 18 of 30 , Dec 24, 2008
                                        +PAX

                                        A very blessed and holy Christmas to you all. May Christ bring each of us ever closer and closer to Himself.

                                        Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of Jim, who had prostate surgery in April now undergoing chemo because they were not able to get it all. He is tired and weak continually, now, but still in good spirits. And for all his loved ones 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 25, August 25, December 25
                                        Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey

                                        Let the brethren who are sent on a journey
                                        commend themselves
                                        to the prayers of all the brethren and of the Abbot;
                                        and always at the last prayer of the Work of God
                                        let a commemoration be made of all absent brethren.

                                        When brethren return from a journey,
                                        at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God
                                        on the day they return,
                                        let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory
                                        and beg the prayers of all
                                        on account of any faults
                                        that may have surprised them on the road,
                                        through the seeing or hearing of something evil,
                                        or through idle talk.
                                        And let no one presume to tell another
                                        whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery,
                                        because this causes very great harm.
                                        But if anyone presumes to do so,
                                        let him undergo the punishment of the Rule.
                                        And let him be punished likewise who would presume
                                        to leave the enclosure of the monastery
                                        and go anywhere or do anything, however small,
                                        without an order from the Abbot.

                                        REFLECTION

                                        Rare is the person who can manage to stay employed without at least a
                                        slightly different persona at work. We are one thing there, because
                                        we have to be, but when we clock out, much, if not all of the work
                                        persona is shed. In fact, we usually have a whole repertoire of
                                        different selves, being one thing with our grandmother and quite
                                        another with a childhood friend we have known all our lives, one
                                        thing with the promising new date and quite another with the spouse
                                        of many years!

                                        Secular society has enlarged upon this tendency to its own ends.
                                        Because the tendency is so deeply rooted in us, we may fail to see
                                        its dangers when carried to extremes. Thanks to a society often
                                        glaringly unassisted by revelation, we have the unhappy concept of
                                        different umbrellas, different sets of ethics to cover different
                                        areas of life. "Hey, religion is fine if you want it, but this is
                                        BUSINESS!" or "I may be a Christian, but this is public service. I
                                        was elected by a constituency that expected me to leave some of that
                                        Gospel stuff at the door." Well, folks, such notions do not always
                                        wash well. In fact, they really don't wash at all.

                                        The message of the Holy Rule and of the Gospel is that there is one
                                        umbrella, period. There is one persona, period. Granted, in the
                                        latter, shades and gradations may last throughout most of our
                                        struggling lives, but the goal is clear. All monastic, all Christian,
                                        all the time. One heart, one umbrella, one Lord, one faith, one
                                        baptism.

                                        That work persona that we drop when we clock out, the totally free
                                        and other person we are on days off or on trips away can be an OK
                                        notion in relation to work. Wouldn't we find someone who was a
                                        salesperson or teacher or secretary or manager ALL the time to be a
                                        dreadful drip? The concept fails, however, when it is applied to
                                        vocations, to any vocation at all. One does not take a vacation from
                                        being married or a parent or ordained or a monastic.

                                        Do I hear loud screams in cyber-space as I mention BALANCE again?
                                        Sorry, but it is true. There is a balanced way to be under one
                                        umbrella all the time that we must strive to achieve. Yes, I am
                                        different with different friends, we all are, we have to be, charity
                                        demands that. But there is a commonality between all the threads of
                                        our behavior. We are monastics. We are freer within defined limits.
                                        It is to the balance of those defined limits that this chapter refers.

                                        At Petersham, we still follow this custom of prayer for one who will
                                        be away overnight. The prayers are said in the refectory, after
                                        grace. One is blessed leaving and returning, while kneeling in the
                                        center of the ref. It's just a way of saying, as a community, that we
                                        all know that maintaining that one umbrella can be tough, especially
                                        when one is away alone. We want to support each other with our
                                        prayers, we want our brother to know that our hearts are with him all
                                        the way.

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





                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                                        +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Herb s wife,
                                        Message 19 of 30 , Dec 25, 2008
                                          +PAX

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

                                          Herb's wife, ovarian cancer.

                                          Ian, brain tumor, prognosis uncertain

                                          Continued prayers for Michael, discharged to his home, for healing of his renal problems.

                                          Prayers, please, for all who have lost someone dear over the holidays. It
                                          can be so awful for them and then the pain can recur year after year. Prayers,
                                          too, for all those addicts for whom this season of feasting in food and drink
                                          can be a particularly trying time of temptation. May God bless and strengthen
                                          them all. 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 26, August 26, December 26
                                          Chapter 68: If a Sister Is Commanded to Do Impossible Things

                                          If it happens
                                          that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a sister,
                                          let her nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority
                                          with all meekness and obedience.
                                          But if she sees that the weight of the burden
                                          altogether exceeds the limit of her strength,
                                          let her submit the reasons for her inability
                                          to the one who is over her
                                          in a quiet way and at an opportune time,
                                          without pride, resistance, or contradiction.
                                          And if after these representations
                                          the Superior still persists in her decision and command,
                                          let the subject know that this is for her good,
                                          and let her obey out of love,
                                          trusting in the help of God.

                                          REFLECTION

                                          Buried in chapters whose names may throw us off there are usually
                                          gems, one just has to dig a bit more carefully. Granted, impossible
                                          tasks are rarely asked of anyone these days, much less Oblates who
                                          live outside the monastery, but there is a beautiful method given
                                          here which has the widest of applications.

                                          Most interpersonal conflict arises from one being or feeling wronged.
                                          Escalation often follows when one tries to express their displeasure
                                          to the offender. Even people who are truly wrong do not enjoy being
                                          humiliated or treated as if they were nothing. Upset by another's
                                          actions, it is easy to lose one's cool. When both parties blow up, a
                                          relentless cycle of discord is born.

                                          The method given here for approaching one's superior is a masterpiece
                                          of crisis intervention and prevention for almost any situation in
                                          life:

                                          "...in a quiet way and at an opportune time, without pride,
                                          resistance, or contradiction."

                                          We ought to carve that on the walls of every mediation center in the
                                          world, on the doors to every marriage counselor and above every
                                          complaint desk (or, as they euphemize them these days, "Customer
                                          Service," but what's in a name?)

                                          Look at what is called for here: composure and calm, timing, respect
                                          for the other person (Gandhi would even say love for the foe,) non-
                                          violence and non-contentiousness. Use this approach with
                                          disagreements and many of them will melt away. One reason Gandhi's
                                          non-violence worked was that he employed all of these things, the
                                          opponent was never denied her worth or dignity. When his followers
                                          pared the list, they failed. This is the recipe for lasting results,
                                          not for a temporary subjugation.

                                          Jesus, of course, gives us a three step process to redress wrongs: go
                                          to the person alone, if that doesn't work go with a witness, if even
                                          that fails, then haul them up before the whole assembly. We can
                                          consider ourselves absolved if we follow all those steps and may feel
                                          justified, but if we undertake ANY of those steps, especially the
                                          first one, without the calm prescribed by St. Benedict, our effort is
                                          all but guaranteed to fail. We can sputter out: "I went to her and I
                                          got NOWHERE!" Ah, yes, but HOW did you go? "He wouldn't even listen
                                          to the whole community!" Neither would you, if made to feel that
                                          small and worthless in public.

                                          Very often our manner of dealing with others says a great deal about
                                          how we esteem ourselves. A balanced dignity and self-love is shown in
                                          the Holy Rule's approach. It will go a longer way toward ending
                                          conflict than a "wronged prima donna" move. Sometimes prima donnas
                                          of either gender are filled with angry self-hatred.

                                          Watch people fight and it will be easy to see that many consider any
                                          slight or offense against themselves to be THE original sin. Sigh...
                                          Give people like that a lot of room. Being wrong is not a capital
                                          offense, everybody does it at one time or another. People who
                                          demonstrate anything else by their actions damage their own standing
                                          in the group as well, and rightly so.

                                          Remember that every disagreement hurts the whole group. A family at
                                          dinner with two not speaking is a tense affair. You cannot calm a
                                          child by saying "This is between your Father and me! It has nothing
                                          to do with you." But it does, it really does. A community in choir
                                          after a huge blow-up between two members is not an exquisite taste of
                                          mystical prayer. Everybody suffers. That's why fixing these fender-
                                          benders is so important and why St. Benedict gave us a way that is so
                                          very likely to achieve results.

                                          Now THAT'S creative peacemaking!

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



                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                                          +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Philip, who died Christmas Eve, and prayers for the brothers at Weston Priory. Prayers, please, for
                                          Message 20 of 30 , Dec 26, 2008
                                            +PAX

                                            Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Br. Philip, who died Christmas Eve, and prayers for the brothers at Weston Priory.

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

                                            a baby born to a drug addicted Mom, up for adoption by the courts.

                                            Linda, completed round two of chemo well, four more to go.

                                            Victoria's Dad, off life support, but not expected to be discharged till New Year's, and for Victoria's visit with him.

                                            Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All ismercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

                                            April 27, August 27, December 27
                                            Chapter 69: That the Monks Presume Not to Defend One Another

                                            Care must be taken that no monk presume on any ground
                                            to defend another monk in the monastery,
                                            or as it were to take him under his protection,
                                            even though they be united by some tie of blood-relationship.
                                            Let not the monks dare to do this in any way whatsoever,
                                            because it may give rise to most serious scandals.
                                            But if anyone breaks this rule,
                                            let him be severely punished.

                                            REFLECTION

                                            We are all supposed to bear one another's burdens. That should be
                                            more than enough help for anyone, if we actually keep that principle.

                                            A big problem with becoming the protector of another, self-appointed
                                            or otherwise, is that it destroys one's peace needlessly. When I was
                                            a novice, there was one other novice I really did not want to lose.
                                            He was not the brightest bulb on the tree and I went out of my way to
                                            protect him from himself. In time, he came to resent this and I was
                                            so busy worrying about covering or preventing his foibles all the
                                            time that I spent little time focusing on my own novitiate. Of
                                            course, he left. He was supposed to leave. I, however, could not see
                                            that at the time.

                                            This isn't just about monasteries, it's about any human group. Taking
                                            someone under our wing can result in all sorts of false assumptions.
                                            It can fool us into thinking we can really control events more than
                                            we can. It can lead us, a la Mother Hen, to seek to control the one
                                            under wing in very unnecessary and unhealthy ways. Its most common
                                            error is also one of its most dangerous ones: it leads us to think in
                                            terms of "us-and-them." There is no "them" in a healthy monastery or
                                            family or Christian community, only an "us".

                                            As usual, what the Holy Rule insists we avoid is an extreme. This
                                            chapter is NOT saying we should not look out for one another, just
                                            that no one should presume that the job is hers alone. Good families
                                            protect all their members, but it is a corporate activity, something
                                            in which all participate. Destroy that balance and the others will
                                            notice quickly. It upsets the inner peace, both of the individual and
                                            the group.

                                            Part of any monastic's struggle, in cloister or in the world, is the
                                            painful facing up to ourselves, that confrontation with our own
                                            flaws. This difficult self-knowledge is essential to the monastic
                                            way. Trying to protect someone from this process is counter to the
                                            very reason they came. It not only harms them, it harms us. It
                                            keeps us so busy with another's affairs that we can avoid looking
                                            at our own failings: a distraction we may perilously cherish!

                                            Merton once told his junior monk students that there is an
                                            existential place of loneliness in every monk that no one can touch,
                                            and that this is the way it's supposed to be, that no one should try
                                            to reach it. That's where the struggle goes on, that's where there is
                                            only God and the self. That's the arena in which the action happens.

                                            Every person, every employee, every spouse and child has a similar
                                            place: it is the place of great potential learning and growth. Our deep
                                            respect for one another must stand away from that space. Becoming
                                            self-appointed guardians of another violates that space.

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




                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                                            +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and for all who take care of them: Alex and
                                            Message 21 of 30 , Dec 27, 2008
                                              +PAX

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

                                              Alex and Brie, strains on their relationship owing to a move by Alex to another state.

                                              Ann and her family, especially her Mom, in rapidly declining health and her daughter, Jesse, and her new grandson and for Ann and her son.

                                              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 28, August 28, December 28
                                              Chapter 70: That No One Venture to Punish at Random

                                              Every occasion of presumption
                                              shall be avoided in the monastery,
                                              and we decree that no one be allowed
                                              to excommunicate or to strike any of her sisters
                                              unless the Abbess has given her the authority.
                                              Those who offend in this matter
                                              shall be rebuked in the presence of all,
                                              that the rest may have fear.

                                              But children up to 15 years of age
                                              shall be carefully controlled and watched by all,
                                              yet this too with all moderation and discretion.
                                              All, therefore, who presume
                                              without the Abbess' instructions
                                              to punish those above that age
                                              or who lose their temper with them,
                                              shall undergo the discipline of the Rule;
                                              for it is written,
                                              "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tobias
                                              4:16).

                                              REFLECTION

                                              "Every occasion of presumption should be avoided in the monastery."
                                              This is about a lot more than saying who can punish whom. This is
                                              pointing out that, whenever there are more than one to be considered,
                                              absolute freedom cannot exist. This is about central authority, yes,
                                              but it is also about the total way one conducts oneself in a home or
                                              group that others share.

                                              Ever think about your first home away from your parents house? It was
                                              probably different in a lot of ways, especially if you lived there
                                              alone. Heady freedom that! I recall my own first place very well and
                                              fondly. However, I can assure you, I could not have lived as I did
                                              there had I been in a family, with younger siblings at home. (OK, it
                                              was 1969, so go figure...)

                                              Even alone, however, I was not free to play my stereo at undue
                                              volumes at 3 AM. We live on a common planet, at some point ALL of our
                                              lives touch others. When they do, control of some sort is necessary
                                              if people are to live in peace.

                                              There is a great and treacherous myth of individualism among
                                              Americans and, to a lesser extent, I think, among all Western
                                              European cultures. Non-western cultures often have a much more highly
                                              developed sense of sharing and commonality. The American nonsense
                                              of "God-bless-the-child-that's-got-his-own" does justice to neither
                                              God nor the child!

                                              Schweitzer pointed out that Europeans found the Africans lazy,
                                              because they would not work to a point of exhaustion without need.
                                              They worked all right, but when the work was done, they quit. They
                                              had a casual and natural attitude to work, proper to their own
                                              economic system, that drove the Europeans nuts, because the latter
                                              had more of a 40-hours-a-week-and-then-you-rest notion. Both
                                              Schweitzer and I tend to side with the natives on this one!

                                              That myth of total freedom, of self-sufficiency being able to buy one
                                              the right to any activity is totally wrong. Even at 20, in my richly
                                              bohemian digs that I called "Shackri-la", I was not totally free. I
                                              didn't know it well enough back then, but I wasn't. I had no right to waste
                                              water or leave lights on all night or drive drunk. My fantasy might have
                                              been chronologically appropriate as Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco,
                                              but hey, even there, even then, people were not morally free in any absolute
                                              sense. None of us are.

                                              Every presumed domain of our control exists on a planet shared by
                                              billions. No one of us is an island. Our complete interdependence is
                                              not only objective fact, it is our only hope. You might never have
                                              read this chapter as an ad for ecological consciousness, but look at
                                              the first line again. We are ALWAYS in this with others and that
                                              always means responsibilities to "...not do to another what one would
                                              not have done to oneself."

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

                                              Petersham, MA













                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • Br. Jerome Leo
                                              +PAX Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Robert and for all who mourn him. Prayers, please for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the
                                              Message 22 of 30 , Dec 28, 2008
                                                +PAX

                                                Prayers for the happy death and eternal rest of Robert and for all who mourn him.

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

                                                Salome and her Mom, taking care of her Mom is becoming nearly full-time for Salome and many difficulties arise.

                                                Brittany, that she complete her dental work smoothly and stay well.

                                                Frances an elderly woman who is in the hospital with serious medical problems.

                                                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 29, August 29, December 29
                                                Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another

                                                Not only is the boon of obedience
                                                to be shown by all to the Abbot,
                                                but the brethren are also to obey one another,
                                                knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God.
                                                Giving priority, therefore, to the commands of the Abbot
                                                and of the Superior appointed by him
                                                (to which we allow no private orders to be preferred),
                                                for the rest
                                                let all the juniors obey their seniors
                                                with all charity and solicitude.
                                                But if anyone is found contentious,
                                                let him be corrected.

                                                And if any brother,
                                                for however small a cause,
                                                is corrected in any way by the Abbot or by any of his Superiors,
                                                or if he faintly perceives
                                                that the mind of any Superior is angered or moved against him,
                                                however little,
                                                let him at once, without delay,
                                                prostrate himself on the ground at his feet
                                                and lie there making satisfaction
                                                until that emotion is quieted with a blessing.
                                                But if anyone should disdain to do this,
                                                let him undergo corporal punishment
                                                or, if he is stubborn, let him be expelled from the monastery.

                                                REFLECTION

                                                OK, now we're getting into radical. Any human group, from the
                                                military to a kindergarten at recess expects one to obey the leader.
                                                But each other? Give me a break! How many jobs would you have quit if
                                                you had to obey all of your co-workers? Yet St. Benedict calls such
                                                obedience a "boon", a wonderfully good thing.

                                                Well, giving a break is exactly what is intended here. The Kingdom of
                                                God, which the Holy Rule seeks to guide us to, is ruled by love, not
                                                hierarchy per se. It includes a hierarchy, yes, but that, too, is
                                                founded on love. The Kingdom of God strives for peace and serenity.

                                                The quickest way to soften an environment and let peace flourish is
                                                to keep people more or less happy, and the quickest way to do that is
                                                to give in to their legitimate wishes whenever possible. So long as the
                                                matter at hand is morally neutral, why not give way?

                                                Now we're getting to the heroic stuff. There are ulterior benefits to
                                                obeying the boss, but another peer? What's the big deal there? The
                                                big deal is love, the big deal is forgetfulness of self, the big deal
                                                is the abdication of control issues.

                                                Monastic struggle will not free one who is attached to control. It
                                                will thwart the good of the struggle. Don't beat yourself up too
                                                badly on this one if you live in the world, because many, many
                                                monastics in cloisters fail it as well. It is one of Satan's
                                                sneakiest tricks and he enjoys its effectiveness immensely. What
                                                could be better than something the poor victims hardly notice at all,
                                                that eats up their hard work like a ravenous cancer? Very, very handy.

                                                I am tempted to say that anyone who is addicted to control- at any
                                                stage of monastic life- ought to be set to cleaning bathrooms until
                                                the feeling passes. Hey, that would be a great idea, but most
                                                monasteries do not have that many toilets. Sad, but true.

                                                Rather than worry about the pathetic individuals so addicted, who can
                                                make life so unpleasant for those they live with, why not just focus on
                                                changing ourselves? We can be part of the solution. We can go out of
                                                our way to make life easier for each other. We can pray for those who
                                                don't.

                                                A horrible truth of monastic life is that if one waits for everyone
                                                to get perfect (according, of course, to one's own standards!) the
                                                result will be futile and frustrated stagnation. Community we may be,
                                                but all on the same page we shall never be till heaven, and maybe not
                                                even there!

                                                It's a snap to be a pain. Anybody can pull that off with no effort at
                                                all. Lots of folks do, all the time! The harvest, however, is
                                                isolation and loneliness, which result in bitterness that only fuels
                                                the vicious cycle.

                                                In contrast, it is a bit difficult at first to be easy, but it is
                                                ALSO addictive when done right! One will soon be hunting for ways to
                                                be easy, because every drop of water makes the ocean a tiny bit less
                                                salty. The harvest, too, is far more precious: a growing warmth that
                                                makes one ever more gentle, more open, more loving and glad to be so.
                                                The harvest is joy and love, not the lie of possession and bitterness.
                                                You may not change the world alone, but the change in yourself will be
                                                awesome and dramatic. That alone will go farther still to improve the
                                                world, to build up the Mystical Body of Christ.

                                                It is very unlikely that you will ever be able to cure a control
                                                freak. Give them a lot of room, because (harsh saying here!) they can be
                                                truly a danger to your serenity. Cultivate among your peers an attitude
                                                of complete non-control, of nearly total indifference to detail,
                                                rather like the old peace poster that said: "What if they gave a war
                                                and no one came?".

                                                Maybe, just maybe, the wizard might one day wake up to actually see
                                                that Oz is not with her! That's about your only hope. People like
                                                this can profit us by being crosses and we can grow from praying for
                                                them, but getting sucked into their hopelessly false view of reality
                                                is a fatal mistake.

                                                Love and prayers,
                                                Jerome, OSB





                                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                +PAX Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Donna, and for her husband, John, and all who mourn her. Prayers for the spiritual, mental and
                                                Message 23 of 30 , Dec 30, 2008
                                                  +PAX

                                                  Prayers, please, for the happy death and eternal rest of Donna, and for her husband, John, and all who mourn her.

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

                                                  Doris and Normand. Doris has been diagnosed with cancer in her liver, stomach and brain. Her reactions to chemo have been bad and doctors have given her 1 month to live. Her husband Normand is in the advanced stages of Alzheimers.

                                                  Baby Charlie is just three and half months old. He is to undergo tests this coming week to determine whether the tumor in his liver is operable. Please keep Charlie, his brother, Jack, and his mom and dad- Hayley and David - in your prayers

                                                  Alma and her family. She is close to death; fpr her happy death and eternal rest and for all who will mourn her.

                                                  Bill, who's been ill for some time, but was just diagnosed with bone cancer. He has been away from the Church for many years; prayers he'll come to receive the sacraments again.

                                                  B., violent and frequent epilepsy.

                                                  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

                                                  May 1, August 31, December 31
                                                  Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
                                                  Established in This Rule

                                                  Now we have written this Rule
                                                  in order that by its observance in monasteries
                                                  we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
                                                  and the rudiments of the religious life.

                                                  But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
                                                  there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
                                                  the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
                                                  For what page or what utterance
                                                  of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
                                                  is not a most unerring rule for human life?
                                                  Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
                                                  does not loudly proclaim
                                                  how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
                                                  Then the Conferences and the Institutes
                                                  and the Lives of the Fathers,
                                                  as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
                                                  what else are they but tools of virtue
                                                  for right-living and obedient monks?
                                                  But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
                                                  they are a source of shame and confusion.

                                                  Whoever you are, therefore,
                                                  who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
                                                  fulfil with the help of Christ
                                                  this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
                                                  and then at length under God's protection
                                                  you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
                                                  which we have mentioned above.

                                                  REFLECTION

                                                  "Whoever you are, therefore, who are hastening to the heavenly
                                                  homeland..." That "whoever" is the true object all this heartfelt
                                                  tenderness of Saint Benedict , the one for whom he wrote! He only
                                                  made one qualifier, that of "hastening to the heavenly homeland." It
                                                  seems that some of our decisions about who matters and who does not
                                                  have employed a somewhat more restrictive standard than that of our
                                                  holy Father Benedict.

                                                  "Whoever you are..." I don't care who you are or how much I disagree
                                                  with you, whether I nearly hate your positions or love them blindly,
                                                  it is you I am called to love, to honor to respect, to cherish as a
                                                  fellow monastic traveler. You.

                                                  "Whoever you are..." I surely don't care whether you're Catholic or
                                                  not, in fact I am relieved and delighted that many of you on board
                                                  are not! I surely don't care if you are not exactly the same sort of
                                                  Catholic as I am, it doesn't matter to me. You do. You have to,
                                                  because this is the Holy Rule I have embraced, that we all have.

                                                  In the United States, through much of our history, Catholics and Jews
                                                  shared a roughly equal amount of contempt. Great camaraderie could
                                                  flourish between the two and still quite often does. Having said
                                                  that, it has always amused me that many Jews I know get along MUCH
                                                  better with Catholics than they do with Jews who disagree with them!
                                                  How like ourselves!

                                                  When disagreement happens within our family, we hurt more, it is more
                                                  important to us. The differing opinion of a stranger on the subway
                                                  would hardly matter at all! Maybe the fact that we CAN get hurt and
                                                  angry is a good sign, maybe it means we are at least beginning to
                                                  love, but it is HOW we get hurt or angry that we have to examine
                                                  very, very closely.

                                                  The important thing is not opinion or observance or concepts. The
                                                  important thing is you. Whoever you are. Every time I fail that, I
                                                  have to get up, apologize and start over. Maybe not right from square
                                                  one each time, but again each time.

                                                  If I ever stop doing those things, I have stopped being a
                                                  Benedictine. Whoever you are, but it's not just me that has to
                                                  embrace that. You do, too. We all do. I am the only one I can insist
                                                  upon, however, the only one I can make change, and that might be good
                                                  to keep in mind, whoever you are.

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




                                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                  +PAX In years past, the custom prevailed in many places of welcoming the New Year with a Te Deum of thanksgiving for the year completed and for the new years
                                                  Message 24 of 30 , Dec 31, 2008
                                                    +PAX

                                                    In years past, the custom prevailed in many places of welcoming the New Year
                                                    with a Te Deum of thanksgiving for the year completed and for the new years
                                                    dawning. Of course, for those who have a Roman Liturgy of the Hours book that
                                                    includes the Office of Readings, it would still be the custom: the Te Deum
                                                    is said with the Office of Readings for New Year's Day, the Solemnity of the
                                                    Mother of God.

                                                    However, since many do not have access to the four volume Liturgy of the
                                                    Hours, or the one volume that has just the Office of Readings, I thought I'd dig
                                                    up a text in English of the Te Deum. This one is from 1662! It originally
                                                    appeared in
                                                    the Book of Common Prayer that year. Hence, its language is a bit archaic, yet
                                                    it
                                                    has the lovely ring of Prayer Book English. Enjoy! And please remember us all
                                                    when you say it!

                                                    A blessed 2009 to all and thanks be to God for all the gifts of 2008!

                                                    Love and prayers,
                                                    Jerome, OSB


                                                    We praise Thee, O God:
                                                    we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
                                                    All the earth doth worship Thee:
                                                    the Father everlasting.

                                                    To Thee all Angels cry aloud:
                                                    the heavens and all the powers therein.
                                                    To Thee Cherubin and Seraphin:
                                                    continually do cry,
                                                    Holy, Holy, Holy:
                                                    Lord God of Sabaoth;
                                                    Heaven and earth are full
                                                    of the Majesty: of Thy glory.

                                                    The glorious company of the Apostles: praise Thee.
                                                    The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise Thee.
                                                    The noble army of Martyrs: praise Thee.

                                                    The holy Church throughout all the
                                                    world: doth acknowledge Thee;
                                                    The Father: of an infinite majesty;
                                                    Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
                                                    Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

                                                    Thou art the King of glory: O Christ.
                                                    Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.

                                                    When thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man
                                                    Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.

                                                    When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death:
                                                    Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

                                                    Thou sittest at the right hand of God:
                                                    in the glory of the Father.

                                                    We believe that Thou shalt come: to be our Judge.

                                                    We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants:
                                                    whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

                                                    Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints:
                                                    in glory everlasting.

                                                    O Lord, save Thy people:
                                                    and bless Thine heritage.
                                                    Govern them:
                                                    and lift them up for ever.

                                                    Day by day: we magnify Thee;
                                                    And we worship Thy Name:
                                                    ever world without end.

                                                    Vouchsafe, O Lord:
                                                    to keep us this day without sin.
                                                    O Lord, have mercy upon us:
                                                    have mercy upon us.

                                                    O Lord, let Thy mercy lighten upon us:
                                                    as our trust is in Thee.
                                                    O Lord, in Thee have I trusted:
                                                    let me never be confounded.


                                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                    +PAX Prayers, please, for Alma, for whom we prayed, she has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her. Lord, help us all as
                                                    Message 25 of 30 , Dec 31, 2008
                                                      +PAX

                                                      Prayers, please, for Alma, for whom we prayed, she has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her.

                                                      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

                                                      January 1, May 2, September 1

                                                      Prologue

                                                      L I S T E N carefully, my child,
                                                      to your master's precepts,
                                                      and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
                                                      Receive willingly and carry out effectively
                                                      your loving father's advice,
                                                      that by the labor of obedience
                                                      you may return to Him
                                                      from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

                                                      To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
                                                      whoever you may be,
                                                      who are renouncing your own will
                                                      to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
                                                      and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

                                                      And first of all,
                                                      whatever good work you begin to do,
                                                      beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it,
                                                      that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
                                                      may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.
                                                      For we must always so serve Him
                                                      with the good things He has given us,
                                                      that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children,
                                                      nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
                                                      deliver us to everlasting punishment
                                                      as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.

                                                      REFLECTION

                                                      The Prologue is the most tender and loving of beginnings. Always,
                                                      always, always keep this loving Father that writes here in mind as you
                                                      read the rest of the Holy Rule. This and the epilogue are the key to
                                                      it all, and the key to the saintly personality of our holy Father
                                                      Benedict.

                                                      The Holy Rule can seem so lofty that it sometimes turns people away.
                                                      They think: "This is for those really holy people, not for me. I'll
                                                      bet it's easy for saints like them, but I couldn't even dream of
                                                      trying." Wrong on both counts and St. Benedict makes that clear. We
                                                      return "by the labor of obedience" and if we are not one of those who
                                                      has "to do battle" against our own will, he makes it abundantly
                                                      certain that he is not talking to us.

                                                      If, in fact, there is anyone for whom the Rule is a cinch, and I
                                                      doubt that very much, then it was not written for them. It was
                                                      written for us who struggle, for us for whom it is NOT easy, to help
                                                      us in a battle that sometimes wears us out.

                                                      St. Benedict also makes his point that our distance from God is due
                                                      to our "sloth of disobedience." Yet he doesn't tell the slothful to
                                                      quit because they are worthless, he tells them they are the very ones
                                                      for whom he is writing this Rule! This is the Rule for the fallen and
                                                      beginners, this is an entry level position which can advance to great
                                                      sanctity, but it *IS* an entry level position!

                                                      This is the door and gate for all. This is most decidedly NOT a Rule
                                                      just for monks and nuns in monasteries. Were that so, no provision
                                                      for Oblates would ever have been made. No, this is a Rule for all who
                                                      wish to try to become better and because they have made that
                                                      intention, God "has deigned to count us among His children." There is
                                                      no more us-and-them here. Just by beginning, we become part of the
                                                      whole.

                                                      How many of us who were not in the advanced reading group as children
                                                      secretly got the suspicion that the whole class was really for the
                                                      wonder kids, not for us, that we were somehow extraneous and just
                                                      tagging along to whatever was REALLY going on? Well, the Holy Rule is
                                                      quite direct about stating that this time, it is not about wonder
                                                      kids: the center of its focus is the rest of us! Now there's a
                                                      refreshingly upside down and all too rare world view!

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

                                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                      +PAX Carolyn, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for Lynda and all who mourn her. Prayers for the spiritual, mental
                                                      Message 26 of 30 , Jan 1, 2009
                                                        +PAX

                                                        Carolyn, for whom we prayed, has died. Prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for Lynda and all who mourn her.

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

                                                        Leslie, who just found out her beloved uncle died a month ago, after 3 months' hospitalization for a car crash, & whose nephew, 22 months, has been hospitalized; she is also desperate to find a FT job & home

                                                        Alfred, 53, & his widowed mother, Vee, 85. Critically ill, he needs a lung transplant to survive. His mother has only the 2 sons, & is terribly crippled from decades in a sweat-shop.

                                                        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

                                                        January 2, May 3, September 2
                                                        Prologue (continued)

                                                        Let us arise, then, at last,
                                                        for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
                                                        "Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 18:11).
                                                        Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
                                                        let us hear with attentive ears
                                                        the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
                                                        "Today if you hear His voice,
                                                        harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
                                                        And again,
                                                        "Whoever has ears to hear,
                                                        hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
                                                        And what does He say?
                                                        "Come, My children, listen to Me;
                                                        I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
                                                        "Run while you have the light of life,
                                                        lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).

                                                        REFLECTION

                                                        Check out the similarities of this section, at the beginning of the
                                                        Holy Rule, and the readings of early Lent, which stress that "now is
                                                        the acceptable time." It brings to mind St. Benedict's later chapter
                                                        which says that the monastic life ought always to have some semblance
                                                        of Lent.

                                                        That perpetual Lent chapter is the source of a lot of grumbling about
                                                        austerity from one camp and cheering about it from another. Both may
                                                        have missed a salient point. Perhaps the greatest element of
                                                        perpetual Lent has less to do with austerity- even the monastic fast
                                                        did not last all year. What IS perpetually in style is wakefulness
                                                        and self-examination.

                                                        Monastic life withers in either smugness or a rut. What St. Benedict
                                                        wants us to do is always to try and stay at that serious moment of
                                                        taking inventory that many of us feel at Lent's beginning. We need to
                                                        always be checking what needs to be cleaned up and we need to be
                                                        prepared, even a bit eager, to start working on it.

                                                        This is why a daily examination of conscience is so necessary.
                                                        Compline, the traditional liturgical place for such examens, is a
                                                        very apt place for same. As we prepare for sleep, which prefigures
                                                        death, we prepare also for death, by examining our faults and asking
                                                        forgiveness.

                                                        The Holy Rule, like Lent, is by no means the gateway to an easier
                                                        life, but to a holier one. As we actually grow in holiness much of it
                                                        will become easier, more natural to us. But until that time, it is a
                                                        struggle and, in unconquered areas, it remains something of a
                                                        struggle for all of our lives. What's hard about that struggle isn't
                                                        fasting or penance, but changing ourselves. Austere practices are
                                                        just a means to that end, not ends in themselves.

                                                        The whole idea of Lent and the Holy Rule is lasting change for the
                                                        better. Lent is a seasonal construct to get us to begin anew, the
                                                        Holy Rule says that beginning anew must be a daily thing. Lent is an
                                                        attempt to get us to do for forty days what we ought to have been
                                                        doing all year. The Holy Rule is a way to do what we ought to do all
                                                        year, every day.

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




                                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                        +PAX Betty, for whom we prayed, has died, prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her, especially her Mom, Lib. Lord, help us all as
                                                        Message 27 of 30 , Jan 2, 2009
                                                          +PAX

                                                          Betty, for whom we prayed, has died, prayers for her happy death and eternal rest and for all who mourn her, especially her Mom, Lib.

                                                          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

                                                          January 3, May 4, September 3
                                                          Prologue

                                                          And the Lord, seeking his laborer
                                                          in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
                                                          says again,
                                                          "Who is the one who will have life,
                                                          and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
                                                          And if, hearing Him, you answer,
                                                          "I am the one,"
                                                          God says to you,
                                                          "If you will have true and everlasting life,
                                                          keep your tongue from evil
                                                          and your lips that they speak no guile.
                                                          Turn away from evil and do good;
                                                          seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
                                                          And when you have done these things,
                                                          My eyes shall be upon you
                                                          and My ears open to your prayers;
                                                          and before you call upon Me,
                                                          I will say to you,
                                                          'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

                                                          What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
                                                          than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
                                                          Behold, in His loving kindness
                                                          the Lord shows us the way of life.

                                                          REFLECTION

                                                          This is perhaps my all-time favorite reading from the Holy Rule. Then
                                                          gentle, loving tenderness of both the Divine Merciful Christ and our
                                                          holy Father Benedict are here in abundance. One is tempted to merely
                                                          bask in the warmth, rather than write, but I will try to write!

                                                          Lest any of us (which, as the Holy Rule would say, God forbid,) tend
                                                          to pride at undertaking the monastic way, this one deflates that
                                                          balloon in a hurry. Christ seeks US. What mercy! Our very being is
                                                          nothing but an act of His love and mercy, all that we have is His
                                                          love and His mercy, yet, on top of all that, He seeks US! We're
                                                          talking God here, not some other created being. We're talking the
                                                          Alpha and Omega, end all and be all, the First Cause, you name it.
                                                          The very force of life and light and truth and love and mercy in the
                                                          cosmos, before all time, names us, knows us and calls us.

                                                          He ALREADY calls us His laborers, even before we answer. He knows
                                                          intimately and well, from personal experience, the fouled up chaotic
                                                          mess in which we lived. He has lived in it, too. he tenderly calls us
                                                          to "true and everlasting life" and assures us that He knows the way.
                                                          In fact, He *IS* the Way!

                                                          I can gush a bit writing about the Prologue, so indulge me here as I
                                                          do so. Beloveds, for so you are to me, our fractured hearts and sin-
                                                          veiled eyes just cannot see the way, nor can we name the hurts or
                                                          their cures well. God and God alone can pierce that darkness and He
                                                          offers to do so before we even ask. This is awesome grace, this is
                                                          enough for a lifetime's meditation on humility. Hard things to come
                                                          in the struggle are real, but their harshness is in some way
                                                          illusory: "Behold, in His loving-kindness, the Lord shows us the way
                                                          of life."

                                                          It is solely because of heaven and Christ for all eternity that every
                                                          suffering, every cross can be diminished into absolute nothingness by
                                                          the greatness of the reward. Yes, He shows us the way to life, but,
                                                          as a wonderfully Dominican Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of
                                                          Siena, taught us: "All the way to Heaven *IS* Heaven, because He
                                                          said: 'I am the Way.' "

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

                                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                        • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                          +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and phsyical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Mother Mary
                                                          Message 28 of 30 , Jan 3, 2009
                                                            +PAX

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

                                                            Mother Mary Elizabeth, on her feastday and for the happy death and etenal rest of Br. Aelred Seton, on one of his two feastdays. May St. Elizabeth Ann Seton intercede for us all.

                                                            An 82 year old woman who is in the hospital after having a mild heart attack shortly after Christmas. She's doing okay, but the family requests prayers for her speedy recovery.

                                                            Some young adults who seem to be slowly falling away from the Church. Their mother (a widow) is very concerned about them and asks for prayers for all of them, and for herself, that she will know how to wisely deal with the situation.

                                                            Prayers requested for Sr. Mary Joseph all her family and extended family, for graces for them for the coming New Year.

                                                            Chris and Shawna, that controversy around needed repairs to their rental home be solved.

                                                            Ann, angina and going on retreat soon.

                                                            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

                                                            January 4, May 5, September 4
                                                            Prologue

                                                            Having our loins girded, therefore,
                                                            with faith and the performance of good works (Eph. 6:14),
                                                            let us walk in His paths
                                                            by the guidance of the Gospel,
                                                            that we may deserve to see Him
                                                            who has called us to His kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).

                                                            For if we wish to dwell in the tent of that kingdom,
                                                            we must run to it by good deeds
                                                            or we shall never reach it.

                                                            But let us ask the Lord, with the Prophet,
                                                            "Lord, who shall dwell in Your tent,
                                                            or who shall rest upon Your holy mountain" (Ps. 14:1)?

                                                            After this question,
                                                            let us listen to the Lord
                                                            as He answers and shows us the way to that tent, saying,
                                                            "The one Who walks without stain and practices justice;
                                                            who speaks truth from his heart;
                                                            who has not used his tongue for deceit;
                                                            who has done no evil to his neighbor;
                                                            who has given no place to slander against his neighbor."

                                                            This is the one who,
                                                            under any temptation from the malicious devil,
                                                            has brought him to naught (Ps. 14:4)
                                                            by casting him and his temptation from the sight of his heart;
                                                            and who has laid hold of his thoughts
                                                            while they were still young
                                                            and dashed them against Christ (Ps. 136:9).

                                                            It is they who,
                                                            fearing the Lord (Ps. 14:4),
                                                            do not pride themselves on their good observance;
                                                            but,
                                                            convinced that the good which is in them
                                                            cannot come from themselves and must be from the Lord,
                                                            glorify the Lord's work in them (Ps. 14:4),
                                                            using the words of the Prophet,
                                                            "Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
                                                            but to Your name give the glory" (Ps. 113, 2nd part:1).
                                                            Thus also the Apostle Paul
                                                            attributed nothing of the success of his preaching to himself,
                                                            but said,
                                                            "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
                                                            And again he says,
                                                            "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).

                                                            REFLECTION

                                                            Ever have that funny feeling of surprise that the world and time and
                                                            life and events go resolutely on, even when you are stalled in
                                                            heartbreak? It is a strange egocentricity that allows us to feel
                                                            that. I remember clearly such a feeling when my father died. I was
                                                            not quite eleven. My world was shattered, everything had stopped or
                                                            changed or been put on hold.

                                                            Child that I was, it stunned me slightly to notice from the car
                                                            window on the way to the cemetery that it was just another sunny day
                                                            for everyone else. People were working, shopping, going to school.
                                                            The world WAS going on, nothing had changed for them. It made me feel
                                                            strangely even more alone in my pain: he wasn't as important to the
                                                            rest of the world as he was to me.

                                                            We can still have these feelings as adults, but hopefully we are at
                                                            least more used to them and less inclined to think the world really
                                                            DOES stop when we think it should. Tough though they can still be,
                                                            they are reality and reality is truth and truth, after all, is not
                                                            only humility but also what Jesus called Himself.

                                                            What does all this have to do with the Prologue? The same sort of
                                                            really unfortunate egocentricity can let us think that we are the
                                                            center of the known universe in other ways, can allow us to foolishly
                                                            think that our gifts or the tiny packets of virtues we have stashed
                                                            here and there are our own. No way, folks! It is grace, it is gift,
                                                            ALL is gift, beginning with our very existence!

                                                            Everything good, in every way is all from God, not us. We dare glory
                                                            in nothing but Him, for we would be less than nothing without His
                                                            grace acting in us. Picture a battery operated toy, that someone else
                                                            skillfully made, without a battery. Beginning to get the picture?

                                                            If a city has clean, wondrous, spring water, no one in their right
                                                            mind praises the pipes. No, one praises the purity of the Source. So
                                                            it is with us, m'dears, pipes one and all, nothing more or less. God
                                                            is the Source, God's mercy and love and grace and gift are the purest
                                                            of waters. We are His conduits and we dare not glory, except in the
                                                            Lord! "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory!"

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






                                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                          • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                            +PAX Prayers, please, for someone who is depressed, for spiritual, mental and physical well-being. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s will is best.
                                                            Message 29 of 30 , Jan 4, 2009
                                                              +PAX

                                                              Prayers, please, for someone who is depressed, for spiritual, mental and physical well-being.

                                                              Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. Allis mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL

                                                              January 5, May 6, September 5
                                                              Prologue (continued)

                                                              Hence the Lord says in the Gospel,
                                                              "Whoever listens to these words of Mine and acts upon them,
                                                              I will liken to a wise person
                                                              who built a house on rock.
                                                              The floods came,
                                                              the winds blew and beat against that house,
                                                              and it did not fall,
                                                              because it had been founded on rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).

                                                              Having given us these assurances,
                                                              the Lord is waiting every day
                                                              for us to respond by our deeds to His holy admonitions.
                                                              And the days of this life are lengthened
                                                              and a respite granted us for this very reason,
                                                              that we may amend our evil ways.
                                                              As the Apostle says,
                                                              "Do you not know that God's patience is inviting you to repent" (Rom.
                                                              2:4)?
                                                              For the merciful Lord tells us,
                                                              "I desire not the death of the sinner,
                                                              but that the sinner should be converted and live" (Ezech. 33:11).

                                                              REFLECTION

                                                              People like me are very prone to regard repentance with the same
                                                              eagerness that we ordinarily reserve for cleaning the
                                                              refrigerator: "I'll get around to that..." Truth is, I rarely do.
                                                              What happens instead is that one of our wonderful Oblates, Richard of
                                                              Springfield (who gets this daily reflection,) comes for a weekend and
                                                              cleans the icebox. Hallelujah! Saint Richard!! Thank you, Richard!
                                                              Richard cleans like a dream and my world looks a lot better whenever
                                                              he's been here!

                                                              If you are not like me, and your icebox has ALWAYS been clean, is
                                                              buffed up every week to shining glory and you carry a damp washcloth
                                                              every time you open the fridge just in case, then fine, this portion
                                                              was not written for you. However, it should be noted that even
                                                              immaculate icebox types may have to check behind the icebox or take a
                                                              look at the oven.... I mean, if you want to be REALLY perfect, you
                                                              could move the fridge and wax the floor underneath- with paste wax
                                                              and a buffer, of course!

                                                              Get my point? This is surely written for most of us. Most of us have
                                                              some sort of a grungy corner that we'll "get to tomorrow," if ever.
                                                              St. Benedict is reminding us again that "Now is the acceptable
                                                              time..." St. Isaac of Syria said: "This life has been given to you
                                                              for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."

                                                              Sadly, people like me hear in St. Isaac's words: "This life has been
                                                              given to you for icebox cleaning..." Yeah, right! Oh boy, what a thrill!
                                                              Such a gift! Just can't wait to get up each morning! And we shrug and walk
                                                              away. Why? Because the typically monastic idea of repentance is very
                                                              different from that of our modern Christianity.

                                                              We tend to look at repentance as necessary in proportion to guilt.
                                                              The early monastics saw it as necessary for everyone, period. We
                                                              would almost chuckle at the idea of a virgin martyr of twelve in the
                                                              Roman world repenting. "Of what?" we'd incredulously ask. The early
                                                              monastic would see no problem there at all. Repentance, from a
                                                              monastic and Benedictine view, is needful to for all because all are
                                                              fallen, all are incapable of living the Christian life without God
                                                              and grace. All of us, left to their own whims, would fall short of the
                                                              monastic struggle.

                                                              The repentance we speak of here is similar to that of Baptism, but
                                                              not identical. Certainly one can be saved without entering the
                                                              monastic way (or cleaning refrigerators, for that matter!) What St.
                                                              Benedict is speaking of here is the special road of the monastic
                                                              struggle. Plenty of saints, in fact most saints, were neither monks
                                                              nor Benedictines. Big news there!

                                                              What St. Benedict is saying is "OK, this is our approach. There are,
                                                              of course, others, but if you want to use ours, you this is what you have
                                                              to do." "Repent!" St. John the Baptist cried again and again in the desert,
                                                              and somewhere along the way of that preaching, Jesus, the Lamb of God,
                                                              stepped into the Jordan. Face it, folks, if He can answer the call to repent,
                                                              anyone can! He had no need at all!

                                                              What our repentance affirms is that we cannot become monastics with no
                                                              trouble: our natures make that impossible. On our monastic way to
                                                              God, many, many human things stand in our hearts and in our way.
                                                              That's what we repent and shall always have to repent. Whenever our
                                                              focus, our purity of heart is fragmented in any way, that's what we
                                                              have to repent.

                                                              Now, after writing this, you might safely assume that I am off to
                                                              clean the refrigerator, but you would be wrong. I mean, after all,
                                                              Richard IS visiting again soon and maybe he wouldn't mind starting
                                                              the painting a little bit late... LOL! (Richard really does paint,
                                                              though. Like a pro! Most of the new paint in the house is his work.)

                                                              All joking aside, great thanks are due to many of our Oblates and
                                                              guests, all of whom make ours a shared ministry of hospitality. This
                                                              great team effort results in people being a lot more comfortable here! Say
                                                              a prayer of thanks with me for all of them! All of them help us receive
                                                              Christ at our door.

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

                                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                            • Br. Jerome Leo
                                                              +PAX Prayers for the eternal rest of the 25 or more killed in a bomb attack at Cairo s St. Mark s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, and for the dozens more injured.
                                                              Message 30 of 30 , Dec 12, 2016

                                                                +PAX

                                                                 

                                                                Prayers for the eternal rest of the 25 or more killed in a bomb attack at Cairo’s St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, and for the dozens more injured. Prayers for the families of all, for all who mourn the departed, and for the conversion and repentance of whoever is responsible for the attack.

                                                                 

                                                                Deo gratias and prayers of thanksgiving for Matt, who got an A in his psychology class. Continued prayers for him, as he is trying to balance studies while working full-time.

                                                                 

                                                                Prayers for the 38 killed and 155 injured in bomb attacks at an Istanbul soccer stadium, for the eternal rest of the dead, the recovery of the injured and the families of all and all who mourn those killed. Prayers for the repentance and conversion of those responsible for the attacks.

                                                                 

                                                                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 boy'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

                                                                This is the chapter that allows us to have (and be!) Oblates. How
                                                                different would all of our lives be if this chapter had never been
                                                                written! While I dwell on the Order as a whole in this reflection,
                                                                how drastically different and how impoverished my life would be
                                                                without Oblates. How very deeply my life is shaped by so many of you
                                                                and how very grateful for that I am!

                                                                Reflect a moment on how rich your life WOULDN'T be if you had no
                                                                Benedictine family, if the Order had never even been founded. Think
                                                                about brothers, sisters and friends whom you would not know, about
                                                                what you would have missed. For starters, many of us would not be
                                                                members on at least a couple of the forums this appears on- they
                                                                wouldn't exist! Our wonderful fraternity in cyberspace would have
                                                                never happened at all.

                                                                In my own life there would have been no St. Leo, no Brother Patrick,
                                                                no Petersham nor Pluscarden. My college degree would never have
                                                                happened and my dear friend, Jean Ronan, would never have even met
                                                                me, let alone taught me theology.

                                                                Every single thing I ever received from the Benedictine Order, all the
                                                                example, all the awe and joy, and yes, even all the pain that formed
                                                                me, would never have existed, nor would I have had any role in the
                                                                lives of my Benedictine family of brothers and sisters. Nada. Zilch.

                                                                Often the best way to access a treasure is to imagine its loss. We
                                                                can take for granted things which are of inestimable value. Make
                                                                today's chapter an opportunity for such an assessment. Carry it even
                                                                further, to some other dear and wonderful things in your life. What
                                                                if there were no Church? What if you had no family ? (I know, I
                                                                know... sometimes that sounds tempting! But even in dysfunctional
                                                                families, you would NEVER be exactly who you are without them.) Often
                                                                the best appreciation of how things are can be had by such
                                                                reflections!

                                                                We all owe a great, great deal to St. Benedict and to his sons and
                                                                daughters. Let us pray for our Benedictine family and give thanks,
                                                                deep thanks for the gift we have all received!



                                                                Love and prayers,

                                                                Jerome, OSB
                                                                www.stmarysmonastery.org

                                                                Petersham, MA

                                                                 

                                                                 

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