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Holy Rule for Dec. 27

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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX Prayers, please, for Dave, who suffered a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve, hi prognosis is not good. Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, Liz, for
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 27, 2004
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for Dave, who suffered a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve, hi prognosis is not good. Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, Liz, for whom we prayed, has found a job that delights her- and her worried Mom! Continued prayers for Michael and his job search. Prayers, too, for the many victims of the tidal waves in Asia, such a mind-boggling tragedy, and for those trying to help the relief efforts. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Alleluia! 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, by
      keeping us so busy with another's affairs that we can avoid looking
      within at our own failings.

      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 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]
    • Jerry Lee
      +PAX In the absence of special intentions today, let me recommend a great idea to you. Take the days after Christmas, whether the octave till New Year s, or
      Message 2 of 20 , Dec 27, 2005
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        +PAX

        In the absence of special intentions today, let me recommend a great idea to you. Take the days after Christmas, whether the octave till New Year's, or all twelve days of Christmas till Epiphany, as days to pray especially for those with whom you have exchanged Christmas greetings, cards and gifts. Don't forget to include those from Christmases past- and even Christmases future. (How like Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"!) This not only expresses your gratitude, but it turns many chance encounters, hurried and perhaps otherwise nearly empty into moments of great grace. So many times "Merry Christmas" is almost a knee jerk response. Praying this way means that the gas station clerk in another state that you will probably never see again is included and, hopefully, will greet you with considerably greater joy one day in heaven!

        As for Christmases future, we shall let God take care of them, but Christmases past! Ah, therein lie the memories, sometimes painful, of those we have lost. They live in God, in God we can greet them each year. Our remembering them delights them no less than it formerly did, perhaps it delights them even more. It can be a real healing for those old wounds of loss in our hearts to pray for ALL who shared our Christmases, throughout time.

        Quite naturally, all of you who are so very much a part of my life and heart, even those I have never met, are also very much a part of my grateful prayers for the 12 days! Merry Christmas! 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 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]
      • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
        +PAX Prayers for an elderly woman dying in great agony from cancer, family is praying for her release. Prayers for her happy death, eternal rest and special
        Message 3 of 20 , Dec 26, 2006
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          +PAX

          Prayers for an elderly woman dying in great agony from cancer, family is
          praying for her release. Prayers for her happy death, eternal rest and special
          prayers for her son. (I don't have names.) She is devoted to the Divine Mercy,
          so a chaplet might be nice. A chaplet, too, for the happy death and eternal
          rest of a troubled young man, Ricky, whose death just before Christmas was an
          apparent suicide. He had a history of substance abuse and a very
          dysfunctional family which failed him, especially his father and grandfather, so prayers
          for all of them, too. We can be filled with great hope that the Divine Mercy
          shown to suicides at their last moment fills them with such love that they
          can embrace His Mercy- and themselves, at last- with deepest love.

          Prayers for Ava Marie, who died one day short of two months old, for
          Jessica, her Mom, for her Dad and her sister, Bella, and for Robert, her grandfather
          and all their family. 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

          + + + + + + + + Let me recommend a great idea to you.
          Take the days after Christmas, whether the octave till New Year's, or all
          twelve days of Christmas till Epiphany, as days to pray especially for those
          with whom you have exchanged Christmas greetings, cards and gifts. Don't
          forget
          to include those from Christmases past- and even Christmases future. (How
          like
          Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"!) This not only expresses your
          gratitude,
          but it turns many chance encounters, hurried and perhaps otherwise nearly
          empty
          into moments of great grace. So many times "Merry Christmas" is almost a knee
          jerk response. Praying this way means that the gas station clerk in another
          state that you will probably never see again is included and, hopefully, will
          greet you with considerably greater joy one day in heaven!

          As for Christmases future, we shall let God take care of them, but
          Christmases
          past! Ah, therein lie the memories, sometimes painful, of those we have lost.
          They live in God, in God we can greet them each year. Our remembering them
          delights them no less than it formerly did, perhaps it delights them even
          more.
          It can be a real healing for those old wounds of loss in our hearts to pray
          for
          ALL who shared our Christmases, throughout time.

          Quite naturally, all of you who are so very much a part of my life and heart,
          even those I have never met, are also very much a part of my grateful prayers
          for the 12 days! Merry Christmas! 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_ (http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/)
          brjeromeleo@...
          Petersham, MA





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Br. Jerome Leo
          +PAX + + + + + + + + Let me recommend a great idea to you. Take the days after Christmas, whether the octave till New Year s, or all twelve days of Christmas
          Message 4 of 20 , Dec 26, 2007
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            +PAX

            + + + + + + + + Let me recommend a great idea to you.
            Take the days after Christmas, whether the octave till New Year's, or all
            twelve days of Christmas till Epiphany, as days to pray especially for those
            with whom you have exchanged Christmas greetings, cards and gifts. Don't
            forget
            to include those from Christmases past- and even Christmases future. (How
            like
            Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"!) This not only expresses your
            gratitude,
            but it turns many chance encounters, hurried and perhaps otherwise nearly
            empty
            into moments of great grace. So many times "Merry Christmas" is almost a knee
            jerk response. Praying this way means that the gas station clerk in another
            state that you will probably never see again is included and, hopefully, will
            greet you with considerably greater joy one day in heaven!

            As for Christmases future, we shall let God take care of them, but
            Christmases
            past! Ah, therein lie the memories, sometimes painful, of those we have lost.
            They live in God, in God we can greet them each year. Our remembering them
            delights them no less than it formerly did, perhaps it delights them even
            more.
            It can be a real healing for those old wounds of loss in our hearts to pray
            for
            ALL who shared our Christmases, throughout time.

            Quite naturally, all of you who are so very much a part of my life and heart,
            even those I have never met, are also very much a part of my grateful prayers
            for the 12 days! Merry Christmas! 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 Here s a suggestion for the Twelve Days of Christmas: remember in prayer on all of those days everyone with whom your exchanged greetings, cards or gifts.
            Message 5 of 20 , Dec 26, 2009
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              +PAX

              Here's a suggestion for the Twelve Days of Christmas: remember in prayer on all of those days everyone with whom your exchanged greetings, cards or gifts. It's a nice way to remember them and, of course, you can include those of Christmases past in your list, those from all your Christmases!

              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 their loved ones and all who take care of them: Roger, spastic colon,
              Message 6 of 20 , Dec 27, 2009
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                +PAX

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

                Roger, spastic colon, but responding to treatment well, and for his family, James and Megan

                Br. Patrick, whom we prayed for, out of ICU and may soon be discharged, but facing 6 months of rehab, also for Br. Duran, in the same car accident and still in ICU. Conitnued prayers for both and the other two injured in that severe accident.

                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, please, for the eternal rest of Edna, who has died, and her daughter Kathy and her other children and for all who mourn her. Prayers, please, for
                Message 7 of 20 , Dec 28, 2009
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                  +PAX

                  Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Edna, who has died, and her daughter Kathy and her other children and for all who mourn her.

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

                  Colleen, that she get a suitable job and that she and John get out of debt and for her family's salvation, conversion, deliverance, conviction, healing, unity and that all the pride, jealously, and greed will be removed.

                  Jane, interview for a nursing job and nervous about it going well, also praying that this is the job God wants for her.

                  Mary Frances for healing of anger & assistance in business matters.

                  Ann Marie, suffering from depression.

                  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.

                  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 may be 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.

                  Love and prayers,
                  Jerome, OSB


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                • 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 who take care of them: belated
                  Message 8 of 20 , Dec 29, 2009
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                    Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the following and for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                    belated feast day prayers for David.

                    Roger, for whom we prayed, does not have a spastic colon, nor appendicits, he is back in the hospital as they try to find out what is wrong.

                    Fr. Socor attending a conference of Pallotines in India; for a fruitful experience there and for his safe return. God bless him on his way.

                    Fr Paul-James who is traveling home to Wales to visit family, and there is bad weather over there at the moment and more moving in.

                    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 30, August 30, December 30
                    Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have

                    Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
                    which separates from God and leads to hell,
                    so there is a good zeal
                    which separates from vices and leads to God
                    and to life everlasting.
                    This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
                    with the most fervent love.
                    Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
                    most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
                    whether of body or of character;
                    vie in paying obedience one to another --
                    no one following what she considers useful for herself,
                    but rather what benefits another;
                    tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
                    fear God in love;
                    love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
                    prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
                    And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

                    REFLECTION

                    This chapter, full of self-evident and beautiful prose should serve
                    as a short rule of life, a summary of all that has gone before it.
                    Live this one, and you're all right: the details from the other
                    chapters will take care of themselves. Little wonder then that its
                    principal points are love, obedience and humility, practiced in the
                    chastity of wholeness. (Chastity, it must be recalled, is proper to
                    every state in life. It is the well-ordered, balanced and wholesome
                    use of sexuality.) Even less wonder that, to call Scripture in to witness
                    here, "the greatest of these is love." Merton's one-line Holy Rule
                    summary also applies: "Love is the Rule."

                    The beauty here is so great that we often do not spend enough time
                    looking at its opposite: "the evil zeal of bitterness." What a great
                    turn of phrase! Like many of us, St. Benedict seems to have known
                    some whose bitterness turned into an energetic zeal, a way of life, a
                    broken power line in a windy world that could strike others or
                    themselves without warning.

                    And "zeal" is precisely the word! People can put such frighteningly
                    zealous levels of effort into self-loathing bitterness. It becomes a
                    full-time job, one which requires so much energy that it's a marvel
                    that they continue.

                    Bitter anger, self-hatred, ill-will towards many,
                    these are viciously involuted cycles, cancers of the soul. They turn
                    on the self, malignantly. They injure and alienate others to make
                    one's twisted world view remain correct. They never rest, the fist
                    is always clenched, the hand never open.

                    I have known two monks with this dreadful problem, both now long
                    dead. Thank heavens, they both persevered to the end and one hopes
                    that was enough, because, frankly, little else could be said for
                    them. They both guaranteed that their own lives were hell and pretty
                    much ensured smaller doses of hell for the rest of us living with
                    them.

                    When I was much younger and living with those embittered monks, it
                    was hard to look at them with much pity or calm. It isn't now, thank
                    God, and I have spent considerable time praying for both of them, as
                    well as for a few of their "runners-up"! While all things are
                    possible with God, the terrible thing is that this self-hatred never
                    gets fixed in some people. It can be a life sentence. Then, prayer is
                    the only answer.

                    In any situation, but perhaps worse when the sufferer is one's spouse
                    or parent or child, this bitterness is a terrible cross, for both the
                    sufferer and those around her. It might seem cold comfort to say that
                    it can make us all saints, but it truly is not cold comfort at
                    all. Being saints is the only thing, ultimately, that matters. I hope
                    by now some of my crosses of the past are praying for me, protecting
                    me, by their prayers, from what once ailed them and forgiving me for
                    the times I provoked them!

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





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                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                    +PAX It is expected to drop to 5 degrees in New England tonight, with wind chill factors from heavy, gusting winds at 11 below zero, perhaps worse. Prayers,
                    Message 9 of 20 , Dec 29, 2009
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                      It is expected to drop to 5 degrees in New England tonight, with wind chill factors from heavy, gusting winds at 11 below zero, perhaps worse. Prayers, please, for the many homeless people out tonight, here and elswhere, especially those who don't make it into shelters and could die from the cold.

                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                      +PAX George, one of our readers, informs me that funding for 100 s of beds in homeless shelters has been lost and asks that we pray for those who control the
                      Message 10 of 20 , Dec 30, 2009
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                        George, one of our readers, informs me that funding for 100's of beds in homeless shelters has been lost and asks that we pray for those who control the resources to make a difference and to combat the real enemy, indifference.

                        Deo Gratias! Roger has been diagnosed with colitis, given antibiotics and other meds and is resting at home now. Many thanks for all the prayers, continued prayers for his recovery.

                        Prayers, please, for the spirirtual, mental and physical health of Arik, he has been diagnosed with an aneurysm in his brain in a rather inaccessible spot. He is being transferred to a clinic where they have a history of dealing with this type of thing. Please pray for Arik, his wife Katie, and their two small children Brenna, and Jacob. Please remember Pat and David as well and Arik's adoptive mother and brother. Prayers, too for 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

                        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 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 Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following and for all their loved ones and all who mourn them: Fr. Edward, oblate of Alton Abbey, UK, who
                        Message 11 of 20 , Dec 31, 2009
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                          Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of the following and for all their loved ones and all who mourn them:

                          Fr. Edward, oblate of Alton Abbey, UK, who went to God Dec. 30.

                          Gene, Mara's Mom for whom we prayed, she has gone to God. Prayers, too, for Mara and Josh, Susie and Paul and all her family.

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

                          Deo gratias, the elderly woman with leukemia we prayed for a while back has required no further transfusions, her blood levels have been perfect.

                          Dot, in her 80's, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and now in the hospital with pneumonia, very respiratorially compromised.

                          Vic, diagnosed with lung cancer and beginning chemo and radiation.

                          Richard's sister-in-law, in the last stages of cancer and very angry. Prayers for her happy death and that her anger gives way to serene acceptance of the will of God. For those so inclined, prayers to St. Benedict for her happy death.

                          Frank, who is very seriously ill.

                          Sergio, just diagnosed with lung cancer and for all his family, especially his daughter, Natalie.

                          Deo gratias, Arik for whom we prayed had a very difficult surgery to correct his brain aneurysm, but it went well. Fluid build up at the site, however, made him return to surgery for a tube to drain the fluid, so he is not out of the woods, continued prayers, please. Prayers, too, that he and his wife practice their faith much better.

                          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.

                          The Holy Rule is quite direct about stating that this time, it is not about
                          the perfect ones: 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 Prayers for all of us for a blessed and grace-filled 2010. Continued prayers for Arik, who was again combative with his nurses and now is sedated for 24
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jan 1, 2010
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                            Prayers for all of us for a blessed and grace-filled 2010.

                            Continued prayers for Arik, who was again combative with his nurses and now is sedated for 24 hours in hopes the fluid drains off his brain.

                            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 Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physial health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Ali, arthritis in
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jan 2, 2010
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                              Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physial health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                              Ali, arthritis in her right elbow.

                              Barbara, breathing difficulties and sinus issues.

                              Fr. David, hospitalized and not at all well- we have prayed for him in the past.

                              Dot, for whom we prayed now has very highj blood pressure on top of her pneumonia and must remain in the hospital longer. Continued prayers, please.

                              Matthew, 3 years old, in the hospital for undetermined abdominal pain... and for his mother and entire family... for healing, comfort, and ease of pain.

                              Molly and her human family... Molly their cat is 16 years old and in critical condition tonight.

                              D., making beginning steps to re-open her heat to God and hopefully to return to the practice of her Faith.

                              Pat, stage four colon cancer, possibly operable now (Deo gratias) after treatment, continued prayers

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

                              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 physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Colleen, job
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jan 3, 2010
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                                Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                                Colleen, job hunting.

                                Vickie, who has had a couple of operations for stomach cancer and is having a scan and blood test on Wednesday to see how things are now.

                                Stephen, estranged from the Church, that he find his way back.

                                Kevin who is severely depressed and refusing help and for his brothers and sisters doing all they can but feeling helpless.

                                Sabette who has moved into a residence for disabled persons where she can receive therapy and supervision of her medications.

                                Jerome [another Jerome, not me...] who is considering retirement and the opportunity to live a true monastic life.

                                Baby David, son of Chuck and Molly, a little over 2 years old, will be operated on Monday, January 4th, for a growth on his liver. He has already been operated on several times in his short life for Wilms tumor on his kidneys and has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

                                Continued prayers for Dot, still in the hospital, and for her daughter, Joyce.

                                Prayers for a family hunting for their estranged son and brother, Jimmy. May they be reunited.

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

                                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 that can still be,
                                it is 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. He is the Source that allows us to be good.

                                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







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                              • Br. Jerome Leo
                                +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Mary, and for John and Carol, her son and daughter-in-law and for all who mourn her. Prayers, please, for the
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jan 4, 2010
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                                  Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Mary, and for John and Carol, her son and daughter-in-law and for all who mourn her.

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

                                  Al, job hunting.

                                  Stephen multiple issues, special intention, please.

                                  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 our 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..." Orthodox 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 Please pray for the eternal repose of Babs, for whom we prayed, who passed away a few day ago. Praise God she was seen by a Priest before she died! Deo
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Jan 5, 2010
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                                    Please pray for the eternal repose of Babs, for whom we prayed, who passed away a few day ago. Praise God she was seen by a Priest before she died! Deo gratias!

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

                                    Fr. David, for whom we prayed was operated on for a tumor on his bowel, continued prayers, please.

                                    Patrick, a variety of issues, special intention.

                                    Jimmy, that his family from which he is estranged may find 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

                                    January 6, May 7, September 6
                                    Prologue

                                    So we have asked the Lord
                                    who is to dwell in His tent,
                                    and we have heard His commands
                                    to anyone who would dwell there;
                                    it remains for us to fulfill those duties.

                                    Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies
                                    to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands;
                                    and let us ask God
                                    that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace
                                    for anything which our nature finds hardly possible.
                                    And if we want to escape the pains of hell
                                    and attain life everlasting,
                                    then, while there is still time,
                                    while we are still in the body
                                    and are able to fulfill all these things
                                    by the light of this life,
                                    we must hasten to do now
                                    what will profit us for eternity.

                                    REFLECTION

                                    This is a shameless re-run on the Morning Offering, one of my all-
                                    time favorite things to write about! Everyone reading this is in
                                    every morning offering of mine and has been for a long, long time!

                                    The first section of the Prologue asked us to seek God's blessing
                                    before doing any work. Today we are asked to prepare our hearts and
                                    bodies for the struggles ahead and ask God for His help. Both of
                                    these precepts are quite nicely filled by making the Morning
                                    Offering. Now I know that is a Roman Catholic prayer, and I also know
                                    we have (thanks be to God!) many Oblates of other faiths among us.
                                    Bear with me, please. I think this has applications for everyone.

                                    The morning offering is considered rather passe in some Roman
                                    Catholic circles. One actually wonders why, in an age that loves
                                    computers with tons of memory, hard drives that do all the work for
                                    us, even more work than our own minds could dream of doing. I have
                                    12,000 names in a data base I built on royal genealogy, a favorite
                                    hobby. One click and a few seconds will tell me how any two of them
                                    are related, even up to mind-boggling relationships like eighteenth
                                    cousin three times removed. It will start at a point like that and
                                    then list all lesser relationships, until common ancestors are all
                                    depleted. No way I could EVER do that. The morning offering, however,
                                    makes computer ability look like shooting fish in a barrel.

                                    The morning offering is the perfect capstone, cornerstone and
                                    beginning for a great life of intercessory prayer. It unites the
                                    poverty of our own lives, prayers, works, joys and sufferings with
                                    those of Christ, with those of His Mystical Body. It plunges the
                                    finite smallness of our own actions into sea after sea of infinite
                                    grace and perfection and, wrapped in that awesome completeness,
                                    offers them to the Father in the perhaps most perfect personal gift
                                    we could ever hope for that day, short of martyrdom itself.

                                    Ever forget to pray during the day? The morning offering makes our
                                    very heartbeats and breathing prayers, means of grace for ourselves
                                    and for all. We have offered ALL our works, even the unconscious ones
                                    of our bodies to God, and we have offered them in union with the most
                                    perfect sacrifice of Jesus. With a gift tag like that, the Father is
                                    quite likely to be pleased, indeed. Each time we blink, or eat,
                                    suffer or rejoice, we link that to Christ on His Cross. None of us
                                    have enough bytes of memory to really do that. The morning
                                    offering is our "hard drive" it is the program that saves to disk and
                                    runs automatically.

                                    Our baptism into the Mystical Body gives us the right to plug into
                                    that infinite worth. It would be a shame if we missed the
                                    opportunity. Let me tell you, with complete sincerity, that all the
                                    works of my entire life couldn't save a flea from drowning in a
                                    raindrop. No way. Buried within the depths of Christ, however, their
                                    value becomes literally infinite.

                                    Ever feel bad that you forgot to pray for some one who asked, or only
                                    whispered a quick: "Lord, help her."? The morning offering makes our
                                    life and our prayer an infinite pie, one which can never be sliced
                                    too thin. Counting huge groups and individuals, I pray every single
                                    day for literally billions of people and not one of them is short-
                                    changed at all. That's the marvel of uniting our lives and heart
                                    daily to Christ. Every slice of the pie gets served on the plate of
                                    His infinity, every single one. Cloaked in the perfect mercy and
                                    offering of Jesus, every single act, even the keys I just struck and
                                    the mouse I just moved are wonderful prayers for all, for everyone
                                    throughout time. That's not shabby, folks!

                                    Ever wish that your heart prone to largesse had all the money in the
                                    world? How generous you would be! But, with the morning offering, you
                                    have daily more than that. Claim your infinite share and spread it
                                    around! Name people and groups, sure, but know that God has a memory
                                    that never quits. You can say: for all people in all time" and it
                                    WILL count! Heavens, I pray for all Oblates (among lots of other
                                    groups every day. Not only could I not name them, I don't even know
                                    them, nor is it possible for ANYONE to know them all throughout time.
                                    But God does, and it counts!) There is no one reading this for whom I
                                    have not prayed every single day, many by name, but it doesn't
                                    matter if I cannot name you all. God is my hard drive!
                                    The morning offering is a very neat method!

                                    Look, folks, it's a Roman Catholic prayer. I'll give you a version of
                                    it at the end of this post, but there are many others. I KNOW that
                                    some of our Oblates from other Churches may have to amend it a bit
                                    and that's OK, go for what God and your heart allows. I think,
                                    however, that all Christians could agree on at least these
                                    essentials. (Someone please correct me here, if I am wrong.) Offer
                                    all your prayers, works, joys and sufferings in union with those of
                                    Christ, for the intentions of Christ, for all the Church and its
                                    leaders, for all people throughout time. Say it any way your heart
                                    allows, but do at least this much and congratulations: you have just
                                    thrust your own prayers and works and joys and sufferings into the
                                    very heart of the Cosmos, into the whole of history itself. You now
                                    stand beside Christ in HIS perfect work in every age. WOOOOF!

                                    And, if today is your first morning offering, or your first in some
                                    time, remember to pray for all Benedictines on Tuesdays,
                                    St. Benedict's special day! Hey, remember to pray for us all EVERY day!
                                    We need it.

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

                                    MORNING OFFERING

                                    O my Jesus, I offer You this day my prayers, works, joys and
                                    suffering, for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart and Divine
                                    Mercy, in union with every sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world
                                    and with all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of Your Mystical
                                    Body throughout time, in reparation for our sins and in thanksgiving
                                    for all Your benefits. I offer them for the Pope and his intentions,
                                    all Church leaders, and for the unity of all.

                                    (Now you can add your own intentions- don't be stingy here, you have
                                    infinity! I always end my own list with: for everyone and everything
                                    throughout time, created by Your hands, I offer You my life, in
                                    holocaust for these and for Your will for them.)

                                    End with: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto
                                    Yours. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You.

                                    Many older Catholics may recall getting monthly leaflets for the Morning
                                    Offering at Church, maybe some Churches still have them, but they are
                                    nowhere near as available as they once were. This website puts the leaflets
                                    on line, along with a simple morning offering, lives of certain
                                    saints from the month and what the Pope's intentions for that month
                                    really are. (I have spent most of my life not knowing... Now I try to
                                    actually use them!)

                                    here's the URL. Enjoy!

                                    http://www.apostleship-prayer.org/


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                                  • Br. Jerome Leo
                                    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Frank, for whom we prayed; he has died. Prayers, too, for his wife, Evie and for all who mourn him. Prayers for
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Jan 6, 2010
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                                      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Frank, for whom we prayed; he has died. Prayers, too, for his wife, Evie and for all who mourn him.

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

                                      Elaine, for whom we prayed when an ultrasound showed what looked like tumors on several organs. A CT scan failed to show the same, for which she is deeply relieved and grateful for all the prayers. Deo gratias!!

                                      Janet, now in the hospital with sky high blood pressure and heart rate, and evidence of a small stroke, plus a UTI. She is responding well to treatment, and should soon be released, but will need patience to adjust to living with a different type of diet and having to take medication.

                                      Susie asks prayers for a better relationship with a son who doesn't seem to care, acceptance for a less-than-perfect relationship and guidance as to how to carry this burden and how to progress.

                                      Also Susie asks prayers for the eternal rest of a difficult mother-in-law who died recently and support for her son, Susie' husband, to whom she wasn't able to show love.

                                      Prayers for Dot, having a terrible time accepting the death of her eldest son, and for his eternal rest.

                                      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 7, May 8, September 7
                                      Prologue (concluded)

                                      And so we are going to establish
                                      a school for the service of the Lord.
                                      In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.
                                      But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity
                                      for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity,
                                      do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation,
                                      whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matt. 7:14).
                                      For as we advance in the religious life and in faith,
                                      our hearts expand
                                      and we run the way of God's commandments
                                      with unspeakable sweetness of love (Ps. 118:32).
                                      Thus, never departing from His school,
                                      but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching
                                      until death,
                                      we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13)
                                      and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.

                                      REFLECTION

                                      Sadly, a certain cynicism has been woven into my life like a
                                      repeating plaid. Happily, it has not grown worse with age, but has
                                      been moderated (how Benedictine!) into a faintly acceptable level of
                                      occasional curmudgeonhood. If my cynicism is now a rather muted
                                      tartan background, it was not always so. I can clearly recall reading
                                      the line about expanding hearts and running with unspeakable
                                      sweetness of love twenty some years ago and thinking: "Yeah, right!
                                      Real likely..."

                                      Now that passage is my all-time favorite in the Holy Rule. I thought
                                      twice before saying that, because there are so many things in the
                                      Rule that I deeply love, but yeah, this one is the best loved for me.
                                      Why? Because it is linked to love and, secondarily, because it alerts
                                      us to the necessary hope that the monastic struggle DOES get easier
                                      in time, in certain ways, even though it is never over until death.

                                      "Our hearts expand..." they truly do. Mine has already been
                                      wonderfully stretched and pulled and enlarged beyond my wildest
                                      dreams, often with me kicking and screaming every inch of the way. I
                                      have no doubt that it will grow bigger still, capable of holding
                                      more, but I know I could not stand that now, it would be too much.
                                      God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than
                                      anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to
                                      shivering panic.

                                      The biggest factor that I can see in God's work of heart renovation
                                      for me has been intercessory prayer. When you renovate a building,
                                      you have to tear down some walls, a dusty, ugly, painful mess. Ah,
                                      but the light and air and space that one finds in those new areas
                                      where walls had stood! In praying for God's people, I learned to love
                                      them, more prayer equaled more love and so it spiraled upward and
                                      spirals on!

                                      The rain for my roots was that work in progress, the expansion of my
                                      heart. It's not the same as other loves I have known and in no way as
                                      graphic or immediate or intimate, but oh, it is deep. I am sure it is
                                      not incompatible with married love, but God seemed to want it so for
                                      me. True to form, I argued with Him for years about that.

                                      Christ is the One I encounter in praying for His members, for
                                      His Mystical Body. It is, after all, a very powerful reminder that Christ IS
                                      His members, that we are all cells in His awesome Body.

                                      When a novice in my twenties, I used to look at two real saints of
                                      St. Leo Abbey, Brothers David Gormican and Raphael Daly, both now
                                      gone to God. I am not even sure I thought it had become easier for
                                      them at the end of their lives, I thought, with the mindlessness so
                                      easy for me then, that they were just so old they didn't care
                                      anymore. Wrong!

                                      My dear friend Ann Chatlos was a FABULOUS cook and she had been at it
                                      for years. One day I went to see her and we sat talking in her
                                      kitchen, she was fiddling around, nothing special. Frankly, I didn't
                                      even notice any activity that would have produced a meal. She finally
                                      turned around and said to me: "Stay for dinner." I asked when it
                                      would be ready and she said, "Now." I was floored. While we spoke, a
                                      pie, chicken and roast potatoes and something else I forget had been
                                      going on. A full meal with nothing out of cans and a homemade
                                      dessert, yet it appeared that she had just been chatting.

                                      That's the nonchalance of Brother David and Brother Raphael. It
                                      wasn't that they didn't care, it was that things of sanctity had
                                      become so much second nature to them that many of those around them
                                      never noticed that dinner was ready. May that nonchalance of sanctity
                                      come to us all. Say a prayer for Brothers David and Raphael and especially for
                                      Ann, now also gone to God.

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



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                                    • Br. Jerome Leo
                                      +PAX Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them: Michael
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Jan 7, 2010
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                                        Prayers, please, for the spiritual, physical and mental health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:

                                        Michael LoPiccolo's daughter-in-law, Cheryl, who will have Angioplasty Monday morning at 7:30am.

                                        Dot discharged from the hospital, but still has a way to go, prayers for her continued recovery and for closure in her son's death.

                                        Brian, taking his music theory exams.

                                        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 8, May 9, September 8
                                        Chapter 1: On the Kinds of Monks

                                        It is well known that there are four kinds of monks.
                                        The first kind are the Cenobites:
                                        those who live in monasteries
                                        and serve under a rule and an Abbot.

                                        The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits:
                                        those who,
                                        no longer in the first fervor of their reformation,
                                        but after long probation in a monastery,
                                        having learned by the help of many brethren
                                        how to fight against the devil,
                                        go out well armed from the ranks of the community
                                        to the solitary combat of the desert.
                                        They are able now,
                                        with no help save from God,
                                        to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh
                                        and their own evil thoughts.

                                        The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites.
                                        These, not having been tested,
                                        as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6),
                                        by any rule or by the lessons of experience,
                                        are as soft as lead.
                                        In their works they still keep faith with the world,
                                        so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God.
                                        They live in twos or threes, or even singly,
                                        without a shepherd,
                                        in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's.
                                        Their law is the desire for self-gratification:
                                        whatever enters their mind or appeals to them,
                                        that they call holy;
                                        what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.

                                        The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues.
                                        These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province,
                                        staying as guests in different monasteries
                                        for three or four days at a time.
                                        Always on the move, with no stability,
                                        they indulge their own wills
                                        and succumb to the allurements of gluttony,
                                        and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites.
                                        Of the miserable conduct of all such
                                        it is better to be silent than to speak.

                                        Passing these over, therefore,
                                        let us proceed, with God's help,
                                        to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks,the Cenobites.

                                        REFLECTION

                                        What are the two major things that St. Benedict dislikes about the
                                        bad types of monk? They have no stability and they follow their own
                                        wills. Obedience is the essence of monastic struggle, and we will be
                                        touching on it throughout the Holy Rule. Stability, while getting
                                        lots of mention, deservedly takes a lesser role in the Rule, even
                                        though it has become a vow for Benedictines, so it might pay to take
                                        a closer look at stability right at the beginning of our reading of
                                        the Rule.

                                        The Desert Fathers said: "Stay in your cell and your cell will teach
                                        you everything." Real cinch, right? Wrong! Don't picture staying in
                                        one's cell like a personal day from work, when you sleep as late as
                                        you like, get dressed at noon (if then!) and decide you can eat for
                                        the day without leaving the house to go to the store or, for that
                                        matter, without leaving the couch. That's not what this is about.

                                        Monastics could tell you
                                        that the cell can be paradise, but it can also be hell, a
                                        furnace of nearly impossible heat. In fact, for many of us, it has
                                        been both at one time or another, and maybe, just maybe, it isn't
                                        done switching roles yet! Times of paradise are nice, they can swell
                                        the heart with gratitude and love, but every religious knows that we
                                        cannot stay on the mountaintop forever, like Peter, we may not pitch tents there.

                                        The furnace, now there's a fetching little image! But it is
                                        essential, too. Benedictine life seeks to lead us to God. For every
                                        single one of us, that means cleaning out a lot of imperfection. We
                                        may start out eagerly wanting to be like "gold tried in the furnace,
                                        seven times refined," but it's a safe bet that early on, after a time
                                        or two in that inferno, we'll be trying to bargain for less, maybe
                                        four or five times refined at most! It's no debutante's ball in
                                        there!

                                        Hate the furnace/gold imagery? Can't blame you there, especially if
                                        you live in the North and furnaces are tricky and expensive worries!
                                        Try a sauna. Still hard, still challenging, still sweats a LOT of
                                        gunk out. However, make sure you jump in the cold water right after
                                        the sauna, just so you don't think all this stuff is REALLY a spa!

                                        The fact is, for Benedictines, stability, whether of cloister or
                                        geography or of heart, is a major piece of the puzzle. It's the
                                        ability to stick with it, stay in there, keep trying. It is the
                                        fixedness, not just of place, but of heart and will. It is more than
                                        just not moving around.

                                        A consumerist society is fueled by desire, change and variety. Small
                                        wonder that it encourages us to be always moving, always seeking the
                                        novel, always distracted: it's profit base depends on that and,
                                        whatever else may be said, consumerism is a greedy little devil.
                                        Stability flies in the face of all these falsehoods. It tells us
                                        that "rut" and routine are two very different things for us. The
                                        routine, the mundane, the everyday and predictable are precisely the
                                        arenas in which we must strive and win in the spiritual life.

                                        Stability teaches us that. Our fleeting hells have heaven within them
                                        and our Edens can turn into Dead Seas in a flash. Stability forces us
                                        to stick with it, to weather those changes, to know EVERY side of
                                        life and love and heart and place. No wonder St. Benedict loved it
                                        so! It is the courage of which monastics are made!

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




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                                      • Br. Jerome Leo
                                        +PAX Prayers, please for Roger, Megan s husband. He is in the hospital again, this time with stomach flu. With medication and IV rehydration they expect him
                                        Message 19 of 20 , Jan 8, 2010
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                                          Prayers, please for Roger, Megan's husband. He is in the hospital again, this time with stomach flu. With medication and IV rehydration they expect him to be released in a few days. Meanwhile the extreme cold, blowing snow and loss of his pay due to illness have caused Megan and their son, James, now four months old, additional stress.

                                          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 9, May 10, September 9
                                          Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

                                          An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
                                          should always remember what she is called,
                                          and live up to the name of Superior.
                                          For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
                                          being called by a name of His,
                                          which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
                                          "You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
                                          by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

                                          Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
                                          anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
                                          on the contrary,
                                          her commands and her teaching
                                          should be a leaven of divine justice
                                          kneaded into the minds of her disciples.

                                          REFLECTION

                                          Folks, the abbot is a parent, so, while I am writing about abbots in
                                          my experience, this is also true of parents, or any authority
                                          position. Stick with me, you'll see what I mean in the end.

                                          It will no doubt come as a great relief to other cranky types like
                                          me to note that the leaven gently kneaded into the minds of certain
                                          disciples often seems to have a downright under whelming effect. A
                                          hallmark of us curmudgeonly types is impatience: we do not suffer
                                          fools gladly, the miracle is that we endure them at all. Most of all,
                                          we want those fools FIXED, right now, or yesterday at the latest!

                                          The tragedy of this is that, in assuming we can recognize fools so
                                          terribly well, we completely miss the fool at work in ourselves.

                                          That's not the only issue, though. This leaven-in-the-dough stuff
                                          works two ways. Throw a measure of leaven into a heap of cornmeal and
                                          you'll wind up with a different critter than several cups of
                                          buckwheat or flour would produce. For all I know, you could probably
                                          throw yeast into concrete and wind up with a meringue-like patio.
                                          Both components are essential to the change, both elements affect the
                                          outcome.

                                          Abbot and monastic, parent and child, boss and employer, all these
                                          are very, very intricate duets of God's mercy and grace. Neither may
                                          be very evident to one while in the midst of things! Time and wisdom
                                          and hindsight bring a different view. Beyond that, all of us change:
                                          the characters in the catalyst are always changing, no matter how
                                          subtly. God has done some awesomely loving fine-tuning here!

                                          God uses human means to accomplish His will, as my favorite
                                          professor, Dr. Jean Ronan, so often said. Ah, but the abbacy scores
                                          doubly on this maxim. A very human abbot is elected by a very human
                                          community. Most often, abbots are elected to counteract each other.

                                          The human community gets tired of the very human tendency of an abbot
                                          to stress one thing above others. Hence, tight reins are often
                                          replaced with loose ones and vice versa.

                                          It is also worthy of note
                                          that, within about three years, roughly the same number of people
                                          will be sorely complaining about either extreme or the lack thereof!

                                          Those human means which God uses are often quite firmly addicted to
                                          extremes. The extremes then vex a majority to the opposite extreme.
                                          (I know this is the Marxist dialectic and I know it is not always
                                          true, but it does have a kernel of application. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.) Sometime after we are all so fatigued with polarization that we have briefly
                                          stopped watching, perhaps a median virtue ensues!

                                          And what about that leaven that I couldn't notice having much effect?
                                          Well, neither I nor anyone else knows, save the person and God. Some
                                          die, some leave before the effect is seen. Leaven works. It may work
                                          slowly, it may work in a variety of ways, but all leaven does
                                          something sooner or later! Faith and trust in God's Divine Mercy
                                          require that we have a LOT of patience with bread cast on waters in
                                          tremendous hope!

                                          A final note, much, maybe even MOST of the leavening work of grace
                                          and sanctification in our own hearts and souls takes place unnoticed, the
                                          silent, unsung, yet constant workings of the Divine Mercy. Usually we
                                          don't even realize it until a long while after its completion. One
                                          day we wake up and finally notice something is different, something is
                                          better in us. Such secret works are all the
                                          gratuitous gift of the Leaven of all leavens Himself! Deo gratias!!!!

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



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                                        • Br. Jerome Leo
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                                          Message 20 of 20 , Jan 9, 2010
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