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Holy Rule for Jan. 17

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  • Jerry Lee
    +PAX Prayers, please, for M., who has made a very scary life decision and needs a lot of strength and grace to follow it, prayers, too, for all who wrestle
    Message 1 of 143 , Jan 17, 2005
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      Prayers, please, for M., who has made a very scary life decision and needs a lot of strength and grace to follow it, prayers, too, for all who wrestle with scrupulosity, such a painful condition, that they may see God's mercy clearly and fear ever so much less. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Alleluia! Thanks so much. JL

      January 17, May 18, September 17
      Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

      In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
      and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
      Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
      and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
      in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
      But if anyone should presume to do so,
      let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
      At the same time,
      the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
      and in observance of the Rule,
      knowing that beyond a doubt
      he will have to render an account of all his decisions
      to God, the most just Judge.

      But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
      be of lesser importance,
      let him take counsel with the seniors only.
      It is written,
      "Do everything with counsel,
      and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).


      The key here is not to contend insolently; there is no proscription
      against telling the Abbot one feels something is amiss, so long as it
      is done respectfully and humbly. We are Benedictines, not fascists;
      we have a Father, not a Fuhrer.

      A pithy quote from Jesuit liturgical scholar Father Robert Taft, who
      was speaking about Church authority in general, but it certainly
      applies to us: "I don't buy ecclesiastical fascism, I think
      authoritarianism is the refuge of the stupid. It saves you from the
      obligation of thought."

      Human nature being what it is, people are usually more prone to cite
      the Abbot's responsibility to seek counsel than they are to cite the
      equally important proscription against contending with one's Abbot!
      There's a cure for that and many other ills buried within this
      chapter, a telling phrase whose observance promises peace. That
      little gem urges the monastics not to follow their "own heart's

      Follow that gem and peace abounds! For one thing, whether abbot or
      monastic, parent or child, boss or employee, the focus of the
      relationship ceases to become self. None of us are anywheres near the
      big deal we'd either like to be or think ourselves to be! Much of
      what seems earth-shattering to us is really small stuff, indeed.

      This is so important to monastic struggle because it is so intricately
      interwoven with detachment and holy indifference. We must learn how
      to hold onto our inner peace, how to safeguard it from damage at the
      hands of trivia. An abject TERRIBLE day for us, one when we are so
      hurt or angry that no one dares approach us is just another average
      day for the rest of the community. Until, of course we decide we ARE
      the center of the universe and ruin it for them... Cling to that
      knowledge of trivia and less will suffer!

      At that point of recognizing trivia, truth and therefore, humility
      and divinity itself, enter into the equation. We need very good "crap
      detectors" and their default setting must be aimed at ourselves,
      rarely cast elsewhere except in cases of really great need. We can
      keep those crap detectors more than amply busy just in our own hearts
      and wills! We need to know deception, falsity, trivia, but it is
      essential to know them first in ourselves.

      If these good tools of detection are aimed only at others, the result
      will be pride and a fall, not humility and truth. Jesus said "I am
      the Truth," and to Him we must prefer nothing. Hence, our first
      desire must always be the truth and the truth is that the earth does
      not revolve around us as an axis!

      Our age, particularly, has embraced the pap of "Follow your bliss!"
      Well, maybe...sometimes.... but maybe not, too. Our "bliss" is no
      guarantee of infallibility. Years ago, and for many years of my life,
      I thought my "bliss" would be to be married to an attorney and having
      drinks by the pool. No doubt there may be some who wish I had
      followed that one, but how different my life would have been had I
      done so!

      As a handy rule of thumb, I would say that the will of God quite
      often looks nothing like bliss at first. Hence, confusing bliss with
      the divine will can be very risky. The will of God often BECOMES
      bliss when we are in the midst of following it, but we frequently
      have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance! And
      sometimes our bliss IS the right thing- even a stopped clock is right
      twice a day- but those sometimes are impossible to predict. And, let
      us be frank, few people carry stopped watches because of their
      usefulness twice a day!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      Petersham, MA

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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX Prayers, please, for the following, and for all their families and all who take care of them: Barbara, dementia worsening, major meltdown on Friday, and
      Message 143 of 143 , Jun 1, 2013
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        Prayers, please, for the following, and for all their families and all who take care of them:

        Barbara, dementia worsening, major meltdown on Friday, and for her husband, Jim.

        a member of Jane's family newly diagnosed with cancer.

        Al. His vision is critical to his work. He had cataract surgery and now the lens that was implanted will have to be removed Monday and replaced with a new one. Doc says there is a high risk of a detached retina. Please pray that God will guide the surgeon's hands and for complete healing.

        Denise, that she get her marriage blessed and return to the Sacraments.

        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

        February 1, June 2, October 2
        Chapter 7: On Humility

        The fourth degree of humility
        is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
        when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
        and contradictions
        and even any kind of injustice,
        enduring all without growing weary or running away.
        For the Scripture says,
        "The one who perseveres to the end,
        is the one who shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22);
        and again
        "Let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord" (Ps. 26:14)!

        And to show how those who are faithful
        ought to endure all things, however contrary, for the Lord,
        the Scripture says in the person of the suffering,
        "For Your sake we are put to death all the day long;
        we are considered as sheep marked for slaughter" (Ps. 43:22; Rom.
        Then, secure in their hope of a divine recompense,
        they go on with joy to declare,
        "But in all these trials we conquer,
        through Him who has granted us His love" (Rom. 8:37).
        Again, in another place the Scripture says,
        "You have tested us, O God;
        You have tried us a silver is tried, by fire;
        You have brought us into a snare;
        You have laid afflictions on our back" (Matt. 5:39-41).
        And to show that we ought to be under a Superior,
        it goes on to say,
        "You have set men over our heads" (Ps. 65:12).

        Moreover, by their patience
        those faithful ones fulfill the Lord's command
        in adversities and injuries:
        when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
        when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
        when forced to go a mile, they go two;
        with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
        and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).


        Be careful how you read this fourth step of patience. It is an ideal,
        presented in its most flawless form. It is not an unreachable goal, but neither
        should we expect significant progress before noon today. It is our call and
        our vocation, but it is a lifelong task.

        The danger for schleps like me is that this step can give one an image
        of a perfect, 1950's TV sitcom Mom: shirt dress, high heels and pearls as
        everyday wear, cookies and milk always forthcoming in a kitchen as clean
        as a surgical suite and never a hair out of place. Full make-up on rising
        and wears hat and matching gloves to shop. PUHLEEEZE! Give me a break.
        Real patience in action is not at all like that.

        Patience in action is a fierce struggle. Never think that it's easy for
        others and therefore something is wrong with you: it isn't easy
        for anyone. One of the biggest flaws of the "I'm OK and you are
        not..." school of ministry is that it makes people think exactly
        this. "It's easy for her and there's something terribly wrong with
        me." Neither is true.

        The Rule and Scriptures were meant for strugglers. They were written
        for real, average people, halt and lame, battle-scarred veterans like
        you and me, for people who have weathered life, but barely. Hey,
        there may be cookies and milk, but you'll probably have to get the
        plate yourself and brush aside a LOT of blood, sweat and tears to
        find one. Oh, and please drink the milk fast and take as much as you
        can... the fridge broke today.

        Patience is surely one of the most important fuels that perseverance
        runs on, but don't be surprised if it often is not very high octane!
        Neither should it surprise you if your engine is not a slant V-8, but
        rather a very cheap lawnmower that has trouble starting. Patience
        is ENDURANCE, not ease. It may, after years of struggle, confer a
        great peace and serenity, but it rarely, if ever, feels like that in
        the middle of things.

        Brother Patrick Creamer, OSB, of Saint Leo Abbey in Florida, taught
        me patience and perseverance. He was able to do so because he was so
        transparent about his own struggles. Many others tried to tell me how
        hard it was, but their lack of candor made me dismiss their warnings
        as tokenism. It certainly didn't seem to be hard for them. I couldn't
        believe them. Patrick, my late and beloved mentor, was so very different.

        Patrick entered the monastery in 1954, when he was 40, after a long
        career at sea. He missed being at sea so much (and for so long!) that
        it magnified many of the every day crosses of monastic life. Abbot
        Marion, who loved brothers and had a very tender spot for them, used
        to send Patrick to the beach for a weekend occasionally, in years
        when that sort of thing didn't often happen. Abbot Marion was wise enough
        to know he'd lose Patrick if he didn't get a salt air fix now and then.

        Even the beach trips were not enough alone. Patrick told me he was
        tempted to leave every single day for ten years. Patrick, when I
        lived with him, literally stayed packed with a hidden suitcase for
        years and boasted of his ability to be gone in an hour. As a novice,
        my heart used to be selfishly in my throat. I wanted him to go, if
        that was what he was supposed to do, but I really didn't want to lose

        I can also tell you that, during the worst
        of those years, Patrick helped scores of folks who came to him, because a
        transparently wounded person usually can. I can also tell you that
        Brother Patrick finally decided to stay: when he was 83 or so!! What a
        witness of hope that was to me, to others struggling like me.

        Please, let us all be given patience. But when we get it, however
        little at a time, let NONE of us be "perfect" TV Moms. Let us all be Patricks,
        let us show others how terribly hard, yet doable it can be.

        Patrick held forth from his infirmary room until his death
        at two weeks short of 90. A steady stream of visitors never waned.
        On the head of his bed and on the shaving mirror over his sink were
        two small notes, written in his own inimitable hand: "Lord, let me
        come to You." They broke my heart the first time I saw them. I still
        didn't want to lose him. But I know how right he was and how richly he
        deserves that loving embrace for which he so patiently waited.

        Love and prayers,
        Jerome LEO, OSB (again and again you'll see why I took the second
        Petersham, MA

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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