Holy Rule for Mar. 4
Prayers of thanks and Deo gratias, Jean went through her appendectomy beautifully and her recovery is going very well!
Prayers, please, for Lavinia, severe Lyme disease not responding to treatment, for Ted, her husband, and for their newly adopted son, Ezechiel. Prayers, too, for Pat and her journey of discernment, for the repose of the soul of Irene, who has died, and for her sister, Eleanor. Prayers, too, for Steve, a seminarian who has severe neck injuries from a car accident, a very trying time for him and his family. Lord, help them as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent. Alleluia! Thanks so much. JL
March 4, July 4, November 3
Chapter 27: How Solicitous the Abbot Should Be for the Excommunicated
Let the Abbot be most solicitous
in his concern for delinquent brethren,
for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a physician" (Matt
And therefore he ought to use every means
that a wise physician would use.
Let him send senpectae,
that is, brethren of mature years and wisdom,
who may as it were secretly console the wavering brother
and induce him to make humble satisfaction;
that he may not "be overwhelmed by excessive grief" (2 Cor. 2:7),
but that, as the Apostle says,
charity may be strengthened in him (2 Cor. 2:8).
And let everyone pray for him.
For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
and exercise all prudence and diligence
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
Let him know
that what he has undertaken is the care of weak souls
and not a tyranny over strong ones;
and let him fear the Prophet's warning
through which God says,
"What you saw to be fat you took to yourselves,
and what was feeble you cast away" (Ezec. 34:3,4).
Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd
who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains
and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray,
on whose weakness He had such compassion
that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders
and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5).
Here it is. The good part to all this penal code, the loving Father!
If you remember the Prologue, the kindness and enthusiastic, loving
zeal that St. Benedict showed there, you will find the more difficult
things he has to write easier to read: because you will see them
always through the lens of his loving concern, his gentle compassion.
In this chapter, that compassion has full rein! This will have a lot
to say to parents and others in authority, too.
Notice at once the difference between Benedictine punishment and the
penal system of the world- in Benedict's day and our own. The secular,
warehousing view of punishment gives little more than idle lip-service to
rehabilitation or genuine conversion. It is pretty much reducible to
punishment for its own sake, a fact that should leave us far less
surprised at its ineffectiveness. It fails because it does not love
the offender and offenders are quick to grasp this fact.
Benedictine punishment has no reason OTHER than conversion and love,
and this chapter makes that perfectly clear. It is a collective human
striving to better image the perfect will of God, Who "desires not
the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live." Its
entire rationale is love for and improvement of the erring monastic.
I find it interesting that St. Benedict does not stress in these
preceding chapters the harm done to a community in dealing with
offenses. Obviously, it sometimes happens that all are harmed, or at
least shaken by one's actions. It would have been easy enough to
include this as a rationale for punishment, even as a secondary one,
but he does not. It leaves us with a pure view of loving concern for
the guilty one.
Look at the senpectae- the old, wise ones St. Benedict would send, as
it were "secretly" to console the afflicted one. They are a cherished
monastic tradition, because they point clearly to the kindness
involved in the whole process. In a sense, St. Benedict is telling
the Abbess to play an acceptable form of "good-cop-bad-cop" to help
the guilty one to conversion.
Parenting styles that miss this Benedictine balance and ideal are
likely to produce angry, maladjusted kids. We have all seen examples
of this, both in hindsight and in the noise of public places. I have
been on trains with mothers who so annoyed their children with their
yelling that *I* wanted to scream back at those mothers, small wonder
the children did. Parental love is the only rationale for correction.
If one adds to that list, one is risking one's child and one's whole
vocation. There are too many traps in power of any sort, traps to
serve oneself and not the ones governed. We confuse the stewardship
of authority with the selfishness of mere power. St. Benedict urges
us to never do that, because he knows it will fail.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- +PAXPrayers for the eternal rest of Jill, and for all her family and all who mourn her.Prayers for the following:Anthony, that he gets to Confession as soon as possible.Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to hang for leaving Islam to become a Christian". She is also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery because her marriage to a Christian man is not deemed valid by the Isamic law of Sudan. She is pregnant so is to be given a suspended sentence for 2 years because of this. Please pray that Sudan pardons this woman, and recognises the basic human right to freedom of religion.
Rose on her birthday, the 16th.
Chris, continuing mental health problems, and also for his wife, who cant help but be affected.
Ian & Lyn. Their house has been on the market for over a year. They just changed realtors, and within a week have had an offer, but it is very low. Please pray they will get a good offer for the house soon.
Maria, 94, Len, 88 (not related), dementia. They keep forgetting basic things (like where they are). They are both aware enough to know they have blank spaces in their minds, and are frustrated and frightened.Andy, traveling to Brazil for three months of study. Had a traumatic brain injury a year ago in April.Linda, for whom we prayed, came out of the hospital yesterday. The consultant wants to see if some weaknesses from the hernia can correct themselves. He will review the need for further surgery in 4-6 weeks. Continued prayers.Debbe, still in ICU after extensive surgery on Monday for multiple problems, including a cancerous abdominal mass.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 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
This whole reflection and chapter has many, many applications to
family life. (Except that parents are not elected!) Otherwise, it all is very
appropriate for a family!
We elect our abbots, which may make obedience a bit easier for us
than living under an appointed superior, but we are not a pure
democracy. This is so hard for Americans in particular to learn, let
alone value!! In terms of civil government comparisons, we may not be
an absolute autocracy, but we are far from a constitutionally diluted
monarchy! The abbot has a lot of power In fact, in most cases, he
has, as this chapter indicates, the last word.
St. Benedict was far too wise to leave all power to an elective
community. That would frustrate any abbot's efforts to upgrade the
life of his flock. Monastics tend to resist change, let alone reform.
They'd simply vote him down and be done with it. Communities, like
St. Peter, must sometimes be girded by another and led where they
would not go! Pure democracy would make that impossible.
There is a great reminder in this chapter that either the community
or the abbot can be wrong. That is so important for both to remember.
Indeed, if either forgets that fact, the danger to humility is
extreme and we are nothing if not humble. There is also the lesson
here of mutual respect. Even though the abbot actually has the
authority to ignore the community's suggestions, he is bidden to ask
for input. He is asked to receive it with prudence and justice, neither
swayed by every passing whim of the group nor by every
passing whim of his own!
So, if you will, the concept of mutual obedience and fraternal love
and respect is writ large over the whole of this chapter. Letting
anyone have that much power is scary if the group as a whole is not
constrained to virtue, but we are. Sure, the ideal can be failed, we
are human, but the ideal is there and it is under the conditions of
that ideal that so much is entrusted with faith to the abbot.
Though St. Benedict states we should never obey commands against God's law,
every other instance demands our obedience and respect. We may think the
Abbot is wrong and, humanly speaking, he might be, but we can never lose by
obedience. Indeed, quite the reverse: we harm ourselves terribly by obstinately
clinging to our own will and resisting.
Love and prayers,