Thursday, August 26, 2010

Journeys, Vacations and Umbrellas

From the portion of the Rule of Benedict commonly read on April 25, August 25 and December 25:
Chapter 67: On Brethren Who Are Sent on a Journey

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

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

Among the several nuggets presented by Brother Jerome Leo in his reflection on this portion of the Rule of Benedict, are these words:

"Rare is the person who can manage to stay employed without at least a slightly different persona at work... Secular society has enlarged upon this tendency to its own ends. Because the tendency is so deeply rooted in us, we may fail to see its dangers when carried to extremes. Thanks to a society often glaringly unassisted by revelation, we have the unhappy concept of different umbrellas, different sets of ethics to cover different areas of life...

"The message of the Holy Rule and of the Gospel is that there is one umbrella, period... One heart, one umbrella, one Lord, one faith, one baptism."

Two things strike me:
  • This is a significant portion of our Baptismal service and commitment: "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism", and
  • How tempting it is for me to try and create new boxes when confronted with new situations and experiences

While detailed instructions for Monastic life may be far removed from our everyday life, perhaps the real gem of this is how our Lord God provides an umbrella for us to sit under during our lives, both during the storms and troubles we each find, and during the bright sunshine of the wonderful parts of our lives.

May we all remember this during our work, our play, our vacations and our vocations...

God be with you,
(If you are interested in receiving a portion of the Rule of Benedict, with prayer requests and Brother Jerome's reflection, please visit for more information.)

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