|Painting of St. Benedict at St. Meinrad Archabbey|
The envelope was the size of a Christmas card. It was from the Archabbey. Inside was a booklet of Lenten reflections written by one of the monks and a short letter. The most important thing, however, was a small form on light card stock.
Benedictine Oblates (please don't judge them by this disreputable Bear) must submit their "Bona Opera" proposals to the abbot. This is according to Chapter 49 of the Rule of St. Benedict.
Everyone should, however, make known to the abbot what he intends to do, since it ought to be done with his prayer and approval. Whatever is undertaken without the permission of the spiritual father, will be reckoned as presumption and vainglory, not deserving of reward. Therefore everything must be done with abbot's approval.So, the card to be returned read:
Right Reverend Father, in keeping with the spirit of St. Benedict and the custom of St. Meinrad Archabbey, I resolve faithfully to add the following acts of prayer, fasting and charity to my usual measure of service.The reason St. Benedict required monks to receive approval for anything not required by the Rule is that he had no doubt seen how some monks would not wisely limit extra devotions or penance. Worse, what is supposed to be an offering to God can instead become an occasion for pride. The devil is subtle. There are many monitory tales of such deception.
This is one reason the Bear accepts his plain ol' Roman Catholic Church parish. He is doing what the Church does where he lives. No less, no more. He is literally making a virtue of necessity. It seems the Benedictine thing to do. Certainly the Archabbey uses the new liturgy. The Bear and his mate assisted at a Pontifical Mass that was very beautiful at the Archabbey.
The Bear's attitude toward the Pope may be inconsistent, true. But Pope Francis did say, "If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord." We know from recent reports that the Pope is annoyed by ephemera that criticize him. Perhaps a bit of Jesuitical casuistry from the Bear.
The kicker from Chapter 49 of the Rule: "In other words, let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking, and idle jest."
Even so, St. Benedict's Rule condemns idle chatter, laughter, and especially grumbling. The Rule states that one should refrain from even edifying speech, as silence is better. Permission to speak should be granted seldom.
It's tough to be a Benedictine ephemerist.
But enough stalling. Clearly, Lent must be marked by a change in this ephemeris until the joy of Easter. The Bear will try to grumble less, be more edifying, and more charitable.
In other words, this ephemeris will probably suck during Lent. The Bear hopes you'll stay with him. Consider it a penance. And, despite his resolutions, there's always the chance the Bear will eat a horse or two.
Ernie Kovacks Tribute
And now, Ernie Kovacs with his famous oscilloscope version of the original German version of Mack the Knife and trademark short, visual gags. It probably won't appeal to modern audiences, but it doesn't mind being a little rough around the edges. Kovacs was extremely influential. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and Monty Python's Flying Circus are just two of the shows acknowledged as owing a debt to Kovacks. Chevy Chase thanked him when accepting an Emmy for Saturday Night Live. If you remember Ernie from those long-ago days of the 50s and 60s, this will put a smile on your face.