February 16, June 17, October 17
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays
The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.
But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil."
If one just counts the times we say the Our Father aloud, at Mass,
Lauds and Vespers, it's three times a day. Actually, given the silent
repetitions at minor Hours, Compline and grace at table, the number
jumps considerably. Added up, that can be pretty damning evidence at
the Judgement seat if we don't mean what we are saying!
Do we forgive? Do we really want His Kingdom to come? Or His Will to
be done? Probably, in most cases, yes and no... The work of our
monastic lives is to make that equation all "yes"! We cavil with God
over His Will, we seek to change His mind, as if we really could! As
for forgiveness and His Kingdom, well, you can't have one without the
other! The very equality of all in God's love that will obtain in the
Kingdom already chafes us when we stop to think of someone we
mightily WISH He did not love quite that much!
As Dorothy Day's friend, Fr. Hugo, used to say: "You love God as
much as the one you love the least." That remark shames me every
single time I think of it. It is a great barometer of just how far
one has to go, of how much God really matters to one. So far, I have
never had a shortage of people I loved little enough to be quite
embarrassed. But I am working on it, and that is all any of us can
This perfection called for in the Lord's Prayer is a task we will
never complete. There will always be more to do, our ducks will never
be in a row, we will never and can never be utterly perfect. That's
why we need a Savior, that's what He did. That's how ALL the "i's"
got dotted and "t's" got crossed (literally!) God does call us to be
perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, but He also knows that
that job will never be finished, He wants us to keep trying, but He
certainly knows best that no one could do that without becoming God.
Let us be frank in holding out no hope of anyone ever doing that!
Quick: Think of the last happy perfectionist you've known! There
aren't any. That's the rub. They're missing a HUGE part of the
puzzle, God and His Mercy and Grace. Small wonder they can be cranky
Love and prayers,
Jerome, OSB, who sadly admits that more than one perfectionist has
been the one he loved the least.... They CAN be hard to live with,
even to themselves!
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA