Got home late (and rainy and heavy fog to drive through...) last nigt, so didn't send out today's Holy Rule. Mea culpa. I will send out tomorrow's this afternoon, and all the prayer intentions will be with that one. Here's to catching up! JL
March 28, July 28, November 27
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Therefore the sisters should be occupied
at certain times in manual labor,
and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
To that end
we think that the times for each may be prescribed as follows.
From Easter until the Calends of October,
when they come out from Prime in the morning
let them labor at whatever is necessary
until about the fourth hour,
and from the fourth hour until about the sixth
let them apply themselves to reading.
After the sixth hour,
having left the table,
let them rest on their beds in perfect silence;
or if anyone may perhaps want to read,
let her read to herself
in such a way as not to disturb anyone else.
Let None be said rather early,
at the middle of the eighth hour,
and let them again do what work has to be done until Vespers.
And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.
I offer this as further proof of St. Benedict's tenderness and
gentleness: take a nap. OK, say the siesta is Italian and cultural.
Fine, but there were plenty of cultural elements he didn't let
through the monastery gate. It was a LOT hotter in Egypt and one
doesn't hear the Fathers telling people to lie down and rest, much
less saying that those who cannot sleep dare not wake those who can
with their noisiness! This is a gentle Father we have!
Surely moderation is one of the key elements woven throughout the
Holy Rule, but isn't it at least worthy of note that it is stressed
here, in the chapter on work? St. Benedict may not have had all the
handy psycho babble terms that we use today to name things, but he
a piercingly clear perception of human nature.
He knew that some people were workaholics and that their
focus would be shattered by that. He knew some people were obsessive
about trivia that didn't matter. He knew that some people were very
caregivers who would turn into flaming doormats, abused by their own
kindness and inability to say "No," politely.
So, he counters all that by saying: "Take a nap!" Hey, what a great
reality check! Wake up, y'all, the world has an axis to spin on
and there is no need for you to duplicate services! St. Benedict
certainly knows that many things are important, even essential and he
is not at all shy about pointing them out. In the midst of all that,
he says: "Take a nap!" If you can't nap, he doesn't even say "pray,"
he tells the insomniac to read quietly!!
Look, we are known for our motto of pray and work, ora et labora. One
might well assume that if you couldn't be working, you ought to at
least be praying. Not so. Take a nap. Balance it out. Try pulling
your arm out of a bucket of water and see what happens. Water closes
right in, no problem. Much depends on us, but usually much less than
we are prone to pridefully think! Take a nap!
Our world around us will gladly and readily tell us that we are worth
nothing other than our productivity, our work, our profitability. St.
Benedict wants to be sure that when we come to his monastery, we see
those distorted values of human dignity for the falsehoods they
He wants us to work, yes, but to see work in the deep
humility of truth. A consumerist society has taught us the exact
opposite of that and we all need to patiently spend lots of time
peeling those scales from our eyes with the help of God and St.
Take a nap!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]