A very blessed Feast of the Passing of St. Benedict to all, and a
very happy birthday to TomKay, of Monastic Life list, who turns FORTY-
FIVE today!! Special prayers for Tom, who does so much to cement
members of his cybercommunity in love.
God's will be done! Thanks to all. NRN JL
March 21, July 21, November 20
Chapter 42: That No One Speak After Compline
Monastics ought to be zealous for silence at all times,
but especially during the hours of the night.
For every season, therefore,
whether there be fasting or two meals,
let the program be as follows:
If it be a season when there are two meals,
then as soon as they have risen from supper
they shall all sit together,
and one of them shall read the Conferences
or the Lives of the Fathers
or something else that may edify the hearers;
not the Heptateuch or the Books of Kings, however,
because it will not be expedient for weak minds
to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour;
but they shall be read at other times.
If it be a day of fast,
then having allowed a short interval after Vespers
they shall proceed at once to the reading of the Conferences,
as prescribed above;
four or five pages being read, or as much as time permits,
so that during the delay provided by this reading
all may come together,
including those who may have been occupied
in some work assigned them.
When all, therefore, are gathered together,
let them say Compline;
and when they come out from Compline,
no one shall be allowed to say anything from that time on.
And if anyone should be found evading this rule of silence,
let her undergo severe punishment.
An exception shall be made
if the need of speaking to guests should arise
or if the Abbess should give someone an order.
But even this should be done with the utmost gravity
and the most becoming restraint.
I certainly can- and have!- sung the praises of the Grand Silence. It
is lovely and warm and wonderful and familiar and comforting. All of
that! But I also know that for many Oblates to read those words will
only underscore painfully the fact that many can NOT have such a
silence to restore them. So, what about them? What does this chapter
have for those whose lives and vocations make Grand Silence an
Well, first, and most briefly, we all have to seek out and cherish
the moments of silence and solitude that may find us from time to
time. Our society teaches us to be surrounded by noise. There may be
times we are all but unaware of that we can diminish that noise, or
when its removal may surprise us. Learn to make the most of such
times! Try as best you can to increase them, so long as you are not
stepping on the toes of others, like your family!
But, perhaps even more importantly, those who are denied this silence
need to be keenly aware that the sacrifice of a thing often gives
greater spiritual growth than its possession would. That is,
admittedly, terribly cold comfort, but it is so very true. The
longing heart, the broken heart, the unfulfilled heart, these are all
very ripe fields for the love and mercy of God. Not that such mercy
and love will necessarily be felt! Often, quite the reverse!
That is why trust and faith are so important at times of deprivation
or aridity. It is through trust that we reap the benefits, through
knowing, even though it may not make us feel any better, that Christ
is mercy, is not mean, is not absent and is NEVER uncaring. Never.
Jesus told St. Faustina that He was even more close to her in times
of desolation, when she could not feel Him, than He was in the
closest of ecstasies. He also told her, when she was in the dull ache
of suffering days that seemed endless, that in heaven she would long
for such days. Why? Because then she would know their worth!
Trust me, beloveds, I know how this can sound. There have been (and
still are!) times in my life when hearing words like those I write
this morning could only make me want to retch. But they are true.
Maddening as hell, I know, but true......!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA