Br. Jerome: Reflection on the Holy Rule. Oct 14
Please pray for a brother-in-law of Sister Mary Joseph. He was just
diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, it's not a terribly aggressive
type and the Drs. are certain they can treat him for it, but it will
mean radiation and chemotherapy. He just started a new job about a
year ago, so this is difficult for him at this time. We pray for a
Please pray for Bernice suffering from cancer of the throat. Marie
is in her 80s and having lung and heart problems. Jan suffering from
depression and alcohol addiction. Carmen moved to a long care health
facility and having problems adjusting. Mark suffering from
+Please pray that Divine Mercy will shine upon all those who have
taken their own lives.+
Please pray for all those whose prayer requests were not able to be
posted for whatever reason. God is outside of time and our prayers
are never, ever late. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's
will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise
Him! Thanks so much. JL
Until the return of our good Brother Jerome please bless me with
your prayer requests at:
February 13, June 14, October 14
Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays
On Sunday the hour of rising for the Night Office should be
earlier. In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order while
the lessons and their responsories are read from the book, as we
said above. These shall be four in number,
with the chanter saying the "Glory be to the Father" in the fourth
responsory only, and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.
After these lessons let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in
order, as before, and a verse; and then let four more lessons be
read with their responsories in the same way as the former.
After these let there be three canticles from the book of the
Prophets, as the Abbot shall appoint, and let these canticles be
chanted with "Alleluia." Then when the verse has been said and the
Abbot has given the blessing, let four more lessons be read, from
the New Testament, in the manner prescribed above.
After the fourth responsory let the Abbot begin the hymn "We praise
You, O God." When this is finished the Abbot shall read the lesson
from the book of the Gospels, while all stand in reverence and awe.
At the end let all answer "Amen," and let the Abbot proceed at once
to the hymn "To You be praise." After the blessing has been given,
let them begin the Morning Office.
This order for the Night Office on Sunday shall be observed the
year around, both summer and winter; unless it should happen (which
God forbid) that the brethren be late in rising,
in which case the lessons or the responsories will have to be
shortened somewhat. Let every precaution be taken, however, against
such an occurrence; but if it does happen,
then the one through whose neglect it has come about should make
due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
The idea of Vigils has very ancient Christian roots: watching all
night in prayer, particularly before Sunday, in anticipation of the
Second Coming (that they be found waiting, with lamps trimmed,) and
from the tradition that Jesus rose from the dead at dawn. The
connections of light/darkness and Son/sun are rich. Anyone who has
ever done an all-night Vigil can tell you it is a memorable
experience. They are frequently done, even in our own day, on Mount
Athos, lasting literally all night and including the chanting of
the ENTIRE Psalter. Remember what I said a few days ago about if
liturgy is long, it's good?
With all this, it's no surprise that St. Benedict adds some extra
high church length to Vigils of Sunday. He still, however, makes a
lot of allowances for the monastics, even those who (God forbid!)
oversleep!! His Vigils are long, but they are quite pointedly NOT
all night! Doing an all night vigil for Sunday and every big feast
would do in a community of farmers in short order.
Many people who cut their teeth on pre-1964 Merton works, like "The
Silent Life" or "The Waters of Siloe", might think that the
Benedictines were a rather mitigated lot and the Cistercians were
the only ones who REALLY got the Holy Rule right. Well, yes and
We ARE a mitigated lot, we started out that way and have continued
on that middle road. St. Benedict designed his Rule as an
adaptation and yes, mitigation, of Egyptian monastic life, suitable
for European types. And no, the Cistercians are not at all
necessarily the ones who "got it right," as their own adaptations
after 1964 clearly indicate.
Our long history is one of decline and repeated reform. The
reforms, understandably enough have always been aimed at sweeping
away mitigations and laxity. Predictably, they have often swept
away a good deal of moderation in the bargain, as well! Also,
the reforms themselves decay and have to be reformed: why do you
think there are Common Observance Cistercians and Trappists- two
Merton, like any of us, changed and grew. In his later years,
questions of observance and mitigation were at least less prominent
and sometimes totally absent. Right now it is probable that BOTH
Benedictines and Cistercians are living in their most relaxed and
mitigated conditions ever.
That's not all bad. History might tell us some of it will need
tinkering, tightening up, but God will send the men and women to do
that in His time. Rather than adopt an attitude of ALL-NIGHT, ALL
the time, get-every-boot-camp-in-toughest-possible-shape and so
forth, why not bask a bit in the fact that we were born mitigated
monastics and are meant to be so?
When I first read Merton, he had some growing ahead of him and I
was 14...didn't make for a very complete grasp on my part! Now,
instead of scorning relaxed observance in horror, I welcome it.
Both Merton and I learned something on different schedules: God
monasteries their particular observances because they are the only
place in the world some people could ever become monks. And this is
as true of relaxed observance as it is of strict!
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov of Russia said that the monks of the
latter times would NOT do the great feats of monastic asceticism
and prayer that the ancients did, but that they would have a whole
panoply of new problems all their own to wrestle with differently.
He said that in the mid to late 19th century, but it looks like he
was right on the mark!
Love and prayers,