Holy Rule for Mar. 17
Thanks to all who prayed and sent good wishes my way when I had the flu. It is good to be back and I could feel those prayers! JL
Prayers please, for Susan on her birthday, also for Patty, who is still job
searching, and for Scott who has just been diagnosed
with cancer behind his ear and will be operated on
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
March 17, July 17, November 16
Chapter 38: On the Weekly Reader
The meals of the sisters should not be without reading.
Nor should the reader be
anyone who happens to take up the book;
but there should be a reader for the whole week,
entering that office on Sunday.
Let this incoming reader,
after Mass and Communion,
ask all to pray for her
that God may keep her from the spirit of pride
And let her intone the following verse,
which shall be said three times by all in the oratory:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Your praise."
Then, having received a blessing,
let her enter on the reading.
And let absolute silence be kept at table,
so that no whispering may be heard
nor any voice except the reader's.
As to the things they need while they eat and drink,
let the sisters pass them to one another
so that no one need ask for anything.
If anything is needed, however,
let it be asked for by means of some audible sign
rather than by speech.
Nor shall anyone at table presume to ask questions
about the reading or anything else,
lest that give occasion for talking;
except that the Superior may perhaps wish
to say something briefly for the purpose of edification.
The sister who is reader for the week
shall take a little ablution before she begins to read,
on account of the Holy Communion
and lest perhaps the fast be hard for her to bear.
She shall take her meal afterwards
with the kitchen and table servers of the week.
The sisters are not to read or chant in order,
but only those who edify their hearers.
It is a safe bet that Oblates who don't live alone rarely eat in silence, so
it would be easy to ask what on earth this chapter has for them, for all of us,
in fact. Easy! Another reminder to bless every action and service, no matter how
small is here. So is the kindhearted father Benedict: let the reader have a
little something before reading, so the hunger doesn't overwhelm. (It is
funny how quickly we become accustomed to eating at EXACTLY this or that time...
Twenty minutes later can start some stomach rumblings!) A third and perhaps
less obvious point is that, when it comes to the spiritual life and its
nourishment, St. Benedict does not like to waste time. He makes judicious use of the time
we feed our bodies to feed our hearts, minds and souls!
Let's start with that wasted time idea. Look at some of the other areas we
waste time actively, or passively, because we have no choice. Grocery store lines
come to mind, so do waiting for elevators or trains or buses, to say nothing of
riding on same. An excellent opportunity for silent prayer! One could also
carry a small book all the time, popping it out when the occasions arise. I used to
study college texts in line at the store. I was working full-time and I
needed every minute. But we all need every minute to grow spiritually, because we
don't know how many of those minutes we have!
Driving, if one has a tape or cd deck in the car, can be a time to "make up"
for some of that lectio divina we never seem to have enough hours in a day to
finish. I speak as one formerly hopelessly addicted to rock 'n roll oldies- I
was a radio DJ, after all- there are a lot of tapes I could have played that
would have done far more for me than the Beach Boys or the Beatles! (Though I
will always hold both dear!) I learned to balance things more! No radio or
tape in your car? Make sure you have a Rosary. There's plenty of time for one and
you will find that traffic jams, while still aggravating, can be less so when
something worthwhile to do is close at hand.
Oblates who live alone surely can play a tape of reading while they eat, but
I strongly feel that even families, if the children are old enough to
understand, can glean something here. What about a brief, very brief reading at the
beginning of each meal, right after grace? Could be most anything, but the
Saint of the Day, a free e list, has perfect length Saint bios with a quote and
short point or two to ponder. (Subscribe at: _http://www.americancatholic.org_
(http://www.americancatholic.org/) ) You and your family will learn about the Saints, about the faith. This can be done in less than 3 minutes or so, then (hopefully!) discussion and questions follow.
You might, also, try a different kind of "silence" at meals. What about a
"fast" from all talk that doesn't praise or compliment, an occasional meal when you
agree to do nothing but tell each other the good things you appreciate about
each member? Not shabby! Or maybe a meal when we never mention ourselves,
only others at table? There are all kinds of tricks to turn conversation into
something saving rather than harming, and total silence is only one approach!
And don't forget that little gem about blessing every action. If grace before
meals (maybe even after, too!) is not already a custom, make it so. This is
not turning your family into monastics, it is a basic Christian practice that we
should never have lost.
Love and prayers,
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