Holy Rule for June 23
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, fo all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
For G., for whom we prayed, exploratory surgery coming up next week, possible reproductive cancer. She is in a lot of pain and is anxious about her children.
Mikie, who will have kidney stones day surgery tomorrow. He has a heart condition, so anytime he goes under anesthesia is a concern. Also for his wife, Diane, who is has Parkinson's, and is shaking more from it.
Thanks to God that Calum, the baby for whom we've prayed, has begun to learn how to suckle. His lower jaw was compressed during birth, but his lip has puffed out and he's putting on weight. His parents and grandparents are very grateful for our prayers.
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
February 22, June 23, October 23
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
At Terce, Sext and None on Monday
let the nine remaining sections of Psalm 118 be said,
three at each of these Hours.
Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore,
on two days, Sunday and Monday,
let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127
be said at Terce, Sext and None,
three at each Hour,
beginning with Tuesday.
And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday
at the same Hours,
while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses
is kept the same on all days;
and thus Prime on Sunday will always begin with Psalm 118.
Running psalmody, that is, reciting the Psalms in numerical order, no
matter what came next, was a very common ancient monastic practice.
Since one of the principles behind the Psalter was to "get it all in"
in the space of a week, that running psalmody was a natural
consequence. St. Benedict obviously had some of that on his mind: he
goes from detailed directions about the spacing of the longest Psalm,
118, right into assigning the next 9 to the minor hours which are
repeated throughout the week from Tuesday to Saturday.
As a result, one could safely say that there is nothing specific to
the time of day as such about these Psalms, but that it not entirely
correct. These nine Psalms from 119-127 are gradual Psalms,
pilgrimage songs. They were sung by the Jews as they were going up to
Jerusalem. They are filled with the tension of anticipation and
possession of God's Temple and His blessings, they are songs
of "already" and "not yet".
The gradual Psalms are short, compact units, easily memorized. Since
memory is one thing the Holy Rule no doubt was providing for- these
Offices frequently had to be said on the spot, in the fields, it is
very likely that this group were quite deliberately chosen. No one in
their right mind would suggest some of the longer Psalms from Matins
for easy memorization!!
Regardless of what St. Benedict may or may not have had in mind, the
Holy Spirit can use all of us, even St. Benedict, in ways we do not
realize. Read through these Psalms and picture yourself saying them
in a distant field, with the Abbey in view, but far away. Get the
idea? The pilgrim songs that speak of already AND not yet were the
perfect thing for monastics to say in such circumstances. Jerusalem,
the House of God, was both a distant view and a complete possession,
since ALL of the monastery is the House of God.
History and economics has changed this somewhat, but until the 20th
century, most Benedictine abbeys were built on prominent rises in
the midst of hundreds of acres of cleared farm land. They were, after
all, farmers, and as the old saying goes: "Benedict loved the hills..."
In times past, the image of a towering abbey church dominating a wide
expanse of well-tended farmland was a usual thing.
A complete aside here, but the first time I ever went to St. Vincent Archabbey,
the protoabbey of our Order in the US, I was a Florida boy with little or
no sense of Pennsylvania geography. I was VERY eager to get there, to
see the place, as I had just finished reading the biography of Archabbot
Boniface Wimmer, its founder. I knew we were getting closer, but was not
prepared for what happened next.
All of a sudden, after a turn in an very ordinary road, a vista such as I have
described sprang into view. It was a veritable Theophany to me! There, on a
hill, stood the Archabbey Basilica, twin towers reigning over gently rolling
farmlands. I shall never forget the wonder of that moment, 30 years
ago this summer. Truly, my heart "rejoiced when I heard them say, 'Let us
go to God's house.' "
It is easy, terribly easy, to forget that we live "in the House of
God." We do, all monastics do, Oblates do, everyone does. It IS God's
world. Being reminded of this by those Psalms of journeying is a
great idea. Our feet really are "standing within your gates, O
Jerusalem!" We look from afar and see that Jerusalem is a city
compact, a unity of peace and order.
Who has seen a monastery on a hill and not had similar thoughts?
Even the accidental end of the sequence (which continues in Vespers,)
has a wonderful application. "Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who walk in His ways!" It recounts the joys and protections of a life lived
for God and ends with the plea: "On Israel, peace!" Just picture yourself
saying that at the end of a hard day's work in the field, looking at
the Abbey Church. Not shabby!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for Nina, admitted to hospice, and for her husband, Larry, who also has health concerns, and for their children and family and all who will mourn Nina.
Prayers for the eternal rest of Abbot Benno Malfer, OSB, of Muri-Gries Abbey, 70, and for his family, Community and all who mourn him.
Prayers for safe travels for Peter D., going to Europe. For a safe, happy and holy trip.
Prayers for the eternal rest of my parents, Jerome and Louise, on what would have been the 76th anniversary of their wedding.
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
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my
eyes into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact
that I MUST be joking....
Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us
awake to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
the way, nothing special there!
God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride and love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!
Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school
Love and prayers,