Prayers, please, for the Hazletts and their family. They celebrate
their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday. Continued prayers for
Trappist Fr. Robert, recovering well in CCU. Prayers also for Richard
West, his Mom and family. She is having a lot of severe problems with
radiation complications after breast cancer surgery.
And a very unusal prayer request from me. I have 45 Coturnix quail
eggs in an incubator. The heat and humidity here have been playing
havoc with my admittedly low-tech incubator. Please pray that my
quail hatch as well as they can. They are due on 6/30 and motherhood
is upon me!!
God's will is best! Thanks. NRN JL
February 24, June 25, October 25
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
The order of psalmody for the day Hours being thus arranged,
let all the remaining Psalms be equally distributed
among the seven Night Offices
by dividing the longer Psalms among them
and assigning twelve Psalms to each night.
We strongly recommend, however,
that if this distribution of the Psalms is displeasing to anyone,
she should arrange them otherwise,
in whatever way she considers better,
but taking care in any case
that the Psalter with its full number of 150 Psalms
be chanted every week
and begun again every Sunday at the Night Office.
For those monastics show themselves too lazy
in the service to which they are vowed,
who chant less than the Psalter with the customary canticles
in the course of a week,
whereas we read that our holy Fathers
strenuously fulfilled that task in a single day.
May we, lukewarm that we are, perform it at least in a whole week!
I am going to begin this by reprinting two paragraphs of very
important qualifications from the last post on this chapter, in
"I hasten to add a word of caution to Oblates here: the Holy Rule is
referring to choral Office in monasteries. To undertake for oneself
such an Office could well be unwise, and sometimes, even wrong. The
conditions of one's state in life come first. Oblates who are parents
or married have kept Vigils and Nocturns with sick children or
spouses of which professed monastics would never dream. Don't get
hung up on this one. SHARE the Office all you can, but tend first to
the responsibilities of your state in life.
Before I became a monk I used to OCCASIONALLY do all 150 Psalms
alone. There were two things worthy of mention here: I was a single
man with one (very loving!) cat, and I recited them. Even at that, I
can assure you it took up a chunk of time. Hence, Oblates should take
great care that they don't obsess on this notion. Do what you can and
rest assured that your community, and the Order and the whole praying
Church is "making up" whatever you can't offer."
OK, having said that, let's talk a little about MONASTERIES and the
Office. The old notion of monastics as professional pray-ers whose
only mission in life was the celebration of the full liturgy is
simply bunk. Nothing in the Holy Rule supports that extreme view. On
the other hand, many things do support the idea of a task, a service,
even, to some extent, a burden of the Office that monasteries assume.
Put another way, balance, as always, is put forward here. The Office
should be neither too hard nor too easy. It ought to chafe a bit, but
not overwhelm, just like the Rule's injunction that both the weak and
the strong may have something to strive for and be not discouraged.
If we make the Office TOO easy, it becomes merely a dash of
devotional side-dressing to a busy, but otherwise only faintly pious
A couple of years ago, the guesthouse well died (temporarily, thanks
be to God!) We had to gather 10 gallon plastic buckets for each
bathroom, haul them down the hill to the monastery in the station
wagon, fill them and bring them back. What a hassle! We also had to
caution the guests rather indelicately about no unnecessary
flushes: "Mellow yellow, brown down..." Even more recently, a storm
and left us without electricity for about twelve hours. Afraid to
open the fridge too much and with no oven, we ordered pizza in Athol
for the guests.
Both of these things were tough, but neither were anything compared
to the amount of labor required to maintain life in the first
centuries of the Order's existence. Neither were there lay brothers
to do all that work in those days, since they were a much later
development. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no running water, no
phones, no Athol House of Pizza to call and no car to pick it up in.
(OK aqueducts in some places, but you get the picture...) In the
midst of a life that we would find crushingly different, St. Benedict
insisted on the weekly 150. Hmmmm......
We have a bread machine in the guesthouse now. Makes fabulous bread
in 4-5 hours with no effort other than measuring and adding the
ingredients, closing the cover and switching it on. That takes about
10 minutes prep for most recipes, 15-20 if one is obsessive like me.
(Sigh...) It is astounding now how easy it is to say I "don't have
time" to make bread. "Maybe tomorrow..." HELLO!?!?!? Ten minutes?
What's wrong with me? What's wrong with us?
We live in a world where countless labor-saving devices and perks
give us far more time than anyone in history has ever had. Are we
always good stewards of that largesse? Heaven knows, I don't want to
give up those modern advantages, look at how hooked on computers I
am. But what do we do with all that time?
Recently, PBS embarked on a bit of reality TV by challenging several
families to live for a summer exactly as the pioneers did in the
1880's, homesteaders starting with virtually nothing. Careful
attention was paid to having only such things as were available at
that period. It made for some really tough living for those families,
but ALL of them had more than the founders of our Order had in this
country, 30 years before them.
And they said the whole Psalter....admittedly, with lay brothers
doing a lot of the heavy stuff, but they said the whole Psalter.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery