Holy Rule for July 22
March 22, July 22, November 21
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table
At the hour for the Divine Office,
as soon as the signal is heard,
let them abandon whatever they may have in hand
and hasten with the greatest speed,
yet with seriousness, so that there is no excuse for levity.
Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God.
If at the Night Office
anyone arrives after the "Glory be to the Father" of Psalm 94 --
which Psalm for this reason we wish to be said
very slowly and protractedly --
let him not stand in his usual place in the choir;
but let him stand last of all,
or in a place set aside by the Abbot for such negligent ones
in order that they may be seen by him and by all.
He shall remain there until the Work of God has been completed,
and then do penance by a public satisfaction.
the reason why we have judged it fitting
for them so stand in the last place or in a place apart
being seen by all,
they may amend for very shame.
For if they remain outside of the oratory,
there will perhaps be someone who will go back to bed and sleep
or at least seat himself outside and indulge in idle talk,
and thus an occasion will be provided for the evil one.
But let them go inside,
that they many not lose the whole Office,
and may amend for the future.
At the day Hours
anyone who does not arrive at the Work of God
until after the verse
and the "Glory be to the Father" for the first Psalm following it
shall stand in the last place,
according to our ruling above.
Nor shall he presume to join the choir in their chanting
until he has made satisfaction,
unless the Abbot should pardon him and give him permission;
but even then the offender must make satisfaction for his fault.
First, an aside. The signal to get moving, whatever it may be, is
usually a bell or something like it. Our modern age looks at any
request or command we don't like as a time to start negotiations, not
to obey. We may euphemize this with terms like "dialogue" but the
bottom line is finding a graceful way to say either "Heck, NO!" or
considerably less than "Yes!" or "OK, fine!" Bells, however, are
inexorable and there is no point in arguing with them. Their stoic
silence will win every time! It is worth remembering that, in the old
days, the bell was known as the "vox Dei," the voice of God.
As usual, there is a gem buried here that gets lost in the wash of
being late or being on time or kneeling out or not. That treasure
is: "Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God." (Older
translations had: "let nothing be preferred to the Work of God." This
has usually been cited, quite rightly, a a basis for the centrality
of liturgy in Benedictine life, but that is an incomplete view, one
which leaves riches beyond telling unmined. The full sense of this
goes well beyond liturgy. And FAR beyond musical fussiness about
For the monastic, EVERYTHING is in some way the work of God. ALL of
God's will for us becomes a priority. That's what our commitment
means. Monastic struggle sacralizes every jot and tittle. In one
sense, there is no small stuff anymore. (That can be a trap for the
scrupulous if over-applied, so watch out, folks!) The distinction
between sacred and profane is all but obliterated. Our life is of a
whole, and that holistic life is most often informed of God's wishes
for us by obedience.
That can require tremendous faith and trust in God, but God does
reward such trust richly beyond our dreams. It is often best if one
starts out as a novice with a real goofus for a novicemaster. This is
helpful in several ways. For one thing, if you start out with a great
novicemaster and encounter your first loser in charge in mid-life, it can be a
terrible crisis. For another, when one looks back, one can see
clearly (as hindsight so often does!) that ALL our treasure comes in
earthen vessels, that even a far less than optimal individual can often
be a pipeline through which God's will flows unimpeded. I am living proof
Contemporary attempts by some to reduce all Benedictine obedience to
a process of dialogue or negotiation, or to make it a communal
affair or a consensual one are terribly false and far off the mark. The textual
evidence of the Holy Rule, as well as historical and traditional
evidence simply do not support such claims.
The Rule speaks of dialogue only when one is commanded to do the impossible,
and even then, if the superior insists, one must trust and obey. Tough saying,
but obedience works best when it isn't a lot of fun... Consider the "merit"
gained when I smile over an open carton of ice cream, heaping it into a bowl and
say: "My doctor absolutely INSISTS that these meds be taken with food!"
But back to priorities. Surely the Office comes first before lesser
obediences. Being late because one finished something that could wait
is a poor excuse, because it shows what is valued most- one's own
On the other hand, when I was a teenager, my life was hell. I
LOVED the Catholic high school I went to with deep gratitude, but
there were many, many days when my emotional energy was so completely
expended on just hanging on that there was nothing else I COULD put
first. Showing up at all took all my energy, never mind early or
It surely wasn't that I DIDN'T care, it was that I couldn't, I
honestly had nothing left to care with. At times like this, it takes
a careful and loving eye to perceptively see what's really going on
before dumping punishment on one.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I have no idea why this didn't go through yesterday. Catching up. BJL+PAXPrayers for the grace-filled success of our Oblate Day and our Sisters' Monastic Experience weekend at Petersham and for all participating.Urgent prayers needed for Brian's brother-in-law, Paul. He is a diabetic, and now has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. It is stage 3, and a biopsy this coming Tuesday will check to see if he is stage 4. He will be starting chemo & radiation. His wife is devastated. Brian has known Paul since they were very young, loves him like a brother and is crushed. Please pray for Paul, his wife, Brian and all their family and friends.Deo gratias, the twin's fluid build up is gone.
Prayer for Brian T.,( another Brian,) who is being viciously harrassed.
Prayers for JS, discernment and assistance in making an important life decision.
Prayers for Beverly, special intention plus dicernment regarding another of perplexing issues..
Deo gratias for all prayers and graces of the past.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 14, July 14, November 13
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen
An hour before the meal let the weekly servers each receive a drink
and some bread over and above the appointed allowance, in order
that at the meal time they may serve their brethren without
murmuring and without excessive fatigue. On solemn days, however,
let them wait until after Mass.
Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday, the incoming and
outgoing servers shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren
in the oratory and ask their prayers. Let the server who is ending
his week say this verse: "Blessed are You, O Lord God, who have
helped me and consoled me." When this has been said three times and
the outgoing server has received his blessing, then let the
incoming server follow and say, "Incline unto my aid, O God; O
Lord, make haste to help me." Let this also be repeated three times
by all, and having received his blessing let him enter his service.
Families, and parents and caregivers, listen up! There's an
important lesson here. No task is too small to be blessed by
prayer. More than that, no task is so easy that it can be done
without God's help, so remember to thank Him. Of ourselves, we can
do nothing, literally nothing. All our strength and power comes from God.
Making dinner or washing the dishes? Take a quiet moment in the
midst of either to say "Help!" and "Thanks!" Two simple, one word
prayers. No matter how chaotic your household, everyone will find
time for at least that. God knows the details, knows your heart and
can readily fill in the blanks! We may think God needs essay-length
prayers, but He doesn't. He may enjoy hearing from us, but trust
me, we NEVER tell Him anything that's news to Him.
This chapter is not simply the humility and charity of service, it
is also the honest acknowledgment of complete helplessness without
God. For most folks, only sickness or debility will teach them
that. It may seem like nothing to bend down and pick up a pin off
the floor until a bad back makes that impossible. Handicaps hone
our perceptions of being in charge very, very well.
Of course, there is another side to simple things like serving
table, picking up pins and the like. One could not have done
anything without God's help, but ah, if one does them out of love
and care! Bingo! Double coupons, so to speak! If that pin got
carefully picked up because of a barefoot and running child, or a
beloved pet who is prone to "tasting" whatever she can find on the
floor, simplicity becomes a very much greater matter, indeed. Now
it is very close to the heart of God, and that is a wonderful place
By the way, though some might think me daft for saying this, it is
not at all that crazy. There is no reason why families could not
bless whomever is assigned to a domestic task for a week or month
or whatever. A simple prayer asking God to help them serve us all
and get over any rough times could be tastefully done without a lot
of fuss. This could really help drive home the message of the worthwhile
merit to be had in doing small things with love!
Love and prayers,