Holy Rule for Oct. 13
Prayers, please, for thr eternal rest of George, for whom we have been praying. He died this morning. And for his family, especially Brendan, and all who mourn him.
Prayers for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care ofo them:
Helen, who suffered a stroke, adn for her husband, Tony.
John, who suffered mild stroke last February 2010 and still experiencing numbness in my right arm and face and hypertension and slight pain in other parts of the body and also experiencing slight nervourness and stress.
Dennis, feeling a lot of holy trepidation at two new ministries for him: Extraordinary Minister of the Communion and RCIA, for grace and atrength and courage and openness to God's will for all.
a priest who is having Visa troubles in the US.
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
Chapter 10: How the Night Office Is to Be Said in Summer Time
From Easter until the Calends of November
let the same number of Psalms be kept as prescribed above;
but no lessons are to be read from the book,
on account of the shortness of the nights.
Instead of those three lessons
let one lesson from the Old Testament be said by heart
and followed by a short responsory.
But all the rest should be done as has been said;
that is to say that never fewer than twelve Psalms
should be said at the Night Office,
not counting Psalm 3 and Psalm 94.
The gentleness of St. Benedict, his considerate thoughtfulness is
again apparent here. Another principle comes to mind, as well. The
Office is important, but it revolves WITH us to a certain extent. It
is the axis our day turns on, but that axis may be shortened by the
season. There are circumstances under which even the Work of God
itself changes for us. Was humanity made for the Sabbath, or the
Sabbath for humanity?
The rhythm here is pure agriculture: when the sun rises
sooner, so do the farm chores, which have no human seasonal clocks to
tell them otherwise! Critters have to be cared for, milked and
pastured according to their clocks, not ours. The upshot of this is
that, for nearly 1,500 years, until the late 1960's, Benedictines
followed the Holy Rule's advice and said Matins differently in the
summer and winter, even in the cities. (It is worthy of note that, at
least in the U.S., agricultural enterprises were being abandoned at
about the same time as no longer economically feasible in many
Put another spin on this and you will find, especially if you are an
Oblate, that St. Benedict intends at least some aspects of his
monastic program to adapt themselves to the environment in which the
monastic lives. Do not wear yourself out trying to make the very
square peg of a relentless monastic life fit into the intractably
round hole of a life in the world.
Don't try to make your kids (or spouse!) understand that you are
going to be monastic, no matter whether they are or aren't. For one
thing, if you in any way diminish your primary vocation, like
marriage or parenthood, you are not going to be monastic at all!
For another thing, such tactics might drive them even farther from
the faith you hope to share and instill in them.
The key to our struggle is obedience and humility, not control of others.
Our oblation must be done in addition to our sacramental and primary
vocations, never instead of them.
Love and prayers,
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******Somehow I skipped Nov. 28 and ran the 30th yesterday, so here's the
reading for the 28th to catch up.
March 29, July 29, November 28
Chapter 48: On the Daily Manual Labor
From the Calends of October until the beginning of Lent,
let them apply themselves to reading
up to the end of the second hour.
At the second hour let Terce be said,
and then let all labor at the work assigned them until None.
At the first signal for the Hour of None
let everyone break off from her work,
and hold herself ready for the sounding of the second signal.
After the meal
let them apply themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.
On the days of Lent,
from morning until the end of the third hour
let them apply themselves to their reading,
and from then until the end of the tenth hour
let them do the work assigned them.
And in these days of Lent
they shall each receive a book from the library,
which they shall read straight through from the beginning.
These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.
But certainly one or two of the seniors should be deputed
to go about the monastery
at the hours when the sisters are occupied in reading
and see that there be no lazy sister
who spends her time in idleness or gossip
and does not apply herself to the reading,
so that she is not only unprofitable to herself
but also distracts others.
If such a one be found (which God forbid),
let her be corrected once and a second time;
if she does not amend,
let her undergo the punishment of the Rule
in such a way that the rest may take warning.
Moreover, one sister shall not associate with another
at inappropriate times.
Lectio divina, sacred reading, is the Benedictine form of
contemplation, more ancient than many later forms, both Carmelite and
Athonite. Being so ancient, it comes with very few directions. Much
of its "method" has been developed and handed down by monastics over
the centuries since St. Benedict.
Even in that embellished form, it remains a very, very simple and
efficient means to contemplative prayer. One simply reads Scripture
or the Fathers (or Mothers!) slowly, reflectively, ruminating (like a
cow chewing its cud!) on each word and verse. As St. Romuald later
observed, one waits like a chick for whatever its mother gives it.
One does not read to get through the book. One reads to see if and
when the Holy Spirit calls us to higher prayer with a word or phrase
that strikes the heart. At that point, one should follow one's heart
and not worry about finishing the page! Cleared for takeoff!
It is interesting that St. Benedict weaves all these schedules of
contemplative reading and prayer together with his manual labor
concerns, without any ado. There's another example of the dignity and
holiness of work in a Benedictine theology. Our work, too, is prayer.
It must be.
We must, somehow, learn to be all prayer. That same
ruminative mindfulness that colors our lectio must color our labor as
well. It is a different form of attention, a different form of
prayer, but it is prayer nonetheless! Just ask any gardener or cook
with a mystical heart or, for that matter, any toilet cleaner or
diaper changer of the same ilk!
The Carmelites prescribe mental prayer, which should, with
recollection, spread throughout one's day. The hesychasts of Mount
Athos, Romania and Russia stress the Jesus Prayer, said vocally until
it becomes automatic in the heart at all times. Both of these are
more explicit methodologies, but the Benedictine aim is the same:
prayer without ceasing, prayer in choir and garden and cell, prayer
at reading and prayer at work. Mindfulness of God at all times is the
contemplative goal of all these systems.
This is just my own opinion, but I am inclined to think that the
Dominican concept of contemplation comes closest to our own, largely
because of their love of study. Study, for the Dominican, is often
very similar to lectio in the Benedictine scheme of things. Why?
Because the Dominican seeks Truth, and Jesus said: "I am the Truth."
A Dominican could be reading virtually anything and still know that
of real, objective truth garnered from that reading would be yet
another shard, no matter how small, in the infinite mosaic of the
face of Christ. That is a mosaic none of us shall ever complete in
this life, but oh, how much more familiar He shall seem to us when we
meet Him because of it!
Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I think that a Dominican education,
such as I had, is a wonderful preparation for Benedictine life.
Love and prayers,
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