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Holy Rule for Oct. 14

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Deo gratias: Don had a good CT scan result, brain looks fine, further tests to come, so contiued prayers. Prayers for Joanne and Stewart, financial and
    Message 1 of 57 , Oct 13, 2010
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      Deo gratias: Don had a good CT scan result, brain looks fine, further tests to come, so contiued prayers.

      Prayers for Joanne and Stewart, financial and emotional problems, making a Marriage Encounter weekend.

      Prayers, please, for Craig, who had a serious fall and is awaiting surgery.

      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 13, June 14, October 14
      Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays

      On Sunday
      the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier.
      In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
      namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
      Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order
      while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book,
      as we said above.
      These shall be four in number,
      with the chanter saying the "Glory be to the Father"
      in the fourth responsory only,
      and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.

      After these lessons
      let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before,
      and a verse;
      and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories
      in the same way as the former.

      After these let there be three canticles
      from the book of the Prophets,
      as the Abbot shall appoint,
      and let these canticles be chanted with "Alleluia."
      Then when the verse has been said
      and the Abbot has given the blessing,
      let four more lessons be read,
      from the New Testament,
      in the manner prescribed above.

      After the fourth responsory
      let the Abbot begin the hymn "We praise You, O God."
      When this is finished
      the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels,
      while all stand in reverence and awe.
      At the end let all answer "Amen,"
      and let the Abbot proceed at once
      to the hymn "To You be praise."
      After the blessing has been given,
      let them begin the Morning Office.

      This order for the Night Office on Sunday
      shall be observed the year around,
      both summer and winter;
      unless it should happen (which God forbid)
      that the brethren be late in rising,
      in which case the lessons or the responsories
      will have to be shortened somewhat.
      Let every precaution be taken, however,
      against such an occurrence;
      but if it does happen,
      then the one through whose neglect it has come about
      should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.


      The idea of Vigils has very ancient Christian roots: watching all
      night in prayer, particularly before Sunday, in anticipation of the
      Second Coming (that they be found waiting, with lamps trimmed,) and
      from the tradition that Jesus rose from the dead at dawn. The
      connections of light/darkness and Son/sun are rich. Anyone who has
      ever done an all-night Vigil can tell you it is a memorable
      experience. They are frequently done, even in our own day, on Mount
      Athos, lasting literally all night and including the chanting of the
      ENTIRE Psalter.

      With all this, it's no surprise that St. Benedict adds some extra
      high church length to Vigils of Sunday. He still, however, makes a
      lot of allowances for the monastics, even those who (God forbid!)
      oversleep!! His Vigils are long, but they are quite pointedly NOT all
      night! Doing an all night vigil for Sunday and every big feast would
      do in a community of farmers in short order.

      Many people who cut their teeth on pre-1964 Merton works, like "The
      Silent Life" or "The Waters of Siloe", might think that the
      Benedictines were a rather mitigated lot and the Cistercians were the
      only ones who REALLY got the Holy Rule right. Well, yes and no... We
      ARE a mitigated lot, we started out that way and have continued on
      that middle road. St. Benedict designed his Rule as an adaptation and
      yes, mitigation, of Egyptian monastic life, suitable for European
      types. And no, the Cistercians are not at all necessarily the ones
      who "got it right," as their own adaptations after 1964 clearly

      Our long history is one of decline and repeated reform. The reforms,
      understandably enough have always been aimed at sweeping away
      mitigations and laxity. Predictably, they have often swept away a
      good deal of moderation in the bargain, as well! Also, predictably,
      the reforms themselves decay and have to be reformed: why do you
      think there are Common Observance Cistercians and Trappists- two
      separate Orders?

      Merton, like any of us, changed and grew. In his later years,
      questions of observance and mitigation were at least less prominent
      and sometimes totally absent. Right now it is probable that BOTH
      Benedictines and Cistercians are living in their most relaxed and
      mitigated conditions ever. That's not all bad. History might tell us
      some of it will need tinkering, tightening up, but God will send the
      men and women to do that in His time.

      Rather than adopt an attitude of ALL-NIGHT, ALL the time,
      get-every-boot-camp-in-toughest--shape and so forth, why not bask a
      bit in the fact that we were born mitigated monastics and are meant to be so?
      Nothing wrong with that, so long as we don't carry it too far. In the 19th
      century, Russian Orthodox Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov said that the monks
      of the latter days would NOT be doing many of the great works of old, but
      that the peculiar conditions of the world in which they had to live would
      balance things out. The modern and post-modern monastic faces many new obstacles
      of which the Fathers and Mothers of old could have at best only dimly imagined.

      When I first read Merton, he had some growing ahead of him and I was
      14...didn't make for a very complete grasp on my part! Now, instead
      of scorning relaxed observance in horror, I welcome it. Both Merton
      and I learned something on different schedules: God gives certain
      monasteries their particular observances because they are the only
      place in the world some people could ever become monks. And this is
      as true of relaxed observance as it is of strict!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      St. Mary's Monastery
      Petersham, MA

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    • Br. Jerome Leo
      +PAX ******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
      Message 57 of 57 , Nov 28 2:11 PM
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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
        every bit
        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,
        Jerome, OSB
        Petersham, MA

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