Holy Rule for Oct. 19
Prayers, please, for P., in rehab after hospitalization for fluid on the brain.
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 muh. JL
February 18, June 19, October 19
Chapter 15: At What Times "Alleluia" Is to Be Said
From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
let "Alleluia" be said both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent let it be said every night
with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only. On every Sunday,
however, outside of Lent, the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime,
Terce, Sext and None shall be said with "Alleluia," but Vespers
The responsories are never to be said with "Alleluia" except from
Easter to Pentecost.
It is not uncommon for me to get posts asking how on earth I can
say "God's will is best." after recounting some litany of horrible
things which have befallen people in need of our prayers. Well, now
I up the ante a bit and add the equivalent of "Alleluia!" , "praise
Him!" to each post.
In every instance, even when it is all we can do to choke it out,
gritting our teeth, we must always say Alleluia. God must always be
praised, always, even when we cannot see goodness anywhere else at
all, it *IS* in Him and must be acknowledged. I fully expect
that, before long, new subscribers who have not seen this post will
begin to write and ask me how and who I can say Alleluia after
metastatic cancer and the like. Guess I'll have to save an answer in
We can see here that, in the West, already by St. Benedict's
time, "Alleluia" became a happy word of celebration, the use of
which was proscribed in somber times like Lent. That didn't happen
in the East. They go merrily along with Alleluia, even in the
depths of Lent. There might be a lot more sense to that, actually.
"Alleluia" means "Praise the Lord!" I know we have taken it to mean
something a lot more like "Whoopee!", but it doesn't. I bow to St.
Benedict and Western tradition in the liturgical use. In our
hearts, however, there should be an "Alleluia/praise the Lord" at
all times and seasons. "Praise the Lord anyhow!" the charismatics used to say
when something dreadful or unlovely happened to one. How true, how
I have not had the
crosses of many, but I have had heavy, tailor-made ones of my own.
Getting HIV two years before I became a monk comes to mind, as does
living with it for 20 years. So does depression, which just
about equals it, and I was depressed LONG before I had HIV.
I was not always very graceful about that, nor about many a
heartbreak, but I do know and I can honestly say that God's will HAS
been best, always best. My 20/20 hindsight must, though grudgingly
at times, fully own that Alleluia was appropriate at every point,
in every instance.
Saying that does not mean that I can no longer be terrified at this
or that prospect. I can. We all can. Jesus was in Gethsemane. It is
a very human fear, and God finds our humanity, in which He sees His
Son, very fetching. So don't freak out if you still get scared, it
is part and parcel of our human condition. But even then, we must train
ourselves to praise!
In every heartbreak, in every despair, in every grief we must
ardently cling to our faith that God is merciful and good. We must
see that when we feel unable to see it. We must, by faith and sheer
will, affirm that the Lord must be praised at all times. He is not
mean. Whatever is bleak shall never, ever lack His tender,
caressing hand behind it, no matter how unseen to us. It is there.
He is there. Always! Praise the Lord! ALLELUIA!
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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