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Holy Rule for Oct. 23

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of James, on the anniversary of his death, and for all who mourn him. Lord, help us all as You know and will. God s
    Message 1 of 57 , Oct 22, 2010
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      +PAX

      Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of James, on the anniversary of his death, and for all who mourn him.

      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 22, June 23, October 23
      Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
      At Terce, Sext and None on Monday let the nine remaining sections
      of Psalm 118 be said,
      three at each of these Hours.

      Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore, on two days, Sunday and
      Monday, let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127 be said at
      Terce, Sext and None, three at each Hour, beginning with Tuesday.
      And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday at the
      same Hours, while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses is
      kept the same on all days; and thus Prime on Sunday will always
      begin with Psalm 118.


      REFLECTION

      Running psalmody, that is, reciting the Psalms in numerical order,
      no matter what came next, was a very common ancient monastic
      practice. Since one of the principles behind the Psalter was to "get
      it all in" in the space of a week, that running psalmody was a
      natural
      consequence. St. Benedict obviously had some of that on his mind:
      he goes from detailed directions about the spacing of the longest
      Psalm, 118, right into assigning the next 9 to the minor hours
      which are repeated throughout the week from Tuesday to Saturday.

      As a result, one could safely say that there is nothing specific to
      the time of day as such about these Psalms, but that is not
      entirely correct. These nine Psalms from 119-127 are gradual
      Psalms, pilgrimage songs. They were sung by the Jews as they were
      going up
      to Jerusalem. They are filled with the tension of anticipation and
      possession of God's Temple and His blessings, they are songs
      of "already" and "not yet".

      The gradual Psalms are short, compact units, easily memorized.
      Since memory is one thing the Holy Rule no doubt was providing for-
      these Offices frequently had to be said on the spot, in the fields-
      it is very likely that this group were quite deliberately chosen.
      No one in their right mind would suggest some of the longer Psalms
      from Matins
      for easy memorization!!

      Regardless of what St. Benedict may or may not have had in mind,
      the Holy Spirit can use all of us, even St. Benedict, in ways we do
      not realize. Read through these Psalms and picture yourself saying
      them in a distant field, with the Abbey in view, but far away. Get
      the
      idea? The pilgrim songs that speak of already AND not yet were the
      perfect thing for monastics to say in such circumstances.
      Jerusalem, the House of God, was both a distant view and a complete
      possession, since ALL of the monastery is the House of God.

      It is easy, terribly easy, to forget that we live "in the House of
      God." We do, all monastics do, Oblates do, everyone does. It IS
      God's world. Being reminded of this by those Psalms of journeying
      is a great idea. Our feet really are "standing within your gates, O
      Jerusalem!" yet we also see it as from a distance. We look from
      afar and see that Jerusalem is a city compact, a unity of peace and
      order. Who has seen a monastery on a hill and not had similar
      thoughts?

      Even the accidental end of the sequence (which continues in
      Vespers,) has a wonderful application. "Blessed are those who fear
      the Lord, who walk in His ways!" It recounts the joys and
      protections of a life lived for God and ends with the plea: "On
      Israel, peace!" Just
      picture yourself saying that at the end of a hard day's work in the
      field, looking at back Abbey Church, the safe home of gathered
      family and choir. Not shabby!

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      http://www.stmarysmonastery.org

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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, 2010
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        +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 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.

        REFLECTION

        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
        http://www.stmarysmonastery.org
        Petersham, MA




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