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Holy Rule for Oct. 25/26

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX This is the reading for Oct. 25, I accidentally sent out Oct. 26 yesterday, so this is trying to catch up and remedy the error. JL Lord, help us all as
    Message 1 of 57 , Oct 25, 2010
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      This is the reading for Oct. 25, I accidentally sent out Oct. 26 yesterday, so
      this is trying to catch up and remedy the error. JL

      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 24, June 25, October 25
      Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

      The order of psalmody for the day Hours being thus arranged, let
      all the remaining Psalms be equally distributed among the seven
      Night Offices by dividing the longer Psalms among them and
      assigning twelve Psalms to each night.

      We strongly recommend, however, that if this distribution of the
      Psalms is displeasing to anyone, she should arrange them otherwise,
      in whatever way she considers better,
      but taking care in any case that the Psalter with its full number
      of 150 Psalms be chanted every week and begun again every Sunday at
      the Night Office. For those monastics show themselves too lazy in
      the service to which they are vowed, who chant less than the
      Psalter with the customary canticles in the course of a week,
      whereas we read that our holy Fathers strenuously fulfilled that
      task in a single day. May we, lukewarm that we are, perform it at
      least in a whole week!


      I am going to begin this by reprinting two paragraphs of very
      important qualifications from the last post on this chapter, in

      "I hasten to add a word of caution to Oblates here: the Holy Rule
      is referring to choral Office in monasteries. To undertake for
      oneself such an Office could well be unwise, and sometimes, even
      wrong. The conditions of one's state in life come first. Oblates who
      are parents or married have kept Vigils and Nocturns with sick children
      or spouses of which professed monastics would never dream. Don't get
      hung up on this one. SHARE the Office all you can, but tend first
      to the responsibilities of your state in life.

      Before I became a monk I used to OCCASIONALLY do all 150 Psalms
      alone. There were two things worthy of mention here: I was a single
      man with one (very loving!) cat, and I recited them. Even at that,
      I can assure you it took up a chunk of time. Hence, Oblates should
      take great care that they don't obsess on this notion. Do what you
      can and rest assured that your community, and the Order and the
      whole praying Church is "making up" whatever you can't offer."

      A couple of years ago, the guesthouse well died (temporarily,
      thanks be to God!) We had to gather 10 gallon plastic buckets for
      each bathroom, haul them down the hill to the monastery in the
      station wagon, fill them and bring them back. What a hassle! We
      also had to caution the guests rather indelicately about no
      unnecessary flushes. Even more recently, a storm left us without
      electricity for several hours. Afraid to open the fridge too much
      and with no oven, we ordered pizza in Athol for the guesthouse.

      Both of these things were tough, but neither were anything compared
      to the amount of labor required to maintain life in the first
      centuries of the Order's existence. Neither were there lay
      brothers to do all that work in those days, since they were a much
      later development. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no running
      water, no phones, no Athol House of Pizza to call and no car to pick
      it up in. (OK aqueducts in some places, but you get the picture...)
      In the midst of a life that we would find crushingly different, St.
      Benedict insisted on the weekly 150. Hmmmm......

      We live in a world where countless labor-saving devices and perks
      give us far more time than anyone in history has ever had. Are we
      always good stewards of that abundance? Heaven knows, I don't want
      to give up those modern advantages, look at how hooked on computers
      I am. But what do we do with all that time? How much of the time we
      save goes to prayer? How much goes to mindless stuff we could well
      do without?

      Love and prayers,
      Jerome, OSB
      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, 2010
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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

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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