March 20, July 20, November 19
Chapter 41: At What Hours the Meals Should Be Taken
From holy Easter until Pentecost
let the brothers take dinner at the sixth hour
and supper in the evening.
From Pentecost throughout the summer,
unless the monks have work in the fields
let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour;
on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour.
This dinner at the sixth hour shall be the daily schedule
if they have work in the fields
or the heat of summer is extreme;
the Abbot's foresight shall decide on this.
Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.
From the Ides of September until the beginning of Lent
let them always take their dinner at the ninth hour.
In Lent until Easter let them dine in the evening.
But this evening hour shall be so determined
that they will not need the light of a lamp while eating,
Indeed at all seasons
let the hour, whether for supper or for dinner, be so arranged
that everything will be done by daylight.
Don't get caught up on times here. That's not the hook and it's not
the point. It can also lead you down a primrose path to
ineffectiveness and that's what (forgive me my recurrent inclusion!)
the Mother of Lies wants to happen. Just yesterday I read on
Oblateforum a story of a woman's very successful Lenten fast leading
to a 28 pound weight loss and a desire she felt was out of line for
new clothes and hairstyle! Just about anything can be turned around
to evil by the Evil One, but EVERYTHING can be turned to good by God.
Be sure to choose the right One in that equation!
Here's the central point of this chapter: "...[the Abbot] should
adapt and arrange everything in such a way that souls may be saved."
That is a tremendous responsibility and it is also tremendously
subjective. Each Abbot, each parent, each boss and teacher, any
Benedictine in charge or anything must order things so "that souls
may be saved."
That means all things (well, after all, the Holy Rule DOES
say "everything",) in our control must be ordered towards the end
that Peter Maurin, co-founder of Catholic Worker, ascribed to society
itself, the task of "making it easier for people to be good." That
means no chop-busting for the sake of chop-busting, no power trips or
ego trips or control issues that have nothing to do with helping
people become holy. Not only must we remove obstacles to holiness for
those around us and in our care, we must actually provide aids to
sanctity in their environment. Now that is a very tall order!
Within that tall order, however, lies one more secret and key to
Benedictine peace. Peace is no accident, nor is it a void or vacuum
from which conflict is merely absent. Peace is the active presence of
justice and holiness and truth and love to an unusual degree.
Promote those values and peace is the unavoidable result.
Like so much in our Rule, peace is a lot of hard work and a very
delicate balance. Ah, but is it ever worth the effort! Our work must
be to let heaven begin at least partially in THIS life for all.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA