Prayers for Barry and Bill on their birthday. God's will is best. All
is mercy and grace. Thanks so much! JL
March 14, July 14, November 13
Chapter 35: On the Weekly Servers in the Kitchen
An hour before the meal
let the weekly servers each receive a drink and some bread
over and above the appointed allowance,
in order that at the meal time they may serve their brethren
without murmuring and without excessive fatigue.
On solemn days, however, let them wait until after Mass.
Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday,
the incoming and outgoing servers
shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren in the oratory
and ask their prayers.
Let the server who is ending his week say this verse:
"Blessed are You, O Lord God,
who have helped me and consoled me."
When this has been said three times
and the outgoing server has received his blessing,
then let the incoming server follow and say,
"Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me."
Let this also be repeated three times by all,
and having received his blessing
let him enter his service.
Blessing readers and servers may strike the modern reader as a bit
silly: a CEREMONY of blessing to do a no-brainer like that for a
week? Ah, well there's the rub. Ancient monastics (and many Eastern
Orthodox monastics even in our own day,) do NOTHING without a
blessing. This results in all kinds of blessings for things we would
take for granted. When the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne went as a
group to the guillotine, at least one of the nuns approached the
Prioress and asked; "Permission to die, Mother?" The Prioress blessed
her to die.
Getting a blessing, asking God's help for even seemingly trivial
matters is a powerful reminder of our own weakness. It is a statement
that we can do nothing without Him, that we truly are nothing that He
has not given. There is a great humility in asking anyone for help.
In this instance, however, humility is richest truth: we need God's
help for everything. We do things only because He enables us, whether
we asked Him for help or not. Our very lives would not exist without
We still bless readers and servers. Short ceremony, same every week.
We all pray together for whomever is serving us. Since we are small
(only 7,) the Superior is often reader or server. When that happens,
he kneels like anyone else and the senior monk blesses him. It's a
little family ritual.
But what is its message for families in the world? For single Oblates
living alone? The message is that there are no tasks to insignificant
to bless with prayer. St. Benedict has earlier encouraged us to begin
every good work with prayer, but maybe we have forgotten. Because the
monastic is MINDFUL, careful, attuned to life, nothing is
unimportant, nothing should be done "on automatic pilot." There is
that healthy level of mistrust of self that will ask for Divine
assistance in any endeavor. "Bless, Lord, yet another
diaper." "Bless, Lord, emptying the trash." "Bless, Lord, management
Making dinner or washing the dishes? Take a quiet moment in the midst
of either to say "Help!" and "Thanks!" Two simple, one word prayers.
No matter how chaotic your household, everyone will find time for at
least that. God knows the details, knows your heart and can readily
fill in the blanks! We may think God needs essay-length prayers, but
He doesn't. He may enjoy hearing from us, but trust me, we NEVER tell
Him anything that's news to Him.
Of course, there is another side to simple things like serving table,
picking up pins and the like. No, one could not have done anything
without God's help, but ah, if one does them out of love and care!
Bingo! Double coupons, so to speak! If that pin got carefully picked
up because of a barefoot and running child, or a beloved pet who is
prone to "tasting" whatever she can find on the floor, simplicity
becomes a very much greater matter, indeed. Now it is very close to
the heart of God, and that is a wonderful place to be.
Love and prayers,