Prayers, please for all in harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq, for
Mary Ann, strenuous chemo for cancer with a doubtful prognosis, also
for the suicide bombers and their victims in Istanbul. God's will is
best. All really is mercy and grace, somehow it is!! Thanks so much.
March 17, July 17, November 16
Chapter 38: On the Weekly Reader
The meals of the sisters should not be without reading.
Nor should the reader be
anyone who happens to take up the book;
but there should be a reader for the whole week,
entering that office on Sunday.
Let this incoming reader,
after Mass and Communion,
ask all to pray for her
that God may keep her from the spirit of pride
And let her intone the following verse,
which shall be said three times by all in the oratory:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Your praise."
Then, having received a blessing,
let her enter on the reading.
And let absolute silence be kept at table,
so that no whispering may be heard
nor any voice except the reader's.
As to the things they need while they eat and drink,
let the sisters pass them to one another
so that no one need ask for anything.
If anything is needed, however,
let it be asked for by means of some audible sign
rather than by speech.
Nor shall anyone at table presume to ask questions
about the reading or anything else,
lest that give occasion for talking;
except that the Superior may perhaps wish
to say something briefly for the purpose of edification.
The sister who is reader for the week
shall take a little ablution before she begins to read,
on account of the Holy Communion
and lest perhaps the fast be hard for her to bear.
She shall take her meal afterwards
with the kitchen and table servers of the week.
The sisters are not to read or chant in order,
but only those who edify their hearers.
It is tempting when reading any rule or law to view it being observed
with a Nazi goose-step precision. Don't go there! That's not how the
Holy Rule gets fleshed out in healthy communities. (And the key word
here is HEALTHY!) Ours is a Rule for families, and families need love
and affectionate playfulness to build and strengthen their bonds of
unity and delight in each other.
So, OK, we do keep silence in the refectory and we do have reading
and we can't go absolutely off the wall while there, but we do quite
often have some fun. A sidelong glance with eyes rolled upward can
say volumes, a smile or chuckle, sometimes universal and joyous
laughter do the same.
One could go too far with such things, but in moderation they are
fine. They unite with non-verbal ties, they connect with wordless
junctures and these are very powerful. The huge amount of verbiage in
our modern world has taught us to discount words on many occasions,
but the genuinely affectionate body language of shared silence does
not fall under that sentence. Hence, these are very strong messages
of love we send to one another.
Sometimes the matter being read is sufficiently boring to make one
chew with incredible speed. (This is as Catch 22, however. The faster
one eats, the more days it will take to finish the pearl of great
price at hand....) When we were recently reading a papal document on
consecrated life rich with Vaticanese, a bureaucratic jargon that
could induce sleep faster than any narcotic known to science, there
were ample opportunities to enjoy a bit of comic relief.
I am typically bored to tears by such literature read aloud. I can do
it alone, but read it to me? Well, you know the warmth of the
language employed in such officialese! Yeccch!
Suffice it to say that I was longing for anything to break the mood.
Then- O wondrous to say!- came a longish portion on "the difficulties
of consecrated life" the religious had to bear. Sensing my moment had
come, I patted Brother Bernard, who sat next to me, on the forearm
and smiled patronizingly. (It is our particular vocation to tease and
torture each other!)
I am probably beyond redemption in some areas! LOL!
Love and prayers,