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Nov. 28

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  • russophile2002
    +PAX 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28, 2003
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      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 Karl Marx 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
      jeromeleo@...
      Petersham, MA
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