Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reading: 11/21/07

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 22, July 22, November 21
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table

At the hour for the Divine Office,
as soon as the signal is heard,
let them abandon whatever they may have in hand
and hasten with the greatest speed,
yet with seriousness, so that there is no excuse for levity.
Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God.

If at the Night Office
anyone arrives after the "Glory be to the Father" of Psalm 94 --
which Psalm for this reason we wish to be said
very slowly and protractedly --
let him not stand in his usual place in the choir;
but let him stand last of all,
or in a place set aside by the Abbot for such negligent ones
in order that they may be seen by him and by all.
He shall remain there until the Work of God has been completed,
and then do penance by a public satisfaction.
the reason why we have judged it fitting
for them so stand in the last place or in a place apart
is that,
being seen by all,
they may amend for very shame.
For if they remain outside of the oratory,
there will perhaps be someone who will go back to bed and sleep
or at least seat himself outside and indulge in idle talk,
and thus an occasion will be provided for the evil one.
But let them go inside,
that they many not lose the whole Office,
and may amend for the future.

At the day Hours
anyone who does not arrive at the Work of God
until after the verse
and the "Glory be to the Father" for the first Psalm following it
shall stand in the last place,
according to our ruling above.
Nor shall he presume to join the choir in their chanting
until he has made satisfaction,
unless the Abbot should pardon him and give him permission;
but even then the offender must make satisfaction for his fault.

Some Thoughts

One of the greatest of many very great lines is in today's reading: " Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God." Would you agree with me that for Benedict. this is where it all takes place? Can we view all the rest of the Rule as commentary on this one sentence? That the purpose of the Rule is to make sure this is the point of day to day life? Is the work of God, the Opus Dei, prayer the most important things in our lives?

Anyone who reads my own Rule would say that on paper at least, such is my claim. But it is clear to me that this recent agony of back pain may be a direct result of failing to honor the place of prayer in my Rule, Of thinking that prayer was not enough for me to offer on behalf of the poor and so i stood for days and days baking for the Gourmet Pantry Table for our Christmas Arts, 12/1/07. Ignoring the spasms or just taking more ibuprofen till one day I just couldn't walk.

" Let nothing, therefore, be put before the Work of God." I really need to pay attention.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Benedictine spirituality does not ask for great feats of physical asceticism but it does require commitment to community and a sincere seeking of God through prayer. Tardiness is not to be tolerated. Indolence is not to be overlooked. Half-heartedness will not be condoned. Benedict does not want people sleeping-in or dawdling along, or "preferring anything to the Opus Dei," the work of God. Nothing in life qualifies as an exchange for the Word of God, not good work, not a job almost finished, not an interesting conversation, not the need for privacy.

Benedictine life centers around the chapel and chapel must never be overlooked. What is being asked for in monastic spirituality is a life of fidelity to prayer and to the praying communities of which we are a part. Prayer is a community act in Benedictine life. It is at community prayer, in the midst of others, that we are most reminded that we are not a world unto ourselves.

Benedict will go so far as to have the community pray the opening psalm slowly to give the slow a chance to get there in an age without alarm clocks but he will not allow such a lack of personal spiritual discipline to grow. Tardiness, the attempt to cut corners on everything in life, denies the soul the full experience of anything.

It is a lesson to be relearned in a modern age perhaps. There is nothing more important in our own list of important things to do in life than to stop at regular times, in regular ways to remember what life is really about, where it came from, why we have it, what we are to do with it and for whom we are to live it. No matter how tired we are or how busy we are or how impossible we think it is to do it, Benedictine spirituality says, Stop. Now. A spiritual life without a regular prayer life and an integrated community consciousness is pure illusion.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home