WCCM Oblate Blog: Reflections from Daily Reading of the Rule of St. Benedict
WCCM Benedictine Oblates are encouraged to read a designated portion of the Rule daily, and to write a brief, personal response. I hope that this blog will support our Oblate community in this practice. Please, keep blog entries brief and in a first-person ("I") voice. Refrain from discussing, offering an opinion, or commenting on other entries. Simply consider how a particular section of the Rule is speaking to you in your present circumstances.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Chapter 15: When the Alleluia should be said
From the holy feast of Easter until Pentecost the Alleluia must always be said in the psalms and the responsories.... (From Chap. 15 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.) As Joan Chitister says, Benedict would have us always be an "alleluia people". But beyond liturgy, I'm learning how important it is for me to say Alleluia when it's hardest to do.
Chapter 14: The celebration of Vigils on feasts of saints
On the feasts of saints and on all other solemnities Vigils should follow the order laid down for the celebration of Sunday except that the psalms, antiphons and readings that are appropriate to the day should be recited; the order of the liturgy itself remains the same as that described for Sunday. (Ch. 14 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.) My grasp of the "communion of saints" has grown and deepened and become personal, with my experience of being one in silence.
It is important that the celebration of Lauds and Vespers should never be concluded without the recitation by the superior of the whole of the Lord's prayer so that all may hear and attend to it. This is because of the harm that is often done in a community by the thorns of conflict which can arise. (From para. 2 of Ch. 13 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
For me, forgiveness does not come through the ego or an act of my will. Forgiveness comes through grace -- a sense of belonging to God and to all of creation.
On ordinary days Lauds should be celebrated like this: the sixty sixth psalm should be said with its antiphon but rather slowly, as on Sunday, to make sure that all are present for the fiftieth psalm which is said with its antiphon. (From para. 1 of Ch. 13 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)
Starting out slowly, and building to a rhythm over the week, the psalms are like a river of praise. In a similar way, it seems to me, meditation requires patience and fidelity to merge with the divine energy flow of life.
Then come the hundred and seventeenth psalm and the sixty second followed by the Benedicite and Laudate psalms, a reading from the book of the Apocalypse recited by heart, the responsory, an Ambrosian hymn, a versicle, theBenedictus, litany and conclusion. (From Ch. 12 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB,1997.) Perhaps all of these prayers, and not just the reading from Apocalypse, were once memorized -- held -- in the mind and heart. For me, lectio is a form, not of memorization, but of holding the Word in my heart. In perhaps a kindred way, the mantra is held in my heart, holds my heart in reality.
This arrangement for Vigils is followed in the same way on every Sunday both in summer and winter, unless -- which God forbid -- the community gets up late, in which case the lessons or responsories should to some extent be shortened. (From para. 2 of Ch. 11 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
In my life, meditation generates a creative rhythm, but also a disposition, at least an increasing one, to be gentle with myself when I fall short of my discipline. I realize that God upholds me with a divine energy that constantly heals and renews me.
Apart from that the arrangements for winter are followed exactly so that never less than twelve psalms should be recited at Vigils, not counting the third and ninety fourth psalms. (From Ch. 10 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)
Very precise instructions here, that begin to establish a rhythm and thoroughness about reciting the Psalter. Benedict's insistence on building a daily and hourly pattern to prayer remind me of John Main's instructions about saying the mantra. "It is also helpful to meditate regularly in the same place and also at the same time every day because this helps a creative rhythm in our life to grow, with meditation as a kind of pulse-beat sounding the rhythm." (John Main, Word Into Silence)