Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chapter 43: Late-comers for the work of God or in the refectory (paragraphs 1-3)

When the time comes for one of the divine offices to begin, as soon as the signal is heard, everyone must set aside whatever they may have in hand and hurry as fast as possible to the oratory, but of course they should do so in a dignified way which avoids giving rise to any boisterous behaviour. The essential point is that nothing should be accounted more important than the work of God. (Para. 1 of Ch. 43 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Soundlessly and selflessly I turn to God. The more I do so, the more rediscover peace.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chapter 42: The great silence after Compline

Silence should be sought at all times by monks and nuns and this is especially important for them at night time. (From para. 1 of Ch. 42 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

"Lead us into that mysterious silence where Your love is revealed to all who call." These words of the opening prayer call me to attention and call me to heart-centeredness. The practice of meditation moves me gradually toward experiencing life from the silent place in my heart.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chapter 41: The times for community meals

The principle is that the superior should manage everything so prudently that the saving work of grace may be accomplished in the community and whatever duties the community undertakes they may be carried out without murmuring. (From para. 1 of Ch. 40 of St. Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Benedict feeds me with more than a meal: He gives meaning and substance to my days, urging me to co-create with God in blessing the world with opportunities for grace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chapter 40: The proper amount of drink to be provided

St Paul says that each of us has a special gift from God, one kind for one of us and quite a different one for another. That reflection makes me reluctant to decide on the measure of food and drink for others. (From para. 1 of Ch. 40 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Benedict's discussion of gifts from God, in relation to the proper amount of drink, surprises me. I understand self-control to be a fruit of the Spirit. But whether gift or fruit, perhaps the discernment of how to live my life in a way which makes me most consistently open to the selfless praise of God, is what he's talking about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chapter 39: The amount of food to be made available

Nothing is so opposed to Christian values as overeating, as we can see from the words of our Lord: take care that your hearts are not weighed down by overeating. (From para. 2 of Ch. 39 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

These are strong words against overeating -- an indulgence all too easy to do in an affluent and fast-paced culture. But I hear St. Benedict in these words affirming the staunchly incarnational -- embodied -- nature of prayer and service. My body must be part of the integrated whole of selfless attention, and my body must be fit for selfless service.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chapter 38: The weekly reader

Everyone on the community should be attentive to the needs of their neighbours as they eat and drink so that there should be no need for anyone to ask for what they require. (From para. 2 of Ch. 38 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

St. Benedict asks for complete silence, without even whispering, total attention to the reader, and simultaneous attention to the needs of neighbors while eating one's own meal. I don't think this is multitasking. I think this is like what a pilot might call "situational awareness", but in the best sense of being totally present to the reality in which the love of God is interpenetrating.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chapter 37: Care for the elderly and young

Human nature itself is drawn to tender concern for those in the two extremes of age and youth, but the authority of the Rule should reinforce this natural instinct. (From Ch. 37 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

It seems to me that the "natural instinct" of which St. Benedict speaks is not so apparent todayMay I become ever more sensitive to the special gifts of the elderly and the young, and reflect them back to them.