Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chapter 20: The ideal of true reverence in prayer


When we come, then, with our requests in prayer before the Lord, who is God of all creation, is it not all the more important that we should approach him in a spirit of real humility and a devotion that is open to him alone and free from distracting thoughts? (From Ch. 20 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I understand real humility as true self-knowledge.  That is, I come to know myself as someone grounded, not in my ego, but in the indwelling Christ. I'm helped to free myself from the distracting thoughts of my ego by the devotion of selfless attention to Him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chapter 19: Our approach to prayer


All of us, then, should reflect seriously on how to appear before the majesty of God in the presence of his angels. That will lead us to make sure that, when we sing in choir, there is complete harmony between the thought in our mind and the meaning of the words we sing. (From Ch. 19 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

For me, it's in that "complete harmony" that my strongest defense against distraction and despair exists. When I say the mantra lovingly -- and that takes my complete and selfless attention -- I realize that I am already loved.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraph 3)


These same psalms are repeated daily until Sunday and the identical arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses is retained everyday. (From para. 3 of Ch. 18 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I believe that what I do every day has the power to change me, especially something as rigorous (and loving) as the practice of meditation. Routine can become discipline at these depths -- a discipline that builds confidence, casts out fear, and affirms forgiveness --  a discipline that becomes transformative.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraphs 1-2)


Each hour begins with following verse: O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me. (From para. 1 of Ch. 18 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

How wonderful and curious that Benedict begins each hour with the same psalm verse that Cassian earlier recommended as a formula for continuous prayer. And for John Main, Cassian's recommendation of a formula became the key to Fr. John's recovering the Christian tradition of the mantra. The psalmist, Cassian, St. Benedict and John Main all point me toward a way of selfless growth.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Chapter 17: The number of psalms to be sung at the hours

We have already set out the order of the psalms for Vigils and for Lauds. Now let us look at the order of the psalms for the rest of the Hours. (From para. 1 of Ch. 17 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Today I'm reading Benedict's instructions for the number of psalms to be sung at the hours, on a day of much personal anxiety. I'm rewarded with a vision of a river of praise flowing incessantly. Benedict's guidelines for fidelity, order, and thoroughness in the singing of the psalms are in the same flowing spirit as saying the mantra faithfully, twice daily, from the beginning to the end of meditation.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Chapter 16: The hours of the work of God during the day

And so at these times let us offer praise to out Creator because of his justice revealed in his judgements -- that is at Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline and in the night let us arise to praise him. (From Ch. 16 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

I love to know the small, daily details of someone's life -- what time do they get up? what is their morning routine? their spiritual practice? what is their physical and mental attitude while doing routine chores? where do they place their attention? I think this interest arises from my own deep longing for direction in the practice of making time holy. Meditation has taught me the most important method of discipline, and also of receptivity to grace permeating every aspect of now.

Friday, June 17, 2016

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 Pentecost until the beginning of Lent it is said only with the last six psalms in the night office. On every Sunday outside Lent, however, the Alleluia is included in Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext and None.... (From Ch. 15 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

Benedict expands the expression of joyful praise to the greater part of the liturgical year. Seeking God in this way enlivens my experience of being, and brings me, perhaps, just a bit closer to continuous prayer of selfless attention.