Tuesday, February 21, 2017
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 that Benedict directed his monks to begin each hour of the Divine Office, with the same psalm verse that Cassian had earlier recommended as a formula for continuous prayer. And, for Fr John, Cassian's recommendation of a formula became the key to his recovering the Christian tradition of the mantra. The psalmist, Cassian, St. Benedict and John Main all point me towards a continuous turning to God.
Monday, February 20, 2017
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.)
In reading Benedict's instructions for the number of psalms to be sung at the hours, I glimpse a vision that lifts me above my small self -- 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.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
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 think that St Benedict confirms the importance of the Divine Office in the life of a monastic community -- the hours of praise throughout the night and day to bring the community together, to put God first, to keep time holy. In the same way, the discipline of meditation helps me to understand the importance of where I choose place my attention, in every minute and hour of the day. I think that where and how I place my attention becomes, in effect, who I am. So I must be careful to attend to life with a heart open to love.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
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.)
It fascinates me that there are times to say the Alleluia, and times not to say it. It is probably good for me to have a context for saying, and for not saying, for rejoicing, and for remembering that life also involves waiting, seeking, suffering.
Friday, February 17, 2017
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.)
The phrase "communion of saints" has come to take on much more meaning in my life through the practice of meditation. Selfless attention points me away from myself, toward communion and community, toward a sense of belonging, of everyone and everything belonging.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Chapter 13: Lauds on ordinary days (paragraph 2)
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.)
Acceptance and forgiveness can transform the stubborn patterns that ensnare my relationships with others. But first I must accept and forgive myself. That is only possible because I can know, in my own experience, that God accepts me, forgives me, and transforms me.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Chapter 13: Lauds on ordinary days (paragraph 1)
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 the same way, it seems to me, meditation requires patience and fidelity to merge with the divine energy that directs the flow of life.