Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chapter 52: The oratory of the monastery

The oratory must simply be a place of prayer, as the name itself implies, and it must not be used for any other activities at all nor as a place for storage of any kind. (From Ch. 52 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Moving from a house to a new home -- a time for me to let go of much of the emotional and material baggage that clutters my heart, my oratory, and keeps me from growing in prayer. My life becomes more and more about living in that creative space with God.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chapter 51: Those on local errands or work


Any who are sent on an errand which will allow them to return to the monastery on the same day must not eat outside, in spite of pressing invitations whatever their source, unless the superior has approved this. (From Ch. 51 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Keeping custody of my senses -- this is the phrase that arises spontaneously for me. Indulging in the constant, "pressing invitations" of electronic media and the internet. Wanting to stay centered and attentive to the inner silence.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chapter 50: Those whose work takes them away from the monastery


"Those whose work takes them some distance from the monastery so that they cannot manage to get to the oratory at the right times of prayer must kneel with profound reverence for the Lord and perform the work of God at their place of work. (From para. 1 of Ch. 50 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I can understand this passage in terms of good instruction when I must meditate in an unaccustomed place. But I also find it helpful when it's hard for me to meditate at all. First, it resonates with John Main's instruction to say the mantra whether or not I feel like it. Secondly, it sensitizes me to the divine energy that is constantly sustaining me, regardless of any conditions.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chapter 49: How Lent should be observed in the monastery


There can be no doubt that monastic life should always have a Lenten character about it, but there are not many today who have the strength for that. Therefore we urge that all in the monastery during these holy days of Lent should look carefully at the integrity of their lives and get rid in this holy season of any thoughtless compromises which may have crept in at other times. (From para. 1 of Ch. 49 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I can replace thoughtless compromises with a thoughtful, heartfelt Yes! to whatever surprising and perhaps even painful ways grace touches my life. To do this, I need to nurture discipline and attention.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chapter 48: Daily manual labor (paragraphs 6-7)


Sunday is the day on which all should be occupied in lectio divina, except for those who are assigned to particular duties. (From para. 6 of Ch. 48 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Here St. Benedict relates for me the practice of lectio with the practice of holy leisure. Sunday, in particular, is a time for me to read the book of life with relaxed and alert attention, as I learn in meditation.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chapter 48: Daily manual labor (paragraphs 3-5)


As a  special provision during these days of Lent each member of the community is to be given a book from the library to read thoroughly each day in a regular and conscientious way. (From para. 4 of Ch. 48 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

I'm interested in Benedict's Lenten directions to have only one book, and to read it daily in a regular and conscientious way. For me, this would be a form of fasting, accustomed as I am to dipping freely into books and the internet. It would also be a form of lectio that would bring my disciplined and selfless attention to the book. Meditation teaches me that I can bring these qualities, even beyond Lent, to every single aspect of my life.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chapter 48: Daily manual labor (paragraphs 1-2)


Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore the community must be occupied at definite times in manual labour and at other times in lectio divina. (From para. 1 of Ch. 48 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Meditation and lectio teach me an openness of mind and heart that expands my being -- and helps me to penetrate experiences to find the presence of God.