Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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.)

More and more, I realize that my "requests in prayer before the Lord" might be simply a disposition, a willingness, not to make anything happen, but to discover grace in what is. And then, to go forward from there, without fear.

Monday, June 26, 2017

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.)

I'm so often unfocussed and fragmented in my thoughts, not fully present in my body, and mesmerized by my emotions. But Benedict's instructions, just like the practice of the mantra, present me with a way of integration, of integrity, of living fully in the present and in the presence.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraph 4)


Above all else we urge that if people find this distribution of the psalms unsatisfactory, they should arrange whatever they judge better, provided that the full complement of one hundred and fifty psalms is by all means carefully maintained every week, and that the series begins anew each Sunday at Vigils. For members who in a week's time say less than the full psalter with the customary canticles betray extreme indolence and lack of devotion in their service. We read, after all, that our holy ancestors, energetic as they were, did all this in a single day. Let us hope that we, lukewarm as we are, can achieve it in a whole week.  (From para. 4 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry, OSB, 1997.)

Benedict sees my extreme indolence, lack of devotion, and lukewarmness. And yet, I find in his guidance an urging respect the tradition of saying the psalms, along with encouragement to discern what pattern of devotion works in my life. Fr John has taught me the firm discipline of the mantra, as a way of devotion, and as a way of discernment.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

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


Vespers each day has four psalms to be sung. (From para. 4 of Ch. 18 of Saint Benedict's Rule, trans. by Patrick Barry OSB, 1997.)

St. Benedict's simple statement about Vespers helps me to reflect on that late afternoon/evening part of my day.  I often experience late afternoon/evening as a tired, hectic, or moody time. Benedict says simply, there are four psalms to be sung. I know simply, it is time to say the mantra. In loving fidelity to discipline may come the "even-ing" or  balancing that is a fruit of the practice.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraph 2)


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.)

Daily habits, good or bad, have the power to form the person I become, especially a practice as rigorous and as loving as Christian Meditation. Routine can become discipline at these depths -- a discipline that builds confidence, casts out fear, and offers forgiveness --  a discipline that becomes transformative.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chapter 18: The order for reciting the psalms (paragraph 1)


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.)

The psalmist who wrote this verse, Cassian's recommendation of it as a formula for continuous prayer, John Main's recovery of Cassian's teaching leading to the practice of the mantra -- all teaching me that at any moment I can choose where I place my attention.




Wednesday, June 21, 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.)

Benedict's guidelines for fidelity, order, and thoroughness in the singing of the psalms seem to me to be in same spirit as saying the mantra faithfully, twice daily, from the beginning to the end of meditation. In both cases, I see a discipline, and I see a challenge to maintain a continuous turning towards God. Where does my mind go when it wanders throughout the day? The practice of meditation suggests to me that it's not so important where my wandering mind goes, as to gently bring it back into the presence of God.