11 July 2016

Memorial, Saint Benedict

My prayers for and very best wishes to my Sisters and Brothers in the Benedictine family on this Feast of St Benedict! Special greetings to the Benedictine Sisters at Transfiguration Monastery, the Camaldolese monks at Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, and New Camaldoli in Big Sur, and the Trappistine Sisters at Redwoods Abbey in Whitethorn, CA.

In Chapter 19 of the Rule of Benedict we read, "God's presence is never so strong as while we are celebrating the work of God in the oratory." Rachel Srubas, Oblate OSB, wrote the following in her reflection on this text.


The Labor of Prayer

You summon me here for the labor
of prayer, and hum within
the congregation's one, hymning voice.
Antiphons that underscore the themes of grace
frame and reinforce our common praise.

In the unsung pauses between psalms,
my mind stays still, or wanders.
You offer through both chant and silence,
Spirit-guidance I
may thankfully retrace one day.
While diocesan hermits have no congregation with whom we say or sing Office most of us do pray some portion of the Liturgy of the Hours each day and some of us sing them. I use the Camaldolese office book and especially love singing Compline from it. I feel a special kinship with those others I know who generally sing (parts of) the Office each day, especially the Camaldolese and the Trappistines of Redwood Abbey. Because my vocation is an ecclesial one and dedicated to assiduous prayer it only makes sense to to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as part of that.
For those who have never thought of either saying or singing Office and particularly for those who think of the LOH as something meant only for Religious and Clergy let me remind you that the Liturgy of the Hours is the Official Prayer of the Church and is meant for the Laity as well. Some parishes celebrate parts of the LOH frequently, some only during Holy Week or on special feasts or Sundays.  But all of us are invited by the Church to pray the LOH as part of the Church's life and ministry of prayer.
Resources are available for folks who would like to learn to pray Office. One that many really like is Universalis which allows them to download the day's office to their computer or handheld. Another option is the devotional "Give us this Day" which includes an abbreviated version of Morning and Evening Prayer as well as the Mass readings and reflections on the readings, saint of the day, etc. I use it especially for the reflections and recommend it. It would be a great way to begin praying Morning and Evening Prayer.