Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Prologue 8-13

To be read: January 3, May 3, September 3

Let us then rise at long last, since the Scriptures rouse us, saying: “It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep”(Rom 13:11); 9and having opened our eyes to the light that comes from God, let us hear with our ears what the divine voice admonishes us, crying out daily: 10“Today, if you would hear his voice, harden not your hearts”(Ps 94[95]:8). 11And again: “He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”(Rev 2:7). 12And what does He say?—“Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord”(Ps 33[34]:12). 13“Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you”(Jn 12:35)

Benedict returns to the theme of listening.  “It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep…” (Rom 13:11).  The sense given in these verses is that we have been asleep at the wheel, so to speak, and the life God intends for us is passing us by.  It is time to wake up, because God has more for us.  And so, Benedict alerts us and calls us to “open our eyes to the light” and “let us hear with our ears.”  For he says that God calls out from heaven to us every day (v. 9).  Benedict has laid down a challenge for us to grow in constant awareness of our Lord’s Presence and His grace.

This is a difficult challenge for us because in this modern world the distractions are numerous.  The stimuli with which we are constantly bombarded are manifold, and the result is that we do not know how to be quiet.  It’s not a matter of our having been asleep, it’s a matter of our focus.  We are distracted and our priorities have been shifted to the things of this world.  Just look at what churches are doing to bring people in their doors.  They create stimulus rich services that are all but indistinguishable from worldly assemblies, sporting events, TV shows, and concerts.  People complain that mainline services are boring.  To get a group of Christians to observe a quiet day is all but impossible.  But as Benedict says, quoting Revelation 2:7, “He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  How can we listen if we do not silence the competing voices vying for our undivided attention.  We are so convinced we can multitask that we have demoted God to a role comparable to our Facebook friends.  We are so awake temporally that we miss the heavenly voice.  We reject interiority in favor of a stimulus rich secular life.  The truth though is that God is patient.  He is standing by on call, waiting.  He is ready to talk, but He will NOT interrupt our priority conversations.  When we are ready, He will talk to us.  “Now is the hour for us to rise…”  

We are also called to open our eyes to the light—the divine light.  Apparently, the adjective “divine” used here is an action word.  The divine is not simply descriptive; it is transformative.  It is the “divinizing” light.  When we open our eyes to His light, He transforms us.  He transitions us from darkness—absence from Him—into His marvelous light.

All of this is not simply a personal or individual encounter—“listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Every Word, even individual exhortations, are corporate in nature, for we are all part of One Body.  Also, from the other perspective, every corporate Word is also personal.  We all need to listen carefully to the prophetic words given to the Body.

And finally, Benedict quotes from John 12:35, “Run while you have the light of life…” (Jn 12:35).  The word “run” appears no less than four times in the Prologue.*  We must not delay responding to God’s call.  But I am also reminded, having two young grandchildren, that children run to express their joy and excitement.  That type of exuberance has been quelled in too many adults, and that is sad.  Run with exuberance while you have the light of life.  Do not delay to respond to God’s loving call.

*cf. vv. 22, 44, 48

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