Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 10

To be read: February 12, June 12, October 15

From Easter until the first of November let the whole number of psalms, as explained above, be said. 2However, because of the shortness of the nights, no lessons are read from the book, but instead of these three lessons let one from the Old Testament be said from memory. Let a short responsory follow this. 3And let all the rest be performed as was said, namely, that never fewer than twelve psalms be said at Vigils, in addition to Psalms 3 and 94. 

Benedict did not have the blessing (or is it a curse) of modern time-keeping devices.  So, the good father recognized the need to adjust schedules to fit the seasons.  But regardless of the season, the focus of Vigils was to remain unchanged—a service of praise.  Lessons from the Scriptures and the Fathers are good, but in order to adjust for the work of the community in the Summer sun, the service must be shortened to take advantage of cool mornings.  Nevertheless, the heart of the community must continue to be turned toward God in worship and praise at the beginning of the day.  

The Opus Dei, the Work of God or the Divine Office, begins with praise, whether that is inclusive of readings or not.  Benedict recognized that for the work of the community to thrive, we must give back to God, first our praise and thanks, and only then to ask for His blessing and aid.  We are called to give a sacrifice of praise.  As the Psalmist says, “He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me…” (Psalm 50:23). It is far better to begin our day in thanksgiving and praise rather than seeking gifts from His hand or consuming more knowledge from the readings.  St. Paul reminds us of what Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

If your work requires an early start, you too can adjust your morning devotions.  But recognize that omitting those morning devotions is not an adjustment, it is an abdication.  If your discipline has not previously included morning devotions, there is no better time than the present to begin.  Start slowly and work up.  To dive into the recitation of twelve psalms and four lessons, with versicles and responsories could be daunting for even the most saintly of worshipers.  Let God guide you in your worship of Him.  It is His party, let Him show you the way.

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