Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 13:1-11

To be read: February 15, June 16, October 18

On weekdays let Lauds be celebrated in the following manner: 2Let Psalm 66 be said without an antiphon, drawing it out a little as on Sunday, so that all may be present for Psalm 50, which is to be said with an antiphon. 3After this let two other psalms be said according to custom: 4on Monday, Psalms 5 and 35; 5Tuesday Psalms 42 and 56; 6Wednesday Psalms 63 and 64; 7Thursday Psalms 87 and 89; 8Friday Psalms 75 and 91; and on Saturday Psalm 142 and the canticle from Deuteronomy, which should be divided into two sections with Gloria after each. 10On the other days, however, let a canticle from the Prophets, each for its proper day, be said as the Roman Church designates. 11After these let the psalms of praise follow (Psalms 148-150); then one lesson from the Apostle, to be said from memory, the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the versicle, the canticle from the Gospel, the litany, and it is finished. 

Benedict did not create his rule from scratch.  He has openly and liberally drawn from many sources.  For example, he instructs that portions of the Daily Offices are to follow the practice of “the Roman Church” (vs. 10), and that the hymns used are from the Ambrosian Hymnal.  He based the entirety of the his rule on the Rule of the Master, and as we shall see later, he commends and acknowledges the influence of “the Conferences of the Fathers, and their Institutes and Lives, and the rule of our holy Father, Basil (St. Basil the Great)” (RB 73:5). 

For those of us who have enrolled in the School for the Lord’s Service, the Rule is not so much prescriptive as instructive.  We can draw from multiple reliable sources for the development of our spiritual disciplines.  Benedict has done so, and has laid a foundation for us in order to establish healthy spiritual habits, not to bind us to an unwavering curriculum with hard and fast rules.  As Benedict says in the statement before the first chapter, “It is called a rule because it regulates the lives of those who obey it.”  It is NOT called a rule because is keeps the followers captive.  The rule is a standard by which we can live and measure our lives.  It is not a legal document which cannot be broken.

So, do we legalistically follow every verse of the Rule of St. Benedict, not missing a Psalm, singing every Ambrosian Hymn, and faithfully reciting the canticles from Old and New Testaments.  What if we miss an hour?  We press on, brothers and sisters.  We follow the tenets of the Rule, and honor the intent.  We do not chain ourselves to a Pharisaical following of every jot and tittle of the Rule.  It is good to let the Rule challenge us to grow into a deeper relationship with Christ and His Church.  But it is a Rule to which we can look for guidance, and grow in the observance of that Rule.  It is a rule, “because it regulates the lives” of those who follow it, in order to help us live those lives in closer harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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