Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 18:1-6

To be read: February 21, June 23, October 24

Each of the hours begins with the verse: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me” and the Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father..) and the appropriate hymn for each hour. 2Then, at Prime on Sunday four sections Psalm 118 [119] are said.  3And at the other hours, that is at Terce, Sext and None, three sections of this psalm are said.  4At Prime on Monday three other psalms are said: Psalms 1,2 and 6.  5And at Prime each day thereafter until Sunday, three psalms are said in consecutive order up to Psalm 19 [20].  Psalms 9 [9 & 10] and 17 [18] are each divided into two sections.  6In this way, Sunday Vigils can always begin with Psalm 20 [21].

Benedict is continuing to lay the framework for the weekly recitation of all 150 Psalms.  It is not easy to follow his instructions as they are not laid out in a concise and orderly fashion.  The pattern for the recitation of the psalms to be read at the various hours on the various days of the week must be pieced together over multiple chapters in this portion of the Rule.  For a simple chart of which Psalms are to be read at which service on each of the respective days of the week, click on this link:  https://www.cotres.org/fsb-inquirer-downloads/27-the-order-of-psalmody-in-the-rule-of-st-benedict/file.  As we will see in the third reading of this chapter, day after tomorrow, Benedict does allow for alternate patterns of Psalm recitation, saying, “We advise that if anyone finds this distribution of the psalms displeasing, he may arrange them however he judges better, provided that the full complement of all 150 psalms is said every week…”

Though Benedict stipulates that “all 150 Psalms” are to be said every week, that is extremely difficult for most of us who live in the secular world.  We all have responsibilities which are time consuming.  Even the monastic communities tend toward either a two week or one month rotation of the Psalms.  It is not the quantity of Scripture read, and specifically the number of psalms recited, that is important; it is the encounter with the Lord, and our relationship with Him that is the heart and goal of the Divine Office.  And so, it is appropriate that we begin the latter offices with the petition, “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me”, for without His assistance we are unable to do the “Work of God.”  The Lord promises us, through the prophet Moses, that if “you will seek the Lord your God, you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29).

For an alternate rotation of psalm readings, which covers a two-week cycle, you can click on this link:  https://www.cotres.org/fsb-inquirer-downloads/21-a-two-week-rotation-for-reading-the-psalms/file


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