Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 15: At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said, June 19, 2017

February 18, June 19, October 19
Chapter 15: At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said

From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
let “Alleluia” be said
both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
let it be said every night
with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
shall be said with “Alleluia,”
but Vespers with antiphons.

The responsories are never to be said with “Alleluia”
except from Easter to Pentecost.


Some thoughts

I love the words “alleluia” and “hallelujah”. In the original Hebrew, or so I am told, the word is best translated as “Praise Yahweh, you people”. Somehow we Christians have lost the meaning of the word as an exhortation to praise God but instead use the word to me solely “praise”.

A subtle distinction. Pedantic maybe. Perhaps even nit-picky. But I appreciate it because it reminds me praising our glorious Lord is not something I do by myself but is action common to the entire communion of saints, past, present, future. We raise our voices together with the archangels, angels, cherubim and seraphim

Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.

Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.

Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.

Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;

Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;

Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er

Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?

Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;

Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:

Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,

Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;

Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:

Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;

Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.

Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints, June 18, 2017

February 17, June 18, October 18

Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints

On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals

let the Office be performed

as we have prescribed for Sundays,

except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons

belonging to that particular day are to be said.

Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.


Some thoughts:

I am not sure when the observance of Saints’ days began. IIRC Peter Brown in _The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity_ only says “late antiquity”. Since the Middle Ages started in 476 CE, St Benedict is one of the early medieval Christian writers. At any rate, the observation of Saints’ days was apparently well-established by his time.

The point I am taking my own sweet time getting to is this: I love Saints’ days. I always have. I am so grateful to the examples of the saints and martyrs. They have comforted me in distress, added to my happiness in times of joy. When we sing the Benedictus at Eucharist, I often get goosebumps as I think that the same words are constantly being sung in heaven.

Needles to say, the communion of saints, the Body of Christ, that idea that all Christians whoever were, are now or will be, are gathered together in some sacramentally mysterious way is something I love.

Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

A modern elder said: “Any man who thinks that he can solve his own problems is like a bird which intends to fly without wings.”


We human beings need each other. It’s as simple as that. For those of us who are Christians, we are not only part of the human race but we are also part of the Body of Christ.
We know how our own bodies work, that we need every piece in working order. The same is true for the Body of Christ, we need every piece in working order.
There is a great beauty when we fully participate in the Body. It is also liberating. We none of us have to do everything. We are each called to be our part of the Body and we only have to do that one bit as faithfully and in as holy a manner as possible.
Just think of it. We each have to do only our teensy weensy bit. But if each of us does just that much, collectively we will accomplish a very great deal.

Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays, June 17, 2017

February 16, June 17, October 17
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord’s Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, “Forgive us as we forgive,”
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.

But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, “But deliver us from evil.


Some thoughts:
I was curious about the reference to the “Superior saying the Lord’s Prayer in its place at the end so that all may hear it” so I looked it up Kardong’s Commentary. Apparently it was, in fact, a custom for the superior to pray the first part of the prayer with the congregation joining with the asking and promising forgiveness. Hence the need “so that all may hear it,” so they would know when to join in. Kardong also says that as a result of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, singing of the entire Our Father is done by all the monks.
“on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up” refers to something Augustine of Hippo wrote about people omitting the forgiveness part of the Pater Noster thinking they weren’t obligated to it. As if.
The covenant referred to is the one of mutual asking and granting of forgiveness. So to Benedict, the asking and seeking forgiveness of the Our Father is not just something we promise to God but that we promise to each other. The monks (and us) are called together to hear God’s word which then demands that we forgive one another. In fact, that God will forgive us **only** if we forgive each other.

Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays, June 16, 2017

February 15, June 16, October 16
Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

On weekdays
the Morning Office shall be celebrated as follows.
Let Psalm 66 be said without an antiphon
and somewhat slowly,
as on Sunday,
in order that all may be in time for Psalm 50,
which is to be said with an antiphon.
After that let two other Psalms be said according to custom,
on Monday Psalms 5 and 35,
on Tuesday Psalms 42 and 56,
on Wednesday Psalms 63 and 64,
on Thursday Psalms 87 and 89,
on Friday Psalms 75 and 91,
and on Saturday Psalm 142 and the canticle from Deuteronomy,
which is to be divided into two sections
each terminated by a “Glory be to the Father.”
But on the other days let there be a canticle from the Prophets,
each on its own day as chanted by the Roman Church.
Next follow the Psalms of praise,
then a lesson of the Apostle to be recited from memory,
the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse,
the canticle from the Gospel book,
the litany, and so the end.


Some thoughts 

I love Psalms. I love them because they have taught there is nothing that I cannot bring to God. No matter how unworthy, ugly, sinful, nasty, it’s ok to bring it to God.

Psalms also teach me that God wants my every thought. That there is no part of me God doesn’t want.

Psalms teach me that I can learn to turn off that self-critical, self-editing voice in my mind that would tell me lies that I have to accomplish x,y,z before God wants me or become a,b,c before God wants me.

Look at what the psalmists never hesitated to say to God. Jesus tells us the truth sets us free. We see that Psalms told us this long before the Incarnation.

Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

A young monk went to consult a certain spiritual elder.

“I fulfill all of my monastic duties,” he told him, “and then some; nevertheless, my soul finds no peace. I receive no consolation from God.”

“You live according to your own will – for this reason all of these things occur to you,” the elder explained to him.

“What must I do, then, Abba, to be at peace?”

“Go find an elder having the fear of God in his soul. Surrender yourself to him in all that he wishes and let him guide you, as he sees fit, to the path of God. Then your soul will find consolation.”

The youth listened to the elder’s advice and his soul found peace.


This young monk has discipline and determination, make no mistake about that. His commitment is deep. Would that more of us had such commitment, determination, and discipline to embrace the journey with Christ.
Thing is, though, he is doing it out of his will, and not out of grace. The elder he consults recommends that the younger monk set aside his own desires, his own will to obey a more experienced abba. This frees the young monk from doing it on his own, going ti alone.
Now, of course, one would want to be very careful to whom one relinquishes authority. There have been very dangerous results of that. Such as Jonestown. Such as people in Garland, TX who quit their jobs, sold their homes and stood on a hilltop awaiting the Rapture which didn’t come.
When someone enters monastic life in a community or an order, one relinquishes responsibility for one’s spiritual growth to the monastic superior.
Outside the vowed religious life, we can seek out a spiritual director and discuss and learn from this person.
We can read books by the great Christian writers and be taught that way. Liturgical forms of worship are designed to be a form of spiritual direction.
Kenneth Leech wrote a wonderful book called Soul Friend. I highly recommend it.

Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

A certain elder, who was asked by the brothers what condemnation is and what it means to speak ill of another, gave the following explanation:

“In the case of speaking ill of someone, one reveals the hidden faults of his brother. In the case of condemnation, one censures something obvious. On the one hand, if someone were to say, for example, that such-and-such a brother is well-intentioned and kind, but lacks discretion, this would be to speak ill of him. If, however one were to say that so-and-so is greedy and miserly, this is condemnation, for in this way he censures his neighbor’s deeds. Condemnation is worse than speaking ill of another.”


While I agree with the abba, I would go in a different direction. To speak ill of someone is to speak ill of their behavior. To condemn a person is to make a negative comment about their identity.
It is one thing to say that a child acts like a naughty child. That describes the child’s behavior. It is something very different to say “You are a naughty child” because that places a negative identity upon someone.