February 22, June 23, October 23
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
At Terce, Sext and None on Monday
let the nine remaining sections of Psalm 118 be said,
three at each of these Hours.
Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore,
on two days, Sunday and Monday,
let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127
be said at Terce, Sext and None,
three at each Hour,
beginning with Tuesday.
And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday
at the same Hours,
while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses
is kept the same on all days;
and thus Prime on Sunday will always begin with Psalm 118.
I have simultaneously been appalled at St. Benedict’s complex scheme and also impressed by his ability to develop it. I rejoice that I have a lectionary at the back of my Prayer Book to tell me what Psalms to pray when.
Pretty sure I have previously said that St. Benedict’s Daily Offices were based on those of the Second Temple period in Jerusalem. The very first Christian monks are known as the Desert Christians (ok, technically they are known as the Desert Fathers but that ignores the women who were part of the movement) and they didn’t bother with Daily Offices. They spent their days and nights in their huts, aka cells, and prayed the Psalms starting with number one until they had prayed number 150 and then they started over again with number one. If you are interested in the history, there is a cursory but ok article on Wikipedia called Liturgy of the Hours.
What I glean from this, as I have so often, is the vital necessity of a disciplined prayer life. Over the years I have been a practicing Benedictine, I have had different thoughts about a disciplined prayer life but these days my thoughts focus on the necessity of prayer to change me into the person God had in mind when it delighted God to create me.
If I could encourage all who read this to take up the practice of a committed daily prayer life, I would try to do it. But I’ve learned long since that only the Holy Spirit has the authority and power to change minds and hearts so I leave it up to Her. I don’t live your life, only my own, and I do not know the circumstances of your life. A prayer life can be praying the seven offices a day, praying the Lord’s Prayer three times a day as recommended in the Didache, or praying the Jesus Prayer.
By the way, there is a delightful book about a Russian man who travels around praying the Jesus Prayer and his encounters nd experiences. It is called The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way by Thomas Cleary and Thomas Father Hopko. Highly recommended and an easy read. Rather light hearted.