February 25, June 26, October 26
Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office
We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
and that “the eyes of the Lord
are looking on the good and the evil in every place” (Prov. 15:3).
But we should believe this especially without any doubt
when we are assisting at the Work of God.
To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet’s words,
“Serve the Lord in fear” (Ps. 2:11)
and again “Sing praises wisely” (Ps. 46:8)
and “In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You” (Ps. 137:1).
Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
Mindfulness is a popular concept these days. Oprah Winfrey introduced USians to Echart Tolle and his book, The Power of Now. Bookstores are filled with books on mindfulness. I saw one titled “Mindfulness for Christians.” I first encountered mindfulness as a practice a few years ago when I participated in an eight-week course in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. When I understood the concept, I immediately thought of this chapter in the RB.
St. Benedict calls us to pay attention to what we are doing because God is everywhere and sees and hears all we do. We should especially pay attention while doing the Work of God, the Opus Dei, which we call the Daily Offices. He doesn’t want the monastics to rush through the prayers. He wants them to pay attention, thoughtfully, with our “minds in harmony with our voices.” He wants them to remain mindfully in the moment, aware of the words coming out of their mouths.
Remember back in the Prologue, he said he was establishing a school for the service of the Lord, where people will learn how to pray, worship, and serve God in the manner of living within the monastic community. Later on, he tells us to love the Work of God and to participate in with as few exceptions as possible.
This chapter tells us why. Because prayer changes us. When we allow the prayers, the Scriptures to get in their and take root within our subconsciouses the prayers and the Scriptures work within us, turning us into the person it delighted God to create.