March 20, July 20, November 19
Chapter 41: At What Hours the Meals Should Be Taken
From holy Easter until Pentecost
let the brothers take dinner at the sixth hour
and supper in the evening.
From Pentecost throughout the summer,
unless the monks have work in the fields
let them fast on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour;
on the other days let them dine at the sixth hour.
This dinner at the sixth hour shall be the daily schedule
if they have work in the fields
or the heat of summer is extreme;
the Abbot’s foresight shall decide on this.
Thus it is that he should adapt and arrange everything
in such a way that souls may be saved
and that the brethren may do their work
without just cause for murmuring.
From the Ides of September until the beginning of Lent
let them always take their dinner at the ninth hour.
In Lent until Easter let them dine in the evening.
But this evening hour shall be so determined
that they will not need the light of a lamp while eating,
Indeed at all seasons
let the hour, whether for supper or for dinner, be so arranged
that everything will be done by daylight.
This might seem a ridiculous observation to some, but it is something with which I struggle and as a result, my health suffers. I do not eat my meals regularly. I am very bad this way. As a diabetic, I have no excuse. So I am struck with the Benedictine orderliness we see here.
Do any of us fast regularly? As a diabetic, I have been strenuously advised against skipping any meal by both my doctor and other Benedictines. So I fast from a food group. Such as beef or cheese. The latter is a strenuous fast for me.
There is much else that could be said about this reading and I hope others will say it. One thing I wonder about is what would it be like to do everything that needs doing only by daylight and then going to bed when the sun sets. We are so accustomed to electricity and prolonging the day thereby. But I wonder what it would be like.