April 1, August 1, December 1
Chapter 50: On Sisters Who are Working Far From the Oratory or Are on a Journey
Those sisters who are working at a great distance
and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time —
the Abbess judging that such is the case —
shall perform the Work of God
in the place where they are working,
bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey
shall not let the appointed Hours pass by,
but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can
and not neglect to render the task of their service.
For Benedictines, the work of God, i.e. the hours of daily prayer, are paramount. They come above all other responsibilities except caring for the sick and holy hospitality. It doesn’t matter where the monastic is when it is time to pray, that monastic is to pray, whether within the monastery or out and about in public.
What can we glean from this passage, we who are not monastics? One point seems obvious: nothing should come between us and making time to pray every day. Each of us will determine what is best for us as a way to pray. I think I have commented in the past that I really love the Daily Offices of the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. They have been my mainstay for decades. When I commuted to Boston on the train, I would pray Morning and Evening Prayer. On my lunch break it was quite convenient to pop into Trinity Episcopal Church and pray noon prayer. I would pray Compline before bed. When I had to drive two hours round trip, praying the Offices required more effort because I had to get up earlier in order to pray Morning Prayer. I could squeeze in Noon Prayer over my lunch, but frequently Evening Prayer and Compline were prayed at the same time.
Sometimes, it is inevitable that I might be out and about at a prayer time. Over the years I’ve used different things. One can pray the Anglican Rosary or any other rosary. Often I pray the Jesus Prayer. When I am not completely consumed with my own cares and worries, I will remember to pray the Jesus Prayer while waiting for the traffic lights to change or when stuck in traffic.
This Facebook group has many prayers and meditations in a variety of forms and you are welcome to use what is offered here any way you wish
Over the years, I’ve read many a book on how to begin to pray. So many of them start by recommending that a person make a commitment to set aside ten or fifteen minutes a day and hold to that time every day. I’ve also had people tell me they are daunted by the idea of trying to find that much free time amidst the demands of family, work, and life maintenance chores. In response I say “So don’t try for ten or fifteen minutes if that is setting yourself up for failure. What can you commit to?”
I see it this way. Once we find that slot of time and we give it wholly to God, be it during a commute on public transportation or sitting at the traffic light, if we give that time to God with all our heart, and make a habit of it, that will create its own hunger to spend more time with God. It will work itself out even if you believe the only time you have to yourself is sitting at that stoplight.