February 12, June 13, October 13
Chapter 10: How the Night Office Is to Be Said in Summer Time
From Easter until the Calends of November
let the same number of Psalms be kept as prescribed above;
but no lessons are to be read from the book,
on account of the shortness of the nights.
Instead of those three lessons
let one lesson from the Old Testament be said by heart
and followed by a short responsory.
But all the rest should be done as has been said;
that is to say that never fewer than twelve Psalms
should be said at the Night Office,
not counting Psalm 3 and Psalm 94.
I am reminded of something I read once upon a time, perhaps in Jean Le Clerq’s Love of Learning and the Desire for God, of the congruency in the RB with nature. What I read said, in effect, that a day was divided into 2 main periods: sunrise to sunset and then sunset to sunrise. Each of these 2 periods was divided into 12 segments or hours. At this time, hours were not standardized as they are today so an hour when the nights are short would be shorter than an hour when the nights were longer. With that in mind, we see that Benedict adjusts the Night Office, cooperating with nature, rather than impose his demands upon it.
Most of us, I think it is safe to say, impose our demands upon nature. If we are too cold, we turn on the heat, too hot and we turn on the A/C, too dark and we turn on the lights. Now I am as much of a product of my times as anyone else and I say praise God and thank Him for central heating, A/C and electricity. Woo hoo!
Benedict did not allow the shorter nights to interfere with praying of Offices, instead, he adapted the Offices so that they would be manageable. The Offices were still prayed. Can the same be said of us?