February 17, June 18, October 18
Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints
On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals
let the Office be performed
as we have prescribed for Sundays,
except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons
belonging to that particular day are to be said.
Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.
It may seem to some that there is too much picayune detail to all these instructions about how to say this or that office on this or that day. It may seem to some that this is an outmoded, archaic approach that we no longer need in the 21st century. To any who would think this, I’d say, hold on a minute. Are you perhaps confusing the letter of the passage with the spirit?
What do we think is going on in these passages about the offices? If we look at them as a bunch of hard and fast rules, we will be mistaken, I think.
One thing I notice is that Benedict is attuned to the rhythms and currents of not only the Church year, but also of the natural year. Of creation. I daresay we already know about how the Church year is structured to take us into the life of Jesus but aside from changing our attire to suit the weather, most of us are pretty well insulated from the rhythms and currents of nature. What with our electricity, central heating, office buildings with windows that won’t open.
Benedict’s monks lived more closely attuned to God’s creation than do we. I suspect they felt more a part of it and it more a part of them than we do. I suspect that they did not take if for granted the way we do.