February 10, June 11, October 11
Chapter 8: On the Divine Office During the Night
In the winter time,
that is from the Calends of November until Easter,
the sisters shall rise
at what is calculated to be the eighth hour of the night,
so that they may sleep somewhat longer than half the night
and rise with their rest completed.
And the time that remains after the Night Office
should be spent in study
by those sisters who need a better knowledge of the Psalter
or the lessons.
Elsewhere in the RB, St. Benedict tells us that nothing should come between a monk and the work of God, which are the liturgical times of prayer, the Daily Office.
At the same time, a monastery in benedict’s day was self-sustaining and there was work to be done which needed to be done in the daylight so the monastics could see what they were doing.
How does Benedict balance the needs? First of all, he has everyone go to bed early in the winter. Why not? It’s cold and dark, might as well sleep and arise refreshed enough to get in some prayers before going out to tend to the fields, the animals, the grapevines, the gardens, the sick, those that need schooling.
Good advice for us who claim we never have any time during the day to pray. We could try going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and devoting that precious time to our own work of God.