ENLARGING THE HEART

UPDATE:             1ST January 2015   We now begin a new series of commentaries on the Rule of our Holy Father Saint Benedict (Series 3). We hope this will continue to be a source of spiritual nourishment for you. 


Daily readings from the Rule of Saint Benedict

By a Benedictine of Saint Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde


"... as we progress in our monastic life and in faith, our hearts

   shall be enlarged, and we shall run with unspeakable sweetness of love in the way of God's commandments." 

(From the Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict)


St Benedict wrote his Rule for monks some fifteen centuries ago.  Driven by his love of Christ, he wanted to establish his monastery as a “school of the Lord’s service”: a place where people who truly seek God could find him; places where “authentic Gospel values prevail”[1]; where nothing whatever would be preferred to Christ. The Rule of St Benedict spread all over Europe, and had an enormous influence on the life and spirituality of the Latin Church.  It continues to inspire monks, nuns, and countless lay people throughout the world today.

Like many monasteries we divide the Rule into sections so that the whole Rule is covered over a period of three months. The commentaries will follow the sequence of the sections.



[1] Pope John Paul II, to Benedictine Abbots, 23 September 1996


Oct 25

The order of the psalms for the day Hours being now arranged, let all the remaining psalms be equally distributed in the seven Night Offices, the longer psalms being divided into two sections, so that twelve psalms may be assigned to each night.

We particularly admonish that if this distribution of the psalms is displeasing to anyone, he should make any other disposition he may think better. Let him take care, however, above all that each week the entire Psalter of one hundred and fifty psalms be recited and be always begun anew at the Night Office on Sunday. For those monks show an exceedingly slothful service in their devotion who, within the course of a week, sing less than the entire Psalter with the usual canticles, since we read that our holy Fathers resolutely performed in a single day what we tepid monks but hope to achieve in an entire week.

 

It is important to see the psalms on several "planes": the Old Testament setting, the new covenant in Christ and His Church, and the glory that is to come. And to see it all as a great whole. Despite the different stages of development, the history of redemption forms one great whole. That's why it is important to become thoroughly familiar with the Bible in order to understand the psalms and to develop a proper liturgical spirit.  Our frequent contact with the Psalter is a very efficacious way of uniting ourselves to our Lord, to insert ourselves into his mystical Body, the Church, to be aware of all that affects his body, to be happy to be part of it. The more we know the Psalter the more we will be united to the Church and through her to Christ.

 

 

In the psalms, St Augustine tells us, Our Lord sometimes speaks in his own person, as our Head, and sometimes in the person of his mystical Body which we form. We may be feeling joyful when praying a psalm of sorrow or lament, but there is someone in the world who is suffering, and we can pray that psalm for them.    The psalms teach us to pray as a community, teach us how to insert ourselves into the Church, lifting us above our personal concerns, to pray selflessly and to see our prayer as only a minute fragment of the whole prayer of the Church.