Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 43

We move now back into things dealing with the spiritual side of things. This is, after all, a Rule for monks. 


  1. On hearing the signal for an hour of the divine office, the monk will immediately set aside what he has in hand and go with utmost speed, 
  2. yet with gravity and without giving occasion for frivolity. 
  3. Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.
  4. If at Vigils anyone comes after the "Glory be to the Father" of Psalm 94, which we wish, therefore, to be said quite deliberately and slowly, he is not to stand in his regular place in choir. 
  5. He must take the last place of all, or one set apart by the abbot for such offenders, that they may be seen by him and by all, 
  6. until they do penance by public satisfaction at the end of the Work of God. 
  7. We have decided, therefore, that they ought to stand either in the last place or apart from the others so that the attention they attract will shame them into amending. 
  8. Should they remain outside the oratory, there may be those who would return to bed and sleep, or, worse yet, settle down outside and engage in idle talk, thereby giving occasion to the Evil One (Eph 4:27; 1 Tim 5:14). 
  9. They should come inside so that they will not lose everything and may amend in the future.
  10. At the day hours the same rule applies to anyone who comes after the opening verse and the "Glory be to the Father" of the first psalm following it: he is to stand in the last place. 
  11. Until he has made satisfaction, he is not to presume to join the choir of those praying the psalms, unless perhaps the abbot pardons him and grants an exception.
  12. Even in this case, the one at fault is still bound to satisfaction.
  13. But, if anyone does not come to table before the verse so that all may say the verse and pray and sit down at the table together, 
  14. and if this failure happens through the individual's own negligence or fault, he should be reproved up to the second time. 
  15. If he still does not amend, let him not be permitted to share the common table, 
  16. but take his meals alone, separated from the company of all. His portion of wine should be taken away until there is satisfaction and amendment. 
  17. Anyone not present for the verse said after meals is to be treated in the same manner.
  18. No one is to presume to eat or drink before or after the time appointed. 
  19. Moreover, if anyone is offered something by a superior and refuses it, then, if later he wants what he refuses or anything else, he should receive nothing at all until he has made appropriate amends.
Obviously, great importance is placed on being on time for prayers. This makes sense for monks since they have devoted their lives to prayer.

So how do we apply this chapter to our lives today? 

Well, being a novice oblate I am supposed to attend every service that I can, and partake in the sacraments that I can as often as I can. Not only am I supposed to be doing this at my local parish, but I am also supposed to be praying what hours I can at my home. I need to make sure that I am on time for services at my parish, and that I am on time for the hours at my house. 


Doing so shows that I am placing my devotion to God above all else in my life, and it's just plain respectful to be on time - just like it is rude to be late for a business meeting, or an interview, it is also rude to show God that He is not the utmost in your life. Especially when you have taken a vow (in the case of monks) to devote your life to Him! So, it is the least I can do to show my love, devotion, and dedication to God by arriving to and starting services on time. Anything less shows that I do not care for God as deeply as I do other things.

And, yes, there are caveats for this. If I have taken ill, or there is some other cause to my tardiness (such as one of my children becoming hurt, or an accident of some kind), God understands this - and the abbot would understand if a monk had good reason for being late to a service. In this act of graciousness we should not think to take advantage, but humble ourselves as is right.
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