Friday, October 30, 2009

New Monastic Blog. A Benedictine oblate blog

Monastic Ponderings is new blog I enjoy reading and... well.. pondering. Here are several of the most recent blog titles:

In the Garden of the Soul
The Journey
Inner Spirit
The truth about Community life
Every one is a clear view into the life of seeking God.



Picture is cohdranknstrmysnstjul8yr09pic24.JPG by cohdra and is subject to license.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

St. Benedict’s favorite psalms? A Benedictine oblate blog

St. Benedict wrote a Rule for monks which is also used today by Benedictine oblates.

St. Benedict’s Rule gives a schedule for chanting all 150 Psalms during a week. But in that schedule St. Benedict actually had his monks reciting certain Psalms more than once each week.

I call these repeated Psalms St. Benedict’s favorite Psalms because while he borrowed the Psalm patterns used in other monastic rules and in the Church practices (the Lauds (meaning praise) Psalms are a good example), he also modified those lists to fit his own plan.

In a freedom common with St. Benedict’s famous Rule he adds at the end of his detailed Psalm schedule that if anyone does not like his Psalm arrangement, they should rearrange the Psalms as they see fit, provided that all 150 Psalms are chanted every week.

What are the Psalms that St. Benedict’s Rule has his monks chanting more than once a week? I like to think they were his favorites and perhaps because they were also the favorites throughout the Church and monastic communities since antiquity.

St. Benedict’s 19 “Favorite” Psalms

Psalm 3 at Vigils each day(1)
Psalm 94(95) at Vigils each day(1)

Psalm 66(67) at Lauds each day
Psalm 50(51)at Lauds each day
Psalm 148 at Lauds each day
Psalm 149 at Lauds each day
Psalm 150 at Lauds each day

Psalm 119(120) at Terce Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 120(121) at Terce Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 121(122) at Terce Tuesday through Saturday

Psalm 122(123) at Sext Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 123(124) at Sext Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 124(125) at Sext Tuesday through Saturday

Psalm 125(126) at None Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 126(127) at None Tuesday through Saturday
Psalm 127(128) at None Tuesday through Saturday

Psalm 4 at Compline each day
Psalm 90(91) at Compline each day
Psalm 133(134) at Compline each day

St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy. Born at Nursia, c. 480 AD; died at Monte Cassino, Italy, 543 AD is the father of western monasticism and one of the several copatron saints of Europe.

We know about St. Benedict primarily from his famous Rule which is a set of principles and regulations for how monks should live in a monastery under the spiritual guidance of an abbot.

A major part of Benedictine monastic spirituality is praying, reading, or singing the divine office which is psalms, hymns, Bible verses, and prayers said at fixed times throughout the day.

The central part of each daily office is the psalms recited for that office. The virtually universal monastic practice in the early Christian church was to recite all 150 psalms during each week. St. Benedict continued this practice of praying the 150 Psalms when he complied his Rule for monks which became the most widely used Rule in Western Christianity and still is today.



(1) Chanting these Psalms also on Sundays is inferred from the weekday plan.

Picture is cohdra_100_4397.JPG by cohdra and is used subject to license

If I made any errors in the list, please post a comment with the correct information. Also any other observations about how St. Benedict arranged the Psalms would also be welcomed. I used Benedict Saint, RB 1980 the rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with notes (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1981) 390

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monastic deserts are uninhabited not uninhabitable. A Benedictine oblate blog

CityDesert — “Desert Spirituality for the City” — is a new-to-me blog that is well worth reading.

The “desert” homes of the early desert fathers may have been more like uninhabited remote areas that were actually fit for the support of life and not the completely barren wastelands that I sometimes pictured in my mind and wondered about.

The always helpful New Advent Encyclopedia has an insightful article on the “desert” or wilderness in the Old Testament. The article can also give a better idea of the term in later monastic writings.

From the first part of the New Advent article:

“The Hebrew words translated in the Douay Version of the Bible by "desert" or "wilderness", and usually rendered by the Vulgate desertum, "solitude", or occasionally eremus, have not the same shade of meaning as the English word desert. The word wilderness, which is more frequently used than desert of the region of the Exodus, more nearly approaches the meaning of the Hebrew, though not quite expressing it. When we speak of the desert our thoughts are naturally borne to such places as the Sahara, a great sandy waste, incapable of vegetation, impossible as a dwelling-place for men, and where no human being is found except when hurrying through as quickly as he can. No such ideas are attached to the Hebrew words for desert. Four words are chiefly used in Hebrew to express the idea.”
The article then continues to explain and give examples of the four Hebrew words.

“A place apart” is how I think of where the monastic fathers lived — the core concept is living in a place outside the scope of where others live. And to further narrow the distinctions, this is not like being barred from all other human contact.

The European Benedictine monks who are the spiritual grandsons of John Cassian(1) illustrate this idea of living apart, but not being cut off from the wider community.

Monasteries were often where towns grew up, where local roads and bridges were maintained, where large surrounding populations saw the monastery as a cultural and economic leader of the community, and where schools helped local neighbors.

The CityDesert blog proclaims that for contemporary Christians we can find desert spirituality in the city. Although mostly uninhabited today the desert city has a long history of being a good land, a land of milk and honey — where the most exquisite flowers grow.



(1) I wrote this blog about Cassian’s role in the development of Western monasticism from Eastern principles.

The Plan of St. Gall portrays a planned community hub rather than an isolation chamber. I blogged about the Plan of St. Gall at the end of this blog. See also the Plan of St. Gall itself and a section on the Horn & Born book about the Plan and monastic life during the Middle Ages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monastic Musings Too. A Benedictine oblate blog

Until this morning, I had missed that Monastic Musings blog, — one of the blogs listed on the right sidebar under the “Spiritual & Religious Blogs” section — had moved in August and changed its name slightly. It is now Monastic Musings Too.

I corrected the name and links on the right sidebar and also over on the Oblate Spring web site’s page listing all the blogs in alphabetical order.

Monastic Musings Too’s first new blog mentions that the previous blog was attached by malware and the blog was shut down and she has not yet been able to retrieve any of her 1000 previous posts yet from Google.

In her new blog format she is also going to have some dedicated pages on Monastic Musings Too for oblate resources. Very good and I wish Monastic Musings Too much success as an important resource for oblates.

Monastic Musings Too is written by Sister Edith, a Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She is also an Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of St. Scholastica, a college sponsored by her monastery and housed on the same grounds.



Picture is Reference Books by Barbara L. Slavin as is subject to the creative commons license.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lectio divina in the Catechism. A Benedictine oblate blog

According to the Catechism, the practice of lectio divina (prior blog) is rooted in the divine office (liturgy of the hours).

I found two references to lectio divina in the Catechism, but no uses of the term in the 2005 Compendium.

Here are the two passages:

1177 The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expressing the symbolism of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. Moreover, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour (with the subsequent responses or troparia) and readings from the Fathers and spiritual masters at certain Hours, reveal more deeply the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, assist in understanding the psalms, and prepare for silent prayer. The lectio divina, where the Word of God is so read and meditated that it becomes prayer, is thus rooted in the liturgical celebration.

2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.
I had not considered lectio divina as being rooted in the public worship practices (ie liturgy) of the Church. The significance of this — to someone who has come to the Catholic Church from the Protestant world — is that once again I see how liturgy in all of its fruits produce gifts of the full Christian life.



Picture is Candles and Cross by millicent_bystander.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lectio divina: 10 articles for your link library

Origen (182-254 AD) was the first to use the term lectio divina.(1) He used the term in a letter describing the importance of reading divine Scriptures by faith and prayer. Origen says that Christ will open the Word’s hidden meaning.(2)

In the short time since the third century AD, the practice of lectio divina is becoming more widely known in a world seeking deeper spirituality.

Pope Benedict XVI said in October 2008:

The Bible “must be read in the same Spirit in which it was composed.”(3)
Here are ten articles on lectio divina for your link library(4):

1. Lectio Divina (explained) is slow, contemplative Bible reading in which God speaks to our heart and the Word fills our soul.

2. By the Orlando Roman Catholic Examiner
Lectio Divina, with a video describing the four-step and single-step methods.

3. At a Jesuit's web site
Lectio Divina

4. By the Carmelites
Lectio Divina

5. By Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland
Lectio Divina

6. By a Franciscan at his blog
Lectio Divina

7. At Fish Eaters
Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina in PDF -- The description of the "contemplation" phase of lectio is excellent and gives the essence of the goal of lectio divina.

9. By the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius (restoring the sacred in the Church)
Lectio Divina

10. At the Vatican's Official web site by an Auxiliary Bishop
Lectio Divina



The picture is A Vogue on a Flower by Thomas Hawk

(1) Lectio divina is pronounced:
Lex-ee-oh Dih-vee-nuh.

(2) From a Pope Benedict XVI General Audience address May 2, 2007

(3) From a Pope Benedict XVI Angelus October 26, 2008

(4) This list of links to lectio divina resources is taken from my Oblate Spring web site. When I find a new link on lectio divina, I won't revise this blog entry, I will add any new links to the list lectio divina resources here. Check that page for the additions.