Daily Reading from the Rule of Benedict

Yesterday's Reading

About the Rule of Benedict

Benedict of Nursia was born in the year 480. As a student in Rome, he tired of the decadent culture around him and left to live a simple spiritual life as a hermit in the countryside of Subiaco about thirty miles outside of the city. It wasn't long, however, before he was discovered both by the people of the area and disciples who were themselves looking for a more meaningful way of life. Out of these associations sprang the monastic life that would eventually cover Europe.

The Rule of Benedict is not a treatise in systematic theology. Its logic is the logic of daily life lived in Christ and lived well. This early monastic rule is part of the Wisdom tradition of Christianity and is rooted in the Bible for its inspiration and its end. It deals with the meaning and purpose of life. The positions taken in the Rule in the light of themes in the wisdom literature of other culture find Benedict of Nursia in the stream of thinkers who lived out of a single tradition but from the perspective of universal and fundamental insights into life.

Excerpted from The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages by Joan Chittister, OSB

February 22, 2017
Chapter 18
The Order of the Psalmody

On Monday at Terce, Sext and None, the remaining nine sections of Psalm 119 are said, three sections at each hour. Psalm 119 is thus completed in two days, Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday,three psalms are said at each of the hours of Terce, Sext and None. These are the nine psalms, 120-128. The same psalms are repeated at these hours daily up to Sunday. Likewise, the arrangement of hymns, readings and versicles for these days remains the same. In this way, Psalm 119 will always begin on Sunday.

The minor hours—Terce, Sext and None—are descants in the structure of Benedict’s daily office. They repeat the same messages over and over. Over and over, every day of their lives the monastic hears the same message: God delivers us, God is our refuge, God will save us from those who seek to destroy us, God will bring us home. The words are haunting: “When I am in trouble, I call to Yahweh and God answers me…”; “Pity us, Yahweh, take pity on us…”; and finally, “What marvels indeed Yahweh did for us…for those who once sowing in tears now sing as they reap.”

In the minor hours, the psalms carry us from hardship to joy, from inner captivity to liberation, from despair to trust. It is a message to us all that remembering to trust in God can be enough to carry us for a lifetime.

The Rule of Benedict Insights for the Ages

Is there a great spiritual tradition that deals with the contemporary issues facing the human community? In her new introduction to the Rule, Joan Chittister boldly claims that Benedict’s sixth-century text is the only one of the great traditions that directly touches today’s issues: stewardship, conversion, communication, reflection, contemplation, humility and equality. Tracing Benedict’s original Rule paragraph by paragraph, the new book expands the principles of the Rule into the larger context of spiritual living in a secular world and makes the seemingly archaic instructions relevant for a contemporary audience. A new foreword, updated content, an appendix, a Gregorian Chant download and a recommended calendar for reading the entries and commentaries make this an invaluable resource for solitary or communal contemplation. (Crossroad; Paperback) Order here.