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

October 26, 2014
Chapter 18
The Order of The Psalmody

Four psalms are sung each day at Vespers, starting with Psalm 110 and ending with Psalm 147, omitting the psalms in this series already assigned to other hours, namely, Psalms 118 through 128, Psalm 134 and Psalm 143. All the remaining psalms are said at Vespers.Since this leaves three psalms too few, the longer ones in the series should be divided: that is Psalms 139, 144 and 145. And because Psalm 117 is short, it can be joined to Psalm 116. This is the order of psalms for Vespers; the rest is as arranged above: the reading, responsory, hymn, versicle and canticle.

In determining the order of the psalms for the prayer life of his community, Benedict grounds Prime, Terce, Sext and None, the Little Hours of the Divine Office, in the Wisdom Psalm, 119. Wisdom psalms were not liturgical hymns of lament or praise. They were meant to instruct the assembly in divine truths and were often built on the alphabet in order to make memorization easier. Modern educators write children's books or songs in the same way and for the same reason. Psalm 119, therefore, has 22 sections, with each of the eight verses of each section beginning with one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

It is this longest of all psalms, with its theme of the trustworthiness of God's law, the richness of God's will for us, the excellence of God's loving design for us that Benedict wants us to learn and say daily and never forget.

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.