Liturgy and Prayer

Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours, based on the psalms and prayed daily in the monastery, is a means for God to be praised, a vehicle for the needs of all people in every part of the world to be remembered, and an opportunity for members to be shaped and changed.

Why we read from the Rule of Benedict

The Rule of Benedict is a spiritual guide, rare by virtue of its ancient origins, valued for its continuing meaningfulness in every century since. It is wisdom literature. It stresses the need and nature of real community. It brings the rhythm and ointment of prayer. The Rule brings a life based on the equality and reverence that a world in search of peace requires. — The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister, OSB

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About the Liturgical Seasons

Lent: A Time for Emptying

Lent: A Time for Emptying

Rule of Benedict, Chapter 49, "The Observance of Lent," followed by Joan Chittister's commentary from Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century.
The life of a monastic ought to be a continuous Lent. Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times. This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of our own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 1:6). In other words, let each one deny themselves some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.

"Once upon a time," an ancient story tells, "the master had a visitor who came to inquire about Zen. But instead of listening, the visitor kept talking about his own concerns and giving his own thoughts.

"After a while, the master served tea. He poured tea into his visitor's cup until it was full and then he kept on pouring.

"Finally the visitor could not bear it any longer. 'Don't you see that my cup is full?' he said. 'It's not possible to get anymore in.'

"'Just so,' the master said, stopping at last. 'And like this cup, you are filled with your own ideas. How can you expect me to give you Zen unless you first empty your cup?'"

A monastic Lent is the process of emptying our cups. Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scraping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the spiritual stamina to say yes to its twists and turns with faith and with hope. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the fact that Benedict wants us to do something beyond the normal requirement of our lives "of our own will." Not forced, not prescribed for us by someone else. Not required by the system, but taken upon ourselves because we want to be open to the God of darkness as well as to the God of light.

New Liturgy from A to Z topics are posted each Saturday.

God is merciful

Posted on February 27, 2021

Jesus said,

Do not judge

and you will not be judged;

Do not condemn

and you will not be condemned.


and you will be forgiven;


and it will be given to you.

Be merciful

just as God is merciful.

Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God – Rule of Benedict 43:3

The excerpt above is from the readings for Monday of the Second Week in Lent (Year B):
Luke 6:36-38

A to Z Topics

Sister Karen Oprenchok, author of Liturgy from A to Z posts, is a scholastic in initial monastic formation.