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

June 16, 2019
Chapter 13
The Celebration of Lauds on Ordinary Days

On ordinary weekdays, Lauds are celebrated as follows. First, Psalm 67 is said without a refrain and slightly protracted as on Sunday so that everyone can be present for Psalm 51, which has a refrain. Next, according to custom, two more psalms are said in the following order: on Monday, Psalms 5 and 36; on Tuesday, Psalms 43 and 57; on Wednesday, Psalms 64-65; on Thursday, Psalms 88 and 90; on Friday, Psalms 76 and 92; on Saturday, Psalm 143 and the Canticle from Deuteronomy, divided into two sections, with the Doxology after each section. On other days, however, a Canticle from the prophets is said, according to the practice of the Roman Church. Next follow Psalms 148 through 150, a reading from the apostle recited by heart, a responsory, an Ambrosian hymn, a versicle, the Gospel canticle, the litany and conclusion.

At the break of dawn, every day of the week, Bene¬dict, through his organization of the morning psalms, reminds the monastic of two unfailing realities. The first is that life is not perfect, that struggle is to be expected, that the human being lives on the brink of danger and defeat at all times. As proof of that, the first Psalm of Lauds, every day of the week, is a cry for help (Psalm 5), a cry for vindication (Psalm 43), a cry for protection even from secret enemies (Psalm 64), a cry to be saved from depression, the death of the spirit, and on Friday, in Psalm 76, a review of the power of God in their lives.

In the second Psalm of Lauds, Benedict arranges a paean of praise, one after another, every day of the week in Psalms 36, 57, 65, 90, and 92 until, on Saturday, hav¬ing lived through everything life had to give that week, the community bursts into unending praise for having survived it, learned faith in God from it again, and been saved one more time by a loving God.

Lauds becomes an unending lesson in reality and faith, in accepting what life brings, sure in the knowledge that the God who loves us is with us upholding us all the way.

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.