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Thursday, July 11, 2019


FEAST OF ST. BENEDICT

Proverbs, Chapter 2, Verse 1-12
1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands 2 Turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you call for intelligence, and to understanding raise your voice; 4 If you seek her like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out, 5 Then will you understand the fear of the LORD; the knowledge of God you will find; 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He has success in store for the upright, is the shield of those who walk honestly, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, protecting the way of his faithful ones, 9 Then you will understand what is right and just, what is fair, every good path; 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will be at home in your soul, 11 Discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you; 12 Saving you from the way of the wicked, from those whose speech is perverse.

Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is, and our hearts are made for the Lord.  Fear of the Lord means that we have a father/son relationship of care, respect and love.  Our God does not want to be objectified as some obtainable good.  Nor does our God want to be appeased with our prayers and obedience. God is not a insurance agent that guarantees us against losses if we pay our premiums in prayers.  If God is our treasure, he is our star, our life, our everything. 

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, he states:

We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.

I am reminded of the love of Don Quixote in the play “Man from La Mancha”.  If God is our treasure, he should be our Impossible Dream because we are His.


Feast of Saint Benedict[1]

Saint Benedict was born in Nursia in central Italy around the year 480. He was born to a noble family, and after being homeschooled, he was sent to Rome to complete his education. The teenaged Benedict was already turning toward the Lord, and when he went to Rome, he was disappointed and dismayed by the lazy, extravagant ways of the other young students. Benedict was born into a time of immense social upheaval. The once grand Roman Empire was on its last legs. The ancient city of Rome was crumbling due to decadence from within and attacks from without. Seventy years before Benedict’s birth the city fell to the invasions of the barbarians. The civil authority was in tatters, the city had been stripped of its grandeur, and the Church herself was beset with corruption and theological arguments. Benedict left the chaos of the city and sought a quiet place to study in the mountains north of Rome. Near the town of Subiaco, he found a community of holy men, and settled near them to pursue a life of prayer. Eventually Benedict was asked to be the leader of the community. When that went wrong he left to start his own monastic community. One community soon grew to twelve, and to establish these new communities on a sound foundation Benedict, wrote his simple Rule. We mustn’t think of Benedict’s communities as the great monasteries that existed in the Middle Ages. In the sixth century, Benedict’s small communities consisted of perhaps twenty people. They scratched their living from the land just like the other peasants with whom they lived. The only difference is that Benedict’s monks observed celibacy, lived together and followed a disciplined life of prayer, work and study. This simple, serious life was to prove a powerful antidote to the decadent chaos of the crumbling Roman Empire. Saint Benedict died on March 21, 547. After receiving Communion, he died with his arms outstretched, surrounded by his brothers. He left behind a legacy that would change the world. The monasteries became centers of learning, agriculture, art, and every useful craft. In this way, without directly intending it, the monasteries deeply affected the social, economic, and political life of the emergent Christian Europe. The monastic schools formed the pattern for the later urban cathedral schools, which in turn led to the founding of universities. In this way, monasticism preserved and handed on the wisdom of both Athens and Jerusalem, the foundations of Western civilization. It is for this reason that Saint Benedict is named the patron of Europe. Benedict is a great figure in the history of Western Europe, but his life and writings also give us a sure guide for a practical spiritual life today. His practical Rule for monks in the sixth century provides principles for Christian living that are as relevant and applicable today as they have been for the last 1,500 years.


Things to do:

o   Practice the Liturgy of the Hours

Ora and Labora (Work and Prayer)[2]

THE BENEDICTINE MONASTIC OFFICE

The Divine Office is at the center of the Benedictine life. Through it the monk lifts heart and mind to Almighty God, and uniting himself to his confreres, the Church and the entire world in offering God praise and thanks, in confessing his sins, and in calling on God for the needs of all people. The office punctuates the day of the monk; like a leaven awakening his soul to make the entire day, indeed the whole of life, a gift of the self to God. Praying the hours puts the monk into the real world, sanctifying his whole life and assisting him toward his goal of unceasing prayer Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus.

The Benedictine Office is a rich collection of prayer that is based on the Rule of St. Benedict. Historically it is distinct from the Roman Office also recently called the Liturgy of the Hours which, after the Second Vatican Council, was reshaped to simplify and make more practical the prayer of the hours for the secular clergy, as well as the religious who use it, and the laity who make it a part of their life of prayer.

In 1966 the Breviarium Monasticum was the universal order of Divine Office for Benedictines. In that year the monks were given a period of time for liturgical experimentation, allowing each congregation of monasteries to adapt the tradition for its particular use, under certain guidelines. To this day the Breviarium Monasticum remains official and the time of experimentation is still in effect. In that circumstance, communities are using various forms of the Divine Office, and a few communities have even elected to take the new Roman Office (Liturgy of the Hours) as a convenient guideline because of its universal use among the secular clergy.

The following is a brief, general description of the centuries old Benedictine tradition of prayer in word and action. Reference is made occasionally to the Roman Office as another point of reference. The structure of the Office described below and outlined is according to the use at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama.



Traditional Monastic Hours
(which became the standard for the Roman Office)
New Roman Office (Liturgy of the Hours)
(American English version uses terms in parentheses)
Matins (Vigils)
Matins (Office of Readings) – any time of day
Lauds
Lauds (Morning Prayer)
Prime
Prime omitted in New Roman Office
Terce
Terce (Mid-Morning Prayer)
Sext
Sext (Mid-Day Prayer)
None
None (Mid-Afternoon Prayer)
Vespers
Vespers (Evening Prayer)
Compline
Compline (Night Prayer)

MATINS (VIGILS)

After the last prayers of the day, called Compline, there begins the grand silence lasting through the night. Early the next morning, the monk awakes in the darkness, goes to the oratory (church) and approaches God. At a signal he stands with his confreres and makes the sign of the cross on his closed lips and sings O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Traditionally, according to the Holy Rule, this is sung three times, there being a preference for threes in the liturgy for obvious reasons.

LAUDS

Sharing the same basic structure, Lauds and Vespers are the hinges of the Divine Office, i.e., the day opens and closes on them. The sun rises, light appears, and the day is born as Lauds is being sung. The sun sets, light wanes and the day begins to die away at Vespers. They are the natural and most important times of prayer.

THE LITTLE HOURS OF PRIME, TERCE, SEXT & NONE

These hours punctuate the day between the hinge hours of Lauds (sunrise) and Vespers (sunset), calling the monk to pray unceasingly, offering all of his day his entire life to God. The little hours bear only slight resemblance to the others, and have always had a subordinate place in the liturgy. Though Prime is now suppressed in the Roman Office, that does not effect monastic prayer; some monasteries retain the hour.

VESPERS

Sung toward evening, Vespers is the second of the two hinge hours. It is a service of praise, but with a stronger accent on thanks for the days blessings. Vespers is often related to the Eucharist because of its note of thanksgiving and its time of day. In fact many of its psalms are Eucharistic, including those sung at the Lords Supper, the Hallel (Pss. 112-117), and the Gradual Psalms (119-133) sung by pilgrims making their way to the Temple in Jerusalem. Four psalms, each with its antiphon, are sung. Again the structure is that of Lauds.

COMPLINE

After Vespers and just before bedtime, Compline is prayed. While Vespers praises God as one looks in gratitude at the day ending, Compline is the prayer of the person aware of his weakness and sin, seeking the peace that is rest and protection in God. It is St. Benedicts composition and, unlike the other offices, it begins with no call to prayer but with a blessing and with a Scripture passage that reminds all to be sober and watchful in the face of evil. This is followed by an examination of conscience and an act of contrition. We seem to join Christ in Gethsemane, and the themes of darkness (evil), light (God), and sleep (death) predominate, and we pray for a happy death. In contrition, petition and confidence, we cry out, Do not forsake us, O Lord, our God. Compline concludes with all bidding good night to the Blessed Mother.

HISTORY AND THEME IN THE HOURS

Matins
Anticipate the Resurrection and the Parousia.
Lauds
The Resurrection; praise. The Parousia.
Sext
Christ on the Cross; lead us not into temptation.
Vespers
Time of the Last Supper; thanksgiving.
Compline
Christ in Gethsemane; contrition, plea for protection.

Christ in the Desert-hours[3]


Sunday Schedule

4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes.
6:00 a.m. – Lauds (in church) followed by breakfast for guests from 6:30 to 7:10 am in the Guests Breakfast Room.
8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about 10 minutes.
9:15 a.m. – Conventual Mass (holy Eucharist) followed by refreshments in the Guest Reception Area.
11:30 a.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Light Meal in the monastic refectory, 11:45 to 12:30 P.M.
4:00 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.
5:30 p.m. – Solemn Vespers and Benediction (in church) lasts about 45 minutes.
7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about 15 minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.

Daily Schedule

4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour.
5:30 a.m. – Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes followed by Mass. Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 5:00 – 7:45 A.M.
8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes.
9:00 a.m. – Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.
12:40 p.m. – End of work period.
1:00 p.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by main meal in the monastic refectory.
2:00 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.
5:20 p.m. – Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).
5:50 p.m. – Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.
6:20 p.m. – Light meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.
7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by nightly silence.

Today the secularists mark world population day.

World Population Day History[4]

World Population Day seeks to draw attention to issues related to a growing global population.  The world's population as of April 2016, is over 7.4 Billion.  The world's population is rapidly surging with birth rates on the rise and life expectancy increases.  Over the last century, between 1916 and 2012, global life expectancy more than doubled from 34 to 70 years while world population has quintupled from 1.5 billion to 7.3 billion between 1900 and 2016.  
In 1989, the United Nations designated July 11th as World Population Day in an effort to garner attention for population issues and crises such as displaced people, rights and needs of women and girls and population safety on a global level. With an ever-growing world population, World Population Day serves to highlight the challenges and opportunities of this growth and its impact on planet sustainability, heavy urbanization, availability of health care and youth empowerment. 

Catholic Population Principles[5]


In order to provide a moral perspective, we affirm the following principles derived from the social teaching of the Church.
1. Within the limits of their own competence, government officials have rights and duties with regard to the population problems of their own nations—for instance, in the matter of social legislation as it affects families, of migration to cities, of information relative to the conditions and needs of the nation. Government's positive role is to help bring about those conditions in which married couples, without undue material, physical or psychological pressure, may exercise responsible freedom in determining family size.
2. Decisions about family size and the frequency of births belong to the parents and cannot be left to public authorities. Such decisions depend on a rightly formed conscience which respects the divine law and takes into consideration the circumstances of the places and the time. In forming their consciences, parents should take into account their responsibilities toward God, themselves, the children they have already brought into the world and the community to which they belong, "following the dictates of their conscience instructed about the divine law authentically interpreted and strengthened by confidence in God."
3. Public authorities can provide information and recommend policies regarding population, provided these are in conformity with moral law and respect the rightful freedom of married couples.
4. Men and women should be informed of scientific advances of methods of family planning whose safety has been well proven and which are in accord with the moral law.
5. Abortion, directly willed and procured, even if for therapeutic reasons, is to be absolutely excluded as a licit means of regulating births.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         90 Days for our Nation, Total Consecration-Day 2
·         Spend some time in Eucharistic devotion.



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