Recent Posts

Monday, 20 July 2015

Framing Prayer 29 Benedictine Prayer

The genius of St. Benedict shines in his Rule, which reveals a simplicity and humility of form. A monk or nun fits into this formation, which is a type of perfection in and of itself. This is what we mean when we say the contemplative life is the more perfect way than the lay life. If one sincerely follows the Rule, in the spirit of humility, one will become holy. That is the main reason for the Rule.

But, lay people can make decisions to make their lives more prayerful. Americans think that activity must be a goal, a centering. In this culture, where making money is the most important thing in order to have a comfortable life, prayer is put on the back-burner.

Most Americans fill their lives with trivia. If only these good people would slow down and spend more time in prayer and reflection, they would find the path to holiness.

An unhealthy drive to be doing denies the power of prayer.

When I speak of the house of contemplative prayer, and the fact that I pray, people here say, "But, what do you DO?"

They do not understanding that prayer is doing.

St. Benedict wrote a prayer which reveals that prayer underlines all virtue, all activity. This prayer forms a summary of the Gospel. A lay person could easily say this prayer daily and dedicate himself to the actions which follow deep prayer.

O Lord, I place myself in your hands and dedicate myself to you. I pledge myself to do your will in all things: To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength. Not to kill. Not to steal. Not to covet. Not to bear false witness. To honor all persons. Not to do to another what I would not wish done to myself. To chastise the body. Not to seek after pleasures. To love fasting. To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick. To bury the dead. To help in trouble. To console the sorrowing. To hold myself aloof from worldly ways. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Not to give way to anger. Not to foster a desire for revenge. Not to entertain deceit in the heart. Not to make a false peace. Not to forsake charity. Not to swear, lest I swear falsely. To speak the truth with heart and tongue. Not to return evil for evil. To do no injury: yea, even to bear patiently any injury done to me. To love my enemies. Not to curse those who curse me, but rather to bless them. To bear persecution for justice' sake. Not to be proud. Not to be given to intoxicating drink. Not to be an over-eater. Not to be lazy. Not to be slothful. Not to be a murmured. Not to be a detractor. To put my trust in God. To refer the good I see in myself to God. To refer any evil in myself to myself. To fear the Day of Judgment. To be in dread of hell. To desire eternal life with spiritual longing. To keep death before my eyes daily. To keep constant watch over my actions. To remember that God sees me everywhere. To call upon Christ for defense against evil thoughts that arises in my heart. To guard my tongue against wicked speech. To avoid much speaking. To avoid idle talk. To read only what is good to read. To look at only what is good to see. To pray often. To ask forgiveness daily for my sins, and to seek ways to amend my life. To obey my superiors in all things rightful. Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness. To fulfill the commandments of God by good works. To love chastity. To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious of anyone. Not to love strife. Not to love pride. To honor the aged. To pray for my enemies. To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun. Never to despair of your mercy, O God of Mercy. Amen

Simplicity leads to purity of heart, and purity of heart leads to God.

To become more Benedictine, a lay person must strive to quiet the inner man, to get rid of outer and inner noise; to see the connection between contemplation and action; to desire to be like Christ in all things. 

It is my personal belief that the Benedictine method of saying the Hours and carrying on meditating throughout the day can be adapted to the lay life. One needs discipline and one must learn to be scheduled, but these skills can be adapted.

I know men and women who pray the Breviary at lunch when they are at work. I know moms who stop for prayer, helping their little ones prayer, during the day, surrounding the work of the day with prayer. I highly recommend Universalis.

Let me end with one more prayer of St. Benedict. Then, I shall have one more wrap-up post on this mini-series later today.

Gracious and holy Father,
please give me:
intellect to understand you;
reason to discern you;
diligence to seek you;
wisdom to find you;
a spirit to know you;
a heart to meditate upon you;
ears to hear you;
eyes to see you;
a tongue to proclaim you;
a way of life pleasing to you;
patience to wait for you;
and perseverance to look for you.
Grant me:
a perfect end,
your holy presence.
A blessed resurrection,
And life everlasting.