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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Framing Prayer-Benedictines One Number 27 in Series

The Benedictines flourished in a time of the destruction of the governmental structures left over by the great empire of Rome. Rome fell in 476 and Benedict was born in 480. God raised up a prayer warrior and a founder of one of the greatest orders in the world just as the West was sliding into chaos.

Although I have written many times on the Benedictines on the genius of Benedict for our times as well as in the past, today I want to start the last section of this mini-series on how the method of Benedictine prayer can help the laity focus on God.

One of the main strengths of Benedictine prayer remains the breaking up of the day into work and prayer. The motto of the Benedictines is "Ora et labora".  This phrase does not mean that prayer is work and work is prayer, although I shall return to that later. The motto means that prayer and work create a balance in the day. Joined together in the day of the laity, this means that the day begins with prayer and one can stop during the day to pray and. also, end the day with prayer, working in between.

The work of the Benedictines has included farm work, carpentry, teaching, copying manuscripts, art, architecture, music, and other marks of Western civilization.

Most of the great abbeys and cathedrals which were created in Europe came out of the prayer of the day in the Benedictine order. 

How can a lay person mark the day with prayer? This approach does take a schedule, and as I have written before here, if one wants to be holy, one needs to have a schedule. Even in a family where the mom is a stay-at-home mom and where the children are home schooled, the parents must schedule in prayer.

For a family, morning and evening prayer are not hard to establish. I know many families which have incorporated these two prayer times and include all the children, who can learn to pray by listening.

Some families also have time for the Lectio Divina and parents can train their children to be involved. Reading, meditating,  praying and contemplating, the key elements in the Lectio Divina, may be spread out during the day. Both Blessed Paul VI and the Pope Emeritus Benedict have encouraged the laity to engage in the Lectio Divina.

to be continued....