Those brethren who are working at a great distance and cannot get to the oratory at the proper time–the Abbot judging that such is the case–shall perform the Work of God in the place where they are working, bending their knees in reverence before God.
Likewise those who have been sent on a journey shall not let the appointed Hours pass by, but shall say the Office by themselves as well as they can, and not neglect to render the task of their service. (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 50, p.72).
As far as St. Benedict was concerned, nothing was so important for the Monk than to be present for the Daily Offices (also called The Liturgy of the Hours). The sanctification of each of the hours of the day by praying the Psalms and listening to the Scriptures is the Opus Dei (The Work of God). In today’s reading from The Rule, St. Benedict tells his Monks to pray the Offices wherever they are if they are unable to join the community in the oratory. In other words, pray where you are.
On December 1st, The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion commemorate Nicholas Ferrar. Nicholas Ferrar lived between 1592-1617. It was a time in which monasteries and many Catholic practices were being rejected in The Church of England. Among those practices was the daily prayer of the Psalms. Nicholas Ferrar was a Deacon who provided a place in his own home for the communal praying of the Daily Offices for any who wanted to attend. Many others followed his example and began prayerful communities in their own homes Another example of Benedict’s admonition to pray the Psalms wherever you happen to be.
Thomas Merton in his book entitled Bread in the Wilderness wrote about that when we pray the Psalms we pray with Christ, through Christ and in Christ along with the Church in ages past, the Church present and the Church to come. The Psalms draw us into recognizing God’s saving work in our praises, our lamentations, our emotion by praying with and listening to the Word.
In Contemplative Prayer we are listening for God wherever we happen to be. In this Season of Advent we are watching and waiting for the coming of Christ in the moment in which we find ourselves. It is a perfect moment to acknowledge God’s presence in prayer and worship with the Mystical Body of Christ. We have in this place, in this minute the opportunity to participate in the Opus Dei. To see God at work and to be a co-creator with God at whatever task we are called to.
Are you ready to kneel where you are out of reverence for God and offer yourself to and with Christ for whom you are waiting?
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB