Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Rule of St. Benedict

Editor's note: This is another great contribution from the one and only Holly Vaughan. You can follow her on Twitter here!

The Rule of Saint Benedict has guided Benedictine monks, nuns and oblates since the 6th century, as well as other orders who have adopted its wisdom.  This simple, yet profound, guide to living the Christian life is less than one hundred pages, written by a humble and holy monk whose insights are as applicable to life today as they were to life in his own time.  

Benedictine Oblates are asked, as are vowed Benedictine religious, to read a small portion of the rule each day.  Yesterday’s section that I read was part of an explanation on how to pray the Psalms, and this verse stood out to me:

“Let us stand and sing the Psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.” -RB CH19 V7

This struck me as such a beautiful way to describe how we should pray (and live!)- our minds and our voices should be in harmony.  I considered how often my mind wonders as I pray - be it the Divine Office, the Rosary, or even the Mass.  It takes a conscious effort on my part to block out the rest of the world, and also my own thoughts, to focus on the prayer that I am saying and the intention that I am offering it for.  
I consider how often I think before I speak when speaking to others.  Am I really listening well and engaging when my young child tells me a story or am I half listening and responding half heartedly? Am I listening when my teenager tries to explain his concerns about a chore he has been asked to do, or am I convinced that I know best no matter what, and dismissive of him?  I say that I listen to and engage my kids as best I can, but is my mind in harmony with my voice?

And then I consider how often I behave the same way in prayer, and toward God in general.  Am I focusing on the mysteries of the Rosary, or am I mindlessly saying the Hail Mary’s?  Am I looking up with rapt attention during the Consecration or am I distracted by someone shifting on their kneeler behind me?  Am I doing all the talking during prayer or am I taking time to listen for God’s response?  Do I notice all the small works that He does in my day to take care of me, or do I chalk them up to happy coincidence and go on about my business?  Is my mind in harmony with my voice?

I’m going to take this little nugget of wisdom and implement it in the midst of my other Lenten observances.  I challenge you to do the same.  When you are interacting with your spouse, your friends, your children, your family members, the neighbor that loves to talk - when you are interacting with God - make sure that your mind is in harmony with your voice.  

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