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The Order of Saint Benedict

The Rule of Benedict. English.

 

Readings for February 21-28[29], June 22-30, and October 22-30
(Chapter 18-23)

 

Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

Feb. 21 - June 22 - Oct. 22

Let this verse be said:
"Incline unto my aid, O God;
O Lord, make haste to help me,"
and the "Glory be to the Father"
then the hymn proper to each Hour.

Then at Prime on Sunday
four sections of Psalm 118 are to be said;
and at each of the remaining Hours,
that is Terce, Sext and None,
three sections of the same Psalm 118.

At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said,
namely Psalms 1, 2 and 6.
And so each day at Prime until Sunday
let three Psalms be said in numerical order, to Psalm 19,
but with Psalms 9 and 17 each divided into two parts.
Thus it comes about that the Night Office on Sunday
always begins with Psalm 20.

Feb. 22 - June 23 - Oct. 23

At Terce, Sext and None on Monday
let the nine remaining sections of Psalm 118 be said,
three at each of these Hours.

Psalm 118 having been completed, therefore,
on two days, Sunday and Monday,
let the nine Psalms from Psalm 119 to Psalm 127
be said at Terce, Sext and None,
three at each Hour,
beginning with Tuesday.
And let these same Psalms be repeated every day until Sunday
at the same Hours,
while the arrangement of hymns, lessons and verses
is kept the same on all days;
and thus Prime on Sunday will always begin with Psalm 118.

Feb. 23 - June 24 - Oct. 24

Vespers are to be sung with four Psalms every day.
These shall begin with Psalm 109 and go on to Psalm 147,
omitting those which are set apart for other Hours;
that is to say that
with the exception of Psalms 117 to 127 and Psalms 133 and 142,
all the rest of these are to be said at Vespers.
And since there are three Psalms too few,
let the longer ones of the above number be divided,
namely Psalms 138, 143 and 144.
But let Psalm 116 because of its brevity be joined to Psalm 115.

The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled,
let the rest of the Hour--
lesson, responsory, hymn, verse and canticle--
be carried out as we prescribed above.

At Compline the same Psalms are to be repeated every day,
namely Psalms 4, 90 and 133.

(Feb. 24 in leap year; otherwise added to the preceding) - June 25 - Oct. 25

The order of psalmody for the day Hours being thus arranged,
let all the remaining Psalms be equally distributed
among the seven Night Offices
by dividing the longer Psalms among them
and assigning twelve Psalms to each night.

We strongly recommend, however,
that if this distribution of the Psalms is displeasing to anyone,
she should arrange them otherwise,
in whatever way she considers better,
but taking care in any case
that the Psalter with its full number of 150 Psalms
be chanted every week
and begun again every Sunday at the Night Office.
For those monastics show themselves too lazy
in the service to which they are vowed,
who chant less than the Psalter with the customary canticles
in the course of a week,
whereas we read that our holy Fathers
strenuously fulfilled that task in a single day.
May we, lukewarm that we are, perform it at least in a whole week!

Chapter 19: On the Manner of Saying the Divine Office

Feb. 24 (25) - June 26 - Oct. 26

We believe that the divine presence is everywhere
and that "the eyes of the Lord
are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3).
But we should believe this especially without any doubt
when we are assisting at the Work of God.
To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words,
"Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11)
and again "Sing praises wisely" (Ps. 46[47]:8)
and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You" (Ps. 13[14]7:1).
Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves
in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels,
and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way
that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.

Chapter 20: On Reverence in Prayer

Feb. 25 (26) - June 27 - Oct. 27

When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station,
we do not presume to do so
except with humility and reverence.
How much the more, then,
are complete humility and pure devotion necessary
in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe!
And let us be assured
that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7),
but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction.
Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure,
unless it happens to be prolonged
by an inspiration of divine grace.
In community, however, let prayer be very short,
and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

Chapter 21: On the Deans of the Monastery

Feb. 26 (27) - June 28 - Oct. 28

If the community is a large one,
let there be chosen out of it
brethren of good repute and holy life,
and let them be appointed deans.
These shall take charge of their deaneries in all things,
observing the commandments of God
and the instructions of their Abbot.

Let men of such character be chosen deans
that the Abbot may with confidence
share his burdens among them.
Let them be chosen not by rank
but according to their worthiness of life
and the wisdom of their doctrine.

If any of these deans should become inflated with pride
and found deserving of censure,
let him be corrected once, and again, and a third time.
If he will not amend,
then let him be deposed
and another be put in his place who is worthy of it.

And we order the same to be done in the case of the Prior.

Chapter 22: How the Sisters Are to Sleep

Feb. 27 (28) - June 29 - Oct. 29

Let each one sleep in a separate bed.
Let them receive bedding suitable to their manner of life,
according to the Abbess's directions.
If possible let all sleep in one place;
but if the number does not allow this,
let them take their rest by tens or twenties
with the seniors who have charge of them.

A candle shall be kept burning in the room until morning.

Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords--
but not with their knives at their sides,
lest they cut themselves in their sleep--
and thus be always ready to rise without delay
when the signal is given
and hasten to be before one another at the Work of God,
yet with all gravity and decorum.

The younger shall not have beds next to one another,
but among those of the older ones.

When they rise for the Work of God
let them gently encourage one another,
that the drowsy may have no excuse.

Chapter 23: On Excommunication for Faults

Feb. 28 (29) - June 30 - Oct. 30

If a brother is found to be obstinate,
or disobedient, or proud, or murmuring,
or habitually transgressing the Holy Rule in any point
and contemptuous of the orders of his seniors,
the latter shall admonish him secretly a first and a second time,
as Our Lord commands (Matt. 18:15).
If he fails to amend,
let him be given a public rebuke in front of the whole community.
But if even then he does not reform,
let him be placed under excommunication,
provided that he understands the seriousness of that penalty;
if he is perverse, however,
let him undergo corporal punishment.

 

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Selections above from Saint Benedict's Rule for Monasteries, translated from the Latin by Leonard J. Doyle OblSB, of Saint John's Abbey, (© Copyright 1948, 2001, by the Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, MN 56321). Adapted for use here with the division into sense lines of the first edition that was republished in 2001 to mark the 75th anniversary of Liturgical Press. Doyle's translation is available in both hardcover and paperback editions.

Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary by Terrence G. Kardong, O.S.B. is the first line-by-line exegesis of the entire Rule of Benedict written originally in English. This full commentary -- predominately literary and historical criticism -- is based on and includes a Latin text of Regula Benedicti (Liturgical Press). Hardcover, 664 pp., 6 x 9, ISBN 0-8146-2325-5, $59.95.

RB 1980 in Latin and English with Notes is a modern, scholarly translation ed. by Timothy Fry, OSB (Liturgical Press, 1981), 672 p., $39.95. The translation by itself is also available in paperback, $2.95.
 


 
 

Rev. 6 May 2006 / © Copyright 1995-2009 by OSB, MN 56321 / www.osb.org/rb/text/rbefjo3.html