OREMUS: 11 July 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Sun Jul 10 17:00:01 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Monday, July 11, 2005 
Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c.550

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, almighty and everlasting God,
for your servant Benedict,
the father of a great multitude of the just
and an outstanding teacher of love
for you and for our neighbor:
We thank you for the many gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which have led Benedict and other great teachers
to lead men and women to walk the path of salvation
under the guidance of Christ and the Gospel.
For this we revere you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 1

Happy are they who have not walked
   in the counsel of the wicked,*
 nor lingered in the way of sinners,
   nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
Their delight is in the law of the Lord,*
 and they meditate on his law day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
   bearing fruit in due season,
   with leaves that do not wither;*
 everything they do shall prosper.
It is not so with the wicked:*
 they are like chaff which the wind blows away;
Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright
   when judgement comes,*
 nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,*
 but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Psalm 15

Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?*
 who may abide upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right,*
 who speaks the truth from his heart.
There is no guile upon his tongue;
   he does no evil to his friend;*
 he does not heap contempt upon his neighbour.
In his sight the wicked is rejected,*
 but he honours those who fear the Lord.
He has sworn to do no wrong*
 and does not take back his word.
He does not give his money in hope of gain,*
 nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things*
 shall never be overthrown.

A Song of Pilgrimage (from Ecclesiasticus 51)

While I was still young,
I sought Wisdom openly in my prayer.

Before the temple I asked for her,
and I will search for her until the end.

>From the first blossom to the ripening grape,
my heart delighted in her.

My foot walked on the straight path,
from my youth I followed her steps.

I inclined my ear a little and received her,
I found for myself much instruction.

I made progress in Wisdom;
to the One who sent her,
I will give glory.

I directed my soul to Wisdom,
and in purity have I found her.

With her, I gained understanding from the first,
therefore will I never be forsaken.

My heart was stirred to seek her,
with my tongue will I sing God's praise.

Psalm 150

   Praise God in his holy temple;*
 praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts;*
 praise him for his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the ram's-horn;*
 praise him with lyre and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance;*
 praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;*
 praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath*
 praise the Lord.

READING [Wisdom 1:1-17]:

Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth,
think of the Lord in goodness
and seek him with sincerity of heart;
because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,
and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.
For perverse thoughts separate people from God,
and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish;
because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,
or dwell in a body enslaved to sin.
For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,
and will leave foolish thoughts behind,
and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words;
because God is witness of their inmost feelings,
and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.
Because the spirit of the Lord has filled the world,
and that which holds all things together knows what is said.

For another Biblical reading,
Romans 12:1-13

Words: John Keble and William John Hall
Tune: Franconia
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Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God;
the secret of the Lord is theirs,
their soul is Christ's abode.

The Lord, who left the heavens
our life and peace to bring,
to dwell in lowliness with men,
their Pattern and their King;

still to the lowly soul
he doth himself impart
and for his dwelling and his throne
chooseth the pure in heart.

Lord, we thy presence seek;
may ours this blessing be;
give us a pure and lowly heart,
a temple meet for thee.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

We pray for the use of God's gifts to his Church, saying
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy, hear us

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son:
Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith, 
yet humble before you.
We pray especially for the Order of Saint Benedict and 
all those who follow Benedict's wisdom in their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,    
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to other, 
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet have their ears open to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who work in your world today
that they may live for you, fulfil your purposes,
and seek your kingdom first
in the complexity of their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who feel they have no gifts and are not valued,
and those who are powerless by the world's standards,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Eternal God, 
who made Benedict to become a wise master 
in the school of your service
and a guide to many called into community
to follow the rule of Christ: 
grant that we may put your love before all else
and seek with joy the way of your commandments; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Fill our hearts with zeal for your kingdom
and place on our lips the tidings of your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating
Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis
1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving is adapted by Stephen Benner from
_We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic
Prefaces_, translated by Alan Griffiths, (c) The Canterbury Press
Norwich, 1999.

The intercession is adapted by Stephen Benner from a prayer in
_Patterns for Worship_, material from which is included in this
service is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 1995.

The collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the
Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

The closing prayer uses a sentence from a prayer in _Opening Prayers:
Collects in Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

Benedict was born at Nursia (Norcia) in Umbria, Italy, around 480 AD. He
was sent to Rome for his studies, but was repelled by the dissolute life of most
of the populace, and withdrew to a solitary life at Subiaco. A group of monks
asked him to be their abbot, but some of them found his rule too strict, and he
returned alone to Subiaco. Again, other monks called him to be their abbot,
and he agreed, founding twelve communities over an interval of some years.
His chief founding was Monte Cassino, an abbey which stands to this day as
the mother house of the world-wide Benedictine order.
Totila the Goth visited Benedict, and was so awed by his presence that he fell
on his face before him. Benedict raised him from the ground and rebuked him
for his cruelty, telling him that it was time that his iniquities should cease.
Totila asked Benedict to remember him in his prayers and departed, to exhibit
from that time an astonishing clemency and chivalry in his treatment of
conquered peoples.
Benedict drew up a rule of life for monastics, a rule which he calls "a school of
the Lord's service, in which we hope to order nothing harsh or rigorous." The
Rule gives instructions for how the monastic community is to be organized,
and how the monks are to spend their time. An average day includes about
four hours to be spent in liturgical prayer (called the Divinum Officium -- the
Divine Office), five hours in spiritual reading and study, six hours of labor, one
hour for eating, and about eight hours for sleep. The Book of Psalms is to be
recited in its entirety every week as a part of the Office.
A Benedictine monk takes vows of "obedience, stability, and conversion of
life." That is, he vows to live in accordance with the Benedictine Rule, not to
leave his community without grave cause, and to seek to follow the teaching
and example of Christ in all things. Normal procedure today for a prospective
monk is to spend a week or more at the monastery as a visitor. He then applies
as a postulant, and agrees not to leave for six months without the consent of
the Abbot. (During that time, he may suspect that he has made a mistake, and
the abbot may say, "Yes, I think you have. Go in peace." Alternately, he may
say, "It is normal to have jitters at this stage. I urge you to stick it out a while
longer and see whether they go away." Many postulants leave before the six
months are up.) After six months, he may leave or become a novice, with vows
for one year. After the year, he may leave or take vows for three more years.
After three years, he may leave, take life vows, or take vows for a second three
years. After that, a third three years. After that, he must leave or take life vows
(fish or cut bait). Thus, he takes life vows after four and a half to ten and a half
years in the monastery. At any point in the proceedings at which he has the
option of leaving, the community has the option of dismissing him.
The effect of the monastic movement, both of the Benedictine order and of
similar orders that grew out of it, has been enormous. We owe the preservation
of the Holy Scriptures and other ancient writings in large measure to the
patience and diligence of monastic scribes. In purely secular terms, their
contribution was considerable. In Benedict's time, the chief source of power
was muscle, whether human or animal. Ancient scholars apparently did not
worry about labor-saving devices. The labor could always be done by oxen or
slaves. But monks were both scholars and workers. A monk, after spending a
few hours doing some laborious task by hand, was likely to think, "There must
be a better way of doing this." The result was the systematic development of
windmills and water wheels for grinding grain, sawing wood, pumping water,
and so on. The rotation of crops (including legumes) and other agricultural
advances were also originated or promoted by monastic farms. The monks, by
their example, taught the dignity of labor and the importance of order and
planning. [James Kiefer]

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