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CHAPTER XLVII. Of signifying the hour for the Work of God
27 Mar. 27 July. 26 Nov.
Let the announcing of the hour for the Work of God, both by day and night, be the Abbot’s care: either by signifying it himself, or by entrusting the duty to such a careful brother, that all things may be done at the appointed times. Let the Psalms and antiphons be intoned by those whose duty it is, each in his order, after the Abbot. Let no one presume to sing or to read except such as can so perform the office that the hearers may be edified. And let it be done with humility, gravity, and awe, and by those whom the Abbot hath appointed.
Today’s Chapter returns to the question that Saint Benedict addressed in Chapter LXIII, where he says:
At the hour of Divine Office, as soon as the signal is heard, let every one, leaving whatever he had in hand, hasten to the Oratory with all speed, and yet with seriousness, so that no occasion he given for levity. Let nothing, then, be preferred to the Work
CHAPTER XLV Of those who make mistakes in the Oratory
25 Mar. 25 July. 24 Nov.
If any one make a mistake in the recitation of Psalm, responsory, antiphon, or lesson, and do not humble himself by making satisfaction there before all, let him be subjected to severer punishment, as one who would not correct by humility what he did wrong through negligence. But children for such faults are to be whipt.
The monk is God’s “own workman in the multitude of the people” (Prologue); his work is the Opus Dei, the Work of God. To this work, the monk prefers nothing whatsoever (Chapter XLIII). The Divine Office is a specialised work. Not only does the Divine Office require a real preparation, which consists, principally, in the study of the psalms; it also requires a constant attention to detail, and and willingness to learn and always to review the various texts and ceremonies of the Divine Office, so as to enter with body, mind, and heart into the prayer of Christ and of His Spouse, the
Of those who are excommunicated, how they are to make satisfaction
24 Mar. 24 July. 23 Nov.
Let him, who for graver offences is excommunicated from the Oratory and the table, prostrate himself at the door of the Oratory, saying nothing, at the hour when the Work of God is being performed: lying prone, with his face upon the ground, at the feet of all who go out from the Oratory. Let him continue to do this until the Abbot judge that he hath made satisfaction: and then, coming at the Abbot’s bidding, let him cast himself at his feet and at the feet of all, that they may pray for him. After this, if the Abbot so order, let him be received back into the choir, in such a place as he shalt appoint: yet so, that he presume not to intone Psalm or lesson, or anything else, in the Oratory, unless the Abbot again command him. And at all the Hours, when the Work of God is ended, let him cast himself on the ground, in the
CHAPTER XLII. That no one may speak after Compline
21 Mar. 21 July. 20 Nov.
Monks should love silence at all times, but especially during the hours of the night. Therefore, on all days, whether of fasting or otherwise, let them sit down all together as soon as they have risen from supper (if it be not a fast-day) and let one of them read the Conferences [of Cassian], or the lives of the Fathers, or some thing else which may edify the hearers. Not, however, Heptateuch, nor the Books of Kings for it will not profit those of weak understanding to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour : they may, however, be read at other times. If it be a fast-day, then a short time after Vespers let them assemble for the reading of the Conferences, as we have said; four or five pages being read, or as much as time alloweth, so that during the reading all may gather together, even those who may have been occupied in some work enjoined them. Everyone, then, being assembled, let them say Compline; and when that