An Office for the Feast of St. Benedict, Monk

(This Liturgy may be used at any time of the day to Celebrate the Feast of St. Benedict)

Introduction: 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. A Benedictine monk takes vows of “obedience, stability, and conversion of life.” That is, s/he vows to live in accordance with the Benedictine Rule, not to leave her/his community without grave cause, and to seek to follow the teaching and example of Christ in all things. The effect of the monastic movement, both of the Benedictine order and of similar orders that grew out of it, including communities like our own has been enormous.

Opening Sentence

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

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One.
Have mercy on us (3x)

Invitatory 

Antiphon: Let us sing praise to the Lord, who has clothed our father Benedict in glory.

Jubilate Psalm 100

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Antiphon:Let us sing praise to the Lord, who has clothed our father Benedict in glory.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Antiphon:Let us sing praise to the Lord, who has clothed our father Benedict in glory.

(Glory be…)

Hymn

Our blessed father, Benedict,
Sure guide in dark and troubled days,
Has shown his countless children here
The paths of peace, the Lord’s own ways,.

He dwelt in heaven while on earth,
True one of God and same of prayer;
For him, the love of Christ was all
And God was present everywhere.

He left all things that bind the heart,
In poverty to find release;
Unmoved among the things that change,
He sought and found a lasting peace.

Now Benedict with all who knew
And lived his holy Rule on earth,
Give praise to you, blest Trinity,
In spendid light and time untold. Amen.

(This hymn is adapted from the OSB nuns at Stanbrook Abbey.)

The Psalter

Ant. 1: There was a holy man named Benedict, / who was blessed by God and filled with grace.

113 Laudate, pueri


1 Hallelujah!
Give praise, you servants of the Lord; *
praise the Name of the Lord.
2 Let the Name of the Lord be blessed, *
from this time forth for evermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down *
let the Name of the Lord be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations, *
and his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God, who sits enthroned on high *
but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?
6 He takes up the weak out of the dust *
and lifts up the poor from the ashes.
7 He sets them with the princes, *
with the princes of his people.
8 He makes the woman of a childless house *
to be a joyful mother of children.

Ant. 1: There was a holy man named Benedict, / who was blessed by God and filled with grace.

Ant. 2: Even from his youth, Benedict was know to have wisdom beyond his years; / and he had the gift of a pure heart.

146 Lauda, anima mea

1 Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord, O my soul! *
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The Lord shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!

Glory be to the Father….

Ant. 2: Even from his youth, Benedict was know to have wisdom beyond his years; / and he had the gift of a pure heart.

Ant. 3: The holy man of God, Benedict, was a man of justice; / he prays for all those who follow the monastic way of life.

(A Song of Christ Appearing)

1    Christ Jesus was revealed in the flesh  ♦

and vindicated in the spirit.

2    He was seen by angels  ♦

and proclaimed among the nations.

3    Believed in throughout the world,  ♦

he was taken up in glory.

4    This will be made manifest at the proper time  ♦

by the blessed and only Sovereign,

5    Who alone has immortality,  ♦

and dwells in unapproachable light.

All   To the King of kings and Lord of lords  ♦

be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Ant. 3: The holy man of God, Benedict, was a man of justice; / he prays for all those who follow the monastic way of life.

Reading 1 About the Rule of Saint Benedict (480—543/547)
By Sr. JM McClure, OSB


Written in the sixth century for a collection of serfs,
scholars, shepherds, and wealthy scions of nobility -a motley group of would-be-monastics-, the Rule of St. Benedict survives today as a masterpiece of spiritual wisdom. The roots of Benedictine spirituality are contained in this slim volume, as are guidelines for happiness and holiness (arguably identical states in the Christian tradition) which are as meaningful today as they were over 1500 years ago.
In the Rule’s prologue, Benedict said he intended to prescribe “nothing harsh, nothing burdensome”
for his followers. His approach to seeking God was both sensible and humane.

For Benedict, a spiritual pathway was not one to be littered with weird and unusual practices; rather, all that is needed is
to be faithful to finding God in the ordinary circumstances of daily life. How to prepare oneself for
this simple-but not necessarily easy-way of life is the substance of the Rule.
Benedict envisioned a balanced life of prayer and work as the ideal. Monastics would spend time in
prayer so as to discover why they’re working, and would spend time in work so that good order and
harmony would prevail in the monastery. Benedictines should not be consumed by work, nor should
they spend so much time in prayer that responsibilities are neglected. According to Benedict, all
things-eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, working, and praying-should be done in moderation. In
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Sister Joan Chittister writes that in Benedict’s Rule, “All must be
given its due, but only its due. There should be something of everything and not too much of anything.”

Benedict stressed the importance of work as the great equalizer. Everyone from the youngest to the
oldest, from the least educated to the most educated, was to engage in manual labor -a revolutionary
idea for sixth-century Roman culture. Prayer, in a Benedictine monastery, was to consist of the opus
Dei (the work of God-Psalms recited in common) and lectio (the reflective reading of Scripture
whereby God’s word becomes the center of the monastic’s life). Prayer was marked by regularity and
fidelity, not mood or convenience. In Benedict’s supremely realistic way, the spiritual life was something to be worked at, not merely hoped for.
The importance of community life is another great theme of Benedict’s Rule. Prior to Benedict, religious life was the life of the hermit, who went to the desert and lived alone in order to seek God.
Benedict’s genius was to understand that each person’s rough edges -all the defenses and pretensions
and blind spots that keep the monastic from growing spiritually- are best confronted by living side by
side with other flawed human beings whose faults and failings are only too obvious.

St. Benedict
teaches that growth comes from accepting people as they are, not as we would like them to be. His
references to the stubborn and the dull, the undisciplined and the restless, the careless and the scatterbrained have the ring of reality. Though Benedict was no idealist with respect to human nature, he
understood that the key to spiritual progress lies in constantly making the effort to see Christ in each
person-no matter how irritating or tiresome.



The wisdom of Benedict’s Rule lies in its flexibility, its tolerance for individual differences, and its openness to change. For over 1500 years, it has remained a powerful and relevant guide for those who would seek God in the ordinary circumstances of life.
When Benedict wrote his Rule, society seemed to be falling apart. Though materially prosperous, the
Roman Empire was in a state of decline. After Benedict’s death, barbarian hordes would overrun
Europe and the very survival of Western civilization would be called into question.
Benedictine monasteries -with their message of balance and moderation, stability, hospitality, and
stewardship- were credited with the preservation of Western culture, and Benedict himself was
named patron of Europe.

Responsory

At midnight, when the man of God was keeping watch and praying,
– he saw the whole world gathered as though into one sunbeam.
To one who sees the Creator all creatures are as nothing.
– He saw the whole world gathered as though into one sunbeam.

The Gospel

Luke 14:27-33

27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

A Brief Reflection may be added here.

“The Benedictine life is simply living the Gospel without fanfare. The mainspring of everything in the Rule of St Benedict is the love of Christ in himself, in the poor, in the monastic community and in the individual.” T Merton

The Prayers

As we gather to celebrate the feast of our holy father St. Benedict,
let us offer our thanksgiving prayer to God:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

God, you inspired St. Benedict to establish a school of the Lord’s service, bless all those who seek you in the monastic way of life, we ask you, Lord, hear us:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

Our holy father, St. Benedict taught us to prefer nothing to the Work of God, bless our daily round of prayer, and may it be found pleasing in your sight; we ask you, Lord, hear us:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

Open our eyes to the deifying light and our ears to the heavenly voice that calls us each day; we ask you, Lord, hear us:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

Bless us with the gift of listening hearts, we ask you, Lord, hear us:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

Our holy father Benedict died surrounded by his monks, with his hands uplifted in prayer, bless us with the grace of a perfect death, and bring to eternal life those we remember who have died from our community; we ask you Lord, hear us:

O Lord, graciously hear us.

(specific prayers may be added aloud or in silence)

The Lord’s Prayer

Final Prayers

Concluding Prayer  (Taken from “Proclaiming All Your Wonders”)

Ever-faithful God, complete the work you have begun in us.
You call us through our Father, St. Benedict,
to walk in the paths of the Gospel.
Lead us all together to your dwelling place
where you are glorified
in your Son, Jesus Christ,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer of The New Benedictine Community

Lord, you chose Benedict to follow you and made him the founder of a great religious family in your Church. May we in the N. (New Benedictine Community) be guided and inspired by his rule to live, where you have placed us, as brothers and sisters leading a life of prayer, study and service. Also, that we may increase both in spirit and in number as we labour for the salvation of all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Dismissal

What can be sweeter to us than the voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in his loving mercy the Lord shows us the way of life.
Let us therefore gird our loins with faith and the performance of good works, so that we may merit to see him who has called us into his eternal kingdom.

Let us Bless the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen.


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