The first formal act of worship in our day is the Office of Readings. Some of us are not at our most awake at this time, and although the temptation might be to get up as late as possible, try and allow yourself some time for preparation: to be present, both to yourself and to the Spirit.
Some of us have a very strong coffee at this point, and it might be a good idea to centre yourself with a short prayer, poem or meditation.
Let Your God Love You
Before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
By Edwina Gateley
Once the Office of Readings is over we either have breakfast, remain in the Oratory or go to the solitude of our cell.
We sing Lauds, after which solitude time continues. This is a good time to practice lectio divina or other spiritual reading. This way you will have something to take with you and meditate on as you go through the day.
We return to the Oratory for Terce, at the end of which Abbot Thomas will read the Chapter of St Benedict’s Rule appointed for the day. This will be Chapter 52, ‘The Oratory of the Monastery’.
Chapter 52: The Oratory of the Monastery
‘The Oratory ought to be what it is called and nothing else is to be done or stored there. After the Work of God [which is what Benedict calls the Offices] all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, so that any who wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by another’s insensitivity. Moreover, anyone who, at other times, wishes to pray privately may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heart-felt devotion. Accordingly, any who do not pray in this manner are not to remain in the Oratory after the Work of God, as we have said; then they will not interfere with anyone else’.
This would be a good time to read Br Ian’s reflection on the Rule.
The Community then disperse to carry out our domestic work, or if our morning rota allows us some free time, to take the opportunity to do some reading or other creative work: basket weaving, icon writing, gardening, calligraphy or lace-making being some of the favourite activities here.
Time for our ‘frugal’ Friday lunch of bread/Ryvita, cheese and apples, which is eaten in silence and without a reading. This is followed by time for rest, or the ‘Office of Prone’ as one of our former Sisters called it.
Back in the Oratory for None.
The mind can be a bit foggy after lunch and energy at a low ebb, so if the weather is clement and it is possible to go outside, this might be a good time to do some gardening or go for a walk. Look out for, and enjoy, the signs of spring: early blossom, the opening of new buds, and birdsong.
Supper is another simple meal eaten in silence. Afterwards is the time when we would usually have recreation. But tonight it is an opportunity to reflect on the day and ask, ‘What have I heard? What have I learned?’
Compline and the beginning of the ‘Greater Silence’. Although 8.30pm might be a little early to go to bed, try to avoid the temptation of staying up and reconnecting with the world outside. Do something gentle and relaxing; try to still down before sleep. In his Rule Benedict bans the reading of the Pentateuch before bed so as not to disturb the monks before bedtime!