Friday, July 11, 2014

Of Considerable Interest on the Benedictine Front

Gregory DiPippo has reminded us today, on St. Benedict's "second" feast, of the primacy that the Father of Western Monasticism and Co-Patron of Europe placed on the OPUS DEI, understood as the solemn public celebration of the sacred liturgy. Today, then, seems a fitting time to mention two important sets of articles that take St. Benedict or the Benedictine tradition as their point of departure, but develop ideas that are deeply relevant to all of us who love the Church's liturgy.

The Benedictine-Jesuit Controversy

First, Dom Mark Kirby recently published a series of posts on Vultus Christi about the grand debate, in the first half of the 20th century, between the Benedictines and the Jesuits—more particularly, Dom Lambert Beauduin and Dom Maurice Festugière on the one side, R.P. Jean-Jacques Navatel and R.P. Louis Peeters on the other—concerning whether the formal liturgy of the Church or personal meditation should be seen as having primacy in the Christian life of prayer. Dom Mark's four posts are a brilliant summary of and commentary on the debate, all the way down to the intervention made by Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei of 1947, and really bring home the contemporary (almost frighteningly contemporary) relevance of this debate to the situation today. Highly, highly recommended.

Part 1: The Liturgy: Foremost and Indispensable
Part 4: Nowhere Else as in the Liturgy

The Spirituality of the Traditional Monastic Office

The redoubtable Benedictine Kate Edwards—who runs three blogs, one for lectio divina of the Gospels, another for the careful study of the Psalms, and still another dedicated to the ancient Benedictine monastic office!—has inaugurated a series of articles that will explore "the liturgical genius of St. Benedict's office." In the first post, for today's feast, she writes:
Most modern commentators on St Benedict's Office have struggled to find any systematic thematic or programmatic intent in St Benedict's psalm selections beyond a few allusions to the morning or light at Lauds.
          Certainly the Rule itself provides only a few rather oblique clues as to the factors that shaped St Benedict's Office, and don't go to the reasons for selecting this or that psalm for a particular hour or day. Nonetheless, in this series of posts on the liturgical genius of St Benedict, I will argue that in fact the Benedictine Office reflects a very deliberate theological and spiritual program indeed, one that links together the seven days of creation with seven 'days' that set before us the life of Christ: seven days, in short, of the new creation. It is, in my view, a structure that builds into each day and hour key themes and ideas for us to meditate on. And it is a program that is closely integrated with the spirituality of St Benedict's Rule more generally.
To all Benedictines out there who are reading this—priests, monks, oblates—I wish you a happy feastday! And to everyone else: let us worthily honor this great saint and patriarch, making our own this verse from today's hymn Iste Confessor:

          Whence we in chorus gladly do him honor,
          Chanting his praises with devout affection,
          That in his merits we may have a portion,
          Now and forever.

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