To give food for your reflection on this Retreat Sunday and to help you make a time of quiet, prayer and reflection today, we invite you to consider the themes which we selected from our introduction to the Prologue of St Benedict’s Rule, and which you can find in full here.
To give some direction to these reflections, it’s always good to begin with Sacred Scripture. So, for each of the themes we offer lines from Scripture to help you reflect further. Each passage may be taken as a short lectio divina through the course of the day. Perhaps it would be good to give a half hour to each, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Each period of reflection should be allowed to stand alone – it may be that one passage of Scripture particularly resonates with you, and in this case you should make it your focused lectio for today.
Whatever way you wish to shape the day, try to punctuate it with Morning Prayer (Lauds) at the beginning, Evening Prayer (Vespers) sometime around 6pm. It may be more possible now for you to celebrate part of the day in eating with friends or family, to celebrate both your communion of prayer with God and, in the meal, complementing that with communion with others. In all likelihood you will still be joining a celebration of Mass online – try to enter as fully as possible into the celebration by listening in as new a way as possible to the texts, and responding, thus making your own participation real and active.
Here are the themes from our reflection on the Prologue to the Holy Rule, accompanied by suggested passages from Sacred Scripture.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart. You shall repeat them to your children and say them over to them whether at rest in your house, or walking abroad, at your lying down or at your rising; you shall fasten them on your hand as a sign and on your forehead as a circlet; you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The Lord God has given me a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.
The Lord God has opened my ear.
Listen to me, you who pursue integrity, who seek the Lord.
Consider the rock you were hewn from,
The quarry from which you were cut.
There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus, who,
Though he was in the form of God, did not cling to his equality with God
But emptied himself, to assume the condition of a slave,
And became as men are;
And being as all men are, he was humbler yet,
Even to accepting death,
Death on a cross.
But God raised him high, and gave him the name
Which is above all other names
So that all beings
In the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
Should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
And that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus as the Lord,
To the glory of God the Father.
The Resurrection Appearance on the Road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-35
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?” Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself….
Now while he was at table with them, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”
And see also Stephen’s speech in the Acts of the Apostles, 7:1-54.
The consecration of the Temple by Solomon, 1 Kings 8:1-61
The cleansing of the Temple, John 2:13-22
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
A School for the Lord’s Service
Listen, my child, take my words to heart,
And the years of your life shall be multiplied.
I have educated you in the ways of wisdom,
I have guided you along the paths of honesty.
Hold fast to discipline, never let her go,
Keep your eyes on her, she is your life.
The path of the virtuous is like the light of the dawn,
Its brightness growing to the fullness of day;
The way of the wicked is dark as night,
They cannot tell what it is they stumble over.
My child, pay attention to my words,
Listen carefully to the words I say;
Do not let them out of your sight,
Keep them deep in your heart.
They are life to those who grasp them.
Health for the entire body.
More than all else, keep watch over your heart,
Since here are the wellsprings of life.
The entirety of Jesus’ Priestly Prayer in John 17 should be read:
Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you;
And, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
Let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
To know you, the only true God,
And Jesus Christ whom you have sent (17:1-3)
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name. (And now read John 1:12)