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The Signal for the Opus Dei

Saturday, July 27, 2024
Chapter 47

It is the responsibility of the abbot and prioress to announce, day and night, the hour for the Opus Dei. They may do so personally or delegate the responsibility to a conscientious member, so that everything may be done at the proper time.

Only those so authorized are to lead psalms and refrains, after the prioress or abbot according to their rank. No monastics should presume to read or sing unless they are able to benefit the hearers; let this be done with humility, seriousness and reverence, and at the bidding of the prioress or abbot.

Prayer in a Benedictine community is to be both regular and artistic and it is the role of leadership to see that this is so. In a culture without alarm clocks and in a community that prayed in the middle of the night, the responsibility was a major one. Even centuries later, however, when we all rouse ourselves to the sound of clock radios or a dozen other automatic devices and have no need for bellringers, the situation is just as serious. The message under the message is that unless the group becomes more and more immersed in prayer and the scriptures, giving them priority no matter what the other pressures of the day, the group will cease to have any authenticity at all. It will cease to develop. It will dry up and cave in on itself and become more museum than monastery. This stress on our responsibility to call ourselves to prayer is an insight as fresh for the twenty-first century as it was for the sixth. For all of us, prayer must be regular, not haphazard, not erratic, not chance. At the same time, it cannot be routine or meaningless or without substance. Prayer has to bring beauty, substance and structure to our otherwise chaotic and superficial lives or it is not long before life itself becomes chaotic and superficial. A life of spiritual substance is a life of quality. The Tao puts it this way:

She who is centered in the Tao
can go where she wishes, without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony,
even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.