Life without limits

October 19, 2009

Often people think of the life of a monk as a very strict one. Yet one of the most common words in the Rule of St Benedict is “joy.”

I always remember one Downside monk describing monastic life as “life without limits.” When I explain this to students they really cannot believe that such a life could be so fulfilling, so free and so eternal that the monk actually experiences that his life has no limits. The Rule of St Benedict focusses its whole attention on Easter. The life of the monk enters fully into the Paschal Mystery. Anyone who tries to live out the vision of Benedict – as oblate, monk, nun – also insert themselves into this profound mystery of death and new life. When they live this vision their song becomes Alleluia (and it is nothing but total loss to be unable to say it and to live life to the full).


Chapter 15 of the Rule of St Benedict: At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said

From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption 
let “Alleluia” be said 
both in the Psalms and in the responsories. 
From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent 
let it be said every night 
with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only. 
On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent, 
the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None 
shall be said with “Alleluia,” 
but Vespers with antiphons.

The responsories are never to be said with “Alleluia” 
except from Easter to Pentecost.



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