January 30, May 31, September 30
The second step of humility is that a monk love not their own will nor take pleasure in the satisfaction of their desires; rather they shall imitate by their actions that saying of the Lord: “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Similarly we read, “Consent merits punishment; constraint wins a crown.”
Here, on the second rung of humility, Benedict takes things a step further and asks us not take pleasure in the satisfaction of desire, to not love our own will.
At the heart of loving our own will is the attachment to the satisfaction of desire. This attachment is powerful because of the gratification that this satisfaction of desire imparts. If this attachment is not addressed with genuine and practical loving, one that asks us to be other-centred, then life will become, principally, the self-indulgent pursuit of gratification.
God’s will can be described as a “continuous self-giving in love”. While ever we are moving in harmony with this self-giving love, we are ‘doing God’s will’. It is a great challenge for us to live and move in this harmony because of our attachment. Many times, in the experience of life and relationship, we discover that to do our own will is not the loving thing – both for ourselves and for others.
In and with our desiring there can be legitimate needs. The sooner we can see and experience what self-giving in love is, the sooner we are able to discern between what is genuine need and what is want (desire). When we experience what real love is, there is also the opportunity to be in harmony with it.
Love gives because it is self-giving. It does not draw attention to itself – it is humble. Anonymous acts of kindness like emptying the dishwasher, buying milk, filling the sugar, flowers given, all these are giving for the sake of loving others and not for our own sake: the attention is not on us.
Jesus teaches us what real love is. To say “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me” is to say I am here to be loving and nothing else. True fulfilment in life is the living of a loving life, no matter the cost.
Practically, humility is the way of curbing the satisfaction of desire; a way of constraining ego for its own transformation. Humility teaches us that life is about fulfilment, not short-term gratification. As we act humbly, we learn more deeply what a loving life is.
Humility is found in the necessities of life together. What is essential for the functioning of a loving life together has in its practice a humility that is learning about love via the experience of love. Parents discover this in what they must sacrifice in loving their children; a husband, a wife, in what they sacrifice for the other’s life and purpose. It is no different in other types of community. Love is not ‘I want this now!’ The doing of love is doing what is practically other-centred and self-giving – and thoroughly ordinary. To be loving is to be humble. This genuine loving naturally brings us into harmony with the source of all being within and around us.
And we grow in this humble love as we attend to the mantra – another necessity of life for those who choose it. Over time, the gratifications that come from the following of distraction lessen. We then live out this lessening in the ways we love each other.
This is my commandment, that you should love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because the servant does not what the master is doing. I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. These are my commandments to you, that you should love one another. (John 15:12-17, RNJB)
 Laurence Freeman, Christian Meditation Newsletter, 2006.
February 13, June 14, October 14
CHAPTER 11 – How the Night Office is to be said on Sundays
On Sundays let the brethren rise earlier for the Night Office, in which the following order is to be observed: six psalms and a verse having been said, as we have above prescribed, and all being seated at their places in their proper order, let four lessons with their responsories be read from the lectionary, as we have said above; and to the last responsory only let the reader add the “Glory be to the Father,” which when he begins, let all reverently rise. After these lessons six other psalms follow in order, with their antiphons and a verse as before; thereafter, four more lessons are to be read, with their responsories, in the manner above prescribed. Next, let three canticles from the prophets be said, as the Abbot shall appoint. These canticles are to be sung with an Alleluia. Then, a verse having been said and the Abbot having given the blessing, let four lessons be read from the New Testament as above directed. After the fourth responsory let the Abbot begin the hymn, “We praise Thee, O God.” Which hymn being said, the Abbot will read a lesson from the Gospel, while all stand in reverence and awe, and at the end let all answer, “Amen.” The Abbot will then intone the hymn, “To Thee be praise”; and after the blessing has been given, let them begin Lauds.
This order for the Night Office is always to be observed on Sunday, in summer as well as in winter, unless perhaps the brethren rise too late (which God forbid), for then some of the lessons or responsories would have to be shortened. Let all care, however, be taken that this does not happen; but if it should, let him through whose neglect it may have come to pass make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.
and let the comments follow!
February 14, June 15, October 15
Chapter 12 – How the Office of Lauds is to be said
At Lauds on Sunday let the sixty-sixth Psalm first be said directly, without an antiphon. After this let the fiftieth Psalm be said with an Alleluia and then the one hundred seventeenth and the sixty-second; then the Canticle of Blessing and the psalms of praise, a lesson from the Apocalypse, said by heart, a responsory, a hymn, a verse, the canticle from the Gospel, and the Litany, with which the Office ends.
My commentary has very little to say about this (Work & Prayer by Cary Elwes) other than it (Sunday Lauds) includes the Miserere to remind us of our sinfulness, misery and need for forgiveness, and of Gods infinite loving-kindness.