Mid Week Prayer
This series of Mid Week Prayer will use the lives of saints as our inspiration. “Let saints on earth in concert sing with those whose work is done. For all the servants of our King in heaven and earth are one” Charles Wesley. As my reference I am using the biographical companion to Common Worship entitled ‘Saints on Earth’ by John H Darch and Stuart K Burns (Church House Publishing (CHP) 2017).
In the words of the authors
‘Here are no plaster saints, but real flesh and blood human beings, warts and all, who despite the frailties of their humanity have much to teach us about the Christian life and service and worship of God.’
The series is not a study of the saints rather an opportunity to offer a pen picture of some of the heroes and heroines of faith, to be inspired by them and to use the pen picture as a spark for a time of prayer and reflection.
If you wish to understand more of these heroes and heroines I recommend the you purchase the book ‘Saints on Earth’ from CHP. It is also available as an ebook.
Each week I will choose from the saints and commemorations for that month. Some will be well known others may not. I may from time to time break from the saints and offer something not saint related.
On August 5th Mid-Week Prayer I will be recognising that no matter how comprehensive the list of saints may be it will always be incomplete. I am going to invite you to think of someone you have known and looking back has been a saint to you. I don’t need to know who they are, I will only ask you to hold their memory, in your heart and then in the silence of our Mid-Week Prayer time we will pray and reflect on these unknown heroes and heroines. I will explain more on the 5th August.
St Benedict of Nursia c505 is venerated by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion and Old Catholic Churches. He is a patron saint of Europe.
Benedict is seen as the Father of Western Monasticism and Abbot of Monte Cassino. His journey from Nursia to Monte Cassino was not a smooth one. As a student he struggled the hedonistic life style that was all around him. He sort refuge as a hermit in Subiaco. His simpler life style attracted others and eventually he was directing 12 communities in the Aniene Valley, east of Rome.
He was forced to move from the Aniene Valley as a result of the jealous behaviour of local clergy. He moved to Monte Cassino and spent the last 17 years of his life building up the monastery. It was during this period that he wrote his ‘Rule of Life’ for the monks at Monte Cassino.
The ‘Rule of Life’ is more than a list on do’s and don’ts. It is strong on the position of and obedience to the Abbot. Benedict stressed that obedience to the Abbot was to come out of love not fear. His Rule also carefully integrated prayer, manual labour, and study into a daily routine. This was part of the spirituality developed by Benedict. It is the whole life that is important, for God calls the whole person and it is the whole person that responds to God. This is undoubtedly is his supreme achievement that has shaped Christianity for nearly 1,500 years.
As we begin our time of prayer and reflection find a comfortable place to sit, slowly breath in and out, trying to calm yourself and become relaxed.
Think about what you have just read, what strikes you about St Benedict?
Is there anything you admire or question?
Now I invite you to focus on the daily pattern of careful integrated of prayer, manual labour and study.
I can also hear a loud bout of laughter, chance would be a fine thing with my work pattern, family responsibilities and church life.
Let me rephrase it, when did you last look at your life style? Do you see your work, your family etc as part of your life as a Christian. In Benedict’s Rule your pattern of work is part of your spirituality.
Also 1500 years ago life was different and these Rules were written for those who lived in community. Events could be controlled easier. Having said that it is still good to try to get a balance life style. It takes time and effort and discipline. Discipline was another aspect of their Ruler of Benedict.
Let us start our prayers with the Lord’s Prayer
Father, in Your goodness
grant me the intellect to comprehend You,
the perception to discern You,
and the reason to appreciate You.
In Your kindness
endow me with the diligence to look for You,
the wisdom, to discover You,
and the spirit to apprehend You.
In Your graciousness
bestow on me a heart to contemplate You,
ears to hear You,
eyes to see You,
and a tongue to speak of You.
In Your mercy to confer on me
a conversation pleasing to You,
the patience to wait for You,
and the perseverance to long for You.
Grant me a perfect end,
Your holy presence.
I ask this in the name of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
Father, In the awareness of Your presence
Beneath the shadow of Your wings,
In the closeness of Your love, may we abide.
Jesus, In the fellowship of Your saints,
In the communion of Your faithful,
In the church called to mission, may we abide
Spirit, In the power of Your love,
In the fullness of Your gifts,
In the guidance of Your wisdom, may we abide. Amen
May God grant to the world justice, truth and peace