Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the Day
RB: RB 42 Silence after Compline
Mass: Gn 18:1-10a; Resp Ps 15; Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42

He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.


First, about today's Gospel. A perspective I had not thought about before comes from Abba Silvanus's words for a visiting brother, from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: "Mary needs Martha. It is really thanks to Martha that Mary is praised." So, as a dear friend encouraged me this morning, "Keep your Martha levels up!"

Next, with reflections (not unrelated to today's Gospel) on the reading from the Holy Rule, Ch 42, on Silence after Compline. Compline, or Night Prayer, is the last prayer of the day for those in monasteries and all the faithful who pray the Liturgy the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. The grand silence after Compline has been called the Summum Silentium. Of great importance is the first verse of Benedict's teaching: "Monks should diligently cultivate silence at all times, but especially at night", which by itself provides plenty of food for thought. What follows comes from the recently published Cardinal Basil Hume: A Pilgrim's Search for God (Gracewing, 2019), p. 46, fitting for all who seek the living and true God.

"Practising the art of silence, Benedictines learn to maintain an awareness of the close presence of God, which should guide all thoughts and actions. This is especially true during the Summum Silentium, the silence after Compline, when 'no one is permitted to speak further' (RB 42:8). This is the silence which prepares one to create silent spaces throughout the day and 'see these places and times of silence as the very basis of a mature, adult spiritual life.' The silence after Compline is not a time for visiting, watching television, or working on the computer. It is a time to be more aware of the presence of the Lord and fill ourselves with His love and mercy. Filled with the Lord, Benedictines grow in charity, in service of God, and in service of one another." 

Other thoughts, spurred on by a beloved Abbot in the Pacific Northwest, remind us about the last word or name that is uttered from our mouth at the end of each day. Compline ends with the singing of the Salve Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen, to honor Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. The last words of the Salve Regina are O Clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria; O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. The Summum Silentium begins after the last word of the Salve Regina: "Maria." "Mary."


NB. Today's photo: A sunflower for Sunday!

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