What did monks do all day? Columba Stewart tells us in his marvelous little book Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition (Orbis, 1998):
The Work of God
At the center of the Benedictine life was the daily round of liturgy called by Benedict the “Work of God” (opus dei). The Rule specified eight such ‘offices’ per day. The first, very early in the morning, was “a comparatively long service of psalms and readings called Vigils.” Then came Lauds [“lawds”] followed almost immediately by four other brief offices during the day—Prime, Terce [“terse”], Sext, None [rhymes with “bone”], an evening office (Vespers) and a brief bedtime office (Compline [“COMP’-lin”]). All told, this amounted to nearly four hours per day spent in communal prayer, during which the monks would work their way through all of the psalms once each week.
Important to the monastic life was the slow, meditative reading of scripture, called the lectio divina. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Benedict, Benedictine, Bible, hours, lectio divina, Middle Ages, monasticism, monks, opus dei, Order of Saint Benedict, prayer, Scripture
Been thinking a lot lately about the many, many ways faith and work speak to each other–or quite often, do not speak to each other where they should. Now another one comes up, in an article in First Things by Leah Libresco.
For decades, men’s overcommitment in their work lives has alienated them from their children, drained their marriages of life, incubated infidelity. The overworked, intimacy-challenged businessman has become a movie and TV cliche.
Libresco’s article and the Hanna Rosin article she points to shine a bright light on the modern female equivalent to this cliche. It is sobering, and it deserves reflection by Christians who care about faith-and-work issues.
Here’s the beginning of Libresco’s article, titled “Sad Secular Monks”:
In the Atlantic, Hanna Rosin recently defended the hookup culture as essential to female success and equality. Given the pressure of a high-powered career, she claims, “an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.” In order to carve out time for work, women need the same option men have long enjoyed: “the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career.” Continue reading
The “fathers of modern science”–that is, men (very few women) in the 17th century who launched the specialized fields of study within the hard sciences–were almost all Christians who studied science to “think God’s thoughts after him.” I’ll post again listing their names and fields. But one of the most fascinating cases of the NON-conflict between science and Christian faith was the monk Gregor Mendel, whose researches helped found the modern science of genetics. I dug up some info on Mendel for a Christian History e-newsletter. As with many of these posts from my Christian History days, you’ll probably find that the links are out-of-date and possibly non-functional. But the story is still a fascinating one, I think:
The Christian DNA of Modern Genetics
Though open to frightening ethical abuse, genetics has been a Christian vocation since Gregor Mendel did his famous pea-plant experiments in the mid-nineteenth century.
If canonization as a saint were—as some observers fuzzily imagine—a sort of Rotarian medal for service to humankind, the nineteenth-century monk-scientist Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) would have gained the honor long ago.
Of course, these days, not everyone may be so happy about placing a halo over the man who shows up in school science texts as the father of modern genetics. Recently, a few bad apples have been threatening to spoil the whole harvest of genetic science with wild claims about human cloning‘s potential benefits. If we bought the theories of some biological determinists, we would need only to get our hands on Saint Gregor’s relics—just a cheek cell or two would do—and we could create a whole army of scientific geniuses. Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Augustinians, cloning, DNA, faith and reason, friars, genetics, Gregor Mendel, monasticism, monks, Order of Augustinian Canons, science