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Cap. XX

[Ms P, fol. 85r – Paulus Diaconus – 
Ps.-Basil: Ms K1, fol. 15v; Ms E1, fol 95r; Ms E2, fol. 146r]

Ch. 20

Translated by: Fr. Maurus Mount

Quia superius exposuit, qualiter esset psallendum, congrue nunc subjunxit: tDe reverentia orationis.

Since he explained above, how the psalms are to be sung, now, fittingly, he has added: On Reverence at Prayer.

Cassiodorus in psalmo XVIII, ubi dicitur: Timor Domini sanctus permanens in saeculum saeculi, sic loquitur dicens, ait enim: Permixto enim cum pavore dilectionis timore Domini, qui usu saeculari reverentia nuncupatur,1 [Cassiodor, Expositio psalmorum 18:10, CCSL 97, p. 173] i. e. timor et dilectio una simul cum reverentia gignunt invicem orationis frequentationem cum pietate nimia et deprecatione assidua.

Cassiodorus thus declares when speaking on Psalm 18, where it states: The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever, : The fear of the Lord is love mixed with dread, that which in worldly usage is called reverence,1 [Cassiodor, Expositio psalmorum 18:10, CCSL 97, p. 173]. That is, fear and love as one together with reverence mutually bring forth frequency in prayer with an exceeding piety and a constant pleading for pardon.

Sequitur: 1Si cum hominibus potentibus volumus aliqua suggerere, non praesumimus nisi cum humilitate et reverentia, 2quanto magis Domino Deo universorum cum omni humilitate et puritatis devotione supplicandum est? 3Et non in multiloquio sed in puritate cordis et compunctione lacrimarum nos exaudiri sciamus.

Saint Benedict continues: 1If, when we desire to bring something to the attention of powerful men, we do not presume to do so except with humility and reverence, 2then how much more ought we beseech the Lord God of the universe with all humility and the devotion of purity? 3And indeed, let us understand that we are heard not in much speaking but in purity of heart and compunction of tears.

Bene enim dicit: Si cum hominibus potentibus volumus aliqua suggerere, non praesumimus nisi cum humilitate et reverentia, quia hoc exemplum omnibus notum est, cum quali reverentia, principi vel potenti est loquendum.

For he states rightly: If, when we desire to bring something to the attention of powerful men, we do not presume to do so except with humility and reverence, because this example is known to all; with what sort of reverence one ought to speak to a prince or a powerful man.

Quare cum timore et honore voce submissa loquitur? quia manifestum est: si quis non cum honore et humilitate locutus fuerit principi, non solum non merebitur impetrare, quod postulat, verum etiam damnum sibi acquirit - quasi diceret aliis verbis: Si homini, qui vermis et cinis est, loquitur cum honestate et humilitate, quanto magis cum omni humilitate et puritatis devotione supplicandum est Deo, qui est omnium creator et rector?

Why does one speak with fear and honor with a submissive voice? Because it is clear: If anyone should speak to a prince without honor and humility, not only will he not deserve to receive what he seeks, but he also acquires injury. It is as if he were to say in other words: If someone speaks to a man, who is a worm and dust, with consideration and humility, how much more with all humility and devotion of purity is God to be beseeched, who is the creator and ruler of all?

Bene, cum dixit humilitatem, praemisit omni, i. e. corporis et animae, h. e. sicut humiliamus et flectimus corpus, ita et, anima flectenda est, quia nil valet una sine altera.

Rightly, when he said humility, he added before it ‘all’, that is, inclusive of body and soul, that is to say, just as we humble and bow the body, so also is the soul to be bowed down, for one is of no avail without the other.

Sequitur: Et non in multiloquio, sed in puritate cordis et compunctione lacrimarum nos exaudiri sciamus.

Then follows: And indeed, let us understand that we are heard not in much speaking but in purity of heart and compunction of tears.

Sic enim Dominus in evangelio prohibet dicens: Orantes autem nolite [page 320] multum loqui. [Mt 6:7] Sunt enim multi, qui putant, Deum flecti posse multis verbis. Multa enim verba in oratione fundere paganorum est; [quia] Deus inspector est cordis.

Moreover, thus does our Lord forbid [us to pray] in the Gospel, where he says: And when you are praying, speak not [page 320] much. [Mt. 6:7] For there are many who think that God is able to be swayed by their many words. In fact, to pour forth many words in prayer is characteristic of the heathen; for God is an examiner of the heart.

Dicit enim B. Benedictus non in multiloquio, sed in puritate cordis et compunctione lacrimarum, h. e. in corde mundo et compunctione lacrimarum nos a Domino exaudimur, eo quod veraciter orare est, sicut papa Gregorius docet, amaros in compunctione gemitus et non composita verba resonare. [Gregory the Great, Moralia in Hiob XXXIII, c. 23.43, CCSL 143B, p. 1712]

Indeed, Blessed Benedict says: not in much speaking, but in purity of heart and compunction of tears, that is to say, that we are heard by the Lord in a clean heart and by compunction of tears, to the extent that to truly pray means, as Pope Gregory teaches, to sound forth bitter groans and not contrived words. [Gregory the Great, Moralia in Hiob XXXIII, c. 23, 43, CCSL 143B, p. 1712]

Voces autem apud secretissimas aures Dei non faciunt verba nostra, sed desideria. Hinc est quod in eremo populus perstrepit, et Moyses a strepitu verborum tacet, et tamen silens aure divinae pietatis auditur, cum dicitur: Quid clamas ad me? [Ex 14:15] Intus est ergo in desiderio clamor secretus, qui ad humanas laudes non pervenit et tamen auditum conditoris replet.

Moreover, not our words, but our desires make our utterances present to the most hidden ears of God. Hence it is [in the Scriptures] that the people in the wilderness make noise, and Moses keeps quiet from the din of words, yet nevertheless, he being silent is heard by the ear of divine compassion, when it is said: Why criest thou to me? [Ex. 14:15]. From within, therefore, is the secret cry in longing, that reaches not human estimation, and yet fills the hearing of the Creator.

Sequitur: 4Et ideo brevis debet esse et pura oratio nisi forte ex affectu inspirationis divinae gratiae protendatur.

Then follows: 4Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure, unless perhaps, it be extended by the inspiration of divine grace.

Mos est Graecorum frequenter orare et parum. Tamdiu enim debemus in oratione prostrati jacere, donec Domino juvante cogitationes vanas comprimamus. Si autem videmus, nos superari a cogitationibus, et jam non delectamur in oratione jacere, surgendum est; deinde aut legendum vel psallendum aut operandum est. Et quia cognovit B. Benedictus, non posse humanam mentem propter infirmitatem suam diu in oratione sine perturbatione malarum cogitationum jacere, ideo dixit, brevem esse orationem debere. Nam quamvis aliis temporibus patiamur perturbationes cogitationum, maxime tempore orationis, et quia oratio munda a vanis cogitationibus debet esse et cum compunctione lacrimarum pro infirmitate humana, ideo debet brevis esse.

It is the custom of the Greeks to pray frequently and for a short length of time. For so long ought we to lie prostrate in prayer, until, with the Lord’s help, we crush our vain thoughts. But if we should perceive that we are being overcome by our thoughts, and we are no longer pleased to lie prostrate in prayer, we ought to arise; then we should read, sing psalms, or work. Indeed, since Blessed Benedict knew that the human mind, on account of its infirmity, is not for long able to lie prostrate in prayer without the disturbance of evil thoughts, he states, accordingly: our prayer ought to be short and pure. For however much we may be afflicted with the disturbances of our thoughts at different times, especially during the time of prayer: both because our prayer ought to be pure from vain thoughts, and with the compunction of tears on account of our human weakness, it ought, for these reasons, to be short.

Et bene dixit: nisi forte ex affectu inspirationis divinae gratiae protendatur - ac si diceret aliis verbis: Humana infirmitas diu in oratione non potest persistere sine perturbatione malarum cogitationum, nisi divina gratia inspirata fuerit.

Also he has said well: unless perhaps, it be extended by the inspiration of divine grace - as if he had said in other words: Our human weakness is unable to endure long in prayer without the disturbances of evil thoughts, unless it be inspired by divine grace.

Et hoc notandum est, quia contrarium non est, quod Gregorius [page 321] dicit in homilia sua de coeco nato, ubi dicit: Cum in oratione phantasmata patimur, necesse est, ut vox cordis nostri, quo durius repellitur, eo valentius insistat, quatenus cogitationis illicitae tumultum superet, atque ad pias aures Domini nimietate suae importunitatis erumpat. [Gregory the Great, Homilia XL in Evangelia I, no. 2, c. 4, PL 76, col. 1083C]

And here it should be noted, that what Gregory [page 321] says in his homily on the man born blind does not contradict this. He states: When we are afflicted with phantoms during prayer, it is necessary that the voice of our heart, the more harshly it is crowded out, all the more bravely press on, in order that it may overcome the tumult of illicit thought, and may break through to the loving ears of the Lord by means of the excess of its relentlessness. [Gregory the Great, Homilia XL in Evangelia I, no. 2, c. 4, PL 76, col. 1083c]

Ceterum in oratione non debet multum persistere, eo quod, sicut S. Benedictus dicit, brevis debet esse pura oratio, nisi forte ex affectu inspirationis divinae gratiae protendatur. Et hoc in loco animadvertendum est, quia ante debet esse praeparatio cordis, ut tempore orationis Deo mundam exhibere orationem valeat.

Otherwise, during prayer, one ought not to persist much, due to the fact that, holy Benedict says, prayer ought to be short and pure, unless perhaps, it be extended by the inspiration of divine grace. And in regards to this point, it should be noted that there should be a preparation of the heart, in order that during the time of prayer, one be able to offer to God a pure prayer.

Sequitur: 5In conventu tamen omnino brevietur oratio.

Next comes: 5In community, however, let the prayer be altogether shortened.

Ac si diceret aliis verbis: quamquam divina gratia proteletur oratio, tamen in conventu omnino brevietur oratio.

As if he said in other words: Although through divine grace prayer be drawn out, in community, however, let the prayer be altogether shortened.

Non enim dicit de illa oratione, quam presbyter dicit vel capitula, sed de oratione uniuscujusque, qua in conventu unusquisque monachus orat.

For he is not speaking of that prayer, which the priest says, nor of the appointed texts (capitula), but of the prayer of each individual, by which each monk prays in community.

Nam statutum est, quanta capitula debet presbyter dicere vel orationem in conventu. In eo autem, quod dixit: in conventu tamen omnino brevietur oratio, ostenditur, et alio tempore esse orandum. Sed ista oratio ita videtur mihi esse melior, h. e. ut cum in voce tam orationem dominicam quam reliquas orationes sacerdos dicit, non debes verbis orare aliud, sed illam orationem corde attendere, et ita attendere, ut cum per omnia saecula dicit sacerdos, tu respondeas Amen.

For it has been established; how many appointed texts (capitula) the priest ought to say, and the prayer in community. But by the fact that he has said: in community, however, let the prayer be altogether shortened, it is shown that also at another time ought one to pray. But this prayer thus seems to me better, that is to say, as when the priest verbally says the Lord’s Prayer as well as the other prayers, you should not pray other than these words, but should attend to that prayer with your heart, and thus so attend to it, that when the priests utters: for ever and ever, you may respond: Amen.

Si autem in secreto dicit sacerdos orationem dominicam aut alias, sicut ad missam super oblatam, tu velis in verbis ita ut in corde, velis etiam in corde tantum sine verbis, potes orare; sed ita debes breviare orationem tuam, quatenus cum sacerdos dicit per omnia saecula saeculorum, tu finita oratione tua respondeas Amen; verumtamen ad completorium non ad illud Amen, quod respondetur ad orationem sacerdotis, sed ad illud Amen, quod respondetur ad benedictionem sacerdotis, eo quod tunc ad ipsum officium completorii tamdiu debes jacere, quoadusque dicat sacerdos: Benedictio Dei Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, et tu erectus respondeas Amen. [page 322]

But if the priest should quietly pronounce the Lord’s Prayer, or other ones, such as the one over the offerings during Mass, you are able to pray as you wish with words in your heart, or even in your heart only without words; but so ought you shorten your prayer, that when the priest says: for ever and ever, with your own prayer having been ended, you may respond: Amen. However, during Compline, you should not thus [conclude your prayer and respond] to the Amen that is said in response to the prayer of the priest, but to the Amen which is given in response to the blessing of the priest, due to the fact that you ought to lie prostrate throughout the office of Compline itself, until the priest says: May the blessing of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…, and you having stood erect respond: Amen. [page 322]

Sequitur: 5Et facto signo a priore omnes pariter surgant.

He continues: 5And once the prior has given the signal, let them all arise together.

Sunt enim, qui intelligunt, illud signum esse, cum dicit presbyter per omnia saecula saeculorum, quatenus tu surgens respondeas Amen, sive sit in te inspiratio divina, qua possis diutius orare, sive non sit, eo quod nullatenus surgentibus aliis et tu solus debeas in oratione jacere. Nam si donum accepisti diu prolongandi orationem tuam, debes tamen pariter cum aliis fratribus surgere propter praeceptum regulae, quod dicit omnes pariter surgant; postea vero finito praedicto signo surgendi debes remanere in oratorio, ita tamen, si ante significatum fuerit, h. e. manifestum abbati hoc donum, quod accepisti, diu orandi. Et tamdiu debes orare, quoadusque perfruaris ipso dono orationis, quod accepisti.

There are some, indeed, who understand that sign to be when the priest says: for ever and ever, that arising you should say in response: Amen, whether there be within you some divine inspiration by which you would be able to pray longer or not, because you by no means ought to remain prostrate in prayer alone, while the others arise. For if you have received the gift of prolonging your prayer for a long time, you should nevertheless arise together with the other brethren on account of the precept of the Rule, which states let them all arise together. Certainly afterwards, once the aforementioned sign for rising has been accomplished, you ought to remain in the oratory, on the condition that this gift of praying for a long time that you have received first be shown, that is to say, be made clearly known to the abbot. And you should pray for as long as you should enjoy that same gift of prayer that you have received.

Iterum sunt alii, qui istud signum, ad quod praecipit regula, esse surgendum, intelligunt, istud signum esse illud ultimum, quod tangitur ad vigilias, ad matutinam, ad primam, ad tertiam, ad sextam, nonam, vesperam, atque completorium, quatenus, cum tactum fuerit, paratus sit monachus stans in choro ad respondendum dicto: Deus in adjutorium meum intende, Domine ad adjuvandum me festina. [Ps 69:2]

On the other hand, there are others who understand that sign about which the Rule gives command to rise to mean that first signal which is struck at Vigils, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, so that, when it is struck, the monk, standing in choir, be prepared to respond once O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me [Ps. 69:2] has been said.

V. gr. ad nocturnas audit signum primum frater et festinanter pergit in ecclesiam et orat per altaria; deinde stat in aliquo angulo vel sedet, cum audito secundo signo potest ibi esse. Cum vero tertium audierit signum, si sedet, debet surgere et venire in choro, et sistat, debet venire, ut cum Deus in adjutorium dictum fuerit, paratus debet adesse.

For instance, a brother hears the first signal for Vigils and with haste makes his way to the church and prays before the altars, then he stands in some corner or sits; once he hears the second signal, he is able to be there. But when he hears the third signal, if he is seated, he ought to arise and come into the choir, and let him remain.2 He ought to come, in order that when the O God, come to my assistance is said <…> he ought to be prepared to be present.

Non debet enim plus custodire orationem suam quam signum factum, sed signum custodiendum est. Similiter ad matutinum et primam in primo signo faciendum est, in tertia, sexta et nona in secundo signo faciendum, in vespera jam in tertio signo faciendum est hoc; in completorio vero, cum jacet in oratione, et cum primum signum dimissum fuerit, facit abbas signum, ut confiteantur; confessione autem facta omnes pariter surgant. Sed ut mihi videtur, melior est ille primus sensus quam secundus.

For he should not take greater heed of his own prayer than the given signal, but the signal is to be observed. Similarly at Lauds and Prime he is to do this at the first signal. At Terce, Sext and None this he is to do this at the second signal. At Vespers he is to do this straightaway at the third signal. At Compline, however, when he lies prostrate in prayer, and when the first signal has been omitted, the abbot gives the signal for them to confess; but when the confession has been made, let them all arise together. Yet as it seems to me, the first understanding is better than the second.

Signum vero inclinandi est, cum dicimus Kyrie eleison, quia dicendo Kyrie eleison omnes pariter debemus inclinari, eo quod [page 323] regula jubet, hoc ita fieri, ubi dicit supplicatio litaniae.

Surely the sign for bowing down is when we say the Kyrie eleison, for when saying the Kyrie eleison we are supposed to bow down because [page 323] the Rule commands that this is to be done when it speaks of the supplication of the litany.

Cum enim dicit supplicatio litaniae, datur intelligi, quatenus dicendo Kyrie eleison genuflectere debeant, et sic finiri unumquodque officium dicendo orationem dominicam seu et capitula, quae instituta fuerint, atque sacerdotis orationem, quam debet post celebratum officium complendo dicere.

For when it states supplication of the litany, it is given to be understood that while saying the Kyrie eleison, they ought to bend the knee, and thus is each office ended with saying the Lord’s Prayer or even the chapters (capitula) that have been assigned, and the prayer of the priest that he ought to say for the sake of completeness (complendo) after the office has been celebrated.

1. In editis Cassiodori exemplaribus legitur ita: Mixta enim cum pavore dilectio timor est Domini, qui usu saeculari reverentia nuncupatur. (Mittermüller).

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