Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
The abbot is allowing me to stay here and work in the scriptorium to copy from Eve’s book as long as I follow the rule of this abbey. Having been here before I know the daily patterns they keep. But the abbot doesn’t remember me.
He argues, “No, you know nothing of the Rule of Ligugè. We don’t use The Rule of Benedict here. We follow older patterns for prayer. You must observe and learn, then obey.”
Here they follow the old way in which the monk’s live in individual cells and private prayer is respected. But also, in the emerging patterns of communal life there are times when all of the monks and visitors gather for meals and worship. As a community we each take our turns to share in the earthly chores of preparing meals and tidying and scouring and working in the gardens.
Our songs are psalms sung in the tradition of call and response, and our prayers are long and heartfelt – some from repetitions in unison, some in silence, some spoken anew both in times together as community and also alone in our cells.
The rigors of communal order are not as firm as would need to be in a place where teens are also being trained and when the guidance of community as family is needed. Here the rule has naturally sprung from needs of community. It surely wasn’t laid down upon the gathered with the purpose to put some earthly person in charge and empowered to control the others. It’s said this place was established by St. Martin himself respectful of the ascetic hermit life as a church together not an earthly kingdom. May there continue to be this distinction I value.
Brother August surmised that Benedict never understood the value of hermitage when he made his rule. So I sought out available reading from the books here as I await my task assignment. I learn that Saint Benedict was himself among the desert fathers of an earlier time. [Footnote] Knowing that of him gives me a better appreciation for The Rule. He must have known personally of the temptations of the lone ascetics for wandering from purpose. It must have been from his own self-knowledge he made his criticism; then he surely was overwhelmed as a bishop seeing all of the chaos of transforming a bevy of young boys into monks. So this Rule suited a need.
Footnote– St. Benedict spent three years as a hermit living in a cave. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_of_Nursia retrieved, 6-2-21.
(Continued Tuesday August 10, 2021)