Its been several years and several blogs now since I officially became a member of the Roman Catholic Church and it is just now, this autumn, that I’m feeling like I’m hitting a stride somehow and maturing in my faith. Part of this is probably the result of aging and mellowing out, both physically and spiritually. I’m no longer an over zealous convert who wants to overturn every percieved money changer from the temple just because I’ve read a bit of Ludwig Ott or a couple of Michael Davies books. I used to be that way but not so much anymore.
I’m a quiet person but I can be intense, and so despite long having abandoned so called “convertitis” I’m still ever the unrepentant contrarian with trad sensibilities, and yet one cannot really pigeonhole me as a total traditionalist. I definitely identify with the cause of trads in returning to our full Catholic patrimony but I’m not really a stereotypical trad in many ways. At any rate this blog is not about trad controversies so look elsewhere for that…
Why call this blog “A Benedictine Heart”? It’s because I’ve been deeply influenced by the Benedictine Way ever since the first time I put on the CD Chant by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos bAack in the early 90’s and thought it was the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven. Ever since that day the hand of the good Lord has led me step by step to a more Benedictine way of living and praying.
Now I can say the heart and soul of my spiritual life is the Benedictine Breviary as found in the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal. I often supplement it with Matins from the Roman Breviary, but mostly I just pray Lauds through Compline. I love the rhythm of the psalms, the antiphons and the liturgical year. I love chanting in Latin along with the monks of La Barroux and Norcia and commemorating the saints. This practice grounds me somehow. It’s really this and the Jesus Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration and the occasional Latin Mass that sustain me spiritually, but especially this.
Autumn is here, it’s the eve of All Souls in the traditional rite. The feast where we pray for the dead, for the souls in purgatory, is upon us. Starbucks is offering pumpkin spice and gingerbread lattes,the sun is going down a few hours earlier and even here in Florida there is a pale and ethereal look to the blue sky and a nip in the air that says it’s Autumn. The liturgical year has its own rhythms based on certain feast days, certain saints and certain devotions. It’s the Church’s version of the civil calendar only with holy days instead of holidays,commemorations of the key moments in the lives of our Lord, our Lady and the saints instead of memorials of battles, declarations signed and political characters.
The Divine Office really helps mark sacred time and bring the faith alive, especially when you are a minority today in the culture at large in being more religious than usual. It can ground you in a culture that is not so much hostile as indifferent to the Faith, eternity and Jesus Christ.