May 12th, 1998, Serial No. 00293

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Liturgy Class




Let us pray. Father in heaven, author of all truth, a people once in darkness has listened to your word and followed your son as he rose from the tomb. Hear the prayers of this newborn people and strengthen your church to answer your call. May we rise and come forth into the light of day to stand in your presence until eternity dawns. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. Good morning. Good morning. Has anybody mentioned that it's your, it's Michael Fish's anniversary today? That's good. So, we're entering into my favorite part of this, the thing that I'm most excited about. We may not get to the whole thing today, but we're heading toward the fourth century. We'll talk about the cathedral tradition there and then talk about the beginnings of the


monastic tradition in Egypt. But a little bit of follow up from last time, I brought in a couple of quotes I want to read you here, too. Where we went, of course, in the last class was talking about the first Christians, especially the first Jewish Christians. There's some evidence that they might have been celebrating in their own synagogues certainly by the time the letter of James was read. And then I read to you some sections from both the apostolic constitutions and the Didache that are proof texts to us that Christians were praying at certain times of the day already in the first and the second century. We saw the beginnings of the celebration of vigils, which started out just on a celebration of Easter day, but gradually as Sunday took on an Easter character to it, every Sunday then came to commemorate Easter, and so they would celebrate a vigil.


And also around the death of a martyr, there would be a celebration at that martyr's tomb, an all-night celebration. The little hours are developing, the tradition comes back from apostolic times, you noticed all the different, I brought two more quotes from what we call proof texts from scripture that it was an apostolic tradition to pray at three, six, and nine hours, but this tradition is mainly being followed by the virgins and ascetics, who have a little more leisure, devout Christians of leisure, who are also our monastic ancestors as well. They're giving it more of its shape and form. You'll see at the beginnings of the Egyptian monastic tradition that three, six, and nine weren't quite so important, we called the little hours. There was these two other quotes that I forgot to bring last time. Here's from Tertullian, early third century, it was at the third hour that the Holy Spirit


was poured upon the assembled disciples. Peter, on the day he had the vision of all creatures in the sheet, climbed up to higher places through the grace of prayer at the sixth hour. Likewise, John, at the ninth hour, he went to the temple where he restored a paralytic to health. So proof texts of why we would celebrate the little hours. Here's the one from Hippolytus. If you are at home at the third hour, you should pray to God and offer him praise, for it was the time when Christ was nailed to the cross. In the same way, you should pray at the sixth hour, thinking of Christ hanging on the cross while the sun was checked in its course and darkness reigned supreme. At the ninth hour, your prayer and praise should be protracted. It was at this time that Christ, pierced with the spear, poured forth water and blood, and the rest of the day spanned. Now, here's how Hippolytus goes on, though. Pray too, before you lie down to rest. About midnight, get up again, wash your hands with water, and once more set out to pray.


About cockcrow, get up once more and pray again, for it was at this time that the children of Israel denied Christ. So there you have Hippolytus, already in the third century, talking about morning prayer, a midnight prayer, a night prayer, a prayer before going to sleep, and the little hours. So it goes at least that far back in the tradition, and here is Saint Cyprian. We must also pray in the morning, that the resurrection of the Lord might be celebrated by morning prayer. Likewise at the setting of the sun and at the end of the day, necessarily there must be again prayer, for Christ is the true sun, the true day. Moreover, let us who are always in Christ, that is, in the light, not cease praying even in the night. Thus the widow Anna, without intermission, always gives petitioning and watching, persevered in the deserving will of Christ. So there's lots of text from the third century showing that this is a tradition somewhere, as the Christian church is spreading out.


A little bit of historical context, just so we can pull this together, of course Christianity is spreading from Jerusalem, even in the time of Saint Paul. For sure there's this very strong Christian church growing in Europe, Rome, out in Tegal, Northern Africa, which is where we're going to get to now. This Northern African church was very important in the patristic era, and the external signs of growth were matched by all kinds of internal developments in the church, but more important, this expanding church was butting up against this dying Roman Empire, there was lots of persecution going on. It's that persecution going on that caused the church to remain what I use the term, domestic church, and I'm going to read this paragraph to you from Edward Foley's book, Age to Age, where I get that term from.


These external signs of growth were matched by internal developments within the church. The period between the years 100 and 313 saw the emergence of basic ecclesial structures, worship forms, and dogmas. During this period the roles of bishops, deacons, and many other ministries were delineated. Christians still follow an outline of worship that was formed by the 2nd century. So the outlines that were developed in the 2nd century is really still what we're following in this day and age. This was a time when the divinity and the authority of Christ were defined, the New Testament canon was identified, and Greek philosophy was first employed in the service of Christian theology. In short, it was a time when one could recognize these three elements in the church. It was urban, it was Gentile, and it was being Hellenized. We're talking about an urban church, we're talking about a church with a lot of Greek


influence, and we're talking about a church that is basically now not a Jewish sect anymore, but its own Gentile church. Lacking a central government, pluriform in practice and belief, more familial than institutional, the years 100 to 313 might be called the era of the domestic church. Where these services are probably taking place, we're going to add folly, in house churches and in catacombs, especially in the areas where persecution is happening during the different persecution eras. There's also some sign that some of the early Christians were also worshipping in basilicals, but that's going to come a little bit more later. He puts that in the next era himself. One other little note, again following up on last week. I was kind of surprised by this, so I printed it right out just to show you that I'm not


above contradicting myself on this. We generally think of the Psalter as a Christian prayer book, and I keep saying over and over again on the basis of these other authors that it's mainly psalmody, probably, that these early Christians are praying, inheriting it right from the Jews with a mistrust of non-scriptural texts. I keep saying that over and over again. Now this is completely contradicting that, so I'll give you a whole other side of it. What's again, Edward Foley says, who is one of my heroes in terms of liturgical scholarship, so he probably knows more than I do. Although it is traditional to speak of the Psalter as the Christian prayer book, little evidence exists that Christians sang psalms in the first century of worship. The Pauline admonition to sing psalms even, as in Colossians 3, with gratitude in your heart, sing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, cannot be taken as proof that the psalms of


David were an ordinary part of early Christian worship. In this context, psalms simply means a Christian song, and no precise differentiation is possible between the three genres of song that he mentions. So according to Ed Foley, psalms, hymns, spiritual canticles could all be the same thing, and they're not necessarily the psalms, the biblical psalms of David. I have not run into this anywhere else, but I think it's interesting to throw this in the mix. The first certain reference to singing psalms in Christian worship appears in the Apocryphal Acts of Paul, which was written about the year 190. And soon after this, then, Tertullian, who died about 225, notes that psalms were part of the liturgy of the Word. And psalm singing was probably an ordinary part of Christian worship from at least the third century. But besides biblical psalms, other pieces were written in imitation of the psalms.


Some of the earliest examples of these non-biblical psalms are called psalmi idiotici. Have you ever heard that phrase? Psalmi idiotici are the odes of Solomon, for instance, who were written in the first or second century. So I have not run into that piece of information before, but it's kind of interesting to note that. But for sure, he's even saying, by the third century, psalm singing is part of the Christian worship. But perhaps in the first and second century, it's not quite yet. So let's leap into the fourth century with all that as context, and again, let's talk about the historical situation. So domestic church, urban, Gentile, being Hellenized, but also a church suffering great persecution for refusing to worship the Roman gods.


And because the Romans are looking for somebody to blame the fall of Rome on, and so Nero himself is going to blame the Christians for starting the fire in Rome. Other historians are going to blame Christianity for the downfall, the collapse of the Roman Empire. But as Daniel will tell you, there were many other things wrong with the Roman Empire at that time. There were Berkeley theologians and Sister Jane. So Rome is falling. But what's happening in the fourth century is, with the end of the persecutions, the Edict of Milan in 313, Christianity is becoming an illicit religion in the Roman Empire. So now it's lawful. This is going to be a major difference. It may seem odd to be talking about church history here in the context of church practice, but if you think for a second, this is all going to have major implications on how the liturgy is celebrated, so put it into greater context.


The fourth century is also a time of intense theological turbulence. Perhaps with some of the persecutions over, we have a little more luxury to debate some of the finer points of religion. The third century is the Council of Nicaea, debating the person and nature of Christ. This is the era of St. Ambrose, the era of St. Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Jerome. Pretty exciting era. Thus, especially because of the new licitness of the religion, it's going to be an era of vigorous liturgical development, with the luxury of being able to worship freely and move into bigger spaces. And with it being not only a licit religion, but to some extent an official religion, people will join who aren't necessarily converted, but are baptized. So there's more and more people celebrating.


This is going to change the domestic church into something different. This is also from this era that we get many of the mystagogical catecheses that we've been hearing over the vigils since Easter. So the writings of Ambrose and Cyril of Jerusalem. Fourth element here, and again one of the most important for our discussion, is this is also a period of experimentation in lifestyle, especially the beginnings of Christian monasticism, as we know it. The era of Anthony the Great, who dies in 356. Pachomius, who dies in 346. And all the organizers of the first monastic communities in Egypt. Now the effects of all of this are going to be felt immediately, not only in church organization,


but also in art, in architecture, in liturgy, in liturgical science in general. Because what had formerly been a furtive affair of a persecuted minority suddenly becomes an integral part of the daily public life of the whole Roman Empire. So during this era, the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, as much as if not more than the celebration of the Eucharist, suddenly is going to burst into bloom as a public worship in this period, and in many places be established as a cycle of daily common public service, the Liturgy of the Hours. It's going to come to its full maturity. Partly that's because the Peace of Constantine in 313 allowed for the development of structured


communal prayers in local churches throughout the whole Mediterranean region, which had not been allowed before. It's during this era, then, that we can begin to distinguish between a cathedral office and a monastic office, which we'll carry on with that now for some centuries, and even to our own present day. It's the scholar named Juan Mateos where we get these distinctions from, who first wanted to delineate the difference between the cathedral and the monastic tradition. He divides the developments in this area into three areas, adding, doing the cathedral tradition, the pure monastic tradition, and the urban monastic tradition. We're going to spend a little bit less time on the urban monastic tradition, but recognize that those are three things. The urban monastic tradition, again coming from out of the virgins and ascetics, the devout


Christians of leisure. So first we'll talk about the cathedral tradition, since we'll go from the known to the unknown here. We've talked about this this morning. Then we'll do cathedral east, cathedral west, and then we'll talk about monastic east, monastic west. This is where we're heading. Cathedral east, what area are we talking about? Palestine, Egypt, Cappadocia, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem. By cathedral office, what we're designating here is the ecclesial prayer of a local church. Mainly because it's common prayer celebrated in the physical edifice that houses the local church, presided over by a bishop and a clergy.


So we're specifically talking about a place, the spiritual home. This is what the Liturgy of the Hours would be like celebrated within the local area. And again, in the first part of this era, we're thinking of a cathedral, a diocese maybe as being, a cathedral church being as big, a diocese maybe having as many people as a large parish would have in our day and age. We're not talking about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We're not talking about the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The scholar Baumstark defends this term cathedral instead of saying parochial, because for the first centuries of Christianity, it's specifically the bishop's church that is the center of all liturgical life. We try to recover that to some extent, and it's very hard for us to grasp that as much. We have to understand that the cathedral is the center of all liturgical life, not necessarily


the local communities. Where we do recover that in a day and age like this is, for example, in a chrism mass, where we all gather with the bishop somewhere from all over the diocese and see that that's the center. Where we'll do that, for example, in Phoenix this year, because of the priest who's in charge of things there, everything is over the top. And they've rented out the new ballpark to do confirmation this year, because it's the year of the Holy Spirit. Or is it next year, the year of the Holy Spirit in the millennium? This year. In Pentecost Sunday, they're going to have 75,000 people being confirmed. But what he's trying to do is obviously, again, this is the center of liturgical life, where the bishop is. For me, it loses some of the personal quality. I do understand the point. They did that also with the rite of election this year.


They rented out not the Sun Devil Stadium, but wherever the Phoenix Suns play now. I can't remember the name of it. But I was getting all this information from the priest himself who organizes these things, and he's a little over the top. Anyway, you get my point. For the first centuries of Christianity, it's the bishop's church that's the center of all liturgical life. Now, the office of these churches is a popular service characterized by lots of symbol and ceremony, characterized by chanting, characterized by a diversity of ministries. So a bishop would have something to do, the presbyter, the deacon, the reader, the psalmist, many different people doing many things. This is what the cathedral service of Liturgy of the Hours is like. Why that's important to note is because when we get to the monastic, it's going to be starkly different than that. But this is what we refer to when we're referring to the cathedral office, an office that's


characterized by lots of symbol and ceremony, by chanting, by diversity of ministries. Also, in contrast to what we're going to see develop in the monastic tradition, the cathedral office is going to be almost invariable in structure and in content. You're going to have a very selective use of psalmody in the cathedral tradition. It's not going to be an important thing in the cathedral tradition to recite the whole psalter at any time or to ever say all of the psalms. The psalmody is limited and select, we would say, rather than complete. They're not going to be read numerically according to the order in the Bible. This is another characteristic of the cathedral tradition. Out of the cathedral tradition of psalmody is going to develop the Christological interpretation of psalmody. It's not going to come from the monastic tradition.


It's going to come from the cathedral tradition, Christological interpretation. So you read in the Fathers, always seeing Christ in the psalms. It's going to come out of the cathedral tradition. The cathedral tradition, here's another characteristic of it. It's going to be related to the time of day in which it is prayed. And as I said, it's going to include lots of non-verbal symbols. These are the characteristics of the cathedral office. The cathedral office is a service of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving and intercession, much more than a liturgy of the word. Cathedral tradition, much more praise, adoration, and thanksgiving than a liturgy of the word, again, which we're going to see in the monastic office. As a matter of fact, there is certain evidence that there may have been no Scripture lessons


read at all in the earliest cathedral tradition of the divine office. As nowadays, of course, we wouldn't have an office, cathedral or monastic, without having Scripture read. But, in those days, that might not have happened. One thing comes from this era that ties us right into it, which I think is rather wonderful, is this famous evening hymn, The False Hilarion. The text, of course, in English is, O Radiant Light, O Holy Glory of God the Immortal Father in Heaven. That hymn comes from this era we're speaking of, because Saint Basil already quotes that hymn in the year 379. So, in the 4th century, they're singing the same hymn we sing on Sunday evenings here. There are many different translations of it around. It's used all over the place, even today.


What comes out of this, pointing right back to some of these characteristics I'm speaking of, is the symbolic use of light. Light is going to be an operative symbol, both for the morning and for the evening in the cathedral tradition. The monastic tradition is not going to rely so much on symbolism at all. The cathedral tradition is operating in the symbolism of light. In the morning, the rising sun is the rising Christ. In the evening, you are the light of the world. We light a fire and remember that Christ is the light that carries us through the darkness. So here, let me point to an example, to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. In his commentaries on the Psalms, he quotes that throughout the Christian world,


morning and evening prayer were being celebrated everywhere, publicly and daily. What he alludes to is the widespread use of Psalm 62 at morning prayer, Psalm 140 at evening prayer. Think of those two psalms for a second. When do we use them? Sunday morning prayer, Sunday evening prayer. Those same two psalms. First Vespers of Sunday. Remember I said it's rather invariable in its content. It could be that every night they sang Psalm 140 and every morning they sang Psalm 62. It wasn't dependent on the schedule, as the Roman office is now, as the monastic office has its curses as well. But again, there's a certain comfort I take in knowing that the singing of that psalm in the morning


already is taking place in the 4th century and is carried on this far. Some other sources from this era that confirm at least the celebration of the divine office, Gregory of Nyssa writes of it, John Chrysostom writes of it, the Apostolic Constitutions which I mentioned last week, that document from the second half of the 4th century, Syria, and Egeria's diary, remember the Western European nun who traveled to Jerusalem, all speak of the morning prayer and evening prayer services. And together, combining these different elements together, they not only affirm Eusebius' claim, they provide some evidence of additional elements involved in this. First of all, they all speak of the lucinarium to begin evening prayer, which would be a ceremonial offering of incense within the lighting of candles, or the lighting of a candle.


And they also mention the element of intercessions. This is a characteristic of the cathedral office, it's not going to carry into the monastic office right away, the use of intercessions, that's considered a cathedral practice. So they mention incense, the lucinarium, they mention intercessions, and they mention the use of a blessing, the Eastern tradition. Cathedral in the West, we're on shakier ground there, because there are fewer traces of the Western cathedral office than of the Eastern, because the Western monastic tradition soon is going to overwhelm the Western cathedral tradition. Except in Spain. Spain gives us the most evidence, and probably some evidence in Spain of Gallic influence as well.


Beginning in the 4th century, Spanish sources are going to indicate the use of additional psalms and biblical canonicals, both in morning prayer and evening prayer. And here are some of the things they mention. Psalm 50, having a widespread use as the initial morning psalm. Here's another characteristic that's going to stretch all the way up to the 20th century, the practice of beginning every morning prayer with Psalm 50, which we do, of course, every Friday morning. You notice that's the one week. It's the one weekday where we don't have a week one and a week two for the first psalm, because that is the traditional prayer to start morning prayer with in general. So every Friday, even in the Roman office, you always pray Psalm 50, Psalm 51 of God. Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. Also, we're going to learn from these sources. Let's see if you remember this from last week, the Spanish sources.


The widespread use of Psalm 148, 149, and 150, used every day at the end of Lodz. Does anybody remember why? I gave you the reason why those three psalms are used. What connection that has with the name of the office? Praise. They all begin with the word laudes, praise, laude, praise. So that's how Lodz gets its name from the use of these three praise psalms. So it looks like the Spanish sources are giving us a pretty long office there, already starting with, if they're doing Psalm 50, maybe 62, 148, 149, 150. It's a pretty sizable office. Here's another one. See if you can recognize where this comes in. On Sundays and feast days, morning prayer usually included the canticles of three young men from Daniel 3. Where would that be? Does that have any resonance with modern day?


Yeah, again, in our Sunday office, we have it. In the Roman office, there's the two different canticles from Daniel also used, but the canticle of the three young men is used for week one Sunday in the Roman office. And every time there's a solemnity or a feast, you do Sunday morning prayer of week one. So again, the tradition of using the canticle of the three young men, which we have in our office, dates back to the 4th century. Somehow that canticle became very important for them. Remember again, invariable. They just may have been doing the same office every day. We're pretty spoiled. We have at least a two-week cycle of the different offices. We have 14 different offices. From the 4th century on in the West, from the basilicas, especially in Rome, it's going to emerge a more or less fixed pattern that's going to tend to be a model for all other churches in Rome.


The office that's celebrated in the Roman basilicas. Now, saying that, also adding to that the fact that these other sources from around Europe will make their way into the Roman basilican practices. But we will see that the Roman basilican practice tends to become a model for all the churches throughout Europe. From the 4th century on, we're still going to see the Psalter and the Bible remain the principal material. But, at that period, remember that each bishop in each diocese is free to choose and to introduce additional formularies of prayer. Not just in the Liturgy of the Hours, but in Eucharist as well. This is still not a time when the liturgical laws and the liturgical practices have been put into law.


Yes? I don't think that there is a distinction necessarily. I don't know much more than that. But a basilica really describes more a style of church, I would think at this time, that's inherited from the Roman Empire. The basilicas were used actually for public gatherings, for secular services. And many of the basilicas were taken over then, in the Christian era, as churches. But there were many in and around the area of Rome where the seat of government was. And their practices are going to become a lot more uniform under the Bishop of Rome. The different basilicas, they would spread there. And it's the practices that are going on in all these different basilicas. The cathedral would be catedra, would be specifically the seat of the Bishop of Rome. But Rome is one of those places where there's going to be obviously more than one church for the Christians, because there's such a huge number of Christians.


The basilica-style church is still that, I'm not very good at drawing, but we get that style of the rounded apse. And even the cruciform, I think, is a basilican style, isn't it? Before it was a Christian style with the cross transept and the long nave and the apse behind it. So we adapt that and make a Christian symbol out of it. But I'm pretty sure, am I right on that? The cruciform church predates Christianity. Is that right? I'm not sure. I'm going to look that up and I'll bring it next year. I have something that specifically talks about that. But I want to give a brief nod here to St. Ambrose of Milan, because Milan has historically tended to be a place of liturgical innovation. It's been a prime sea and also a place where people are nurtured to be Pope.


I'm not sure if we'll be quite as lucky this time. What's his name? Martini. You can't have a guy named after a vodka drink. It's a problem. And a Jesuit named after a cocktail. Sorry. But Ambrose is going to add two innovations. Again, these two things are going to survive throughout liturgical history. One of them is a specific style of hymn singing, and the second is antiphonal singing. Now again, what I read from Edward Foley may contradict this, but I'm going to go on the basis of my other knowledge. There is a certain mistrust of non-scriptural texts, at least in this era of the Church. The Psalter, the Bible itself, is the songbook of the Church.


But Ambrose, great Orthodox theologian that he was, and apologist and defender of the faith, writes hymns specifically defending the faith, and introduces this style called metric hymnody, which means that, very similar to how we sing nowadays, there would be, for example, four lines, and every one of those four lines would have the same number of syllables, and they would rhyme on line A, B, C, B. So, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da. Almost every hymn we have in office is laid out that way. Eight syllables, eight syllables, eight syllables. That's why all the melodies can interchange. Well, this, St. Ambrose gets attributed with developing that metric hymn style. We'll see later on when we talk about the rule of St. Benedict, St. Benedict adds ambrosianum,


he adds the Ambrosian hymns into the monastic office, which they were there before. Of course, it comes and stays this way for centuries, at a very odd time, he has the hymn come in after all the psalms, whereas we have it at the beginning of the office. St. Ambrose adds that. This here with a question mark, I remember this from music history class, but I'm not exactly sure the source of it. Another reason why Christians might have been mistrustful of this hymn style is because it may have had a little too close relation to pagan song forms, and in those days there was great effort to stay away from pagan theater and pagan art, pagan song forms. St. Jerome speaks very vehemently about avoiding any of the trappings of pagan theater at the time, so that may have been somewhere in the background also of this mistrust of that hymn style. But St. Ambrose baptizes it and brings it into the church.


The other thing is antiphonal singing, and we're not exactly sure what it means, and we'll see this again when we talk about the role of St. Benedict. We're not even sure what St. Benedict means by antiphonal singing, but some kind of chanting of the psalms is going to be promoted by St. Ambrose. It could mean alternating choirs, as we do with vigils. It could mean, even one speculation, could mean singing in octaves. Do you know what singing in octaves would be? You know, we had a guy here the other day who was singing everything Singing in octaves means that, for example, women have a different range and the men have a different range, or the men and the little boys have different ranges, singing together in parallel, in parallel octaves. It might mean that. I think there's less evidence for that. It might mean, this seems to me to be the strongest argument, having refrains, like a responsorial mode, like a responsorial psalm,


as we sing a refrain after each verse. It might have been antiphonal in that way. Or responsories, like some of the African song forms I've seen. I should bring one of those along. Monica, you would recognize this more, where a line is said, and you repeat the line right afterwards, and another line is said, and you repeat the first line. It's really a kind of complicated thing, but you get used to the rhythm, you know. The ground is cold, the rain up there, the rain up there. The wind blows, the trees are shaken, the rain up there, the rain up there. It might have been a form like that, but dialogic more. We just don't know. To summarize, a typical morning prayer, evening prayer in the fourth century, let's try to put ourselves there. Laws very well could be something like this.


Psalm 50, Psalm 62, Psalm 148, 149, and 150. It very well could include the Gloria in Excelsis, intercessions, a blessing, a dismissal. Vespers very well could look something like this. A light service and a hymn, quite possibly the False Hilarion or Radiant Light. Not using necessarily the melody that we sing, but using that very same text in Greek or in Latin. Evening psalms, including Psalm 140. Incensation, hymns and anaphans, intercessions, blessing, and dismissal. These are the five elements then. A selective use of the psalmody, not in order, but selected for the appropriateness of the time of day and season of the year, with an effort to underscore this Christological meaning of the psalms. Two, in cathedral tradition, there's going to be ritual development,


more elaborate ceremonial, more diverse ministries. Use of light, symbolism, incense, vestments. Three, use of texts and songs that could be easily recognized and remembered. Now, we don't know this. This is more of a speculation, but if it's a popular participation and there aren't a lot of books or a mimeograph machine, we can pretty well summarize that there were styles done that encouraged easy and immediate participation. And maybe that meant to reduce the number of elements, but use lots of repetitions. So there would be the practice of using the same four psalms every day, because they could be memorized. Cathedral tradition is going to be limited publicly to the common prayer of morning and evening, when they had vigils. If they had vigils, it would have been a shorter office, and the little hours are not going to be a part of the cathedral tradition. And readings and prayers outside of the intercessions and the blessing


are often, in the cathedral tradition, eliminated altogether. Because the office of the cathedral tradition is not designed to instruct and teach. It's not considered a liturgy of the word. Its main focus is on prayer, adoration, thanksgiving. Even the litanies of petition, there would be that. That would replace a teaching of a reading. It's funny, sometimes you'll even hear monks, when I was first here, this happened more of saying, of complaining about the fact that our intercessory prayers go on and on here. And one of the things is that there is still this kind of monastic prejudice that monks don't do that kind of intercessory prayer at their divine office. That's a cathedral thing to do. Monks, Hofburgs, so there's still some of that. You see that tension is still in there. We don't have to draw that cold and fast line.


We just don't have to. And for me, it's one of the most important things we do at the divine office, I think. I would refer you back, if you want to do additional reading on this, to the RB1980 Appendix 3, the treatment of this. But in conclusion, I want to read to you from Robert Taft, S.J. I think that's all we're going to have time for today, too. I'll just read this right out. This is indeed a rich feast of services that we find in the second half of the fourth century. With the exception of Egypt, where the picture is not clear, by the end of the century in Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Constantinople, we see already a well-established cursus of cathedral offices celebrated by the whole community, bishop, clergy, people.


Matins and Vespers were the two privileged hours of daily prayer. Matins here meaning lads. And the offices comprised of popular elements, such as select psalms and canticles, chosen because of the suitability for their hour, executed with popular participation through responsories and anaphans, ceremonial use of light, incense processions, petitionary intercessions for the needs dear to people's hearts. There is nothing arcane about the rationale of these offices. The morning hour of prayer was a service of thanks and praise for the new day and for salvation in Christ Jesus. It was the Christian way of opening and dedicating the new day. Vespers was the Christian way of closing the day, thanking God for the day's graces, asking for pardon for the day's faults, beseeching his grace and protection for a safe and sinless night. The basic symbol of both services is light. The rising sun in the new day, with its change from darkness to light,


recalled the resurrection from the dead of Christ, the son of justice. The evening lamp, lit, recalls the Johannine light of the world shining amidst the darkness of sin. And Christians did these prayers in common because, as John Chrysostom and the apostolic constitutions affirm, their sole power was as the body of Christ. To absent oneself from the synaxis is to weaken the body. And deprive the head of its members. So there we have the cathedral tradition of the 4th century. That's a good place for me to stop. Any questions I'll try to answer? Just the use of the word synaxis. Mm-hmm. I often times think... Associated with the monastic. Or associated with you. Yeah. Synaxis really just means a gathering. So, I mean, he uses it pretty loosely there. I think of it specifically as monastic Eucharist in the desert. But, yeah, he's using that synaxis just for the gathering in general.


And we'll see in referring to the Pacomian office, they use the synaxis to refer just to the gathering together of the monks as well. Yeah, not just, not specifically for Eucharist. Any gathering. This doesn't mean burden. No, I think it means gathering. It means gathering. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I hope I didn't... Is that right? I hate to go on tape with a mistranslation. I think it means gathering. Coming together. Any other questions? Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Francis, come back to the desert. Oh, shit. Not anymore. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Father, you restored your people to eternal life by raising Christ your Son from death. Make our faith strong and our hope sure. May we never doubt that you will fulfill the promises you have made. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. So, we're going to head into 4th century monastic practices today. Quick review of last week. It was being quoted to me by those of you who were in attendance. We talked about the cathedral tradition of the 4th century. More and more, we're going to see how there are two different ways to celebrate the psalmody, this divine office, the cathedral way and the monastic way. So, the five elements that I told you of the cathedral tradition. One was that there was a selective use of psalmody. There was no effort at all to use the whole Psalter. They would pick some psalms that seemed appropriate to what was going on at the time.


And part of that was their effort to underscore the Christological meaning of the psalmody. The second thing is that in the cathedral tradition, there was a lot of ritual development. There was elaborate ceremonial, which is something we're not going to see developing out of the pure monastic tradition. So, use of lights, incense, vestments. All this comes from cathedral tradition. Three, there was always a use of texts and songs that could be easily recognized and remembered. We're not counting on an assembly in a cathedral necessarily to have a lot of access to scripture to be able to memorize things by heart. But participation is being encouraged. So, we can speculate about how they were executing it. Maybe a reduced number of elements. Maybe lots of repetition. Maybe the use of response or psalmody. Four, in the cathedral tradition, they were limited to common morning prayer and evening prayer. Public morning prayer and evening prayer.


When there was something like a vigil service, it was a shorter office than would be growing up in the monastic. And five, oftentimes readings and extraneous prayers were eliminated altogether in the cathedral tradition. It wasn't designed to instruct as much as to give praise. A lot of times the readings would be replaced with litanies of petition. So, petition is going to grow out of the cathedral tradition. Now, fourth century monasticism. What we're talking about is what the scholar Mateos calls the pure monastic office. That's my main objective today is to talk about that. So, while the liturgy of the hours, while some form of the divine office is forming itself in secular churches throughout Christian empire.


During the second half of the fourth century, a whole parallel series of offices is evolving in the monastic centers that have now begun to sprung up in Egypt and in the Tebide. Is that the proper pronunciation for that? Tebide, where thieves is. Thebide, Tebide. Nobody knows, so I can't say it that way. And the Tebide, right next to the alligator there, thieves. Excuse me? Hundred gates. So, the scholar Mateos divides these offices into, basically, into two different families. What he calls the pure monastic office of the Egyptian desert. And the second is a hybrid office that's developing in urban monastic communities. In the Egyptian desert, we're going to get the pure monastic office.


Anywhere else, it's going to be a hybrid office. We're also going to, as we discussed this, we're getting a little bit of monastic history. That's the most exciting part of this to me. The way Benedict of Ward describes it, there's three different types, main types of monastic experimentation going on in Egypt at the time. Corresponding roughly to three geographic centers. So, there's hermits, there's cenobites, and there's just the plain old ascetics. That's how she describes it. Lower Egypt, which is actually up there. It's not lower because the Nile runs from the north to the south. But we're really talking about here. There's hermits. The prototype, of course, is Anthony the Great, who withdrew from society in the mid-third century and then went into further and further solitude in the desert.


He had many disciples, and he's still regarded as the father of monks. But we do not have a monastic office tradition growing out of Anthony. But then we have Mitria, and Scytis, and Kellia, you see up there farther. These are the groups of ascetics. This is the Lavra model, or the Scyt model, the form of monasticism where you have several monks who are living together, often as disciples of an Abba. It was really a meeting place between the desert and the world where visitors could actually make contact with traditions of the desert. When our friend Douglas Burton Christie was here, I remember him showing us slides of his visit to these places, and he was surprised to find out how actually close they were to the towns. They weren't all that far off for people to get and visit these monks. These are the groups of ascetics, the Lavras, or Lavra, or Scyt.


This type of monasticism was, in a sense, a more learned type of monasticism. It was Greek-influenced type of monasticism that was growing up here. Avagrius of Pontus, for example, our great father, who was a great influence on John Cashion, is probably the most famous son of this lineage, but it's also from out of this lineage that we get many of the stories of the desert mothers and fathers, the Apathegmata. And then this third group, which is Upper Egypt, down there, the Cenobites. These men are actually living in a less remote area than the ones in Lower Egypt. Its main center is Tabanisi, spelled Aka. Every book you have a different spelling of all these names, so I'm just going with the one I think looks the best.


The main figure here is Procomius, late 3rd century, dies 347, dies mid-4th century. He's credited with being the creator, the father of organized monasticism. Now, these aren't groups, these aren't hermits grouped around a spiritual father. These are definitely communities of brothers united in work and prayer. This pure monastic office tradition that we're talking about mainly comes out of these last two, out of the Nitria, Scytis, Kellia, Lavra ascetics, and out of Thebes, Tabanisis, Procomian line. Here's a quote from de Vogue, just to give us a little background. We know already that in the 4th century Christianity has become legalized, and has become establishment.


Here's de Vogue way on this era, and also on the psalmody of this era. When the threat of bloody death ceased to hang over every Christian head, the monk then tried to give his whole life here below the value of martyrdom. Hence, we get the name white martyrdom, as opposed to red martyrdom. The break with the world no longer consisted in defying the law and confronting torture, but in leaving society and living for God alone, far from other people. The value attached to the supreme sacrifice was transferred to an earthly existence totally consecrated to God. The present time was thus charged with a new value, and Christ's appeal for continual prayer resounded with more force than ever. Thereafter, to pray without ceasing was no longer to be one of the Lord's directives among others. It was to be the raison d'etre of lives freed from every temperable preoccupation.


In the retreat, the monk could apply the gospel instructions literally. All day and half the night would be devoted to uninterrupted prayer, accompanied by manual work. So, the sacrifice of praise is now becoming equivalent to the sacrifice of one's life. If we can't give our lives in martyrdom, in red martyrdom, we give it in white martyrdom. Part of that is removing ourselves from the occupations of the world. Part of that is living an ascetic life. And part of that is this continual sacrifice of praise. Uninterrupted prayer becomes the main focus of the monk's life, to pray without ceasing. How this relates exactly to the office in general. Remember, I told you about the tension between praying without ceasing and actually taking sometimes a day off to pray. Some people score in that. Well, this continuity made the celebration in the Egyptian monasteries of the traditional hours useless.


Thus, those at the beginning and the end of the day were kept, but the whole day was spent without offices. This, at least, was the original practice of the monks in Egypt. This was also the ambition of the most fervent and strongest of monks. So, the elaborate tradition of seven or eight hours a day is not going to come out of here. But they are still going to have a practice of morning and evening prayer, and I'll show you specifically how they're going to do that. Let's talk about Nitya, Skellia, and Scytis first. So, in the lower Egypt, which is actually north, there were three great monastic centers located just south of Alexandria in the Libyan desert. Those three, as I marked. The most important is Scytis, and that's where we're going to talk about the most today. That's about, if you've ever been to modern-day Cairo, this will help. If not, this is more information than you need. It's about 65 miles northwest of modern-day Cairo. Can you picture that, Richard?


You've probably been there, haven't you? Oh, okay. So, you wouldn't be able to tell if I was lying or not. Uh-oh. We have most of our information about these offices from the great John Cashion. So, just a little background about him first. He was thought to have been born about mid-fourth century in what's present-day Romania, the delta of the Danube. As a young man, he had joined a monastery in Bethlehem, and then went on to Egypt as a young monk. And he left behind detailed descriptions of the monastic life that he found there, mainly in two writings known as the Institutes and the Conferences. The Institutes, mainly about cenobitic life, and the Conferences, mainly about the hermit life, the ascetics. He is believed to have lived in Scytis for about 19 years, between 380 and 399.


He may have also visited Nytria and Kelya on his way in or on his way out. And he may have had contact with the Pacomians in Upper Egypt as well. But we don't know that for a fact. After he left Egypt, he founded two monasteries in what is now Marseille, France. And it was for that audience that he wrote his famous Institutes and his Conferences. He wasn't necessarily writing a history of Egyptian monasticism, which we actually rely on him a great deal for. But he was trying to reform his own Gallic monasticism, of which he was a part, by trying to show them how the Egyptian monks lived. I couldn't believe it. We don't have a copy of the Institutes in English here. But here's some of them. Robert Taft quotes them in his book.


Let me see if I can find this. From Cashin's Institutes. One rose up in the midst to chant the psalms to the Lord. And while they were all sitting, as is still the custom in Egypt, with their minds intently fixed on the words of the chanter. We're not sure what that word chanter means there. When he had sung eleven psalms, separated by prayers introduced between them, verse after verse being evenly enunciated, he finished the twelfth with a response of Alleluia, and then by his sudden disappearance from the eyes of all, put an end at once to their discussion and their service. These are four prayers then. They begin and finish in such a way that when the psalm is ended, they do not hurry at once to kneel down, as some of us do in this country. He's writing to his own monks. Among them, therefore, it is not so, but before they bend their knees,


they pray for a few moments. And while they are standing up, spend the greater time in prayer. So after this, for the briefest space of time, they prostrate themselves to the ground, as if but adoring the divine mercy, and as soon as possible, rise up, and again, standing erect with outspread hands, just as they had been standing to pray before, remain with thoughts intent about their prayers. When then they meet together to celebrate the aforementioned rites, which they term synaxes, they are all so perfectly silent that though so large a number of the brethren is assembled together, you would not think a single person is present, except the one who stands up and chants the psalms in their midst. And especially, this is the case when the prayer is completed, for then there is no spitting, no clearing of the throat, or noise of coughing, no sleepy yawning with open mouths and gasping, no groans or sighs are uttered, likely to distract those standing near. Would that it were so.


Yeah, I bet it wasn't really that good there either. And therefore, they do not even attempt to finish the psalms, which they sing in the service, by an unbroken and continuous recitation, but they repeat them separately and bit by bit, divided into two or three sections. Except for vespers and nocturnes, there are no public services among them during the day, except on Saturday and Sunday, when they meet together at the third hour for holy communion. A couple of quotes from Cashin's Institutes about the practices then. From Cashin, we learn that they have two offices that they celebrate together. We call them daily, but they really weren't celebrated together daily. One at night, actually, the wee small hours of the morning, on rising. I'm still a little confused about, I've never been a farm boy, so I'm still a little confused about when the cock actually crows. But some people say it's a cock crow, and some people say it's at the wee small hours of the night.


So, you're from the Bronx, what are you going to tell me about? We have chickens in the Bronx. Okay. Everybody keeps them there for four o'clock. Four o'clock, well, there we go, okay. Do you want to find out some math away from the Bronx? And the other one is in the evening, after the one daily meal that they had together. They list this at the ninth hour just before retiring. Now, I call that like three or four o'clock for them. So, these are their two times, the wee small hours of the morning, which they're still considering night, and sometime like late afternoon. So now, of course, you still hear vigils, as I've mentioned, referred to as the night office. It's from here that we get this idea of the night office, and keeping the vocabulary from this tradition. The core of their office, when they celebrated together, was 12 psalms. Mostly, as we say, in chorus. One after the other, so they do one through 12.


They do 13 through 24, for example. In order, from one through 150, without any regard for their appropriateness to the time of day, as is common in the monastic tradition, as opposed to the cathedral tradition. And the order of the office would go like this. Imagine this, imagine if you will. So, a soloist stands and chants the psalm. Now, what this word chanting means, I'm serious, we're not really sure, because as I've explained sometimes in choir practice, this line between singing and speaking is very thin. Public declamation of a text is very close to singing, and we'll see Benedict sometimes says, the one who is chanting now says, or the speaker now sings, so that the words get mixed up. But at any rate, somebody stands up and recites the psalm. The rest of the monks are sitting there listening. After the psalm is finished, there's a time all monks stand,


extend their arms for a time, and then they all prostrate. And then they all stand again, and a collect, or a prayer, is read. And this is repeated, of course, 12 times. The final psalm always has an Alleluia on it, and is followed by the Gloria Patria. Now, we say the doxology at the end of every psalm, they would only do this at the very end. And then, after the 12 psalms, there would be two lessons of scripture. On the weekdays, one would be a reading from the Old Testament, and one a reading from the New Testament. On Saturdays and Sundays, during Easter time, one would be from the Acts of the Apostles, or the Epistles, and one from the Gospel. Now, Monday through Friday, these two daily offices were done by the monks in their cells, either alone, or with whoever happened to reside,


or be visiting with them. You read this a lot in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, how these monks are always visiting each other, and staying the night, and having dinner. Well, if it's time for the office, they would just stay in the office together, probably in this way. But on Saturday and Sunday, all the monks of the Laura would gather in church together for what's called the synaxis, the office. On Sundays, they would also have Eucharist and an agape meal in common, after which one would draw supplies from the common storehouse to take back to their cell for the next five days. Rufinus, in his History of the Monks in Egypt, hears this quote from him. They come together in the churches only on Saturdays and Sundays, and meet one another. Many of them who die in their cells are not found for four days, because they do not see each other, except at the synaxis. Nice, huh? But at least we know from him


that they probably only came together on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, this is what we're learning from Cassian. Of course, we have a little hint from Rufinus, too. Cassian is, I have to add this little disclaimer, that he's not without his problems. We're not exactly sure of his description of these things, because first of all, he's writing at a distance of some years after he left Egypt. And he also may be offering an idealized view of how things really were, because he was trying to spur his own monks onto their practice. For example, there's no other source that mentions those two readings, but Cassian puts it in. But we do get some kind of idea, then, what's going on up in Scytis. Probably something like that going on in Celia, in Nitria. Now, farther south, in Thebes, in the Tabide, we have the Bokomian tradition. And the office out of the Bokomian tradition.


His feast day is Friday, by the way. Bokomius was a young pagan that was led to Christ. This is a beautiful story of him being led to Christ by the charity of some villagers who were giving food to destitute prisoners. Do you remember that story? He was led to convert to Christianity. He began starting cenobitic foundations around 320, down south, in the Nile Valley of the Tabide, the area north of Thebes. Often, scholars and other things I've read, anyway, extend some of the Scytis practices to the Thebes practices, the Bokomian uses, but it's really not necessarily always the case. Bokomian tradition is highly cenobitic, whereas the ascetics are going to have still more of the aromatic root


and not so much concern with communal life. The Bokomian system is a highly organized type of life. We call him the father of cenobitic monasticism. His stress was on mutual obedience. His stress was on fraternal charity. These were the cornerstones of Bokomian monastic life. His monastic foundations were organized shortly after his death into a kind of congregation that grouped several thousand monks. A typical monastery in the Bokomian tradition would be comprised, actually, of something like 30 or 40 houses or dormitories, and each house would have 40 or so monks to a house. So it's a huge movement, and with that many monks living together, I guess you need some rooms. They had two customary daily offices,


one at dawn, one in the evening, and they were always held in common. The dawn office was with the whole community, not at cockcrow, but at the normal hour, like as the cathedral usage would be when the sun was up. The evening office usually was held in the individual houses or dormitories that made up the monastic community. So this morning office could be quite a huge gathering, and the evening office, then, with just your local, your house group. Some of the Bokomian sources are also referring to all-night vigils that went from sundown of the evening synaxis until the morning synaxis. But most scholars figured this was actually a private devotion, not a public, not a service that was celebrated in common,


though perhaps they did have a perhaps at Easter time, they would celebrate a night office all together, just like, as I mentioned before, is going on in Jerusalem and Rome, when once a year they would celebrate Easter by staying up all night waiting for the resurrection. Or when a monk died, they would stay up all night and wake his body in a vigil service. But it's not an organized office as the dawn and the evening offices are. We do have some of the Bokomian writings in English. Here's something from one of the rules. At the beginning of our prayers, let us sign ourselves with the seal of baptism. Let us make the sign of cross on our foreheads as on the day of our baptism. Let us not lower our hand to our mouth or to our beard, but let us raise it to our forehead, saying in our heart, we have signed ourselves with the seal. When the signal is given for prayer,


let us rise promptly. And when the signal is given to kneel, let us prostrate promptly to adore the Lord, having signed ourselves before kneeling. Once we are prostrate on our face, let us weep in our heart for our sins. As it is written, come let us adore the Lord and weep before our maker. Let absolutely no one raise a head while kneeling, for this shows a great lack of fear and knowledge. When we rise again, let us sign ourselves. And after uttering the prayer of the gospel, let us supplicate saying, Lord, instill your fear into our hearts that we may labor for eternal life and hold you in fear. When the signal is given to be seated, let us again sign ourselves on the forehead in the sign of the cross. Let us be seated and pay attention, hearts and ears, to the holy words being recited in accord with what we have been commanded. Let no one in the synaxis look up at anyone in the face


without necessity. He who needlessly looks at his neighbor in the face usually provokes laughter on the face or a smile, which brings no profit and even brings indignation. Let us guard ourselves against all things that are harmful to our souls. Benedict and I would be kicked completely out of this little Vakomian household, I'm afraid. No snickering in choir. So, the second thing is, what's interesting about, where do I have this? I've got all these little papers to share with you this week. Here we go. No. So, during the primitive office of these tabernesiat cenobites, the monks would be seated and they would continue doing their usual handiwork.


This was the most fascinating thing. Remember, we were taking the monastic history course. We used to talk about this all the time. Usually weaving rushes into baskets and mats. And while different appointed individuals in turn would go to the ambo to recite, possibly from memory. This is an interesting approach to prayer, to be working while the common prayer, while the common office is going on. Here's a little bit, again, from De Vogueway on that. The tradition of Egypt and also of Gaul in its wake, so probably Cashin brought this back to his monasteries in Versailles, would have it that the monk kept his hands busy during the night office while listening to the biblical recitations. Certainly, this was primarily a matter of keeping awake during the long vigils. But nothing could show better the continuity of the office with the workday.


Now, later on, we're going to see both in the master and in Benedict, in the rule of Benedict, how the oratory is going to be strictly a place for prayer. No work and no tools are to be run into the monastery. It's a little different approach. And De Vogueway, for example, speculates it's probably the influence of Augustine and other clerics who have this sense that there's a sacred space and there's a not sacred space. There's the church and then there's everything else. But remember, we're talking about ceaseless prayer. So things are supposed to be woven in together. There's one more line here I want to read, sorry. But a bishop like Augustine could see in this a profanation of the holy place in the same repugnance might have existed in the monastic circles in Rome, so closely associated with clergy. But it seems the Pacomian monk,


who meditated in his cell during his work, must have found it natural to work in the oratory while listening to scripture. So if you're supposed to be praying while you're working, why couldn't you work while you're praying at the same time? The followers say it's a tiny little thing, but it really does, it's a real difference. I have a little, this article from Aquinata that we looked at before. I'm gonna bring that in with Benedict again, talking about the oratory. So anyway, the monks are working. They're weaving baskets while this is going on. And appointed individuals are going up to the ambo to recite, possibly from memory, a biblical passage. Now I'm saying specifically a biblical passage, not necessarily a psalm. There is an indication in Pacomian office that they might not just be reading psalms for their lessons. And after each passage, picture if you will, the reader would give a sign. All would rise, make the sign of the cross


on their forehead, recite the Our Father with the arms extended in the form of a cross. Another signal, they would bless themselves again, prostrate on the ground, bemoaning their sins. And then another signal, they would rise, bless themselves again, and pray in silence. And one more signal, they would sit down and start the whole process over again of however many psalms they would have. Another little side note is this prayer in silence. Now according to de Vogue, where he writes pages and pages about this, the prayer in silence, according to de Vogue, to these monks, that was the real prayer of the office. Not the psalmody, but that silent moment. That was the real point of the office. Let me see if I can find that, 41 here. I find this very moving. For the ancients, the office was by no means


a mere declamation of texts. Silent prayer occupied a considerable place in it. And to judge by the length of the prayer, each prayer could have lasted about one and a half minutes. That means that they often gave to prayer a time equal to that of the psalm. But such a quantitative fullness expresses only imperfectly the spiritual meaning recognized in the prayer. This meaning appears still better in the intensity required of the one praying. While the psalmody requires only a respectful bearing and an attentive mind, the prayer demands an intense effort of supplication. All the energies of the body and soul are mobilized for this act. Tears flow, sighs escape from a heart filled with fervor. Hands are extended as if to seize the feet of Christ. Prayer here appears not as a relaxation after the psalms,


but as a redoubling of the effort. Its silence carries the maximum of spiritual energy. The very contrast of attitudes invites us to see in it the supreme act of the office for these monks. If the monk was seated to listen to the psalm, he rose to make the prayer. If he said the psalm standing, he prostrated himself to make the prayer. So this prayer is the crowning of the psalm, both interiorly and exteriorly. But it's still too little to recognize in a prayer the strong beat and the spiritual summit. We must go further and understand that it alone is the prayer of the office in the proper sense. Saying the psalms is not of itself praying. Do you remember me making that point before? Since the cathedral tradition, singing the psalms themselves is the prayer. But for the monastic tradition, it's these big pockets of silence in between where the actual prayer of the office goes on.


Again, a subtle point, but I think it really changes our whole approach to the office and why I value so much our good. I have, these cantors know, I've instructed them in how many breaths we should keep between the psalms so that we have this time to pray and to absorb these scriptures in between. So it's not completely certain how often this liturgical unit was repeated. The evening prayer was called the office of six prayers. So that may indicate that there were six sections. On Sundays, they added the chanting of psalms in some kind of responsorial mode, and we just have no idea what that was like. But there was also an addition on Sundays of Eucharist and spiritual conferences by the superior, maybe not unlike our chapter meeting. You can tell I like this one so much because I brought so many extra materials on this. This is this wonderful book, a little hard to read sometimes, by Derwas Chidi. Talk about a colorful name.


Do you know it? The Desert is City? Introduction to the Study of Egyptian-Palestinian Monasticism. Really, again, very dense, and he gets into a lot of details that you wouldn't necessarily need to know. But here is some description of these. Conferences that would go on in connection with their synaxes. Within each monastery, three weekly instructions. The Greek word there, I was struggling with my one semester of Greek, Richard, you'd be so proud of me, is katekesis. Would have been a lot easier if you put it in English, I think. Would be given by the stewards, one on Saturdays and two on Sundays, and two on Wednesdays and Fridays by the housemasters. At the end of the century, according to Palladius, the daily meal began at midday, but there were later sittings for the more ascetic. An instruction would follow the meal on some appointed days. Sometimes it would be in the open air.


Abba Aman gives a vivid account of such an instruction on the day when he was received as a lad of 17 at Faw in AD 352. Theodore sitting under a palm tree with 600 brethren gathered around him and giving before them all a different word of scripture to be applied to each monk who asked him. At the end, the leader would rise up to pray with the brethren that they might ever remember the word of God unto salvation and each would return to his own house in silence. Remember, they're all living in different dormitories. Meditating on what he had heard and getting it by heart. In each house then, a synaxis of six prayers would then take place. Modeled on that which had already been held in the general assembly and probably followed, at least on Wednesdays and Fridays, by the housemaster's instructions. There seems now to have been time for conversation. Strictly confined to the subject of the instruction received before retirement to sleep.


And sometime after midnight, a signal would be given. Jerome calls this a tuba. Who knows what kind of tuba they had in the fourth century. I'd like to hear it. For the nightly synaxis, which would last until near dawn. So there's a whole other description saying they have the conferences not just on Sundays, but also sometimes on Wednesdays and Fridays. It's one thing to hear about their practices in abstract. It's another thing to get a sense of what the life was like and how this prayer fits into it. So, like the contemporary cathedral tradition, that talking both about the tabi and skeetus. The pure monastic office too has only two common meetings or synaxes. One at the beginning and one at the end of the day. The monks in lower Egypt went to bed at nightfall and rose again after a brief rest. Monks of, yeah, lower Egypt. I keep getting turned around with that.


So their morning office is actually the second half of the night. It was probably over by dawn. Lower Egypt, which is actually up north. Now, Robert Taft, this great scholar I keep referring to, insists that this morning prayer is not a precursor to our vigils, but is actually the precursor of our own morning prayer at the cathedral just held earlier because they had less sleep and got up earlier in the day. There was still not, as I mentioned, a part of the monastic curses to have a vigil celebration, but it was a private devotion. Um, there's now Robert Taft. What's more important, let me just quote from her right out. I like the way he sums this up for us on the spirit of monastic prayer. Far more important than the hours of the synaxes and their structure and content is the spirit of this pristine monastic prayer.


From what we have seen, it is obvious that the pure monastic office of the Egyptians was less a liturgical ceremony or service than a meditation in common on sacred scripture. It's less liturgy than it is a common meditation. And he quotes the scholar Wulff, stating the difference between the cathedral liturgy and the early monastic prayer. In the beginning, the liturgy was not part of the monastic life. Now, of course, he's only referring to Egyptian monasticism, leaving out this whole other realm of the pious Christians of leisure that we mentioned before. The city, the urban tradition is growing up. Even the celebration of Eucharist did not occupy any special place in monastic life. All this was an affair of the clergy, not the monk. The monk's part was to pray in his heart without ceasing. That was his opus de. That was his officium. Fasting, watching, work,


contrition of heart and silence. Again, Taft, writing as a Jesuit, it's interesting you would say it this way. So the dynamic of an Egyptian monastic synaxis is more like an Ignatian contemplation with colloquy done in common than what we are used to in later monastic offices, in which psalmody becomes our praise of God rather than being God's saving word to us. Any questions about that? That's a real good place for me to take a break. Any discussion about that? I'd love to hear what you think about this stuff. With the guy that lived us and joined the Greek Orthodox and had to be re-baptized and everything, joined their monastery, and then he wrote to me and told me about their life. And it's, they've kept a lot of this Egyptian is that there are long, long offices


and there's a group of cantors that keep the thing going. The others who are in and out, have a couple of coffees, some nuts, and then come back again. And then the sign of the cross all the time. Not here, but the full. Over and over again in between each thing. And then the cross, the extending of hands, and not going down, but a very profound bow, touching the ground, and then making the sign of the cross again. So there's a lot of the Egyptian still in the Orthodox. It's fascinating to me, I mean, to think of how we celebrate it and how they celebrate it. And it's something of the theology and the spirituality being brought into practice, obviously, lexerandi, lex credendi again. So is it our, are we listening to the word of God and responding to it, or are we singing the word of God as praise? But if we're listening, and then these long periods in between, to have all kinds of responses to this word,


and throwing yourself on the ground, be moaning your prayers. I think what's striking is the physicality of prayer. There's the embodiment. I haven't gotten into the Western. The left brain can't do it. It's all mental prayer. It's the whole physical response to the word by the prostration and the signing. You involve the whole body. And the same way with the work. I couldn't help it. So these things about African culture where, at least as I understood more, that singing prayers and singing while working was very important in ancient Egypt. I think that was really probably true of the Egyptian culture. And I was wondering if that, probably because a lot of more Egyptian, that was a kind of coming out of that very ancient civilization where, you know, working, you know, gathering the reeds and the harvest along the Nile, and working, building pyramids,


whatever, you sang to the gods. Yeah, there's a sense that the mundane and the sacred are not so separated from each other, as that's going to be a Western thing that in Benedict they'll be completely divorced from each other. Richard? There's some stories, there's still practice in Mount Athos and many other places in the Orthodox and Eastern Christian world where the office is subservient to particular spiritual tasks that are given to people. And in a given monastery, there might be a couple of different rules that you've been operating, and a couple of different Abbas and masters and spiritual leaders. And what your own Abba might tell you, don't go to office for the next four days, I want you to work on this particular type of repetition of Jesus' prayer. So the inner action of the liturgy and the spiritual life is,


I don't know if I want to say more flexible, but more open to change. Well, and also not, in this monastic tradition, this is pre-Benedict, monasticism hasn't received its completely liturgical orientation yet. Western monasticism is going to receive a liturgical framework on top of the day, and it hasn't done that yet. Pacomius has the morning and the evening, yes, but there's a much looser sense of that. And also the idea of the pensum, that it's the monk's duty, by the time of St. Benedict, it's the monk's duty to say the office eight times a day. In this period, it's still the monk's duty only to, the opus Dei is to pray constantly, not to pray eight times a day. Again, there's that tension. That's the one quote I did give you. Let me see if I can find it real quick. Yeah, here it is. The fathers understood it this way.


The first monks in their turn understood it this way. In this perspective, to celebrate prayer at certain hours must have hardly seemed worthy of a Christian in love with perfection. As very early Clement professed only scorn for the hours of prayer, because the Gnostic prays everywhere and always. This ambitious ideal was soon to be the object of concrete activities in monasticism. Anything else, David? I think this is just a little bit, what struck me first, the first time I met Peter David was his insistence, when it was one of our monasteries, he actually timed it to pause after each psalm to the time it took to chant it. So I'm just wondering how much that tradition continued in the West. I hadn't thought of it that way. We're going to talk a little bit about the early days of Fonte Avolana too, so we'll see. But of course, that's after Benedict.


So we inherit the practice of the divine office from Benedict. The hermits and the cenobites both, in the Commodities tradition, are going to practice the office as put in the rule of Saint Benedict. But my guess would be, yeah. And even Odo, yesterday we talked about, I don't think this is ever going to be completely lost. All of this is going to come into the practice of the office. So the prayer time is going to get shorter. But again, we'll see some more of that when we talk about the rule of Benedict. Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit, and to the Holy Ghost. For as it was in the beginning, it is now, and it shall be, world without end. Amen.