Prayer Blog 1st -7th March 2015

A Rythmn of Prayer

While I was studying in Paisley one of my favourite places to visit was the Abbey. Paisley Abbey was founded in 1163AD but the Abbey is built on the site of a 6th century Celtic Church, founded by St Mirin.[1] It was spiritually refreshing to sit there and quieten one’s heart and mind, from all the hustle and bustle of life outside, in the realisation that this has been a place of spiritual significance for so long.

One day the whole class went and visited the abbey as part of our module on spirituality. We had been learning about St. Benedict and the rule for monastic life which he established. There is a small exhibition, in the Abbey, portraying how the monks would have lived there in the past. The monastery is gone now but you can still imagine the rigours of rising during the night and early morning for prayers in the cold stone Abbey.

Monastic life gets a bit of a bad press since the Reformation and it’s true to say that by that time much corruption had infiltrated the monasteries. However, Benedict was something of a reformer himself. Born in Nursia, Italy, in 480AD he later moved away from Rome somewhat disgusted by its corruption. He intended leading a solitary monastic lifestyle but became the leader of a communal monastery, near Vicovara, before founding, in the neighbouring Aniene Valley, his own order of twelve monasteries each with twelve monks under the authority of an Abbot.[2] Benedict’s model, based on poverty, chastity and obedience, led to many Benedictine monasteries becoming places of excellence in cultural and spiritual life throughout the West.

Modern day Friends of St. Benedict still follow his rule revolving around five practices of prayer, work, study, hospitality and renewal. Some practices, such as prayer and hospitality, can be practised in community or privately. Work, can be regards how we follow a right approach to our employment and study can involve the scriptures and wisdom from other literature while renewal comes from the discipline of taking time to note the beauty of created life.[3]

We do not have to live in a monastery to live a disciplined spiritual lifestyle. Prayer, study and time spent in pursuit of renewal etc. all require discipline and I for one am often challenged regards my use of time. A daily rhythm of prayer and study among other spiritual disciplines are practices worthy of pursuit and developing in our lives.  It would of interest to hear how others have developed their own routines? Please feel free to respond.

 A Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

Gracious and Holy Father,
please give me:

intellect to understand you;
reason to discern you;
diligence to seek you;
wisdom to find you;
a spirit to know you;
a heart to meditate upon you;
ears to hear you;
eyes to see you;
a tongue to proclaim you;
a way of life pleasing to you;
patience to wait for you;
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me:
a perfect end,
your holy presence.
A blessed resurrection,
and life everlasting.



[2] John McGuckin in The Story of Christian Spirituality: Two Thousand Years from East to West, gen. ed. Gordon Mursell (Oxford: Lion Publishing, 2001), 62-63


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