A Brief Rule for prayer

?Gerald O?Collins SJ

Gerald O'Collins SJ finds much advice for today in St Romuald's eleventh century teaching on prayer. The author is adjunct professor at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne.

Born to a noble family in Ravenna and the founder of the Camaldese Order, St Romuald (d. 1027), grew up in the ?normal? way expected of him. But then, horrified when his father killed a man in a duel, he left home to become a monk and eventually a creative religious leader up and down Italy. He left behind what has been called ?St Romuald?s Brief Rule?. While being an instruction for monks, especially young monks, it introduces some lovely images of what happens to all those who commit themselves seriously to prayer. Let?s hear the text before reflecting on it.

?Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms; never leave it. If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, then take every opportunity to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.

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