Saint Benedict indicates in his “Rule for Monasteries,” which we and all Benedictines follow, that “the meals of the brothers ought not to lack reading.”
The admonition, most often today called “table reading,” is principally to promote silence in the monastery rather than unbridled chatter, and edification for the mind as the body is being nourished.
Our custom at Christ in the Desert, after the blessing of the midday meal, is to be seated and listen to some verses from the Bible, read by a brother assigned for the week.
Over the course of many months the Bible is read to us, from Genesis to Revelation. Currently we are hearing from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.
After the Scripture verses, we listen to a book chosen by the abbot. At present we are reading “Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contempation.”
The author is Father Martin Laird, an Augustinian friar who is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
The book is not long, but contains many insightful points for those on the contemplative path. It is highly recommended for its solid content and sound teaching.
Father Laird has two other books in the series, published by Oxford University Press, “A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness and Contemplation,” as well as “An Ocean of Light: Contemplation, Transformation and Liberation.”
Every reader of this page needs to acquire and read these three books!