The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 12
Over the next several days, I will offer some thoughts about the Psalms as they function in the Christian contemplative tradition, of which Benedictine spirituality is a part. My comments will not be closely tied to the content of the Rule for these days, although I may touch on this or that from the daily reading.
The Psalms, in the Benedictine tradition, take up the lion's share of the floor time in the Daily Office. If we understand daily prayer to be a program for the transformation of consciousness, chanting the Psalms is a technology and a curriculum through which that program is implemented. In this context, the Psalms provide the words with which one raises the full array of the human experience to God in prayer. And by doing so in the form of chanting, the Benedictine seeks to align body, soul, and spirit in worship before the one.
Our Father Benedict goes to great lengths to assign particular Psalms to various offices in order to guide the monks through the Psalter each week. He does so because the Psalms are anything but straightforward songs of praise. Without a wise and careful guide, in fact, they can pose a danger to the spiritual development of a human being. But with guidance, the Psalms can help us to navigate the diverse landscape of the human condition in which we find ourselves.