In the Rule of St Benedict chapter 48 the Abbot is instructed to give each monk at the beginning of Lent “a book from the library, which shall read be through consecutively” from cover to cover, during the days of Lent.
While the Ceremonial of Bishops is not a book that I would readily give to a monk for his Lenten reading, but it is a work which if read from beginning to end will provide valuable insights. Such an undertaking might appear to be a rather daunting task and the fact that the Ceremonial of Bishops has been presented as a resource book for those responsible for planning and directing the liturgical ministry of the Bishop, has also contributed towards deterring anyone reading it from cover to cover.
Abbot Johnston explains about how ceremonial is important not just for Bishops but for all in the Church. Although he was suggesting that the Ceremonial of Bishops would not be quite a book he would give to a monk for Lenten reading, it will probably form part of my reading as we prepare for the great Feast of Christmas and for the whole new liturgical year that comes after it. As a simple priest, I thought that it didn’t really concern me—but now, as Ordinary of FSDM, I am told that it does. For although I am not a bishop, in some respects I look after my confrères in the way that a Bishop looks after his flock. Some things are allowed to me. These external things are merely pointing towards the internal, that of caring for, and being responsible for the Fraternity. The sheep elected their shepherd. I must act — and look — like one.