1Anyone excommunicated for serious faults from the oratory and from the table is to prostrate himself in silence at the oratory entrance at the end of the celebration of the Work of God. 2He should lie face down at the feet of all as they leave the oratory, 3and let him do this until the abbot judges he has made satisfaction. 4Next, at the bidding of the abbot, he is to prostrate himself at the abbot's feet, then at the feet of all that they may pray for him.As I mentioned last week, there is much within The Rule that sounds medieval. For example, this prostration business.
And again, I don't want to defend The Rule in this regard. But I would like to say what I find interesting about the act of prostration.
First, to be clear, I don't want to talk about a prostration demanded by an authority figure. I'm simply speaking to what the physical act of prostration is supposed to spiritually signify. Laying face down signals humility and submission. And again, I don't like authority figures demanding that others adopt this posture.
Here's the only thing I'd like to say. I've never adopted this posture. Never. I've knelt and bowed my head, but I've never lain face down on the ground in an act of humility.
I know contemplatives adopt this posture when they pray, and I can imagine why they do. At the end of the day we are embodied creatures, and the posture of our body not only reflects the heart, it shapes and leads the heart. As the body goes, so we go.