This is a good week to recall that the Church allows us to add specific intentions to the intercessions of lauds and vespers. It is suggested that these be added after the intercessions given in the breviary, although the final intention for the dead at evening prayer should remain as the last one. In other words, add your specific intentions before this petition for the dead.
This can be as simple as “For the victims of Hurricane Sandy” (Lord hear our prayer) since the Lord knows what all their needs are better than we do. Or if you like, you may pray more specifically for their material and spiritual needs: medical aid, shelter, etc., and for the souls of those who were lost in this storm. You may even “tack” this on to an intercession in the breviary that already mentions the homeless or the dead by simply adding, “especially for the victims of hurricane Sandy.”
It’s yet another of those mysterious “both/and” situations regarding prayer. There are times when it is best and most heartfelt to intercede for others with few words, or just the “sighs and groanings” that the Holy Spirit gives us. On the other hand, there are times when praying specifically and in detail about our needs is better for us. Yes, God knows what we are going to pray for. But sometimes, until we pray at length and in detail, we clarify what the need is in our own minds and,–this is important–exercise our faith and desire for the gifts God is waiting to give us. In last week’s Office of Readings, the second readings were mostly from St. Augustine’s Letter to Proba on prayer. He took up precisely this topic on Sunday (29th week). He continued on Monday thru Wednesday with a remarkable commentary on the Our Father, comparing its verses to verses from the psalms expressing the identical sentiments. On Thursday and Friday he brought up the quandary we often have of wondering whether we are asking for what is best when we pray. It’s worth reading all six days of this letter any time you need clarity on what prayer is, how to pray, and why to pray. Here is a link to the entire letter to Proba, about twice as long as the excerpts we get in the Liturgy of the Hours. If you just want the excerpts, go to the online breviary of your choice.
It’s weekly Q&A time. Submit any Divine Office difficulties, queries or comments below.
Don’t forget that you start the office of All Saint’s tonight with Evening Prayer I!