Coffee & Canticles
Trying to get back with the blog after a week of first world problems, mainly involving the death of my cute little netbook.I mean, having to wait my turn at the family computer–what a drag! And then, once I’m on, finding it so uncomfortable to use, compared to sitting on the couch with my little machine. And then, after working several hours on the book manuscript, waking the next day to find my neck and shoulders in genuine, geriatric pain from holding my head at an unaccustomed angle towards the desktop.
Great lenten penance for a spoiled American.
It should all get better tomorrow when the new netbook arrives:
In the meantime, a few gems from today’s Liturgy of the Hours. Feel free to share in the comments any additional treasure that you’ve unearthed from the liturgy.
In the Office of Readings psalter today is Psalm 89 which includes this line:
Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of their bliss.
I konw this “source of their bliss” is just one of many ways that the Hebrew is translated, and that the Grail psalms are not known to be a super-accurate translation. But the juxtaposition of God’s justice with “bliss” is striking. We’re more likely seee God’s love and compassion as blissful for us, rather than his justice.…
All right. You want to start praying the liturgy of the hours. Unless you are are super-zealous, it is probably not a good idea to attempt all 5 liturgical hours (or seven since you have the option of doing daytime prayer 3 times instead of just once). The Church recommends that the laity use Morning and Evening Prayer, calling these two hours the “hinges” of the liturgical day. So that is a worthy goal.
But for those in the just -starting- and -not-so-sure-I can-handle-this category, I’m going to recommend you hold off on the “hinge” thing for a while. Instead, begin with the hour of Night Prayer. There are several reasons for this:
1. It is shorter than Morning or Evening prayer, ever an advantage to those of us who are piety-challenged.
2. Night Prayer is on a simple 7-day repeating cycle. It does not change during Advent, Lent, or for feast days. It’s in the no-flip zone of your breviary.
3. For those who already pray around bedtime, there is no huge change in habits to form.
4. The psalms of Night Prayer are just about the best ones there are in terms of beatiful imagery and inspiring one-liners that will soon become part of your spontaneous prayer language. For example, Psalm 130 (the De Profundis… for you Latin geeks), and Psalm 91, the “Warrior’s Psalm”.
Okay, here we go. Note that in your breviary breviary, there is no night prayer for Saturday.
One of the challenges of getting started with the Liturgy of the Hours is all the vocabulary that is involved. It can be confusing, especially since there are often two terms for the same thing. Here’s a handy list of the most common terms.
Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours: official prayer of the Catholic Church, constituting, along with the Mass, the Church’s liturgy. A repeating cycle of psalms, biblical readings, and other prayers, coordinated to the liturgical season and/or the feasts of the Church. The word “office” comes from a Latin word meaning “service” or “ceremony”.
Breviary: the book in which one finds the Divine Office. The book is titled “Christian Prayer” in the United States. The UK edition says “Divine Office” on the cover. The full breviary contains four volumes. One volume breviaries contain the full morning, evening, and night prayer for the year, but not the full Office of Readings. Some one volume breviars also contain the full office of Day time prayer.
Antiphon - the verse said before and after each psalm and canticle.
Canticle – a psalm-like passage from a part of the Bible other than the book of Psalms.
Invitatory – The psalm that is recited before the first liturgical hour that you say each day. Usually Psalm 95
Benedictus – Latin for the Canticle of Zachariah
Magnificat - Latin for the Canticle of Mary
Nunc Dimittis – Latin for the Canticle of Simeon
Morning Prayer/Lauds – one of the two principle hours or “hinges” of the liturgical day, morning prayer may be said any time from when you wake up until mid -morning.…
Tonight’s Vespers includes Psalm 121, which begins, I lift up my eyes to the mountains: from where shall come my help? I’m afraid that this line often brings to my mind a scene from the Sound of Muic,where the Reverend Mother quotes this line from Psalm 121 to urge the Von Trapp family to flee over the mountains to safety, then bursts into her grand aria, “Climb Every Mountain.” So today, to clear my mind of this silliness befor its time for Evening Prayer, I turned to the commentary that our good Pope Benedict has done on this psalm.
He tells us that there are two completely different ways that scholars have interpreted this line. Psalm 121 is one of several psalms known as “songs of ascent”, sung by pilgrims as they approach Jerusalem and look forward to worshipping in the Temple. So one might lift one’s eyes to the holy mountain that is crowned by the holy city, and recall with gratitude that God helps his faithful chidren.
On the other hand,in another interpretation, mountains “conjure up images of idolatrous shrines in the so-clled ‘high places’, which are frequently condemned in the Old Testament. (cf. 1 Kings 3:2, 2 Kings 18:4)” In this case,Pope Benedict says, the pilgrim heading to Jerusalem glances at the mountains, recalls the presence of these pagan shrines, and feels tempted to visit them, given the historical proclivity of the Israelites to fall into idol worship.…
Have you ever noticed that the normal trials of life are always worse when you have children? Back when I was single, or newly married, getting sick wasn’t so bad. To take a day off of work and curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and a touch of the flu was almost pleasant. But dealing with the same flu when you have a newborn and a preschooler to manage, let alone a flock of homeschoolers—it’s horrible.
Or think about your car breaking down on the highway. Never any fun under the best circumstances. But when there’s a two year old in a car seat and no more spare diapers, the situation becomes a hundred times more desperate.
Sts. Felicity and Perpetua are the patrons of Women in Bad Situations Complicated Further by Children. Both were imprisoned and facing martyrdom. Normally not a pleasant situation, but had they both been childless, it might not have been so bad. They were in prison with four other devout Christian friends. They could all encourage one another, pray together, and help one another to stay focused on their heavenly reward. But thanks to being mothers, Felicity and Perpetua them had an additional problem. Perpetua had a baby at staying at home with her extended family. And she was a nursing mother. Any mother can imagine her misery: in pain from engorgement, probably a soaked, leaking mess, and worst of all, heartbroken from the separation.…
(a break from Divine Office Bootcamp to share the actual joys of praying it.)
Wait. Isn’t that an immature way for a sedate woman of my age to talk about the Psalter? What might have been better?
Monday Week II Surpasses all Expectations!
Monday Week II is the Cat’s Meow!
I “Heart” Monday Week II!
No, I better just leave it an move on.
Office of Readings
Don’t want to spend too much time on this since many of you only use the one-volume Breviary. But every lent we are taken through the book of Exodus, since the story of Moses is the scriptural pre-figurement of our salvation. I need to re-read Exodus regularly to repair the Prince of Egypt version that is sadly lodged in my brain. Today I am noticing not only how quick the Israelites were to lose faith in God at the first setback, but how sarcastically they complain to Moses: Were there no graveyards in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the dessert?
I will never understand why, this soon after their liberation, they didn’t confidently sit back on blankets with picnic baskets and wait to see the next plague God would send on the Egyptians.
This is my favorite morning prayer of the entire psalter (after Sunday Week I) , since it contains two very beautiful psalms. First Psalm 42: Like the deer that years for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you, my God…when can I enter and see that face of God? …
Just so everyone is clear: Liturgy of the Hours = The Divine Office. Two names for the same thing. I tend to use “Divine Office” because it’s fewer keystrokes. Liturgy of the Hours is the more common title since the second Vatican Council, although the Vatican itself still uses both of them interchangeably. The word “breviary” on the other hand, refers to the book containing the Liturgy of the Hours. If someone says, “I’m going to say my breviary” they are using a kind of Catholic slang, and it’s very inacurate. It’s the equivalent of a priest saying “I’m going to say my missal” when it’s time to say mass.
Today I’ll help you decide which breviary you might want to use. First decision: digital or traditional printed breviary? If you are part of the under-50, tech-savvy generation and already do much of your reading from a mobile device or an e-reader, than you probably want to skip buying a print breviary–at least for now–and use an online or mobile breviary to learn to pray the Divine Office. There are several good ones. You will find a link to Universalis.com on the Catholic Exchange homepage. DivineOffice.org is extremely popular in this country. This site not only lays out all the prayers for each hour of the day, but it also has podcasts of communities praying these same hours, which gives you an excellent feel for how to pray the liturgy with a group.…
This is part one of a lenten series on the Liturgy of the Hours, aka The Divine Office, aka the breviary. The purpose here is to educate readers who want to know more about it, and maybe, during this holy season, integrate the liturgical hours into their daily prayer life.
Part I- So, What Exactly is this?
The Liturgy of the Hours is a collection of daily psalms, prayers, and scripture readings that has been part of the Church’s liturgical prayer life almost from it’s very beginnings. It is prayed at morning, midday, evening, night, plus one other “floating hour” that can be done at any time. Many people only pray one or two of the liturgical hours each day rather than all five. The two principle hours are Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, and these are what the Church recommends to lay people above all the others. (Don’t let the term “hours” scare you. It only takes a few minutes to recite each one.)
You may also have heard other names for the liturgical hours, names derived from Latin. Lauds, Vespers, and Compline are the other names for Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer. Daytime Prayer can be called Terce, Sext, or None, depending on whether it is prayed at Mid-morning, Noon, or Midafternoon.
The psalms and readings of the Divine Office rotate in a four week cycle throughout the year during ordinary time. There are additional variations for the liturgical seasons and/or feast days.…
Our family lived in Southern California from the mid 80s thru mid 90s. Early one morning in 1994 I was awakened by our pet cockatiel, who was flapping around frantically in his cage. My first thought as I groped my way out of bed in the darkenss was fear that a snake or a rat had gotten into the house and was trying to kill our bird. This notion barely had time to form itself before the floor began to shake. I stumbled towards a doorway to wait out what was only a brief, mild echo of the devastating Northridge earthquake whose epicenter was 70 miles away. Animals have legendary–and perhaps exaggerated–powers of detecting tremors ahead of time. That our bird felt it perhaps a minute before the rest of us is no big deal.
It might be my imagination, but I heard birds flapping and dogs whining the other day when I read a column by ultra liberal Joe Klein of Time Magazine. Titled “Santorum’s Inconvenient Truths”, Klein expresses grudging admiration at the way Santorum sticks to his guns when questioned about his views by the media, saying that when most politicians would get defensive and qualify their positions:
Not Santorum. He didn’t seem at all flustered. He vigorously restated the positions he had taken–in some cases, eloquently…there is something admirable about Santorum’s near Tourettic insistence on bringing up issues no one else wants to talk about.
Klein then goes on to admit that Santorum is correct in his views on education, the importance of intact famlies, and–wonder of wonders–on there being something very wrong about the thinly veiled outcome of most prenatal testing.…
If anyone you know is still looking for a way to deepen their prayer life during lent, nicely urge them to try the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s prayer and scripture reading, all appropriately chosen and arranged just for lent, wrapped up in one neat package. And if this prayer seeker is mourning the fact that either a work schedule or the need to be a caregiver at home makes daily mass impossible, then the Liturgy of the Hours is clearly the next best thing. It’s psalms, readings, and antiphons express many of the same ideas as in the day’s mass. What’s more, praying the Liturgy of the Hours is, well, Liturgy. You’re not just doing your own personal rosary, novena, meditation, or spiritual reading. Instead you are exercising the priesthood of the laity, praying publicly on behalf of the entire church, and with the entire church. At mass, the priest offers the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood. With the liturgy of the hours, each person who prays it, whether in the solitude of their home or with a group, offers a sacrifice as well. A sacrifice of praise.
It is an incredible thing that God allows such ridiculous creatures as ourselves to do this.
Yes, there’s a learning curve to the Liturgy of the Hours. It takes time to first, figure out the mechanics of it, and second, to actually appreciate the psalms as prayer. But hey! If this takes some effort, then consider it a little extra lenten penance.…