Unlike last Easter, when I felt quite Resurrection-y every day of the octave, this year is decidedly not like that. The more earthly joys of my visiting grown children–cooking elaborate meals for them,and staying up late talking–took their toll on my capacity for spiritual delight. For the last 8 days, the Liturgy of the Hours was mostly a chore to be gotten through. The most I could muster at each gorgeous antiphon was something along the lines of, “He is risen… that’s nice.” The psalms were even worse, bringing on thoughts like, “I’ve read this a million times before. What can I possibly say about it on my blog that I haven’t said before?”
I felt totally bored with the psalms.
In my younger days I might have put away the breviary when this happened, letting it go altogether for weeks or even months. Then, after a time, picking it up again and struggling to re-establish the habit of daily liturgical prayer. Or, in my much younger days, I might have worried that there was something wrong with my spiritual life, when these wonderful, life-giving psalms and prayers of the liturgy no longer filled me with joy and spiritual insight.
But now, I know it’s just that I’m tired, and then when I’ve had a few days of rest, I’ll probably enjoy daily prayer again. So instead of putting the breviary away, I just keep at it anyway, and don’t worry about how I feel about it. We’ve all heard at one time or another that feelings are an unreliable gauge of how well we are praying. This is doubly true of liturgical prayer.
The liturgy (the mass OR the hours) is already perfect in virtue of what it is. With the mass, it’s the perfect sacrifice of Christ, as He offers Himself for our sins. With the Liturgy of the Hours it’s the perfect prayer of the body of Christ–praising, thanking, repenting, adoring. It’s more important to pray it than to pray it well. As for my tiredness and boredom: I’m just a single tiny cell in the Mystical Body, fighting off a cold or something. Plenty of other cells are taking up the slack, praying it with love and attention. Meanwhile, this blah, blah, blah of going through the motions every day will keep me in the habit of praying the hours until it all makes sense once more. Sometimes it’s good to keep moving in the same rut when you know that rut is keeping you from running off the road.