Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weekly Q&A plus Welcome!- Literary edition

Welcome, Jordan and Judith to Coffee&Canticles. Thrilled to have you here. Also thrilled with the title of Jordans blog, An Ever Fixed Mark ("fixed" to be pronounced with two syllables in the archaic fashion: fix-ed. ) That title comes from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, a favorite of mine:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


One of the few good bits of advice I received in college was a recommendation from an English professor to memorize one sonnet per month. I seized on this idea with an enthusiasm that lasted for an entire two months. (I am like the seed that falls on stony ground in many aspects of my life).  But a thing worth doing is worth doing badly (GK Chesterton), so I am grateful to still be able to recite, almost flawlessly, the above sonnet plus the incomparable 29 ("for they sweet love remembered, such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my state with kings.)

Of course, all this has a connectioin to the Divine Office, right? 

Of course right! (now I'm quoting Yente that matchmaker.This must be my day for quotations. )

Shortly after my project to memorize sonnets fell by the wayside, I began praying Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer. That has continued (on and off, with many of abandoning and returning) for many years. Although I didn't set out to memorize the psalms and canticles, this has actually happened with quite a few of them. 


I'm sure it's the same for many of you. The 3 gospels canticles come pretty quickly. And little Psalm 117 (Saturday morning week III) is down after one or two recitations. Sunday morning of week I is usually next (although one never gets all those weather elements (dew, rain, frost, etc) quite straight in the Canticle of the three Children). The psalms of Night Prayer are mostly short and memorable, and going through that cycle every week will stick them in your memory after six months to a year. So there's about 15 items that were memorized without really trying.

How about you? Have any psalms or canticles gotten happily stuck in your memory?

And ask any breviary-related questions here.



 

16 comments:

  1. This is going to sound funny, but I try not to memorize the Psalms and canticles in the Breviary because I don't like the translations. In a similar way, I avoid learning passages from the NAB. I'm used to the NIV from my time away from the Church, but I grown to like the RSV-CE.

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  2. No, doesn't sound funny at all. I know whenever I hit the 23rd psalm (daytime prayer on one of the Sundays) I close the book and go with a version that is probably a mix of RSV and King James.
    You might enjoy getting a look at the Revised Grail Psalms, which are now available in a single volume (in biblical order), and will eventually replace what we now have when a new breviary is issued. Lots of people find them a big improvement.

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  3. Hey Daria, yes I am starting to memorize the Canticles. I love the Canticle of Mary the best though. John Michael Talbot's "Holy is His Name" really helped.

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  4. I totally get this! I have a head for lyrics, and the Psalms are songs, after all...so without trying, I do have parts of many of them memorized. Of course, I also sing some of them in my head, having sung them aloud as part of a choir. My favorites include Ps. 63, Ps. 42, and just about any psalm that talks about SINGING! (It can't be helped.)

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  5. I certainly do have a few beloved Psalms that I have picked up over the years of praying the LOH. My question is not really about that though. I love the IDEA of praying the LOH, but after a few weeks of doing it regularly, I find I am getting bored with it, or it is no longer speaking to my heart. Is this normal, and should I just continue to plow through, or does it mean that this type of prayer is not right for me? Thanks!

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    1. Terry, I think every spiritual routine gets old and boring after a while. That would be true of the rosary or eucharistic adoration or just about anything. The choice is to determine if you need a change, or should soldier on until the bored period passes and you are it fruitful again. Don't forget what spiritual masters say about dry, dull prayer carried out by sheer will is actually more meritorious than prayer that is enjoyable.
      All that aside, I think it is easier to renew ones interest in the LOTH because it has so much variety in it compared to other prayers. Maybe--assuming that you aren't already trying to do all the hours, you should change up which ones you use. E.g. leave off morning prayer but tryt he office of readings. Or daytime prayer.Another idea: start looking at the captions and quotations at the start of each psalm if you don't already do this. These will help focus your thoughts and clue you in to how to interpret the psalms in the light of Christianity. I have a bunch more ideas, but I think I"ll do a separate post on this topic. Hopefully soon.

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    2. Also, Terry, look up an old post of mine from April (or maybe May?) with the title of Tired...tired...tired...of daily prayer...zzz
      maybe something I said there will help.

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    3. Daria - thank you so much for directing me to your April post - you nailed my exact feeling. I will forge ahead. Scott also had good advice for me. I guess the main thing is to realize this isn't a "me" thing, that many others experience this too. I've seen rises and falls in my spiritual life over many years - I should be used to them by now! Thanks again for your help. What you've both said will keep me praying. Blessings.

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  6. Hi Daria, yes I have definitely learned a psalm or canticle here and there while praying the Office. My favorite is the Canticle of Mary. John Michael Talbot's "Holy is His Name" is a favorite hymn and so....I would like to add that I have a tendency of relating to the more somber Psalms such Psalm 51. I feel the penitential sentiment both individually and as an American. Peace, Sylvia

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  7. I hope you persevere, Terry! I've heard of a monastic novice master who listened to a novice's complaints that monastic life was proving to be quite boring. The novice master replied, "Excellent! You're starting to learn that God is found in the everyday, not just the spectacular." I know you're not a monastic novice, but I think there's something to be said for persevering through the boring stretches and making the Office a constant in one's life. I write this hypocritically as one who struggles with boredom/routine/acedia almost...routinely. :)

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    1. Thank you, Scott. As I mentioned in my reply to Daria (above) it is comforting to know that I am not alone in my struggles. I will indeed persevere. Perhaps my problem isn't boredom, but committment . . . hmmmm :-)

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  8. One Scripture passage that always gets stuck in my head (not from the hours, that I know of), is one from the Song of Songs that actually has a lot to do with that Sonnet! "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it . . . if a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly scorned."

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    1. Actually, it does appear once in the hours. Song of Songs 8:7 is the Morning Prayer reading in the Common of Virgins. Anyone wanting to do the full office of St. Clare might have read it today.

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    2. Lauren, I love that passage too and used part of it on our wedding invitations, starting a couple of lines earlier: "Strong as death is love, relentless as the netherworld is devotion; it's flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away." I'm not sure what my friends and family made of it; but I just had to have it.

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  9. I stand corrected! :D (Augh, I just read that this morning. Cannot believe I didn't remember that . . . )

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  10. I've learned large portions of many psalms and there are probably quite a few that I could recite most of if I have some kind of prompt to get me started; but off the top of my head with no prompting it's just the three Gospel canticles. The other night when Ben woke crying with a nightmare and couldn't get back to sleep I prayed the guardian angel and St Michael prayers with him and then found myself reciting the Benedictus, Nunc Dimittis, and Magnificat over and over to him, it felt like I was wrapping him in a blanket of the Word. It did calm him down, though he didn't go back to sleep.

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