Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekly Q&A, Joy from the Pope, and Welcome!

Last things first. Welcome, new bog follower Alan Neskar.

If you don't have spiritual reading planned yet for advent, I suggest a slow, take-your-time reading of Pope Francis' new Apostolic Exhoration, Evangelii Gaudium.   I've only read the first chapter so far, but it's touched me deeply. Many other writers have recommended that we set aside our personal "hobby horse" before reading it. That is, don't just read it in a feverish search for your Important Issue to be addressed (pro-life, liturgy, social justice, women's roles, etc.), but instead read it with an open heart, attentive to hear what you need to hear, eager to learn something new, or be reminded of what you might have  forgotten.

Funny how a psalm verse that you've read (yet not seen) a million times will suddenly pop out at you. Mine today was verse 8 of Psalm 39: And now, Lord, what is there is there to wait for? Was, given what preceeded it, a not exactly despairing question, but a world-weary one.  But then the follow up: In You rests all my hope, was like a tiny flame lit in the pre-dawn grayness. And my next thought--Advent is upon us, and will teach us exactly what we have waited for, and are waiting for.

Then,, that reading in the OOR from St. Macarius, with the grim analogies of what life without Jesus is like and the more hopeful analogy of our souls being tilled like a wilderness patch turned into a garden. Loved it. This is the only time Maracarius turns up in the Office of Readings. I wasn't surprised to learn that Macarius was a dessert hermit. You can see how well he knows that barren places that he describes here.

Okay. It's Thanksgiving Eve,and I"m cooking for twelve tomorrow. And figuring out where to put six guests at night. Gotta run. But thanks be to God for all his good gifts, including all of my Coffee&Canticles friends who share with me a love of His great gift of scriptural, liturgical prayer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas Special! Autographed Book! Limited Supply!

  Is there a Liturgy geek, a lover of prayer, or a scripture fan on your Christmas gift list?

Are you hoping to get a friend or family member interested in the Liturgy of the Hours?

Have I got a deal for you! I have thirty copies of The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours sitting here in my bedroom. Let me bill you for $12.75 via Paypal (that's only a few cents more than the price at Amazon), and I'll send you an autographed copy. Shipping  (book rate) is free!

You may specify how you want the book inscribed, e.g., a mere "Daria Sockey" or something more elaborate such as,  "To John Smith, Pray always and never lose heart, with best wishes for a Blessed Christmas 2103 from Daria Sockey" or whatever else seems good to you.

Here's what you do. Email me with the relevant names, address,autograph preferences  and the email address  of your Paypal account. My email is thesockeys"at" gmail "dot" com.

This offer is only good until December 10th.

Another suggestion: for a really special gift, send my book along with a Christian Prayer breviary and a St. Joseph yearly guide (Which you would have to obtain elsewhere).

A Question for non-Americans or Americans abroad

Blog follower Russ Stutler and I are wondering how many national  or language-group breviaries contain the two year cycle for the Office of Readings. Russ lives over in Japan, and his Japanese breviary has the two- year cycle of scripture and patristic readings. I've been told that Spain has the two-year as well, although I don't think this is true for South American Spanish breviaries.

We've discussed before that unofficial translations of the two year cycle, in English, are available on a Scottish website, but it seems that no print breviary for any English-speaking nation has this. The books in use for England, Australia and Kenya are identical to the USA version as far as the Office of Readings are concerned.

So, any of you with light to shed on this topi--shed away!

It Feels Like Advent Already...

...not because of the seasonal decorations at the mall, nor the email alerts coming from It seems to me that the liturgy itself is anticipating the holiday season. In a good way.

In the Office of Readings, we had first readings from Daniel all last week. Daniel's visions are of an apocalyptic character. Their images and narratives seem to foreshadow what St. John wrote in Revelation, thus putting us in mind of the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. And that is one of the three "advents" we are supposed to dwell on during Advent. (The other two being Jesus' incarnation &birth, and His personal "advent" in our souls with each and every holy communion.)

This week, we have Zechariah, all clearly prophecies of the Messiah, coming as Conqueror, King, Judge, and Shepherd, to name a few.  I mean when I read something like:
Rejoice heartily, O daughter of Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
For your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, 
Meek and riding on an ass, ,on a colt, the foal of an ass...

...I just  hear those  sleigh bells ringin' and ring-ting-tinglin' too when I read stuff like that. And I see Mary, meed and riding on an ass, carrying within her the King.

 True,  that this all leads up nicely to the feast of Christ the King this Sunday, which is the culmination and ending of liturgical year 2013.   But it also puts one in mind of the beginning of liturgical year 2014, don't you think?

Weekly Q&A Time for anyone who has a Divine Office question. Just put it in the comments below. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cantio Dei! + weekly Q&A+Lectio divina

Welcome new blog follower Cantio Dei! That is a really cool user name, although I can only guess at what it means. I sing of God, perhaps?  My Latin is pretty awful: lots of  vocabulary but virtually no grasp of case or tense.

Speaking of Latin terms, are any of you practioners of Lectio Divina? The way I understand it--which is at a very, very basic level, it's a prayerful method of spiritual reading, wherein you take a short passage of scripture (or some other spiritual work), and do the following:
1. read it! (duh)
2. think about it, especially about how it applies to you: What is God possibly telling me here?
3. Pray--talk to God about what you noticed in step 2.
4. Contemplate--stop talking and just rest in whatever truth,goodness, beauty and love have been revealed in steps 1-3.

Now, I don't tend to do a lot of Lectio Divina, because I have a hard time reading only a short passage. I feel psychologically driven to complete a chapter or other major chunk of whatever it is I"m reading. But it dawned on me today that the readings for morning, daytime, and evening prayer are teenie-tiny little things. Unlike when I have an open Bible in my lap, there is no temptation to read the rest of the chapter, because it's not there! So when I have time, I now do a quick lectio divina exercise with these readings.

This morning for example, that little bit in 1 Peter about putting one's gifts to use according to the measure in which they were received--it gave me some lovely clarity about a project I'd been contemplating. It was great to relax and "contemplate" with gratitude, this little love note God had sent me.

Don't know how consistently I"ll stick with this new little wrinkle to my lauds and vespers routine, but I hope it lasts. It will put some new life into readings that I've eyeballed thousands of times over the years.

Now, please, don't one of you experts in contemplative prayer tell me I"m doing this all wrong!

Okay, weekly Q&A/comment  time. Give it all you've got.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Making an Old Psalm New Again--Today

One thing we all love about the Liturgy of the Hours is its variety. 150 psalms, dozens of canticles, hundreds of readings and antiphons. You can pray the hours for years and years, yet still find something new every day.

But after 20 or 30 years, finding something new each day takes a little more work than it used to. Trust me on that.  So it's nice to keep a few commentaries around, and once in a while crack one open and see what it says about a particular psalm.

That's what I did today. I checked out what the Navarre Bible said about good old Psalm 95, aka the Invitatory psalm. There's something to be said for having a psalm memorized. It gives you the ability to pray it wherever you are. The downside is the temptation to rattle it off without much thought. But for the next few weeks, at least, that won't be my problem. Because of this brief comment on  verse 7, "Today, listen to the voice of the Lord":

Every time a person says this psalm, "today" should be taken literally.

Wow. God isn't telling me to listen to Him in general, but today.
Today He is telling me something. Will I hear it?
Today there is something He wants me to do. Will I notice?
What must I do to enable me to hear his voice today?

That single word, today, is now wrapped up in my mind with other scriptural phrases, like "Be sober! Be alert!" and  "Now is the day of salvation!"

So look up a psalm in a commentary and see what might happen to you!

The Navarre Bible: The Psalms and The Song of Solomon (The Navarre Bible: Old Testament)