Friday, December 6, 2013

Psalms Keep Shipwrecked victim Sane! + weekly Q&A

It's been said here before, but bears repeating: one of the many side benefits of praying the Liturgy of the Hours is that after a few years,many psalms, or at least many verses of them, become embedded in your memory. These verses will spring from your heart and your lips at odd times, in response to life's joys, life's sorrows, life's crises, and just life in general. In other words, your personal, spontaneous prayer becomes formed and informed by God's word.

Just a few examples.
When I feel weary, bored, jaded: O God, Your are my  God, for You I long. My body pines for you like a dry weary land without water....

When stressed worried about the dozens of things that plague a mother: Though an army encamp against me, even then I would trust....
...He will conceal you with His pinions, under His wings you will find refuge.

When conscious of sin: Create a clean heart for me, O God, renew in my a steadfast spirit.

So when I read this story of a shipwrecked Nigerian man who kept himself calm by reciting psalms 54 thru 92, I just thought, "There you go."

What are the psalm verses that come to you as you go about your day or face stressful situations? Feel free to share them in comments. It's also weekly Q&A time, so your questions about the Divine Office are welcome as well.

And welcome new blog followers Doug, Owen, and anyone else who joins us but whose name is not available to me. This is the place for us psalm-sayers to learn more about our favorite prayer, so feel free to ask or say anything you like on that topic.




15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the welcome Daria.

    In response [to a friend who had shared a prayer request in the prayer Circle I initiated on Google plus] I offered that I would be remembering their intention during my praying one of the LoTH offices of the day.

    While they appreciated my willingness to pray they corrected me on praying for them during the universal prayer of the Church. They told me it was wrong to do so. I admit, while I thanked them for their zeal, I went ahead and added them to the end of the Intercessions, just before the Our Father, as has become my habit; figured I'd let God sort out heart from rule.

    I wonder, is such a rule? Is it in fact wrong, somehow, liturgically(?) to just go ahead and adapt the Hours as I do? Maybe my friend is right - though I haven't been able to find anything that addresses this.

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  2. Owen, It's my understanding that it is permissible to include your own prayers at the end of the intercessions. Although, I wouldn't debate the issue as I'm no expert on the rules and regulations concerning Loth. Having said that, I would further make the point that the laity praying the Loth privately are under no obligation and can adapt the Loth to satisfy their own preferences, unlike priests and other religious who must pray according to the regulations. I’m sure Daria can shed some light on the issue.

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    1. Alan, that idea of laity praying “privately” has to be qualified, since people mean different things by it. Certainly we say it “privately” as in “by ourselves in the privacy of our own homes”. But the Church has made it clear in several places that this does not mean that lay use of the LOTH is merely “private devotion”. We too are now qualified to pray it liturgically, that is, for and on behalf of the church, and hence, “publicly”. This did not seem to be the case before Vatican II, and many traditionally minded people still dispute the idea that the Church has delegated –without obligating—laity to pray in this way. Here is an article with all the relevant references: http://saintsshallarise.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/are-we-praying-liturgically.html
      Now, although we are encouraged to adapt things to suit our situation in life, it seems that we can only adapt so far before that chance to pray liturgically is lost and we really are just praying devotionally. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the distinction should be kept in mind. There are times when my recitation of an hour ends up only being devotional, because I wasn't able to complete it, or even deliberately chose to only do parts of it when time was short, e.g. skipped the psalmody and only did the readings of the Office of Readings. That is still good devotional practice for a layperson. But if I want to participate liturgically, I can only "adapt" within certain limits. What those limits are would take a long, long discussion.

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  3. I think your friends are wrong, but for a good reason. It is true that we pray the Office not just for our own little needs and intentions. We pray it for, and on behalf of, the church universal. At the same time, those friends of ours are part of the church universal, aren't they? So if we include them in a special way when we pray the LOTH, I don't see that as wrong. As you point out, the General Instruction encourages us to add specific intentions at the evening intercessions. (Similarly, a priest offers each mass for specific intentions of the living or the dead, and is given a stipend to do so, yet the text of the mass as a whole speaks of the whole church and prays for the whole church.) Also, we pray the Office for the Dead for very specific people, yet it too still remains the universal prayer of the church. And on the level of our own experience--don't you find yourself mentally thinking sometimes about the whole church, sometimes about specific needy loved ones and sometimes about your own situation as you pray the verses of the psalms? Yet I don't think that such thoughts and feelings takes away from the liturgical character of what you are doing. So I think this is a "both/and" situation.

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  4. To clarify since the comments appear out of order. The first one if for Owen, the second for Alan!

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  5. NO! I mean the second for Owen, the first for Alan. Not sure how the order got mixed up. The joys of Blogger.

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  6. Daria, I followed {smile}, no problem.

    Yes, I agree. There is no problem for a lay person, praying the Hours on their own to add personal intentions and those offered for others, i.e. those outside of the prescribed prayers. In our Baslian *Lay* Associate times when we pray in-community we actually do the same and often one of our Basilan priests is with us. Going further, my wife and I and some other soon to be Lay Associates were invited to sit in for Evening Prayer at a Basilian House. Here again room was made for the addition of intentions offered outside of those prescribed on the page. At this stage I do not see the above as inconsistent with the liberty and call given to lay people in Vatican ii as you've noted above; liturgically and publically.

    On reflection what may have thrown my friends off was that I did use the phrase that I would offer-up my time praying fill-in-the-blank-office of the day. They took exception to this idea. Had I said I would offer-up a decade of the holy rosary, no problem as it is, to this day, a mere [all be it important and nearly universally accepted and practiced] *devotion* whereas the Divine Office is the formalized, authorized universal liturgical prayer of the Church. Perhaps one cannot canonically offer-up the whole saying of the office which is universal for the private, personal intentions [singular or plural]. I don't know. Though if one did I fail to see how the grace of God who knows the thoughts and intent of each heart would make null the effect of anyone who cares enough to make the concern of another as their own.

    However, what we have been chatting about in my question as noted is an 'adaptation' well within the limits of what is good and proper. :)

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  7. Just wanted to add that I recently enrolled my family in the Perpetual Mass Society of The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and, along with various masses throughout the year, one of the benefits listed is "every family or individual enrolled will enjoy a share in the daily celebration of the Divine Office...".

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  8. Marie, I think that settles the question. I trust the Canons of St. J.C. to understand these things. Owen, enroll your friends and see what they say!

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    1. I feel the same way, Daria...if the Canons don't understand it, nobody does! I think it goes back to what you were saying about the Mass; it's the same idea. Also just thought of something else. Do you remember Sr. Joan Noreen from EWTN? Our Lady's Missionaries of the Eucharist web site has cards you can purchase offering your Mass, Rosary, etc. as a gift to someone (we used to do this years ago in school for Mother's Day/Father's Day). Well, there are cards offering your LOTH. Here's the link so everyone can see what I'm talking about: http://www.olme.org/gift_cards_loh.htm#loh

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  9. In the "Decree" which is almost the first item in the first volume Cardinal Tabera says to pray the LoTH is "at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world." To me that says praying the office is already praying for everybody and their salvation appropriate intentions. So, adding a special reminder about this or that particular intention does not seem to offend against the meaning of the prayer in any way.

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    1. Patrick, I am so pleased you raised that thought. Interestingly I had that same passage held out to me as a reason to not bother with personal intentions [whether for self or others] and even so far as to indicate that it would be thus wrong to add our own intentions. I rather prefer your take on this passage and would go so far as to say that this understanding seems more consistent with the big-picture intent of Vatican II - itself a "hermeneutic of continuity".

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  10. Well, the person to whom you referred as using Cardinal Tabera's words to draw an opposite conclusion needs to be respected, especially in an internet conversation where there is relativrly less respect than in face-to-face conversation.
    In my understanding prayer is conversation with God and liturgical prayer is the Body of Christ talking with the Godhead. To me it does not seem that a mention of some other member's difficulties or a mention that a member of the body has a concern about a non-member's difficulty is in any way an interuption of, rudness in, or offence against the conversation. That being said, it appears not all would agree. And this I would think is especially true in public recitation.
    A solution might be that those who have such a concern about bringing more local issues to liturgical prayer use the morning and evening intercessions. This would be much the similar to the intercessions at the end of the Liturgy of the Word during the Eucharist. It is allowed. (cf. # 187-8 GILH)
    "187. Since the Liturgy of the Hours is above all the prayer of the whole Church for the whole Church, indeed for the salvation of the whole world, general intentions should always have first place, whether the prayer is for the Church and all her members, for the secular authorities, for those who suffer poverty, disease or sorrow, or for the needs of the whole world, namely, for peace and for other things of this kind.
    "188. It is permissible to add special intentions at Lauds and Vespers."
    For public recitation a petition might be added which includes silence for mention of more private intentions as we do for our own living and dead in the Canon.

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    1. Hi Patrick.
      Assuming you are addressing me, Owen I do respect the other person's point of view. Nothing implied otherwise :-) However, for all of the reasons noted above by the contributors to this thread as well as your additional note, just above, I disagree with the interlocutor. My own use does indeed tend to be at Morning and or Evening Prayer. I confess that at Night Prayer it's pretty much say-the-prayer and lights-out so precious little additional anything gets added beyond a kiss to my beloved at that Hour.

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  11. No intention of indicating that anyone in this thread was in any way not being respectful, just a side comment on the general state of comments on the internet.

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