Saturday, July 12, 2014

A mainline Protestant meets the Liturgy of the Hours

Checking some search results today, I came across this piece written by a non-Catholic making an informal retreat at a monastery guesthouse. He joins the monks for each of the liturgical hours, and has some interesting reactions to it all.

I disagree with him that the Liturgy of the Hours marks "chronos" rather than "kairos" time. Clearly it can do both. (But this gentleman couldn't know that at this point in his acquaintance with it.) But he was spot on when he said this:

While we were there, one of the brothers passed away on the premises. He was old and sick; still, it happened rather suddenly. The monks heard the news at church a half hour later. Then they did what they always do: they prayed the psalms. I suspect that if some Job-like tragedy wiped out all but one of them, he’d still show up for the Divine Office that day, singing antiphonally with the cloud of witnesses.
So I began to appreciate that I was not a second-class participant in a worship event some hierarchically-minded person planned. I was an observer of a holy practice of marking the passage of time, a practice as reliable as time itself.