Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas! Day Seven

I hope all of you are enjoying a blessed Christmastide, and now that the rush and busyness that attends on Christmas Day #1 is past, you are able to enjoy how the Church suspends time, makes it stand still, so that we can bask in this feast and marvel at its mysteries,

It's good to have the time to actually pay attention to the readings and psalms, since I'm not wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or planning a sit down dinner for ten this week. It's well and good to be Martha the week before Christmas, and on Christmas day there's no choice for many busy mothers. But this week and more after Christmas allows one to be Mary.

There is also a little more time this week to figure out one's place in the breviary: Christmastide is one of the trickiest liturgical seasons for us ribbon-flippers, in part because English (or at least, USA) breviaries, actually have errors in them. More about that in another post. For now, my best advice is--if you get confused, stick with ibreviary or until it's over.

December 31st is the feast of St. Sylvester. An early pope, non-martyr, he saw the Church go from persecuted minority to favored status after the Edict of Milan. Today's second reading in the OOR reflects wonder and joy at that amazing before and after.    

It is traditional to serve "Sylvester Punch" on New  Years eve. There are some recipes on the internet if you wish to try it, and have time to get the ingredients. Here is one of them.  Enjoy!

Anyone have a question about the the Liturgy of the Hours? Anyone receive a new breviary or a commentary on the psalms as a Christmas gift?  I'd be happy to hear about it in the comments.

Remember to start with Evening Prayer I for Mary, Mother of God tonight.   Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Giifts for Breviary Buffs, Psalmsayers, and Ribbon Flippers

Third Sunday of Advent! Here at the Sockey homestead, that means the outdoor Christmas lights all go on, and we can cut down and put up the tree whenever it's most convenient between now and next Sunday. We grow our own trees in the backyard so getting it won't be a big deal, but finding an evening when everyone is home to decorate is another story.

I was just thinking about how online shopping has certainly taken lots of the stress out of Christmas shopping. Far fewer trips into town, and no more struggles to package gifts for mailing and then heading out to the post office to mail them to recipients.  It really is possible now to take time during advent to pray and reflect--time  that we mothers simply did not have a dozen years ago.

The purpose of this post is to share some ideas for Liturgy of the Hours-related gifts. Items that a breviary beginner might appreciate, or things that might enrich those who have been praying the psalms for years.   I'll list a few here and would like the rest of you to chime in with your own finds (or wish list) in the comments section.

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours  is my book, so I figured, why not give it one more plug?  It's good for people who just want to know what the LOTH is  and why they  should give it a try. It's good for those who are trying already, but not quite getting it. It's good for old timers who can flip  ribbons like nobody's business but want some tips on understanding the psalms and some motivation to maintain  their LOTH habit.

The Mundelein Psalter Are you interested in learning  some really basic,simple chant for the psalms and gospel canticles of Morning and Evening Prayer? Then this is the book for you.

Hymnal for the Hours by Fr. Samuel Weber,editor. A comprehensive collection of the traditional Roman Breviary hymns for all of the hours for every day of the year, many saints' feasts, commons, and the holy seasons. All in English translation, all in Gregorian chant.

Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich  Bonhoeffer. A classic from the heroic Lutheran martyr. Save money  and get the Kindle edition.

Praying the Psalms by Thomas Merton. Another short book. This is a very short work, about 50 pages. I re-read  it regularly. Delightful.

Reflections on the Psalms by  C. S. Lewis. You can't go wrong with this author.

Custom made breviary covers I've mentioned this wonderful cottage industry a month or so ago. Send in the measurements of your breivary, pick out a color and embroidered design, and get back a beautiful zippered cover of heavy-duty imitation leather

Singing In The Reign The only book I know of (for non-scholars or semi-scholars) that gives a theology of the psalms, exploring what the psalms meant as a whole to the Hebrews,  delving into key concepts such as king and kingdom, and explaining the significance of the order of the psalms.

Okay. Send me your suggestions and include links if you can. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Worth Doing Badly

An oldie but goody post written four years ago on this date. It still holds true for me. 

Surfing the net yesterday, I found several blogs and websites that contained information for beginners on praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Which is wonderful. The more awareness of the Divine Office out there, the better.

One of them emphasized the importance scheduling time each day for whichever of the hours one commits  to. And  of finding a quiet, peaceful location with some sort of small shrine--a candle with a statue or picture--in easy view. This is the way to pray one's  Office consistently. With recollection and reverence.

An ordered day and a quiet refuge for prayer. Good ideas. And yet...

This is clearly one of those both/and situations.  Praying in ordered peacefulness is good. Praying amidst slapdash chaos is also good.

I relish the times when I'm able to sit back in my favorite rocking chair, light a candle in front of an icon, near a window with a view of my rural paradise. And then, pray the entire sequence from start to finish, maybe following up by going back to a favorite verse  and thinking about it for a while longer.

If that scenario occurs once out of the five hours of the liturgical day that I (most days ) pray, I'm doing really well.

And when I think back to the years of homeschooling/raising seven children and just trying to remember to do Morning and Evening Prayer...if I had  imagined back then that a monastic schedule and a place of peace were required, I would have given up a long time ago.  And maybe wouldn't be doing it today.

Even now, Evening Prayer is likely to be read in the midst of fixing dinner. A pslam here, check the recipe there, another psalm, flip the pork chops, pour that child a drink before he spills it all over the counter, shoo the cat off the counter, do the reading while peeling the carrots, find the Magnificat antiphon, answer the phone, go find the Magnificat antiphon again, no, go find the breviary which has gone missing--there it is, a little one took it and is practicing writing the letter M  on it's pages, read the antiphon again, say the Magnificat from memory, call someone to set the table, escape for a moment to read the intercessions while the food simmers, yell at a child to put on your coat, it's cold out there, and don't go past the swing set because dinner is almost ready, pray the Our Father and concluding prayer. Take a deep breath. May the Lord bless us, protect us from every evil and bring us to everlasting life. 

Yes, yes, I should do Evening Prayer after dinner. But no, we're going out this evening so that won't happen. Before dinner? It just doesn't seem like Evening  at 4:00 PM, and chances are, that's when I'm tardily getting around to Daytime Prayer. (That "choose one" feature for mid-morn, midday, and midafternoon must have been designed by the Holy Spirit with me in mind.)

Now, I know the above dinner-prep Vespers sounds awful to some people. And no,its not the ideal way to do things. Some would say it's better to skip it altogether than to pray it like that.

Problem is, if I skipped prayer every time the conditions for it were less than optimal, I'd be likely to lose the habit altogether. For me, consistency is important. Not consistency in schedule. Not consistency in a prayerful environment. But consistency in the daily slog of getting it done.

Kind of like marriage and family life in general. The rewards come in faithfulness, not in perfection.

Or, as G.K. Chesterton said, A thing that is really worth doing is worth doing badly.

How about you? Is it worth it to you to  prayerfully plow through the chaos or do you wait to find a moment of rest?