Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Psalms as Balm for Election Irritation

The other day an old friend—a friend who prays the Liturgy of the Hours—commented on Facebook about that day’s reading from Morning Prayer. The one about watching our language, not only to keep it free of foul words, but that what we say should be truly helpful to others.

Here is it, Ephesians 4: 29-32. It goes on to say we should remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling, and malice. My wise friend said that this passage described well the problem so many of us seem to have discussing the upcoming presidential election.

As someone who had also been fretting and arguing about said election---I decided to start listening a little harder to those psalms as I read them, and see what else God might be trying to tell us (or me, at least) about the political tempest we are enduring.  (This is a wonderful feature of liturgical prayer. Yes, you are praying on behalf of, and for the needs of, the whole church—that is primary. You are even praying with the voice of Jesus Himself—what an amazing and mysterious privilege!  But even as you are doing that, you are also praying in your own, individual little voice, about your own, individual little situation. There is no conflict between personal/devotional and public/liturgical prayer.) 
So, starting my search with today’s (Saturday) Daytime Prayer, I was reminded quite forcefully by Psalm 119 about where my priorities and desires should be:

Guide me in the path of your commands; for in them is my delight…turn my eyes from gazing at vanities [like links to political columns, perhaps?]… in your way, give me life.
Next, Psalm 34 told me not only to re-focus my energies on God’s law, but to seeek joy regardless of what the talking heads are jabbering about:

I will bless the Lord at all times, I the Lord my soul shall make its boast…I sought the Lord and He answered me; from all my fears He set me free…Look towards Him and be radiant; let your faces not be abashed…Taste and see that the Lord is good…They lack nothing, those who fear Him…Many are the trials of the righteous, but from them the Lord will deliver him.

Reminds me of how Dorothy Day said we have a “duty of delight” before God.

Anyway, I found all this both consoling and convicting: if I want the consolation to last I’d better keep my head in the psalms and out of tv, radio and internet politics for a while.  Maybe the month of August can be a retreat from all such vanity of vanities (to borrow a reference from this Sunday’s first reading).  Then maybe I can resume paying attention to it—in a more measured, well-ordered, and detached way—in September.  Sounds like a plan.   

Friday, July 22, 2016

St. Mary Magdalene Feast Alert!

Just a reminder--since Pope Francis has elevated (or restored) St. Mary Magdalene's day from memorial to feast, it's office will now follow the format for a feast.

This means that you will NOT use the four week psalter today. You will use   Sunday week I for Morning Prayer, and of course all the antiphons, readings, responsories and prayers that are already in the proper of saints for St. Mary Magdalene's day. Psalmody for any other hour will be that of the Common of Holy Women.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Reader's Question on Chair of Peter Ordinariate Office

Once in a while someone asks a question that I cannot answer. In case any of you can, here it is:

Do you happen to have any information about any work being done on the Divine Office for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter? (The UK Ordinariate already has its own Customary, but it is only approved for use within its jurisdiction.) Thanks!

- Tom

Anybody have any info on this?

English vs. Latin-ish names for the liturgical Hours

One of the most confusing things for newcomers to the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) is that there seem to be more than one term for all sort of things. (See preceding sentence.) So for those of you who are still at the trying-to-figure-it-all-out stage, here's a handy list of equivalents:

Lauds=Morning  Prayer   Derived from Latin word for "praise"

Terce= Mid Morning Prayer  from the Latin for "three" because 9am is the third hour of the day when your day begins at sunrise or approximately 6am.

Sext= Midday Prayer...from the Latin for" six." (Noon is the "sixth hour.")

None= Midafternoon Prayer...from the Latin for "nine" because 3pm is the "ninth hour."

Vespers=Evening Prayer ...from Latin "vespera" which means "evening."

Compline= Night Prayer...from Latin "complere" which  does NOT mean "night" But rather "to fill or complete." With Night Prayer, your liturgical day is complete.

Update: A reader just reminded me that I left out: Matins=Office of Readings

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Compline Cheat Sheet

After saying Night Prayer (aka Compline) for so many years, I kinda sorta,  more or less had most of the psalms, readings, and concluding prayers by heart.

Except for one thing:  remembering which  antiphons,psalms, readings, and prayers go with each night of the week.  So  I made up a little cheat sheet which gives just the first few words of each element. I can use this as a prompt to remind me and get me started. For example, last night I looked at my cheat sheet  and saw this for Monday:

Ant. O Lord our God, unwearied...
PS 86  Turn your ear, Lord and give answer...
Reading:  1 Thess. 5 God has destined us...
Prayer: Lord give our bodies...

With just those little prompts I was able to recite the entire thing from memory. (obviously we all know the Canticle of Simeon by heart already, right? So no need for a prompt there.)

Why does it matter to me to be able to do Compline by heart? Well, I like to keep my breviary downstairs because that's where I usually do all the other hours. But I do Night Prayer in my bedroom. With the cheat sheet on the nightstand, there's no need to lug the breviary around. I know I could just use my cell phone or tablet by my bed, but it's supposed to be a good idea to not view back lit screens close to bed time.

Furthermore, a little scripture memory work isn't a bad thing.

One of these day's I"ll write up my entire Compline Cheat Sheet in bloggable form and put it on a tab so that any of you who are interested can print it.

Do you have any psalms memorized, whether from Night Prayer or any other hour? I'm pretty good with the psalmody of Sunday week I, although I sometimes get bogged down in the Canticle from Daniel. ("Wait...was it frost and chill or dew and rain, praise the Lord?')

Oh, and let's make this a Q&A for any and all questions about how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Put your questions in the comments below, and if I don't get right back to you, likely as not some other smart reader will.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What today's Office tells us about Kim Kardashian &co.

I don't know, maybe this is silly, and the author herself suggests that possibility, but I think this article by Elizabeth Scalia is a great example of how we continually find things in the psalms that connect to our own times and lives.

Taking note of the latest iteration of the Kanye West-Kim Kardashian vs. Taylor Swift "feud" Scalia notes that Psalm 73 from today's Office of Readings seemed to apply:

For them there are no pains;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
5 They do not share in men’s sorrows;
they are not stricken like others.
6 So they wear their pride like a necklace,
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 Their hearts overflow with malice,
their minds seethe with plots.

The story goes on to note how the second reading from Ignatius of Antioch gives the antidote to such small-mindedness. Do check it out. Scalia is a Benedictine oblate and pretty darn good at plumbing what the Liturgy of the Hours has to offer.

Friday, July 8, 2016

More News on LOTH Revision

Check out this very interesting article at New Liturgical Movement. It's a report on the Sacra Liturgia UK conference.

Of particular interest to us Psalmsayers is the summary of the  talk delivered by Bishop Alan Hopes about our long  awaited new translation/revision of the English language Liturgy of the Hours. Here's an excerpt:

"Currently, the Advent/Christmas volume is at the Grey Book stage (ICEL's final draft presented to the bishops), with the other volumes still at the Green Book stage (ICEL's initial draft). However, Bishop Hopes did give the conference the news that the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, containing saints added since the last typical edition, is at the Grey Book stage and will most likely be available for use fairly soon. He also noted that the CDWDS is currently preparing an official two year cycle of readings for the Office of Readings (long talked about!), which will comprise a fifth volume of the Liturgia Horarum, and that this is intended to be included in the upcoming revision of the English books."