Thursday, December 29, 2016

5th Day of Christmas Wishes&Prayer Request

Dear friends,

I hope that your Christmas season continues to be a merry one, that you are enjoying the liturgy of the Octave with it's very special saints: Stephen the martyr, John the Beloved, the Holy Innocents, Thomas Becket and Sylvester.

If anyone received a new breviary for Christmas, or a new book about liturgy or the psalms, let us know in the comments what it is and how you like it.

My posts have been a bit scanty this month and will probably continue to be. Both my mother and my brother are in the hospital right now, both seriously ill. Needless to say, this will keep me pretty busy for a while.   I ask your prayers for them: healing for my brother and a peaceful death for my mother.
And for wisdom, patience and courage for me and my sister.

In the meantime, I am always open to guest posts here. If any of you would like to write about the Liturgy of the Hours in your life, whether in general or else your reflections on a particular aspect, let me know.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Prayer for People who are Bad at Praying

Check out this  Patheos blog post on the Liturgy of the Hours by Marina . It's f rom September but I only just discovered it today. She explains why doing just one or two of the liturgical hours daily is a great (and very doable) way for the busy homemaker to act on the biblical injunction to "pray always".

Saturday, December 17, 2016

O Wisdom! The O Antiphons Begin.

A good friend of this blog and all around lover of liturgical prayer, Sid Cundiff, is sharing YouTube finds on his Facebook page--musical settings of the O Antiphons. So I credit him for this find and share it with you here.

In our family we recite the O Antipihons at grace before dinner. (In English, from the breviary). Families with more enthusiastic singers often sing the relelvant verse of O Come O Come Emmuanuel.

Make an Over the Top Nativity Scene!

Thought I 'd share this Nativity how-to again this year.

Now and then I have something to share that has no bearing on the Liturgy of the Hours. This is one of those times.

Most Christians put out some sort of nativity set this time of year. Perhaps several sets  of them.

When my kids were young we made a point of placing our  Nativity figures in a prominent location, and tried to make an attractive backdrop and surrounding decorations so that our creche  would stand out in their minds as a Big Deal ranking right up there with the Chrustmas tree.

We bought  extra figures each year (love those half-price sales on Dec. 26th)  and soon were able to set up the stable on the first Sunday of advent and add one animal, person, or other prop each day. Sort of an interactive advent calendar.  I'd let the kids play with the figures too, using their imaginations to act out and no doubt embellish the story of the first Christmas with considerable detail that was not to be found in scripture or tradition.

As the children grew older, the more creative among them would help me construct the hills and fields of  Bethlehem, which we'd create  with stones and evergreens from our yard or nearby woods. Last year's effort was one of the better ones, so, as I took it all apart last January, I took photos of the various steps and details that went into it. Maybe these will inspire some of you to try your hand at something similarly elaborate. Feel free to share this on your Facebook feed, Pinterest, etc. Here goes:

1. Select a small table, chair, china hutch, desk, or other piece of furniture for you display. For us it's usually the top of a low bookcase or a desk, but last year we went with this "gossip bench" plus a little stool sticking out beneath it:
2. Next, place strategic piles of rags or heaped towels to give some  hills and valleys to your Bethlehem countryside:
3. Drape the whole thing with a large sheet or table cloth. The  color should be green or an earth tone.
4. This next step is not strictly  necessary, but if you have access to a good source of moss (that is, woods where no one will look askance at you digging things up) then dig up lots of it (it pulls up easily in large strips) and lay it down over much of your "ground". Keep it fresh and green by misting it daily with a spray bottle. This picture was taken the day I took it down. I'd quit spraying it a few days before and it looks it:
5. If you want a creek in your scene, a strip of crumpled plastic wrap, with a sprinkling of pea gravel in the stream bed will work just fine.                                                                                                          
6. Add some stones and other greenery from your yard, plus a string of carefully placed twinkle lights, here is what we have:
Now for a few more pictures to show some close up details:
We have lots of shepherdesses. My two oldest kids are girls and they loved these. 

Notice the angel  hanging on the blinds. There's also a  star dangling further up but not pictured.
Naturally, the 3 kings started travelling from the opposite end of the house some days ago, but now they've almost reached the manger.

So there you have it. It is a somewhat messy project, and it does take up  a bit of space, as you see. But it certainly can be done on a somewhat smaller scale.  If any of you do something similar, please send me a picture and I'll publish it in a future post. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and news from Belarus

If you use a print breviary, you will have to look elsewhere today to properly celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (which is a mere optional memorial on the Universal calendar, but a big deal here in the western hemsisphere).

iBreviary,, and apps all have the proper prayers and readings for this day. I notice that iBreivary actually has two choices for the second reading in today's Office of Readings. The first is the original account of Our Lady's appearance at Tepeyac Hill. The alternative is from a 1970 message to the Mexican people from Blessed Pope Paul VI about the spiritual and social application of Our Lady's message. Both are worth reading.

In the Good News department: I've just received inquires from a gentleman in Belarus about a new e-breviary Belarusian website, and his desire to translate and publish The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours in that nation.

As always, any questions about how to pray or understand the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

When You Have Shut the Door

Did you do Office of Readings today?

Those first two paragraphs from St. Anselm just blew me away. In case you missed it--or the caffeine hadn't kicked in yet while you were reading them, here they are:

Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts.  Break off from your cares and troubles, and be less concerned about your tasks and labors.  Make a little time for God and rest a while in Him.  Enter into your mind's inner chamber. shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek Him; and when you have shut the door, look for Him.

Speak now to God and say with your whole heart, "I seek you Face; your Face, Lord I desire." 

I know that there are traditional prayers to say before beginning the Divine Office. Although when I think to say this one--which is not often--I usually find the card I had it on is missing. But these lines from St. Anselm today seemed so utterly perfect as a help to getting me into the proper mindset for prayer, that I copied them onto an index card as neatly as I could so that I'd have it at hand inside the cover of my breviary each day.   Anselm's message was especially appropriate for me at this time of year. Between planning for Christmas and Healthcare enrollment Purgatory, my mind is everywhere except that peaceful inner chamber. Hopefully this little meditation will get me there, with the door shut, more often.

Q&A Time: any questions or confusion about praying the Liturgy of the Hours can be resolved here. Just ask a question below.

Also--there are still four of you who won an O Emmanuel CD but did not write to me with your address. Please look back at the comments on this post and see whether the entry comment you made is followed by my comment to the effect that you have won. Otherwise I will have to choose some runners up to get your CD.

If anyone is interested, the most popular O  Antiphon in our poll  by far was O Oriens (aka O Rising Sun, O Dayspring), followed not too distantly by O Sapientia (O Widsom).