Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tall Ship as Metaphor for Breviary

Last week Bill and I went to Erie, PA to see the sites. (Yes, Erie has some very nice ones, thank you. And the lake is not polluted anymore, so don't crack any of those jokes from the 60s about walking across it to Canada.) 

The highlight of our trip was the Maritime Museum, which included a tour of the Brig Niagara.  This ship was a key player in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  We learned all sort of fascinating historical and nautical things. But nothing impressed, indeed, staggered me more as I examined the deck than the sheer number and variety of ropes, each with a different purpose, and each vitally important to keeping the vessel afloat and functional. It was impossible to keep ropes out of one's line of sight anywhere on the deck....

short ropes...

long ropes...

fat ropes...

coiled ropes...

Sounds like I'm writing  a Dr. Seuss book, I know. But bear with me.

I wondered how long it would take for an apprentice seaman to learn what each of these was for, when our guide reminded us that the phrase, "learning the ropes" had originated with the sailing culture. And I could see, that whatever else a new sailor had to learn, once he'd learned the ropes, he'd have a great deal of his job learned as well.

When you think  of all that goes into learning to use and  appreciate the Divine Office, "Learning the ropes" is a great analogy. Making sense of what at first is a dizzying array of psalter, ordinary, propers, commons, feasts, and seasons is not easy. Not to mention getting to truly enter into the spirit of praying the hours with the mind of the Church.

I've been trying to help readers  do just  that with this blog. Now I'm thinking of going through all these posts and putting them into a short  book . The Divine Office--Learning the Ropes might be a good working title.  Thing is, I don't have time to both do that and to write blog posts a couple of times a week. I need to have a couple of chapters and a proposal ready to pitch at the Catholic Writer's Guild conference in August, so it looks like Coffee and Canticles will go inactive until sometime in the middle of August. Surely you wonderful followers and visitors won't mind so very much. Right now it's too beautiful outside to waste much time on the internet anyway. Just say a prayer that if it's God's will and not just my ego, this project will go well.

See you in August. Keep up with your Divine Office.


  1. I love the metaphor and have been hoping you'd do a book eventually. Hooray! Praying it will all come together.

  2. Mary in CincinnatiJuly 10, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    I will be sad not to read this regularly, but I really like the idea of a book. I will pray for your efforts.

  3. Anything will be better than The Divine Office for Dodos.. I learned what I needed to from that book, but gosh, did that book need a better editor.