Monday, November 28, 2011

Let's Ramp Up our Office for Advent

Advent is a time of  preparation for the Second Coming, right? We want to be found ready when that happens, whether "that" is the Lord's final coming in glory, or just His ordinary, garden variety "coming" for each of us when we die. One way to do this is to expand our prayer life. And a great way to do this is to take the best prayer there is--the Liturgy--and increase our participation therein.

For some of us, this might mean the effort to get to daily mass, or maybe one or two daily  masses per week. For anyone who already participates in the Liturgy of the Hours, there's lots of ways to expand it. Here's a few:

1. If your practice of the Divine Office is patchy or irregular, strive to be consistent with the hours you already do say.
2. If you aren't already praying all of the liturgical hours, try adding one more. Or even part of one,say,  the psalmody or just the readings. For example, the Office of Readings. Maybe you don't have time for the whole thing. But for advent, doing just the Bible readings (Lots of Isaiah  and other prophetic texts),or just the second readings from the church fathers and saints would be  a really worthwhile  project.
3.  Stick with the hours you already pray, but to resolve to pray them with greater mindfulness. Perhaps make a project of focusing on one part of each day's office:  noticing  how the three antiphons  fit together, or asking yourself how you can better conform your heart to whatever the concluding prayer says.
4. Resolve to encourage a friend or family member to pray the morning or evening prayer with you during advent.

Realize that you only have to ramp up your liturgical prayer for the season of advent. Maybe what you choose to add during advent will become a new habit, maybe not. There is nothing wrong with doing something extra for a time, and then stopping.

My own plan is to be more consistent on Night Prayer, as it is the hour I'm most likely to skip. What I should do is try to get in the habit of saying  it by 9 or 10 each night rather than waiting for the bitter end when I'm collapsing into bed and can't keep my eyes open.

If you are planning to go deeper into the Liturgy of the Hours for Advent, tell us what your plans are. Maybe we can check up on each other as Advent proceeds.