Saturday, December 3, 2011

Divine Office for Preschoolers

I admire mothers with lots of little children who try, try, and try again to pray some of the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Back in the day when I had a nursing baby one one arm, a three year old tugging on my skirt, and a rabble of homeschoolers scattered about the house, my liturgical habits were inconsistent, to put it mildly.

Somehow it never occurred to me to explain to them what I was doing with that breviary, let alone engage them in it. The family rosary was exhausting enough!  But maybe if I had this delightful little picture book about a hermit and his daily hours of prayer, I would have had some little Divine Office disciples.

The Monk Who Grew Prayer is the quiet, uncomplicated little story of  a Greek Orthodox hermit who lives a simple live of "chopping wood, drawing water from the stream,repairing his best and only chair,  and growing vegetables  in his garden."  But his real work, the work that could not be easily seen, was "growing prayer" . The text names one of the liturgical hours on each page, and we see not just the time of day, but also  the seasons changing in the monk's forest as a year of prayer goes by.

The lovely watercolor  illustrations are done in warm tones.    The little hermitage reminds me of a cozy hobbit hole.  I'm sure if my children had this book when they were young, I would have seen them adding "monk in the forest" to their list of backyard pretend games. (Taking its turn in the queue with Greek gods, christian martyrs, house on the prairie, pirates, and  medieval fantasy.)

Aside from Vespers and Compline the Greek Orthodox use different names for the hours, so a little explanation would be needed to connect what the Monk does to what you do with your breviary. It is also apparent from the musical notes floating across each landscape that this monk chants his office. This could lead to some interesting experiments in liturgical music should your little one want to join you in prayer!

An beautiful Christmas gift to any little one who loves to cuddle up on the couch with mom for a quick story time.