Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nigerian priests, American housewives,and Morning Prayer

This post comes  from reader Nancy Allen. Besides telling of her  efforts to fit the Liturgy of the Hours into a busy life, she gives us a great reflection  about the  unity - in- diversity of  the Church. (In other words, its catholicity.)  

Today, when you say Morning or Evening Prayer, think of the many bishops, priests, religious, and lay people in every nation,every race, and every language, with whom you are spiritually  united in offering the sacrifice of praise that is the Divine Office. 

Hi Daria,
     I follow your blog on Kindle. Originally I'm  from Canton, Ohio, which has a  a very large percentage of Catholics. That's where I first learned how to recite the Liturgy of the Hours. I didn't find it particularly easy to learn the ins and outs of the Breviary but now, after 14 years of reciting it, I think I might have it!

   Now  I live in a small rural town in Eastern Oregon with a low percentage of Catholics. 
     Before starting a new job last year  I used to meet  daily with Nigerian priests and two other women to recite Morning Prayer. Our diocese had a shortage of priests and it is very large and remote in places. Priests usually take care of a main parish and up to three missions, with both English and Spanish speaking parishoners. They work extremely hard but not many  priests  seemed eager to come here. 

     We reached out for help to Nigeria and they responded. We now have many Nigerian missionary priests who are fantastic. Our parish has become the starting point for all of the new Nigerian priests coming to the diocese before they are sent out to their own parishes. Each one stationed here has been willing and eager to meet for Morning Prayers. We sing, chant, the whole nine yards and we laugh a lot when we make a mistake or sing particularly badly.
Nancy and Father Francis Obijekwu
     I sometimes reflect on the incredible nature of our Faith as  we all sit together in prayer somewhere in the world. People from so many different places, from farms and cities, and different circumstances in life. At times when our little handful was praying the Divine Office, we'd be huddled in a small room. It might be  still dark outside and  snowing-- we'd  have driven through snow and ice to get there (I'd often have to stop on my way for a herd of elk to cross the road). And here sat a priest from Africa waiting for us, who himself had  come from  half way across the globe, ready and happy to recite the prayers of the Church with three American housewives. Despite our different backgrounds,  we were all "on the same page" so to speak, praying the same prayers, using the same actions, united as one.

     I had to begin working full time a year ago, so I can no longer meet with them, but they still continue to get together.I begin my day at 4:45am each morning and also help to take care of a small farm and livestock. Due to the work load I was becoming lax in my daily prayers and needed motivators, so I found your blog.
    - Nancy Allen in Oregon

Thank you, Nancy,for sharing this with us!

Stories like Nancy's inspire us.  They keep us motivated and aware that we are all praying together, uniting our voices to that of Jesus as He prays to His Father. Do you have a Divine Office story to tell? Send it to