Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Solemnity Alert! Annunciation All Day Long! Mark Your Breviary!

Annunciation  by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Just an excuse to post one of my favorite paintings. The original hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

When He Came into This World...


....He said, "You have prepared a body for me; behold I come to do your will, O God." (antiphon 2, Office of Readings)

Invisible in his nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time, he began to exist at a moment in time...(Pope Leo the Great, Office of Readings)

He is before all else that is. In him everything continues in being. (canticle, Vespers)

...we proclaim to you the eternal life that was present to the Father and became visible to us. (1 John: 2, Vespers)

I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to  your word. (antiphon 3, Vespers)

Is any comment--other than 'Wow!'--worth making on this marvel, this mystery and  our immense good fortune that it happened?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome, EWTN Viewers!

Welcome to Coffee&Canticles, the internet home for people who are interested in the Liturgy of the Hours. I appreciate that you bothered to copy down the blog address at the bottom of the "Bookmark" screen in order to make your way here.

Now that you are here, feel free to look around. The tabs above that say "about the Liturgy of the Hours" and "Breviary bootcamp" will be of interest to beginners.  Or just browse through old posts in the archives and see what interests you.   Above all, feel free to ask questions any time by commenting at the end of any post. I'll try to get back to you in a day or less.

Regular follower of this blog come from all over the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, eastern Europe and other places as well. We are mostly laypeople, but a couple of priests and religious too. Some of us aren't even Catholic, because praying the psalms according to a liturgical framework is a tradition that spans denominations. So feel free to introduce yourself in a comment at the end of this post.

One more thing. If you saw the Bookmark program, you can see that I can't stop talking when it comes to the amazing, universal Sacrifice of Praise that is the Liturgy of the Hours. So, if you think your organization, parish, or diocesan event  wants to hear me chatter about it some more, then check the "Talks and Workshops" tab above and contact me. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gospel Canticle Antiphons & EWTN at last!

Just a little Divine Office factoid you might or might  not have noticed.

The gospel of  each day's mass during lent (and the other  special liturgical seasons) is recalled in the antiphons of the Benedictus and the Magnificat on the same day.  I love this, because on a day that I don't get to mass, these antiphons clue me in on what the day's gospel was about. And if I do get to mass, these antiphons--especially the one in the evening--bring that day's gospel once more to mind.

This also happens--sort of--on Sundays throughout the year. We have a three-year cycle of Sunday readings, so the gospel canticle antiphons from Sunday evening prayer I, morning prayer, and evening prayer II each take a line from the gospel of either year A, B, or C.

OH, and before I forget, tune in to EWTN Bookmark this Sunday or Monday, or again next Thursday. The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours will be featured. This program was taped back in August, and it's been a long wait for me as the EWTN folks reshuffled their schedule several times.  Here's the writeup they did on the latest WINGS newsletter:

Daria Sockey
Everyday Catholic's Guide To The Liturgy Of Hours    

Why we like it:
 Liturgical prayer is catching on! Daria Sockey calls
the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office), the first cousin of the
Mass.  Doug and Daria's talk at a recent Catholic Marketing
Network convention demystifies this practice of offering prayers
throughout the day which priests, religious, and the laity are
praying right along with you. Find out how "everyday Catholics"
can begin with the help of Daria's book, and the option of online
readings as close as your iPhone.

The take-away: No longer just for those behind monastery walls,
Sockey's book, and her blog, are welcome, accessible entrees into
an ancient prayer practice of the Universal Church. Once begun,
the Liturgy of the Hours is a rhythm of prayer as comforting as
your morning coffee, as encouraging and hard to stop as your
daily exercise routine. 
Buy It Now!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do you pray the Divine Office in a parish or workplace group?

A journalist friend of mine, Celeste Behe, recently called my attention to this story, which reports that the Archbishop of Singapore suggests that staff of Catholic schools and organizations gather daily for morning daytime and evening prayer from the LIturgyof the HOurs. 

Even more interesting, Bishop William Goh Seng Chye links this activity to the New Evangelization, which begins with the interior renewal of those who already profess the faith:

“As you are all aware, the battle cry of the Universal Church is the urgency of the work of the New Evangelization which entails, in the first place, a personal conversion of every Catholic, from the Pope to the bishops, priests, religious and laity,” Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye wrote in a recent letter. “The primary conversion is a renewal of our personal relationship with the Lord, encountering Him in a real and personal way so that we can effectively and convincingly proclaim the joy of the Gospel to all those who do not yet know Him.”

Celeste finds this so interesting that she want to write a feature article about it for one of the premier Catholic platforms she works with.  And she needs your help. Celeste asks:

"Do the Catholics in your parish/workplace/school gather to pray the Liturgy of the Hours? If so, please share for an article I'm writing."

If you would like to help Celeste with her story, email her:   celeste.I.behe"at"gmail"dot"com  Tell her where you are from, where you pray the LOTH in a Catholic parish/organization/school, etc., and maybe other facts such as how many folk participate, which hours you pray with this group, and whether you think it's had an impact on the group to pray the hours together.   

This is great way to do a little evangelizing on behalf of the Liturgy of the Hours, so please participate if you can. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Set Apart, plus weekly Q&A

Sometimes it's worth comparing the two short readings from lauds and vespers to see if you can find a common theme. Today's theme is obvious. In the morning reading from Exodus, God tells us that His people are "my special possession, dearer to me than all other people..."   In the evening reading St. Paul reminds us to "not conform yourselves to this age..."

It's that old tension between being in the world, but not of the world. Unless it's our specific vocation to be apart in a monastery, we can't hold ourselves aloof from unbelievers and semi-believers, but should be out there among God's children, loving them and bringing Jesus to them in whatever way we can.

On the other hand, we are different, we are set apart, we are special in virtue of our baptism into the body of Christ. And lent is  time to be even more different and set apart through the various disciplines that are either prescribed as obligations or recommended as aids to holiness. But we aren't being different from the masses for the sake of being different. We are strengthening ourselves by conforming ourselves to Christ, with the aim of being better able to a. see him in all men and b. bring him to all men.

We are always walking a tightrope. Fall off on one side into pride and uncharity, on the other into conformity to the degraded mindset of the world.

I forgot to do a Q&A last week. Is everyone managing to find their lenten offices each day?  Is anything else looking strange or unfathomable as you flip around in the breviary? Just ask in the comments below.

Welcome, new blog follower Lorraine.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Breviary Basics for Lent plus Q&A

If you just started using a breviary recently, you might have some trepidation about lent. You've got to start using the Proper of Seasons every single day, rather than just Sundays. This is not so difficult, but here are some principles to simplify it further. You might want to print and cut out this post and stick it in your book for reference.

1. Each day you will only use the four-week Psalter as far as the end of the psalms--taking care to use the specified Lent antiphons--and then turn to the front of your book (Proper of Seasons.) Keep a ribbon there and in the psalter.

2.For Ash  Wednesday: use week IV of the Psalter for the Office of Readings, although Friday of week III is also an option. For the  the next three days, use week IV of the Psalter (although for Thursday only  week III is also given as an option.) Personally I"m sticking with week IV. On Sunday you will start over with week I, and so on through the rest of lent, going in order and then repeating weeks I and II for the last two weeks.

3. Saints Days. All saint's days in lent are observed as optional memorials. This means you do not use the Common of martyrs, doctors, etc. You use everything for the regular lenten weekday EXCEPT what is in the Proper of Saints. Alternatively, you may ignore the saint's prayers and readings altogether and do everything from the current lenten weekday. (That is what "optional" means).

4. Solemnities. St. Joseph on March 19th and the Annunciation of Our Lady on March 25th are two breaks from lenten liturgy. Do their complete offices from the Proper of Saints and the Commons as the breviary instructs you. Use these days to lighten up on your lenten penances, e.g. eat dessert, drink a cocktail, watch TV or have a chocolate bar. (Or in my case, go to the mall and buy myself some earrings or a pretty top. Shopping fasts are really rough on girls like me.)

Okay, any questions on Lenten offices or anything else related to the Liturgy of the Hours? Fire away!

Lovin' N.T. Wright

"In any case, the Psalms give every indication that they stand intentionally at the intersection of God's time and human time, with all the tensions that brings as well as the yearning for resolution. They stand deliberately on Mt. Zion,  where heaven and earth dangerously meet in the Temple, but they also look out into the whole creation. And they invite and they facilitate that actual material transformation of the worshiper, of Israel as a whole, and of  God's world as a whole, of which they sometimes speak."

That's from N.T. Wright's wonderful The Case for the Psalms, which I am finding absolutely delightful. He follows up this statement by saying that this is precisely why we find Jesus in the psalms. Not just because of this or that christological interpretation that the Fathers have discovered, or the messianic prophecies that appear here and there:

"No. They resonate with Jesus because he was the one who stood, by divine appointment, precisely at the intersection of God's time and ours, of God's space and ours, of God's matter and ours."

I think I've found my lenten reading, except that I will be enjoying this so much that it won't seem appropriate for lent.

Okay, so is it okay to take instruction from the leader of an  Christian denomination that accomodates its doctrine and discipline to the times so readily as does the Anglican Church? Given how many of us have had our faith strengthened by C.S. Lewis, I've have to say yes, so long as we read Wright with our Catholic glasses on.

Welcome new blog followers  Tami and Patti. You are just in time for lent.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Books for Lent

Well, so much for blogging every day for a week. I blew it after four days. Oh well.

On an earlier post someone asked what books I was considering for lenten reading.
Part of me might just skip the pile of books and use online resources, such as Fr. Dwight Longenecker's daily study on the Gospel of Mark, or Fr. Robert Barron's daily lenten reflections, both of which are linked on this link.

And since our women's Bible Study group is using this study guide on the Seven Last Words of Christ, there's a little more reading and reflection already built into my lent this year.

So why am I still looking at other titles on my desk, such as Face to Face With Jesus-Reflections for a Disciple by Bruno Forte(Pauline), Meditations for Lents by Jaques-Benigne Bousset (Sophia Institute Press), and Jesus, a Pilgrimage by Fr.James Martin (Image)

Decision, decisions. I know I have to narrow this down because it would be ridiculous trying to read all of them. Maybe I'll pick the thinnest book first (in the hopes I'll actually finish it), read that, and then, if there's more of lent still left, go from there.

Hey, speaking of too many choices for lenten reading, check out this Lenten Library giveaway of 45 different titles (in one bundle to one lucky winner) over at Catholic Book blogger.