Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm Back, and a Handy Hint for Hectic Q&A

First there was Holy Week. Then there was Easter. We do these things in a Big Way in the Sockey household, not just with spiritual activity, but with family customs, so the mother of the house was not available for a lot of blogging. Then there was my daughter's wedding on Easter Friday. It was great, it was beautiful, but I'm still in recovery mode.

Also,on Sunday  I  became eligible for the younger end of senior citizen discounts, if you know what I mean. And besides being entitled to an extra 10% off at Goodwill, it also excuses me from moving a tad slower than formerly, right?

I'm trying to catch up on comments and questions on the last month's posts that need responses. If you don't get one today, please send any questions again, because that will mean I've somehow not seen it.

During the last few days surrounding the wedding I wasn't able to maintain my schedule of praying five liturgical hours a day. I don't fret when these situations come up--it's  a mother's vocation to attend to family first, and I have a hard time quickly adapting my schedule to sudden, huge, temporary changes.  But I do want to remain at least somewhat attached to the daily liturgical cycle especially now, during the Easter season.  So I dip into the breviary as often as I can, and just read little bits of it as a devotional.   If nothing else, it's worthwhile just to read the antiphons for the psalms and the gospel canticle, and the concluding prayer. They speak of all the things that spring from the Redemption: baptism, forgiveness of sin, the Eucharist, the Church, and above all, joy, glory, praise!

Then, if I have a chunk of six or seven  whole minutes to myself, I'll also try to read the readings from the Office of Readings.   These shortcuts leave liturgical prayer behind, but give me a rich, if brief devotional prayer.

Then, when life returns to normal and prayer gets back on schedule, I don't feel that I've totally missed out.

Do you ever do this sort of thing? What is your favorite "bare bones" method of staying attached to the Liturgy of the Hours during hectic times?   Or do you have any other questions about the Liturgy of the Hours?   I'm back in the saddle, so fire away!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holy Week Antiphons Immerse us in Christ

Last Wednesday, in the Office of Readings, we had a key teaching from St. Augustine's Commentary on the Psalms  which the Church applies particularly to liturgical prayer:

"[Jesus] prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God.....We pray then to him, through him, in him, and we speak along with him and he along with us."

We have an immense privilege in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. In a way, it is akin to what the priest does at mass--he offers Christ's own sacrifice for the salvation of the world. We get to offer Christ's own praise, thanks,sorrows, and petition to the Father.  We get to be His  voice, or, He prays with our voices--whichever way you prefer to think of it.

This is made abundantly clear by the antiphons of Holy week. For example, on Monday morning we started out with "Jesus said, My heart is nearly broken with sorrow; stay here and keep watch with me", and from that we launch into Psalm 42 (Like the deer that yearns for running streams, etc.) with it's achingly beautiful expressions of overwhelming grief yet undying trust in God. Can you imagine a better meditation on what Jesus was thinking/feeling/praying during these last few days before His death?  I sure can't.

The same thing happened today with the morning antiphon I and Psalm 43. And it will happen Wednesday and Thursday too. And in Good Friday's Office of Readings and vespers, and a couple of other places in the other hours throughout the week.  So watch for these antiphons that quote the words of Jesus so that you can offer than psalm in complete union with His prayer as He confided His sorrow to His Father, begged for His help, and abandoned Himself to His Father's will.

I just wish I had the eloquence and theological know-how to express what an incredible experience the liturgical hours of Holy Week can be if we pay attention to what we're doing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Handy Hymn Hints plus Q&A

"I don't know the tune to this hymn."

Well, join the club. But there's several things you can do about that.

1. Just recite the hymn lyrics, like a poem.

2. Choose a different hymn that you do know, so long as it's appropriate to the season. For example, during ordinary time you could always pick "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" or any other general hymn of praise. During lent, do "O Sacred Head Surrounded" or "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" or "The Glory of these Forty Days."

3. Get acquainted with the meter posted at the end of the hymn. That's the little series of numbers and periods.   For example, if it says """  The tune that we use for "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" or "From All that Dwell Below the Skies" will fit those lyrics. If you get "77.77" and know the hymn "On this Day, the First of Days" then you can plus that tune into the strange lyrics. If it says "76.76" then go with "Sing Praise to Our Creator, O sons of Adam's race"  If you go to Cyber Hymnal  you can find tunes to go with every meter imaginable.

4. Better yet.  Go to Kevin Shaw's wonderful Breviary Hymns blog. There you can look up just about any hymns you want, and find a video performance thereof, as well as notes about the hymn's background and history.

Okay...time for questions from newcomers or oldcomers who are in search of information that will improve their understanding and recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Blessed Maria Angela Astorch... sort of a patron for those of us who not only pray the Liturgy of the Hours but find it to be the primary focus of our spirituality. She is a capuchin nun of the renaissance era who lived in northern Spain. When Blessed Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1982, he referred to her as the "mystic of the breviary", because she was so immersed in the psalms, scriptures, and readings from the Fathers.  I'm looking hard for more of her writings on the Divine Office, but so far have only found this single quote and have no way of knowing how accurate a translation from the Basque/Catalan language it might be.  But it does convey the ideal of praying liturgically with the universal Church until that prayer--the prayer of Jesus to His Father--becomes our own personal prayer as well:
"It happens to me very, very often that, while singing the psalms, His Majesty communicates with me through interior sensations the very thing which I am singing in such a way that I can say that I am truly singing the internal feelings of my spirit and not the composition and verses of the Psalms." - Blessed Mary Angela Astorch

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Q&A Time plus YouTube

The following is for people who meet two conditions: 1. They missed my Bookmark segment on EWTN last week and 2. They actually want to watch me chatter about the Liturgy of the Hours for  27 minutes.

For the rest of you, it's weekly Q&A time. If anything about the Liturgy of the Hours confuses you or simply piques your curiosity, ask a question in the comments below, and either I or one of my more educated readers will give you an answer.