Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas! Day Seven

I hope all of you are enjoying a blessed Christmastide, and now that the rush and busyness that attends on Christmas Day #1 is past, you are able to enjoy how the Church suspends time, makes it stand still, so that we can bask in this feast and marvel at its mysteries,

It's good to have the time to actually pay attention to the readings and psalms, since I'm not wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or planning a sit down dinner for ten this week. It's well and good to be Martha the week before Christmas, and on Christmas day there's no choice for many busy mothers. But this week and more after Christmas allows one to be Mary.

There is also a little more time this week to figure out one's place in the breviary: Christmastide is one of the trickiest liturgical seasons for us ribbon-flippers, in part because English (or at least, USA) breviaries, actually have errors in them. More about that in another post. For now, my best advice is--if you get confused, stick with ibreviary or until it's over.

December 31st is the feast of St. Sylvester. An early pope, non-martyr, he saw the Church go from persecuted minority to favored status after the Edict of Milan. Today's second reading in the OOR reflects wonder and joy at that amazing before and after.    

It is traditional to serve "Sylvester Punch" on New  Years eve. There are some recipes on the internet if you wish to try it, and have time to get the ingredients. Here is one of them.  Enjoy!

Anyone have a question about the the Liturgy of the Hours? Anyone receive a new breviary or a commentary on the psalms as a Christmas gift?  I'd be happy to hear about it in the comments.

Remember to start with Evening Prayer I for Mary, Mother of God tonight.   Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Giifts for Breviary Buffs, Psalmsayers, and Ribbon Flippers

Third Sunday of Advent! Here at the Sockey homestead, that means the outdoor Christmas lights all go on, and we can cut down and put up the tree whenever it's most convenient between now and next Sunday. We grow our own trees in the backyard so getting it won't be a big deal, but finding an evening when everyone is home to decorate is another story.

I was just thinking about how online shopping has certainly taken lots of the stress out of Christmas shopping. Far fewer trips into town, and no more struggles to package gifts for mailing and then heading out to the post office to mail them to recipients.  It really is possible now to take time during advent to pray and reflect--time  that we mothers simply did not have a dozen years ago.

The purpose of this post is to share some ideas for Liturgy of the Hours-related gifts. Items that a breviary beginner might appreciate, or things that might enrich those who have been praying the psalms for years.   I'll list a few here and would like the rest of you to chime in with your own finds (or wish list) in the comments section.

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours  is my book, so I figured, why not give it one more plug?  It's good for people who just want to know what the LOTH is  and why they  should give it a try. It's good for those who are trying already, but not quite getting it. It's good for old timers who can flip  ribbons like nobody's business but want some tips on understanding the psalms and some motivation to maintain  their LOTH habit.

The Mundelein Psalter Are you interested in learning  some really basic,simple chant for the psalms and gospel canticles of Morning and Evening Prayer? Then this is the book for you.

Hymnal for the Hours by Fr. Samuel Weber,editor. A comprehensive collection of the traditional Roman Breviary hymns for all of the hours for every day of the year, many saints' feasts, commons, and the holy seasons. All in English translation, all in Gregorian chant.

Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich  Bonhoeffer. A classic from the heroic Lutheran martyr. Save money  and get the Kindle edition.

Praying the Psalms by Thomas Merton. Another short book. This is a very short work, about 50 pages. I re-read  it regularly. Delightful.

Reflections on the Psalms by  C. S. Lewis. You can't go wrong with this author.

Custom made breviary covers I've mentioned this wonderful cottage industry a month or so ago. Send in the measurements of your breivary, pick out a color and embroidered design, and get back a beautiful zippered cover of heavy-duty imitation leather

Singing In The Reign The only book I know of (for non-scholars or semi-scholars) that gives a theology of the psalms, exploring what the psalms meant as a whole to the Hebrews,  delving into key concepts such as king and kingdom, and explaining the significance of the order of the psalms.

Okay. Send me your suggestions and include links if you can. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Worth Doing Badly

An oldie but goody post written four years ago on this date. It still holds true for me. 

Surfing the net yesterday, I found several blogs and websites that contained information for beginners on praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Which is wonderful. The more awareness of the Divine Office out there, the better.

One of them emphasized the importance scheduling time each day for whichever of the hours one commits  to. And  of finding a quiet, peaceful location with some sort of small shrine--a candle with a statue or picture--in easy view. This is the way to pray one's  Office consistently. With recollection and reverence.

An ordered day and a quiet refuge for prayer. Good ideas. And yet...

This is clearly one of those both/and situations.  Praying in ordered peacefulness is good. Praying amidst slapdash chaos is also good.

I relish the times when I'm able to sit back in my favorite rocking chair, light a candle in front of an icon, near a window with a view of my rural paradise. And then, pray the entire sequence from start to finish, maybe following up by going back to a favorite verse  and thinking about it for a while longer.

If that scenario occurs once out of the five hours of the liturgical day that I (most days ) pray, I'm doing really well.

And when I think back to the years of homeschooling/raising seven children and just trying to remember to do Morning and Evening Prayer...if I had  imagined back then that a monastic schedule and a place of peace were required, I would have given up a long time ago.  And maybe wouldn't be doing it today.

Even now, Evening Prayer is likely to be read in the midst of fixing dinner. A pslam here, check the recipe there, another psalm, flip the pork chops, pour that child a drink before he spills it all over the counter, shoo the cat off the counter, do the reading while peeling the carrots, find the Magnificat antiphon, answer the phone, go find the Magnificat antiphon again, no, go find the breviary which has gone missing--there it is, a little one took it and is practicing writing the letter M  on it's pages, read the antiphon again, say the Magnificat from memory, call someone to set the table, escape for a moment to read the intercessions while the food simmers, yell at a child to put on your coat, it's cold out there, and don't go past the swing set because dinner is almost ready, pray the Our Father and concluding prayer. Take a deep breath. May the Lord bless us, protect us from every evil and bring us to everlasting life. 

Yes, yes, I should do Evening Prayer after dinner. But no, we're going out this evening so that won't happen. Before dinner? It just doesn't seem like Evening  at 4:00 PM, and chances are, that's when I'm tardily getting around to Daytime Prayer. (That "choose one" feature for mid-morn, midday, and midafternoon must have been designed by the Holy Spirit with me in mind.)

Now, I know the above dinner-prep Vespers sounds awful to some people. And no,its not the ideal way to do things. Some would say it's better to skip it altogether than to pray it like that.

Problem is, if I skipped prayer every time the conditions for it were less than optimal, I'd be likely to lose the habit altogether. For me, consistency is important. Not consistency in schedule. Not consistency in a prayerful environment. But consistency in the daily slog of getting it done.

Kind of like marriage and family life in general. The rewards come in faithfulness, not in perfection.

Or, as G.K. Chesterton said, A thing that is really worth doing is worth doing badly.

How about you? Is it worth it to you to  prayerfully plow through the chaos or do you wait to find a moment of rest?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Reading for Liturgy of the Hours Geeks

Tonight I was researching Church documents in order to answer a question someone had asked me. And once again I was moved by these words of Pope Paul VI in the decree promulgating the revised Divine Office. He calls it:
The hymn of praise (laudis canticum) that is sung through all the ages in the heavenly places and was brought by the high priest, Christ Jesus, into this land of exile has been continued by the Church with constand fidelity over many centuries, in a rich variety of forms.

Every time I read those words, my reaction is the same. Something along the lines of "Wow! Is that what's in this book I'm holding? How can I ever take it for granted? What  privilege to pray this way each day! But I've got to be more careful not to let it become mechnical--to pay attention and focus on the riches that are here--please grant it, dear Lord, today and always."

So I was thinking. Do you want to pray during Advent with greater fervor? With a mind and heart open to all the mysteries of the Incarnation that are there for us in the psalms and scriptures of the Liturgy of the Hours? Are morning and evening prayer becoming a little too routine and boring?

Then renew you love for the breviary by reading what Pope Paul VI and the second Vatican Council had to say about them. Read the Apostolic Constitution Promulgating the Divine Office. And read the General Instruction for the Liturgy of the Hours. If you own a four-volume breviary, both of these are found in their entirety in the beginning of volume I, which you've just started last night for Advent.
If you only have the single volume Christian Prayer, or only use a digital app, you will have to go elsewhere.  You can find the General Instruction by hitting the tab at the top of this page. But first read the Apostolic Constituion of Paul VI here.

There is so much in these two documents. You will learn some of the history of the Divine Office and the breviary. You will learn what the psalms mean in the life of the Church. You'll learn how and why the Liturgy of the Hours has been arranged the way it is. You will also learn lots of trivia about rubrics, praying in public vs. private celebrations, and what the precedence is for various solemnities, feasts, memorials, and whatnot. Admittedly, some of it may be a little dull and arcane. But most of it should really deepen your understanding and appreciation of what you are doing when you open up that breviary or app each morning and evening.  

Both documents total around 80 pages. You could read it straight through in an hour or two. Or just read a dozen or so of the numbered paragraphs each day throughout advent. Take my word for it--you will be very glad you did. In fact, once you've done this, let me know and I will designate you as an official Liturgy of the Hours Geek, whose answers to other commenters on this blog will have some actual oomph! behind them.  You could even sign your comments with some faux honorific. Let's see...maybe LhG, since that rhymes with PhD.

Now, dont write and tell me you've read these things years ago. You still have to refresh your knowledge by re-reading this year if you are to receive your LhG from Coffee&Canticle University. Okay?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Memorial of Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro

We have three memorials to choose from today--St. Clement I, pope; St. Columban, abbot, and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, martyr. As an North American, and one with a particular attachement to modern saints, my choice would be the last one. Unfortunately, Blessed Miguel does not have his own second reading in the Office of Readings. But then I remembered that religious orders often have their own "ordo"--a calendar of feasts and liturgicall texts  for members of their orders who have been canonized or beatified.  A quick search revealed that although the Jesuit calendar is online, the extra texts are not. The "Jesuit supplement" can be purchased, but alas! the second reading for Bl. Miguel does not appear to be available online.   However, I did locate an excerpt from it, which appears on two different spirituality blogs. This is from a letter of his. Itt's short, but contains plenty of food for reflection: 

"Nonetheless, the people are in dire need of spiritual assistance. Every day I hear of persons dying without the sacraments; there are no priests who confront the situation; they keep away due to either obedience or fear. To do my little bit may be dangerous if I do it the way I have so far; but I do not think it temerity to do it with discretion and within certain limits. My superior is dead scared and always thinks that, out of two possibilities, the worse is bound to happen. I dare say there is a middle way between temerity and fear, as there is between extreme prudence and rashness. I have pointed this out to the superior but he always fears for my life. But what is my life? Would I not gain it if I lost for my brothers and sisters? True, we do not have to give it away stupidly. But what are sons of Loyola for it they flee at the first flare?"
Miguel Pro.gif
source wikimedia commons

I haven't posted lately, so just a reminder: you may ask any question you have about the Liturgy of the Hours at the end of this or any post. If there is something you want to know about the correct way to say the prayers, about celebrating saint's days, about various print and online editions of the Liturgy of the Hours, or anything else in that ballpark, please do so. 

Welcome to the new readers who have joined us in recent weeks. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

St. Martin of Tours -a Feast on a Memorial

St. Martin of Tours--love that guy.
source: wikiimedia commons

Love the story of Martin, still a catechumen, as a Roman soldier sharing his cloak with the beggar.

Love that his special day on the calendar coincides with Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day.

Love reading about the end of his saintly life as the saintly abbot willing to drag himself out of bed on an errand of mercy (to reconcile quarreling clergymen) when he knew it would be the death of him. (Office of Readings).

And love getting that surprise and momentary confusion  of finding that this saint gets a full office of his own with all the trimmings (even custom made antiphons!) even though his day is only ranked as a memorial.

The quick explanation is that before the liturgical calendar was revised after Vatican II, St. Martin's day was a much-beloved feast of longstanding tradition throughout Europe. So, being a sentimental favorite, he still gets to keep a fancy office even though his day no longer rates as a feast on the universal calendar. St. Mary Magdalene is another one who is in this category. I can't recall any others off the top of my head.   If any of you can, then let us know in the comments. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Quick Question for Lithuanian Readers

Some time ago, I was informed that the Lithuanian-language rights to my book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, had been purchased from the publisher.

I would love, love, love to receive a copy of my book in Lithuanian. So if any of you know anything about this, and could help me get a copy, I'd be very happy.


Charles Borromeo and Preparing for the Office

Today's Office of Readings includes advice from today's saint to his priests. But of course most of it applies to laymen as well. Here is one passage that naturally jumped out at me today:

Another priest complains that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God. But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for the office or for Mass? How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts and to remain recollected?

I was brought up to arrive several minutes before mass begins, in order to prepare myself for this great and holy sacrifice. In practice, I'm often walking in mere moments before it starts. Highly excusable in the days when babies or toddlers came along: you don't want to waste the 10 or 15 minutes of "quiet baby" time-- before the sweet little time bomb goes off--on non-mass minutes, so arriving just as mass started was a survivors strategy. But nowadays, not so much. 

And  how about preparation before beginning one of the liturgical hours? I really hadn't thought much about that. Usually, I plop down in a chair, find my place in the breviary, and plunge right in. Although, on reflection, it seems that the Invitatory psalm at the start of the day does serve the purpose of preparation quite well. It reminds you that you are about to offer the sacrifice of praise. 

As for the othe hours, maybe forming the habit of --after you sit down and fix those ribbons---just taking maybe 5 seconds, or two deep breaths--to mentally close the door on your work, your to-do list, and whatnot, and just tell yourself, "Now I am here with you, Lord, to praise you and hear your voice.  

Alternatively and more traditionally, you can go to the "Prayers" section of at the top of the list you will find this Prayer Before the Divine Office. Print it out on a bookmark and stick it in your breviary for ease of use.

Open, O Lord, my mouth
to bless your holy name;
cleanse my heart
from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts;
enlighten my understanding and kindle my affections;
that I may worthily, attentively, and devoutly
say this Office,
and so deserve to be heard
before the presence of your divine Majesty.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Aperi, Domine, os meum
ad benedicendum nomen sanctum tuum:
munda quoque cor meum
ab omnibus vanis, perversis et alienis cogitationibus;
intellectum illumina, affectum inflamma,
ut digne, attente ac devote
hoc Officium recitare valeam,
et exaudiri merear
ante conspectum divinae Majestatis tuae.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
R. Amen,
in union with that divine intention,
with which you praised God
while you were on earth,
I offer to you these Hours (or this Hour)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Custom Breviary Covers--Order Now for Christmas!

A few weeks ago I had an email from a nice lady named Alyssa Lehman, of Walton, Kentucky. She has a home business making custom covers for missals, breviaries, and Bibles. She asked whether  I'd like a free sample of her work, inviting me to send her the measurements of my breviary, and to go to her "Missal Cover Shop" website to choose a color and a design. Her hope was that I'd be pleased enough with the results to do a review here at Coffee&Canticles. 

An offer to good to refuse, right?

Anyway, it came a few days ago:

It took me a long time to pick a  design. You will see why when you look at the large selection of lovely embroidered Catholic symbols.  I knew I wanted a cross, and there were several of these to choose from (plus lots of other designs). Finally I settled on  this one.

The cover is made from a very sturdy imitation  leather.  It's fabric on the inner side--not just a sheet of soft vinyl. 

 Each inside cover has  a pocket for holy cards, my psalm tone card,
 my Te Deum leaflet and more  holy cards of my favorite heavenly friends.
 A zipper--great feature if I get in  the habit of actually using it. Like for all those nights when I leave the breviary out on the front porch.This  will protect it from unfortunate incidents involving dew or rain.
 Space left for the ribbons to hang out.

Here it is open on my lap.  

To sum up, it looks beautiful, feels nice, looks sturdy, and is a fitting way to protect a liturgical book.
This would make a great gift for any breviary lover that you know. Keep in mind that Alyssa makes these one at a time, with great care. This is not something run up in  a few minutes in an overseas factory. Therefore, if you do have Christmas gift giving (or receiving) in mind, act soon, okay?

The name of Alyssa's business, by the way, is Leah's Legacy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Joyous Obedience of the Stars

picture credit:
This is a re-run of an old post on a favorite scripture passage. 

Today's   first reading from the Office of Readings (Baruch3:9-15) again delighted me with one of my very favorite, thought obscure, verses of Sacred Scripture:
He...before whom the stars at their posts
 shine and rejoice;
When He calls them,
they answer, "Here we are!"
shining with joy for their Maker. 

It's like something out of a child's fairy tale, transforming these vast balls of burning gas into a persons, and friendly ones at that. In fact it transforms them into children eager to please their Father. 

This verse puts me in mind of two things. First, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.  In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader it is revealed that the stars of Narnia are rational beings, who after their long lives in the heavens may  come to live down on earth. 

Second, I think of medieval theology,  which explains that the movement of the stars and the planets is supervised by the angels: that God delegates  some of his ongoing work in holding all creation together to his mightiest servants. One can read these words and picture the angels, joyful in doing the work God has given them, shouting out their nightly greetings to their Creator.

Third, every created thing, rational or non-rational, animate or inanimate, truly does offer praise to its creator simply by doing that which it was created to do.  So this scripture verse reminds me of how blessed are the stars, how happy they would be if they were rational, because they do fulfill  God's will perfectly. In this we might well envy them.

Then, jumping ahead to tomorrow's (Sunday's) second reading from the OOR, we read  St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians, which  takes up the topic of order and obedience in nature.

By his direction the heavens are in motion, and they are subject to him in peace. Day and night fulfill the course he has established without interfering with each other. The sun, the moon and the choirs of stars revolve in harmony at his command in their appointed paths without deviation

So if you enjoy stargazing, enjoy this weekend's lessons from the Divine Office.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Memorial of St. John Paul the Great Today!

Use or for the Office of Readings' second reading, which is an excerpt of the saint's homily at the inauguration of his pontificate. Great stuff.

If you are very fond of St. John Paul, then you may wish to use texts from the Common of Pastors: for a Pope in your breviary, rather than the weekday texts.  That is what I will be doing.

I chose this picture because I am (maybe) in it, somewhere in the second tier at Yankee stadium on that amazing October evening in 1979. What an unforgettable experience. It was almost (not quite) anti-climatic when, after the popemobile departed the stadium, my boyfriend turned to me and proposed.  Bill knew what he was doing. After spending three hours in the presence of a saint and pope who continually urged us to say Yes! to life and to love, what else could I do but accept?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

And He shall purify the sons of Levi

 Yesterday the Office of Readings contained this verse from the book of Malachi: "and he shall purify the sons of Levi...that they may offer unto the Lord an offering  of righteousness."(3:3, King James version) This at once brought to mind one of my favorite choruses from Handel's Messiah.  It's a fantastic piece of music.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mercy Alert! Prisoners Need Breviaries!

One spiritual work of mercy is to "visit the imprisoned", at times rendered to "free the imprisoned" .

In America, Catholic response to the needs of prisoners lags sadly behind the response of many protestant denominations. But one very bright spot is Dismas Minstry, a group I've mentioned several times before on this blog.

Dismas Ministry aids prisoners in many ways, including giving them study courses in the Catholic faith, the Bible, and Catholic Prayer. After completing this last course, some  prisoners wish to pray the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis.

They need breviaries, since prisoners are not allowed to have smart phones or regular computer access for the free online breviaries.

We Coffee&Canticles people have "adopted" this aspect of Dismas Ministry. That means when director Ron Zeilinger gets a request from a prisoner for a single or four volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours, he turns to us as First Responders. So far, you wonderful people have provided a good number of books to deserving prisoners who are thirsting to sanctify their hours with the psalms, scriptures, and readings the Church provides.

Today I received a new email from Ron:

Hello Daria,
We have  had a couple requests for the full set of the Liturgy of Hours from inmates. I thought I would notify you and ask if you might send out an appeal to your readers. We don’t want to burden the generosity of these good people however, and if necessary, will send them the shorter version of Christian Prayer. We have a couple of those on hand.
Blessings and thanks,

Ron Zeilinger, DirectorDismasMINISTRYPO Box 070363
Milwaukee WI 53207

I wrote back to Ron saying I'd get right on this. 

If these prisoners want the four volume breviaries, I think they should have them. They need the beauty and spiritual food that the Office of Readings can supply. 

Last time I checked, the best price for single or four volume sets was found at Barnes and Noble.  Today I see that they are a bit cheaper at Amazon.  Or, if it's easier for you, just send the price of the breviaries (or a smaller amount that you can afford) directly to Ron at Dismas Ministry, using Paypal Include a note to let him know what it's for, or just write "Coffee&Canticles Breviary fund". 

If you order from a source that requires a street address for UPS delivery, use this address:  Ron Zeilinger, Dismas Ministry, 3195 S. Superior St. ,  Suite 101L, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Another thought:  prisoners are not picky! If you have a four volume set that you are not using, send that! 

Also please let us know in the comments below or a private message to me if you are doing this. The sooner we know, the sooner Ron can relax. My private email is: thesockeys "at" gmail "dot" com.  

Many thanks. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Look to the Liturgy (not Twitter) for Answers

I just had to share this lovely post from Vultus Christi.  I had written recently about those instances where we find a line in the day's Office that speaks to us personally. But this post takes that idea and runs with it with greater depth. The hook is the turmoil surrounding this week's Synod on the Family in Rome:  how many of us are less than edified by stories of various machinations and worried about possible outcomes. But this author has the right perspective on it all:

Before going down to Vespers last evening, I remarked to Father Benedict that I was far more interested in what the Magnificat Antiphon would be than in the latest tweets about the Synod. I was not disappointed. 

So go read the rest.  

Take note that the monastery where the author resides is using  the traditional (Extraordinary form) breviary and missal, so you will not find his quotes from yesterday's mass and vespers to match your Christian Prayer breviary!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

St. Jerome and the flaws of Saints

File:El Greco - San Jerónimo - Google Art Project.jpg
El Greco: St. Jerome in the Desert. Wikimedia Commons

Today is the memorial of St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church.

The second reading in the Office of Readings today reveals this saint's great love for Sacred Scripture. You can't read this and not find yourself making half-formed resolutions to read the bible more often, or in a more in-depth way than you are already doing.

My upcoming book includes an essay titled "You're Canonizing Him?" It discusses the controversies  over some recent beatifications and canonizations. Various members of the chattering class--both liberal and conservative--voiced objections when several 20th century popes were accorded these honors. Believe it or not, even Mother Teresa was seen as an imperfect role model by some of these commentators.

The difficulty is that in our modern age, journalism plus hi-tech communication brings us every smile, frown, step and mis-step, success and failure of prominent people. We don't have this kind of data on the saints of old, so we tend to imagine that they were perfect. We probably have to remind ourselves that they didn't walk around day and night. with their eyes cast always heavenward, carrying a lily in one hand and a crucifix in the other.

But of course these saints had their flaws.  And I don't refer to pre-conversion lives of sin, left behind forever after grace captured their souls (e.g. St. Augustine). I refer to faults they struggled with while living the holy lives that we admire.

If St. Jerome were up for canonization today, the usual suspects would be having the vapors,  passing the smelling salts, and in between swoons of horror would be burning up Facebook and Twitter to make sure we knew what a temperamental, often nasty man Jerome could be. His statements of apparent  professional jealousy towards Sts. Ambrose and Augustine would be repeated on endless loop. (Leaving out in their tirades, Jerome's deep awareness of his faults as evidenced by a life of penance that the chatterers would similarly not understand.)

All missing the point, of course, that all of us are sinners, even saints. But the saints are the ones who show us how to repent, and whose joy in forgiveness of their very real faults spurs them to great deeds.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"For He Knows What He is Doing"

That's a line from St Augustine in today's Office of Readings. And it is the bit of today's Liturgy of the Hours that jumped out at me, seemed to be there for my instruction.

Does that often happen to you?  A single verse or a psalm or sentence from a reading stands out with special meaning. Although the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed primarily with the needs and the voice of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit can still use it to speak directly to the individuals who pray.

In my case today, I needed to be reminded that God has things under control.

Has anything jumped from the page in your breviary and into your heart today, or in the last few days? Feel free to share that here.

OR, if you have any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours, post them below in the comments. Plenty of knowledgeable readers here will give you an answer if I don't see it right away.

Friday, September 18, 2015

How praying the Breviary feels if you are a Saint

...or a Blessed, at least. And even the rest of us can regularly experieince something approaching this, so long as we pay attention to the psalms and their allegorical and moral meanings.   That, plus reminding yourself that you are praying the psalms, even when alone at home, as one voice united with the body of Christ in this world and the next.

«....I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance, whose skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the destiny of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude.»

 Blessed Card. Ildefonso Schuster (Archbishop of Milan 19289-54)
and here he is.  (wikimedia commons)
Thanks for this quote to Gregory DiPippo, managing editor  at the New Liturgical Movement blog.  and posted this on a Divine Office discussion page on Facebook today. I'll add that Mr. DiPippo translated this from the Italian original.
 Now I want to learn more about Bl. Cardinal Schuster, who writes with such exquisite beauty. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prayer Request

Please, when you read the intercessions today for Morning and Evening Prayer--or during your rosary or any other prayer--please add this intention from a long time reader of this blog, Norman Hartley, who just wrote from Chile:

Good Morning Daria, forgive me jumping protocol, but I live in Chile, and I have an exceptional request. Last night we had another major earthquake and Tsunami. I and my family thanks be to God are well, but the earth continues very unstable, and we are having countless aftershocks. I would like to ask all those who pass by your blog to offer a prayer for all those who died and were damaged by the earthquake and Tsunami.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mary! All Things are Made New.

"Justly then do we celebrate this mystery since it signifies for us a double grace. We are led towards the truth, and we are led away from our condition of slavery to the letter of the law. How can this be? Darkness yields before the coming of light, and grace exchanges legalism for freedom. But midway between the two stands today's mystery, at the frontier where types and symbols give way to reality, and the old is replaced by the new....Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator."

-St. Andrew of  Crete, discourse on the Nativity of Mary (Office of Readings, Sept.8)

Mother of God by Katherine Sockey. copyright 2015 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Saints Boosting the Breviary plus Q&A

Occasionally it is remarked that if lay people ought to be praying the Liturgy of the Hours then we should see lots of statements from saints about it's importance, just as we frequently see the saints recommending, say, the holy rosary.

Okay, then. Here are:

Lots of quotes from saints about the beauty and importance of the Liturgy of the Hours

Thanks to The Poor Knights of Christ for assembling these quotes, and to Ryan Ellis for making me aware of this link on his Breviary and Divine Office discussion Facebook page.

Any Divine Office-related questions are welcome in the comments.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Liturgical Prayer Out Loud or Silently?

The question comes up periodically: must  I pray the Liturgy of the Hour out loud, or at least in a whisper, or at least moving my lips in order for it to be "valid" as liturgical prayer?

Nothing in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours spells this one out. And we get varying answers when we consult different priests. (and the variations I have gotten have nothing to do with said priests' personal orthodoxy, by the way. Priests of all persuasions have told me various things, although none have ever quoted me anything "official" as a source for their opinions.)

Some time ago a reader of this blog (a priest, in fact) showed me an official answer to this question. It appeared in a comment to a blog post, but I don't know that I ever put it in the body of a post. So here it is.

Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship Note Liturgiae Horarum Interpretationes (Not 9 (1973) 150)
Query: When a person recites the liturgy of the hours do the readings have to be pronounced or simply read?
Reply: It is enough to simply read them. The conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy says nothing about an obligation to oral recitation when a person says the office alone, although there was a difference of opinion on this among the conciliar Fathers. They decreed a reform of the breviary not for the purpose of shortening the time of prayer but of giving all who celebrate the liturgy of the hours a better time for prayer…Sometimes a surer guarantee for this objective of the liturgy of the hours in individual recitation may be to omit the oral recitation of each word, especially in the case of the readings.
Found on page 1098 of Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979. Conciliar, Papal and Curial Texts. The Liturgical Press, 1982

I will add here that the priest who so nicely informed me of this also stated his understanding that if you are using the EF breviary (1961) said that if you are following the older discipline, that you do have to move your lips--that the old rules are still in force for the old breviary. If someone out there knows a lot about the EF breviary and its rubrics, and would like to elaborate on that, feel free to do so. 

Plus, any other questions about the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome. Ryan Ellis, maybe?

Friday, August 21, 2015

St. PIus X: The Psalms Rock!

Image result for ST. Pius X wikimedia

The commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours two or three or more times per day is, well a commitment. And as with any commitment to order our day or our lives in a certain way, our will to keep going can sometimes flag a bit. We need something to spur us on, to renew our original desire, to rekindle the spark.   

Pope St. Pius X gives us just that today in the Office of Readings. For those of you who don't do this particular liturgical hour, here is the reading: 

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions.Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Liturgy of the Hours:What it is, Why You Want It.

A while ago the remarkable Tami Kiser invited me to be part of an online Catholic women's conference.    My contribution was a basic motivational introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours.

I want to share that talk with you. If you already  pray and love the LOTH, most of what I say here will not be new to you. However, you might find it a handy way to explain things to friends who wonder at your enthusiasm for that fat, be-ribboned prayerbook you're always carrying around. It's about 20 minutes long.

In addition, if anyone out there might be interested in me as a speaker, it will give you an idea of what I'm like. I'm available to speak at parishes and other venues, doing a stand alone talk on a given topic, or an all day workshop.

Here's a link to the talk at Vimeo. I'll try to embed it on this post another day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prayer Request and Q&A Opp

My father in law, Eli William Sockey, Jr. passed away a few days ago at the age of 95. It was a holy death, surrounded by family and by prayer.   He was a Catholic patriarch, with 8 children, 39 grandchildren, and I'm not sure how many great grandchildren.

I'd appreciate a few prayers for the repose of his soul.

I haven't done a formal Q&A post for a while, so this will be one.

Are there any breviary beginners out there who are confused about something?  Or breviary veterans who have an advanced question about the correct celebration for an optional memorial, perhaps?

Just let me know.

Tomorrow--don't forget the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. You will see an Evening Prayer I for this in your breviary, but this is only used when August 6 falls on a Sunday. This year, start the feast with Office of Readings.  Note the special New Testament canticle for evening Prayer II tomorrow. We only get this one twice a year. (Do you know what the other occasion is?)
Ever alert and helpful reader of this blog, Sid Cundiff, found this lengthy list of available online daily office apps for all ecclesiastical bodies that use them.  The reviews give lots of details and so are extremely helpful. You will see that although the post was written this past February, the author keeps adding updates in the comments section at the bottom

Since he is Anglican/Episcopalian, he lists apps for that denomination first. Catholic entries start about half way down, begining with some for the traditional (pre-Vatican II and in some cases pre-Pius X) breviaries.   Then eastern rites, whether Catholic, Orthodox or non-chalcedonian.

It's all very fascinating, just as an exercising in learning a bit of liturgical history. So thank you, author Dale Rye and the Covenant blog. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Switching Breviaries and the woes of St. Paul


The problem with using a digital breviary for a long stretch is that, when you get the urge to switch to that nice, restful, aesthetically pleasing print breviary, you've lost your place. On Monday I decided to to just that, and after scrambling around for several minutes,  and settling into the Office of Readings, I found myself thinking, "All St. Paul does these days is complain. I mean, hasn't he already said this bit about people who talk behind his back and whatnot?"

Then I realized that I had read it before. A week ago. It was now time to be in volume IV. So I dashed up to my room to put away Volume III and get Volume IV off the shelf. My first thought: only 16 weeks until Advent starts. We're in the last quarter stretch of liturgical year 2015.

Before retiring Volume III I skimmed over those readings from St. Paul once more.  Those Corinthians were a nasty bunch. So much for the great holiness of the "early Christians".  These guys were just like us, apparently. It made me very sympathetic to pastors who get called out by disgruntled parishioners, written about to the bishop, etc., NOT because of  heresy, but because of differences in personal style, approach, length of homilies, and decisions about repairs to the church and grounds. It reminded me not to sit back critiquing priests for things that are, in the end, matters of taste.

St. Jean Marie Vianney's feast is today. A number of his parishioners became disgruntled with him and had a petition campaign to the bishop going. I love the way he responded, which you can read about here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dismayed, Downhearted? There's a Psalm for That.

Are you worrrying about the decline of civilization, about increasing violence and never ending wars, about the moral implosion of our nation, and about the nonstop sneering at Christians and Christianity that we seem to hear on a daily basis in the media? Are you wondering at how a (superficially at least) Christian society could seem to crumble overnight? 

There's a psalm for that. Several, in fact. Especially on Fridays. This is the day that we who have the privilege of  praying the Liturgy of the Hours get to unite ourselves in a profound way to the suffering Christ. In praying these psalms we give voice to Jesus in His agony, both as it took place 2000 years ago and as it still happens today in the members of His Body, the Church. 

To refresh your memory,since now it is evening and you did Office of Readings hours ago, here are some excerpts from Psalm 68

I have sunk into the mud of the deep *
and there is no foothold.
I have entered the waters of the deep *
and the waves overwhelm me...

...More numerous than the hairs on my head *
are those who hate me without cause.
Those who attack me with lies *
are too much for my strength...

...Let those who hope in you not be put to shame *
through me, Lord of hosts:
let not those who seek you be dismayed *
through me, God of Israel...

When I afflict my soul with fasting *
they make it a taunt against me.
When I put on sackcloth in mourning *
then they make me a byword,
the gossip of men at the gates, *
the subject of drunkards’ songs....I have reached the end of my strength.
I looked in vain for compassion, *
for consolers; not one could I find.

For food they gave me poison; *
in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

But then, look how Psalm 69 ends:
I will praise God’s name with a song; *
I will glorify him with thanksgiving,
a gift pleasing God more than oxen, *
more than beasts prepared for sacrifice.

The poor when they see it will be glad *
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy *
and does not spurn his servants in their chains.
Let the heavens and the earth give him praise, *
the sea and all its living creatures.

For God will bring help to Zion *
and rebuild the cities of Judah
and men shall dwell there in possession. 
The sons of his servants shall inherit it; *
those who love his name shall dwell there.

Notice how that ends--in hope, trust, confidence, and praise. That's our model for prayer no matter what happens to us or the world around us. 

Morning Prayer, opening as always with the Miserere  (psalm 51) forces us to acknowledge our own part in the sorrows of the world. But that admission, humiliating as it is, is freeing. Again there is confidence that my tongue shall ring our His goodness and my mouth shall declare His praise, despite everything I have done. 

Daytime Prayer is  Psalm 22, Jesus' cry from the cross. The pain and desolation is real there, too. But look how that one ends--with ultimate triumph.

 There's not much more I can say. These psalms speak for themselves. They are a prophecy of the Passion, the sufferings of the Church, and the meaning of suffering for every believer.  Yes, it gets pretty bad. But we are promised that all will come right, and more than right, in the end. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Urgent Need! Visit the Imprisoned with the Liturgy of the Hours!

Back in April I wrote here about the wonderful work of Dismas Ministry, which does all kinds of things to help prisoners, including providing breviaries to interested inmates who complete their course on prayer and and request one.

We decided to make the Coffee&Canticles readership a partner with Dismas Ministry and try to provide the breviaries whenever there is a need. Several of you sent either unused breviaries that you had at home, and others ordered new ones off Barnes and Noble, since they have the lowest price. So we were able to give the gift of the Liturgy of the Hours to a number of prisoners during the Easter season.

Yesterday after returning from holiday travvel,  I saw an email message from Dismas Ministry director Ron Zellinger with this request:

We have a couple requests from inmates, one for a full set of the Liturgy of the Hours, and a coupe who wish the single volume. Do you have any on hand or should I order the full set from Barnes and Noble?

These men are Oblates of St. Benedict as part of a prison outreach of the monks at St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas. We are collaborating with the monks by providing these single and full volume sets. So wonderful is God’s grace at work in the lives of these inmates.

I look forward to hearing from you. If you do not have sufficient funds our ministry can go ahead and order them. I just thought I would ask you first.

So here is a fantastic opportunity for us to do a beautiful thing once more. Although Ron suggested that he had the funds to buy these himself if need be, it would be a great grace for one or more of us to be able to supply this need, don't you think?  That way the money already in the Dismas account can go for the many other things they do. If you go to their website you'll see what I mean.

So, if any of you want to do this, please let me know at once either here in the comments section, or by my private email which is: thesockeys"At" gmail "dot" com. Then take one of  the following steps: 

1. Go to the "Donate" page at Dismas Ministry. Hit the donate button and donate whatever amount you wish. If you use Pay Pal there is an option to include a message, so write "Coffee&Canticles Breviary Fund" or words to that effect.

2. If you can afford it, and want to do something more direct and personal, go to    this page at Barnes and Noble, and order the four volume breviary for $118, not forgetting to have it shipped to Dismas  Ministry rather than your own address! That address is: Ron Zeilinger, Dismas Ministry, 3195 S. Superior St. ,  Suite 101L, Milwaukee, WI 53207 Shipping will be free since the order is over $25 for standard  UPS delivery.     I chose Barnes and Noble over other online retailers because so far, this is the best price by far I could find. However, if you have other reasons for using a different  retailer (such as rewards points) then feel free to use them.

3. If $118 is more than you can spare, but $26.81 is not, then buy Dismas Ministry a single-volume, Christian Prayer breviary, also a best buy with free shipping at Barnes and Noble.

4. If you have a spare breviary that you are not using--and it's in nearly new shape--you may send it directly to Dismas Ministry. If using the US Post Office, use the address below:
Dismas Ministry, PO Box 070363, 
Milwaukee, WI 53207.
If instead you use UPS, use the address in #2 above.

If by happy chance we send more breviaries to Dismas Ministry than are needed, fear not. Sooner or later more prisoners will request them.