Thursday, April 23, 2015

How I Pray: Three Catholics talk about the Liturgy of the Hours

Blogger Thomas McDonald of the Patheos website has an irregular series called "How I Pray" in which he interviews various bloggers or other people about their prayer life.   I think I"ve called attention in the past to this one by Will Duquette and this one by Elizabeth Scalia, because both of them discuss at length what the Litugy of the Hours has meant in their lives.

Looking back over the last few months I've uncovered several more like this, and want to share them with you, especially this first one. Melanie Bettinelli has been following Coffee&Canticles from the very beginning, and, especially in its early months, made lots of encouraging comments. Her How I Pray interview is one that will resonate with mothers of small children, homeschoolers in particular.:
If I have the time I like to start off the day sitting quietly in bed reading Morning Prayer, either silently to myself, or out loud accompanied by one or more of my children. I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours with my kids and they often love to sit and pray with me. But if that doesn’t happen, and recently it hasn’t been, then I try to listen to the podcast while I’m making breakfast and doing my morning clean up after breakfast. It’s not ideal as I’m often distracted and interrupted. Some days I’m lucky if I paid attention to part of a psalm and one antiphon or I just prayed the Invitatory Psalm which starts off the first hour of the day.
If I listen to the podcast then sometimes the kids do too and join in. Most times they just ignore it and chatter and shout and argue over it. Still, even if we all seem to ignore it somedays, I like to have it as the background noise of our mornings. Better than many other background noises, you know? I know they are absorbing it, though, even if they don’t seem to notice, because I hear them repeat phrases, they have favorite bits, they ask questions. My favorite is hearing my toddler pray. My  two year old recites along with me: “Lord, open my lips…” and “God, come to my assistance…” She knows the beginning of Psalm 95 and of the Benedictus. She likes to repeat antiphons.
Next, there's this interview with Sister Mary Catherine Perry, O.P.,a cloistered Dominican who chants the entire office with her community every single day. This is very different from the experience of most of us who read this blog, but her perspective will certainly inform and expand the way we look at our own attempts to join in the prayer of the Church Universal: 
Our life is centered on prayer. Formal prayer is about 4-5 hours a day. It might sound like a lot but it isn’t. We sing the entire Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), Holy Mass and have about 1.5-2 hours of “private prayer” each day.
The Divine Office is the “structure” of my day. Not just my prayer but my day. The whole day is one of praise and adoration like the angels who stand before the Throne of God in love and adoration. We just do lots of ordinary things besides because we’re human, not angels.
Last, you will want to read what Brother Humbert Kilanowski, O.P., one of the wonderful Washington, DC Doinicans, has to say about praying the psalms:
Through this collection of inspired poetry, the Holy Spirit teaches us the words to pray, and the People of God have used these words in divine worship for some three thousand years.  In praying the Psalms, I find myself united to the Chosen People as they gave thanks and praise to God and anxiously awaited their Savior, and to the Church throughout the ages and around the world who found these words fulfilled in Christ.  Moreover, as St. Athanasius once wrote, through the Psalms, you learn about yourself, as these prayers express a wide spectrum of human emotions, in which I often find myself (or someone for whom I’m praying).  I started praying the Psalms through the Liturgy of the Hours while in graduate school, and this greatly helped me make the transition into the rhythm of religious life.
Reading the thoughts of others about their love for the Liturgy of the Hours will help us see things that we hadn't seen before (or had forgotten), and inspire us to pray it with renewed enthusiasm. At least, that's what it does for me.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Odd Apocalypse + Q&A time


I hope all of you are having a joyous Easter season: knowing that joy that "no one will  take away from you" (John 16:22), despite the sorrows, uncertainties, and hardships that inevitably come our way.

Ron of Dismas Ministry has written me to thank all the readers of this blog who sent single and four-volume breviaries for distribution to prisoners who become interested in the Liturgy of the Hours. Thanks to your generosity, he is now well supplied. He will let us know in the future is more are needed. So for the time being, do not send any more breviaries. You can still support the efforts of Dismas Ministry with monetary donations, which are put to many good uses to support and educate prisoners in Catholic faith and practice.

Every year the Office of Readings takes us through the strangest book of the Bible, Revelation. Few of us haven't been exposed to the writings or broadcasts of non-Catholic Christians who think they have this book all figured out, down to every last symbol, every last cataclysm, and even managed to find direct references to modern Europe and the United States in there.  If you haven't--good for you, but I bet you still read the pages of Revelation wondering what much of it has to do with actual history, let alone you and your spiritual life.

What I like to do is read each days selection direct from the Ignatius Study Bible.  The very helpful footnotes really do make sense out of much of Revelation. They will also admit that some passages are simply of uncertain meaning, but will tell you which interpretations are most likely.

Do you have any other favorite Catholic study guides (books, audio courses etc.) that help you make sense of Revelation? Share them below.

Also, I haven't   posted much lately, so as always, feel free to post any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours in the comments below.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Awake, Sleeper! Today's Reading narrated with great art and soundtrack.

You can always trust the amazing Brantly Millegan of ChurchPop  to find the best Christian stuff--blogs, videos, lists, and humor--and send it to you each day.

Today is no exception.

The second reading in today's Office of Readings (Holy Saturday) is among the best of the entire year. I look forward to learning the name of  the "anonymous ancient author" whose sermon we read on this day.    Anyway, courtesy of the net-surfing expertise of ChurchPop, here is that same sermon on a Youtube video. The narrator does a good job, the artwork choices are awesome, and the music--from "The Passion of the Christ", works well as a soundtrack for this gorgeous reading.

A Blessed Easter to you all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Breviaries for Prisoners! Let's do This!

A couple of days ago I was working in the  kitchen  and giving half an ear to a Catholic radio  program.  A guy was talking to the host about his  work with prisoners.  He described that lack of a consistent and organized Catholic evangelization effort towards prisoners.   He talked about the various study programs his group had developed and implemented, with considerable success.

Meanwhile, I was washing dishes  and nodding, thinking, "How nice!"

Then this prison ministry  guy  mentioned that one of his study programs is on the traditions and types of Catholic prayer. Among other things, it explained the ancient tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours.

I stopped in mid-scrub.

"Recently," said the prison ministry guy, "We just gave an incarcerated woman a four-volume breviary, which she had requested after we had taught her to pray the Liturgy of the Hours."

I gasped.

What an amazing thing! Not only was this woman converted (or brought back) to the faith, but Ron Zellinger (that's the name of the founder of Dismas Ministry) and his associates had given her the great gift of liturgical prayer.   It hit me what an incredible gift this is  especially to a prisoner--how keeping the liturgical  hours could so greatly transform the daily tedium of prison life. How engaging in daily liturgical prayer would be a huge consolation to a prisoner who, I'm guessing, may not have access to weekly, let alone daily mass. And how, in their loneliness, prisoners would take solace in being connected to so many Christians throughout the world in a relationship of prayer. And connected to Jesus, who prays "with us, in us, and for us" as we pray the psalms.

Dismas Ministry provides many types of soul-saving service to prisoners and their families( Just check out their website to learn more.) I'm sure they have to think carefully about where to allocate the donations that come in.

And breviaries are not cheap. (Free mobile app breviaries are not an option, since prisons don't generally offer free wi-fi, and  don't let inmates keep cell phones.)

So, Coffee&Canticles community,we have been gifted with a great opportunity to spread the good news of liturgical prayer!  I've been communicating with Ron, and he has agreed to accept donations of breviaries (one or four-volume) and/or monetary donations to be set aside in a special fund to purchase breviaries for prisoners who, after completing the study course in Catholic Prayer, request one. There are several ways to participate:

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 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.

I am really excited about partnering with this wonderful apostolate, which is active in prisons in all 50 states. Hope you are too. What a great way to finish off our lenten almsgiving, or to begin our Easter season, with a gift of gratitude to the Lord who sets us all free.

And let me know in the comment section if you are excited about this too.

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