Monday, March 21, 2016

The Antiphons of Holy Week are a Goldmine

File:Gethsemane Carl Bloch.jpg
source:wikimedia commons

Afraid I've been a poor blogger this lent. For good reasons, such as lots of (paid) writing jobs, and a week visiting my grandchildren in sunny Texas.
But I had to check in for Holy Week. My hope is that everyone has been faithful to their daily committment to one or more of the liturgical hours.  There is no better time to read/pray/study the psalms with special attention to their messianic meanings. To think of the passion with every verse that refers to pain, betrayal, abandonment, and desolation, yet note how, even after the saddest of sad psalms, there is almost always that hint of coming resurrection. Today, for example: Hope in God I will praise him still, my savior and my God. 

But this week my focus, particularly during morning and evening prayer, will be the antiphons before each psalm and canticle. Each is one facet of a rare, gorgeous, many-facted jewel.  Each one of them is profound enough to --had you sufficient devotion and time for it--stop you in your tracks for the next hour, just pondering. Just look at these from this morning:

Jesus said: My heart is nearly broken with sorrow; stay here and keep watch with me.

Now the time has come for this world to receive its sentence; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

Jesus, the beginning and end of our faith, endured the cross, heedless of the shame, and is seated now at the right hand of the throne of God. 

As I said, there are whole worlds within each of these antiphons all by itself. But then, take the next step and see how the antiphon shines a light on the presence of Jesus in each psalm and canticle!   That first one, My heart is nearly broken...  look how it fits with Psalm 42. Listen to Jesus, today on Monday, anticipating what will happen on Friday.

Then look at how the next antiphon and the one after that works so perfectly for its respective canticle of psalm.

But even if you are too busy this week to even get all of morning and evening prayer done (e.g. you are a buy mom who must clean the house, buy stuff for Easter baskets, make sure there are decent clothes for all the kids for Sunday, buy the right food for all those special holyday recipes, etc., ect.,) then just READ THE ANTIPHONS. And maybe copy one or two of them on a sticky note, put that on your fridge or computer screen, and just stop for a millisecond each time your eye falls on it during the rest of the day.    

As always, questions or comments about your life with the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome and will be answered. 


  1. Hi Daria, thank you for your post. You have given me the idea to copy-paste the Antiphons that call my attention into my on line Calender …. It works super, and they accompany me throughtout the day

  2. Hi Daria ,
    I've been praying the Divine Office for a couple of months now and learnt from your bootcamps.
    I always cross check with and my Christian Prayer book to see if I'm on track. I'm a little confused about last Friday and hope you can help.

    Mar 18 - Friday
    Morning Prayer for Friday in the 5th week of Lent or St. Cyril
    *Christian Prayer-
    Proper of Seasons: Pg 380
    Psalter: Friday, Week I, Pg 759

    Night Prayer - Evening Prayer I for Friday in the 5th week of Lent or St. Cyril
    *Christian Prayer: Pg 1034

    Here Morning Prayer uses the normal Friday 5th week of Lent but night prayer uses Evening Prayer I.
    1. Why is there a difference in the Morning and Night Prayer?
    2. Why is Evening Prayer I used for the night when St. Cyril is not marked as a solemnity in the Christian Prayer book?
    3. How do you choose the night prayer on days of Solemnity, whether to use the Evening Prayer I or Evening Prayer II . Since Mar 19 repeats the Evening Prayer I again for Joseph Husband of Mary.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Okay, here are the answers.Keep in mind that sometimes those instructions leave out a word or on occasion are simply incorrect. But here's what I think it all meant:
      1. The part about Night Prayer meant that, becasue it was the vigil of the Solemnity of St.. Joseph, you use "After Evening Prayer I for Sundays or Solemnities" rather than Friday Night Prayer.
      2. St. Cyril had no relevance to Night Prayer, so that instruction was incorrectly worded. You used "after EP I" of Sunday for the vigil of St. Joseph.
      3. If St. Joseph had been any other day but a Saturday, you would indeed use "After EP II" the night of his solemnity, but since Sundays in lent take precedence over solemnities, you had to do the "after EP I" in order to observe the Sunday.
      I hope that makes sense.
      Page 38 is pretty helpful in giving principles for choosing each day's office so that you don't have to bother with instruction books or websites.
      I hope this makes sense. If not, let me know and I'll try again.

    2. Thanks Daria. It makes sense now

  3. Thank you for this wonderful reminder.

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  5. A quick question regarding prayer during holy week:

    1. On Good Friday, we do not pray EP if we participate in the celebration of the Lord's Passion, but do pray NP, correct?

    2. On Holy Saturday, we pray EP I for Easter Sunday,but do not pray NP if we participate in Easter Vigil, correct?