Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Poem for Holy Saturday

I run this every year either on St. Josephs day or Holy Saturday.  Even if you are not a huge fan of poetry, I guarantee you will be moved by this one. Note: the "Benedicite" Moses requests is the canticle from Daniel that we pray in the psalter on Easter and every Sunday week I. 
 If this your first time reading this piece, pass it on to anyone else you know who loves St. Joseph. 

Limbo by Sister Mary Ada, OSJ

The ancient grayness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred
All souls.
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue –
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Page numbers for the Divine Office

Here's a helpful source from the St. Thomas More House of Prayer website giving the page numbers for the Morning  and Evening Prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours each day in the single volume Christian Prayer and the four volume Christian Prayer for the entire calendar year. They are also downloadable in PDF format. It's a big help if you use the print version of the Liturgy of the Hours especially if you're a beginner or if you simply don't have time to flip back and forth in a calm, unhurried, and serene manner.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Morning Prayer (Enlarged Form) from Universalis

I use the Universalis app on my smartphone (Android), my PC (Windows 10), and my Amazon Fire tablet. It's very convenient and very reliable. It's also available on iPhones, Mac, Kindle, Nook, and eBooks.  

I noticed two new things now available on the Universalis app: Lectio Divina and an enlarged form for the Morning Prayer. The Lectio Divina is based on the Gospel reading of the day. The enlarged form for the Morning Prayer adds the readings from the Office of Readings and the Gospel of the day's Mass. I really like both features but the enlarged form of the Morning Prayer is perfect for me.

The app costs $10.99, $12.50, or $24.50 depending on your options. Once you get the app downloaded you don't need to be online. If you get the registration code, you're set for life. 

Books are expensive. The Catholic Book Publishing Corporation publishes fine books for the Liturgy of the Hours but they've never been updated. It still contains the original English translation from 1976 with the old collects that are no longer used at Mass. It's sad but the reality is that publishers don't really see a big market for these books. It looks like we won't see any new books until 2025 when the second edition is, supposedly, due. I'm going to be really old then so I'll just go ahead and use the Universalis app now.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Psalm Basics for Catholics

In my 2013 book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, I touch here and there on the Jewish roots of the psalter. I briefly described to readers how to think about both the literal, historical sense of the psalm (i.e., what the psalmist had in mind when he wrote them) as well as the christological sense (how the inspired words of the psalms are often messianic hints about Jesus.)

But one thing I don't do is explain how the psalms fit together as a coherent book of the Bible. Why are they in this specific order? Is there any pattern there? Are they organized by theme or topic? Is there an overall, "big picture" message to the book of Psalms?

There is one book, Singing in the Reign, listed in my chapter on Resources, that covers this topic very well. But now there's another one which I must recommend.

Psalm Basics for Catholics is an easy, and even entertaining read that explains how the Psalms encapsulate Salvation History, and why they are divided into five "books". It tells you the significance of the authorship of the psalms (some by King David, some by others, and even one--which somehow I'd missed all these years--by Moses! It's Psalm 90.).  And while focusing primarily on what these psalms meant to the Chosen People, the author continually links these meanings to their messianic significance.  He also recommends five psalms from each book that are Really Worth Memorizing. Those of us with a longstanding LOTH habit will have a good headstart on this. I found I"d already memorized many of his recommendations.  

Author John Bergsma's tour of the the Psalms is made easy and memorable by his stick figure mnemonic illustrations that portray the Davidic kings or kingdom in various stages of trial, triumph, suffering, and hope as the fortunes of the Kingdom of Israel/Judea go up to the height of David and Solomon's rule, go down with their dissolute heirs to eventual destruction, enter a plateau of reflection during the Babylonian captivity, and then rise again in hope as they return from exile and the temple is restored.

The author recommends that at least once, but preferably several times, we read through the psalms in order, since this will yield a richer understanding and appreciation of the psalms that we won't get if we only read it in the rather mixed up order of our breviary psalters.    If you don't have time to do this separately as well as your daily LOTH, you might want to switch to "devotional" mode for a month: with bible in hand, do each hour of prayer, but instead of the 4 week psalter, just read three psalms, in order for each hour until you've gone through all 150. This of course, is no longer  official "liturgical" prayer. But it's certainly a worthwhile experiment to do just once.   But first read Bergsma's book, then you can read and pray through the book of psalms able to notice all the themes of Davidic covenant history which he points out. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

From The Christian Century: Spiritual detours

Spiritual detours

Sometimes prayer takes us where we don't intend to go.
March 14, 2018

I carried these questions with me, as I tramped from the lake up the hill, to the abbey, for five o’clock prayers with the monks. Happy to be someplace warm, I filed into the choir and sat down in one of the heavy oak choir stalls. There are four daily prayers in the liturgy of the hours at St. John’s. But on the shelf in front of me were seven prayer books: seven little blue plastic binders, the kind with three holes and silver rings. Which book? Morning, Midday, Evening, Book of Song, Feasts, Common, or Responses/Canticles? I chose Evening, and a thin, black-robed monk behind me immediately came up and pulled out the Book of Song. “This is Mass 8,” he said quietly, and opened the book to the Psalms for Monday, Week 1 in Ordinary Time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Liturgy of the Hours: The Church’s pattern for the laity’s holiness

Another good one from Angelus by Peter Jesserer Smith:

“I asked myself, ‘Do Catholics have a whole other book that I’m not aware of?’ ” he said, recalling that moment. “But I could tell it was a source of much affection for her.”
Goodnight had prayed for a moment of solace, but this encounter more than seven years ago would introduce him to the Liturgy of the Hours, a constant source of spiritual solace, conversion and strength. The nun told him she was praying with her book on the Liturgy of the Hours, and invited him to join her and other Catholics who had gathered to pray together during the Church’s liturgy called Morning Prayer — not the Mass.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

To give up your phone or not to give up your phone by Tommy Tighe

From the Angelus [Archdiocese of Los Angeles]
I just took a glance at mine, and was unsurprised that Twitter led the pack, with an app I use for praying the Liturgy of the Hours coming in a distant second. I’m hoping this phone feature isn’t presented to me at my judgment, because that would be a really awkward conversation with the Lord to say the least.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Liturgy of the Hours, Second Edition

I guess things are moving along but who knows when it'll be published. Here are excerpts from the USCCB website:

Revised Grail Psalms
March 19, 2010: The Revised Grail Psalms were granted recognitio from the Holy See's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
After four years of use by some religious houses and review by the USCCB, a series of modifications were proposed.

November 11, 2014: the U.S. Bishops voted to accept the modifications. If confirmed by the Holy See, this new version of the Revised Grail Psalms will be used in the Liturgy of the Hours, Second Edition. They are known for being remarkably faithful to the original Hebrew while also being rendered in a "sprung rhythm" to facilitate singing.

As of early 2018, the modified Revised Grail Psalms are awaiting confirmation by the Holy See.

Old and New Testament Canticles (including Gospel Canticles)
June 11, 2015: The USCCB approves new translations of the Old and New Testament canticles. Prepared by Conception Abbey, these canticles are rendered in the same "sprung rhythm" as the Revised Grail Psalms.

As of early 2018, the Old and New Testament canticles are awaiting confirmation by the Holy See.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity- March 7th

Have you ever noticed that the normal trials of life are always worse when you have children? Back when I was single, or newly married, getting sick wasn't so bad. To take a day off of work and curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and a touch of the flu was almost pleasant. But dealing with the same flu when you have a newborn and a preschooler to manage, let alone a flock of homeschoolers—it's horrible.

Or think about your car breaking down on the highway. Never any fun under the best circumstances. But when there's a two year old in a car seat and no more spare diapers, the situation becomes a hundred times more desperate.

Sts. Felicity and Perpetua are the patrons of Women in Bad Situations Complicated Further by Children. Both were imprisoned and facing martyrdom. Normally not a pleasant situation, but had they both been childless, it might not have been so bad. They were in prison with four other devout  Christian friends. They could all encourage one another, pray together, and help one another to stay focused on their heavenly reward. But thanks to being mothers, Felicity and Perpetua  them had an additional problem. Perpetua had a baby at staying at home with her extended family. And she was a nursing mother. Any mother can imagine her misery: in pain from engorgement, probably  a soaked, leaking mess, and worst of all, heartbroken from the separation. Her family brought the baby for her to nurse when they visited her each day, but that was hardly adequate.

Her friend, Felicity, had a different kind of baby trouble. Felicity, you see, was a pregnant widow. She was due pretty soon, but not soon enough. Romans, for all their pagan cruelty, did have some feeling for the unborn. The rule was that a condemned pregnant woman was not to be executed until after giving birth. Felicity was sick with worry that her friends would be martyred ahead of her. She was frightened at the idea of possibly having to face death all alone.

We know the story has a happy ending because Perpetua kept a diary in prison. It's a remarkable document. “Such anxieties I suffered for many days, but then I obtained permission for my baby to remain in the prison with me, and, being relieved of my trouble and anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison suddenly became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else.”

Felicity's problem was solved as well. The group prayed for her, and God granted her a slightly early delivery. The baby was adopted immediately by a Christian couple, and Felicity was able to face martyrdom with her friends, “rejoicing to come from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash after her travail in a second baptism.”

So, next time your find yourself spending your own 24 hour virus lugging a bucket, mop, and basket of soiled bedding as you struggle to care for other sick family members—ask these two martyrs to help you get through it. They are sure to understand.

The diary of St. Perpetua to which is added commetary from a Christian observer of their martyrdom, is a remarkable document. You can read it here.  Excerpts from it appear in today's Office of Readings.   Felicity and Perpetua  are among the handful of women martyrs mentioned at Mass in the Roman canon. (First Eucharistic Prayer)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Co-blogger

As you all must have noticed, my posting here has been pretty spotty for well over a year. This is due to several causes, such as a. my besetting fault of laziness combined with perpetually poor time management skills; b. lots of family stuff, some positive and some negative, that have preyed upon my time, and c. a feeling that I've said pretty much all I have to see about the Liturgy of the Hours, and have said it many times. I no longer have a big supply of fresh insights to share.

So it seemed it was time to bring someone else on board. Mike Demers has been following this blog for years. He comments frequently, often supplying the correct answer to the questions people ask here before I've even noticed that a question was asked! He has no agenda other than to express his  enthusiasm for the Liturgy of the Hours, and to help others to love it the way he does.

Therefore, you will be seeing Mike's posts here pretty regularly from here on. In fact, his enthusiasm was such that he  already posted before I got around to introducing him. Who knows? Maybe his zeal will inspire me to be here a bit more often than I have of late.

So please give Mike a warm welcome. And feel free to ask him lots of questions. Keep him busy. 

Liturgical Calendar For The Dioceses Of The United States Of America for 2018

If you look at the liturgical calendar for the U.S., you'll find it a pretty handy guide for locating your place in the Liturgy of the Hours [LH]. For example, Pss III shown at the end of the selected readings for Mass on Sunday indicates Week 3 in the LH. The whole calendar is available for downloading as a PDF document. Enjoy!

Ex 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17/1 Cor 1:22-25/Jn 2:13-25 (29) or, for Year A, Ex 17:3-7/Rom 5:1-2, 5-8/Jn 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42 (28) Pss III

5  Mon Lenten Weekday* violet
2 Kgs 5:1-15b/Lk 4:24-30 (237)

* The following readings may be used on any day this week, especially in Years B and C when the Gospel of the Samaritan Woman is not read on the Third Sunday of Lent: Ex 17:1-7/Jn 4:5-42 (236)

6  Tue Lenten Weekday violet
Dn 3:25, 34-43/Mt 18:21-35 (238)

7  Wed Lenten Weekday violet [Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs]
Dt 4:1, 5-9/Mt 5:17-19 (239)

8  Thu Lenten Weekday violet [Saint John of God, Religious]
Jer 7:23-28/Lk 11:14-23 (240)

9  Fri Lenten Weekday violet [Saint Frances of Rome, Religious]
Hos 14:2-10/Mk 12:28-34 (241)

10 Sat Lenten Weekday violet
Hos 6:1-6/Lk 18:9-14 (242)

Hymn Primer for Breviary Beginners

"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. This is the obvious solution unless you have time for one of the following:

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 beginning or 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 plug 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  and comments and questions from newcomers or oldcomers who are in search of information that will improve their understanding and recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.