Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Monastic Morning

In a monastery, Morning Prayer is usually prayed soon after the nuns or monks have awakened, dressed, and prepared to begin their day.  I realize that in many Orders, the "day" has begun in the middle of the night, but for the sake of our purposes here, I'm taking my comparisons from a Community whose routine is a bit more useful for the sake of our analogies.

Residents are up and on their feet inside the monastery, they've dressed and had a speedy morning wash-up; now they file silently into the chapel. One by one they slip into their seats.  The world outside is dark and hushed.

In some monasteries, private meditation and the Office of Morning Prayer and then Mass flow smoothly together.  They weave one into another, forming one long strong unit of prayer.  Overnight silence is broken with the Morning Office, and "broken" is perhaps too sharp a word for what happens.  I think of the Sisters as easing out of quiet, sliding their voices into it like whisperings of early-rising birds.  Melodies are chanted.  Praises are sung.

Our lives in the world are not like this.  It helps me to remember that our lives in the world are NOT SUPPOSED to be like this. "Make your devotion pleasing, especially to your husband," advised gloriously practical St. Francis de Sales.  Husbands and children would not be pleased with silent wives and mothers; employers wouldn't long employ those who showed up late day after day... even if they reeked of incense and their faces gently glowed. 

So - what aspects of the monastic morning CAN be applied to OUR lives, here and now?   The answer will be different for every one of us.  Unlike nuns in a monastery, we do not have the same circumstances in our lives.  We don't gather together in a chapel, pray the Office at the same times or at all, hear the same homily.  We rush off to offices, drive carpool, homeschool, change diapers, jam into subways, deal with traffic.

The important thing, for me, is to at least have SOME time of prayer.  Dedicated time, when I can have a few minutes for a visit with God.

What do I do in this time?  It varies.  I often pray parts of the Office, although I rarely never pray every bit of it.  But I do like knowing I'm praying with the whole Church as I pray a psalm for the day, or read the Office of Readings.  I often pray with Scripture, where I listen for the still voice of God dealing with my situations.  Where do I get the scriptures I use?  The Divine Office is a good source, and the Mass readings of the day as well. 

Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.  

God, come to my assistance.  Lord, make haste to help me. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.  

Text not in quotes

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