Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Opening the Vein

One facet of monastic life that looks 'greener on the other side of the fence' to me is the call to prayer. The bell rings, it's prayer time, and there's no putting it off. No opening a newspaper, no checking the morning news, no doing 'just this one thing' before settling down to prayer.

I don't know about you, but if I do 'just one thing' before giving God a few minutes, all too often one thing turns into ten, and before I know it 'things' have crowded out prayer altogether. Again.

Of course, there are important reasons why some of us need to squeeze prayer into a To-Go-Box from the minute we get out of bed. Babies need feeding, children must be cared for, work cannot always be delayed. But these are not the things that take up my personal time, not anymore.  Even when I have a busy day ahead, I can usually grab at least a few minutes to NOT turn on morning news and NOT check e-mail and to instead give that little chunk of time to God.

But do I?

I will just say this:  it's a struggle.

Sometimes I long for the discipline of a bell. I long for the accountability of those who will notice if I'm not in my choir stall. Oh, I know my mind might wander if I were in fact standing there, breviary open before me and my mind still half asleep. But at least I'd BE there. I would be praising God, and giving Him a chance to whisper...  something... to my sleepy heart.

I have compared the first prayer of morning to receiving an i.v. of saline, once, in preparation for childbirth. Wondering why this was necessary, I was told it was in case I needed medication administered quickly at any time during the birth.  The doctor wanted to have an open vein, ready to receive help on a moment's notice.

Years later, the memory of that came back to me as I pondered the grace of morning prayer. If I pray, even briefly, early in the morning, I am in effect 'opening the vein.'  Once I've begun conversation with God, prayers on-the-go are somehow easier throughout the day. I believe inspirations from God are more easily grasped as well.

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

'Live on in Me, as I do in you.  No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine can you bear fruit apart from Me.  I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who lives in me, and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from Me you can do nothing.'  (John 15:4-5) 

This is a slightly edited repost from 2012. It is being linked with Theology Is A Verb and Reconciled To You for 'It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday'      

Text not in quotes

Painting: Grunwald, Ave Maria, in US public domain due to age 


  1. This post resonates with me. That one wee thing to do....wishing someone would help out with a ready-made discipline...I live many, many miles from the nearest church, and if there was something I could change about our choice to live and raise our kids in the suburbs, it would be to live near a church. One on my doorstep would be perfect. On mornings when prayer doesn't come easily, the gentle tolling of sunrise mass bells would be so welcome. On frazzled days, happy days, sad days, the Blessed Sacrament a place to rest and refresh. Those are my dreams.
    Nancy, too often, even to keep a vein opened is a tough one, but no one ever said the road to heaven was strewn only with roses, so, trudge on I must, with my morning Hello to God.

    1. And what YOU said resonates with ME, Caitlynne Grace! I have long wished I could live right next door to a church... and one with tolling mass bells would be ideal. Sigh....


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