Choir Stall

In the Choir Stall for Prayer

"I will sing and chant praise…" (Psalm 57:8)

Residents of a monastery spend hours every day in their "choir stalls."  These are the chairs awaiting them in chapel.  

Mid-morning, afternoon, evening, just before bedtime… here they return to chant praise, participate in Mass, pray with Scripture, meet hour after hour with God. They begin and end their days here.  They come to the choir stalls when they're feeling close to God, and when their spiritual lives seem barren and dry. 

I have learned that, in the cloister of my heart, I, too, have a "choir stall."  Mine is a portable place of prayer, traveling with me to supermarket, airplane, mall.   I can "sit down" in this prayer-chair regardless of surroundings, seeking God's touch upon my life and on the lives of those around me.

There are no bells to call me to the choir stall.  I must build reminders into my own life.  I find the following practices helpful, even necessary, if I hope to keep my life on track:

Upon awakening in the morning, I can enter my choir stall by beginning my day with a prayer.  This is the framework upon which the rest of the day will be woven. 

At some point during the day, I try to set aside a block of time to spend with God.  I spend time in prayer with Scripture. It may also be possible for me to go to Mass or Adoration. "Even if your daily life in the service of mankind is overburdened with work, it has to include time devoted to silence and to prayer…. Learn to pray! "  (Pope John Paul II)  

Throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening, I use brief prayers to return me to my choir stall.  I turn my heart to God with inward phrases of prayer, no matter what I am doing or where I happen to be.  "Jesus, I trust in You…"  "Holy Spirit, be my guide…."

As I begin various activities, I can enter the choir stall by offering my actions to God and imploring His aid.  "O you who fear the Lord, praise Him in the places where you are now.  Change of place does not affect any drawing nearer to God, but wherever you may be, God will come to you." (Gregory of Nyssa).

As I retire, I close the day in my choir stall.  "Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace."  (From Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer).

Lord Jesus Christ, I ask You to form in me a habit of prayer.  Draw me to meet with You day after day, no matter what my circumstances, in the choir stall of my heart.

Prayer Aspirations

Aspirations are brief prayers that can be lifted to God inwardly, wherever we are and whatever we may be doing.  They’re an ancient monastic practice, but are particularly practical for those of us striving to keep our hearts fixed on God in the midst of a bustling world. 

"These brief ascents of the soul heavenward, these liftings of the mind and heart to God, briefly but frequently: this is what enables the monk… to live a life of prayer and intimate union with God.  As the monk goes about his daily duties, he… gives himself to this practice of terse but frequent prayer.” (Wilfrid Tunink OSB, Vision of Peace, pp. 277-278)

“The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always…  This prayer is possible ‘at all times’ because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation:  that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Jesus Christ.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2668) 

With practice, I can learn to remain in active communication with God no matter where I happen to be.  As I join throngs of shoppers in the mall, ride the subway, take care of laundry, drive through rush hour traffic, I can keep my heart attentive to God….. 

“My God and my all!”  “Jesus, I trust in You.” “Lord, have mercy on us.” "My God, I adore You."

“Jesus… Jesus…. Jesus…..”

Preparing Today (January 6, 2012)
Five Smooth Stones (January 12, 2012)
The Long, Dry Winter (February 9, 2012)
Lectio and Keyholes (February 27, 2012) 
Thee I Praise (May 14, 2012)