He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Liturgy of the Minutes

In the ancient Christian churches, it's often the case that formal prayer is not just prior to meals or during Sunday worship or during meetings with other members of one's church or before bed with one's children.  Those are all wonderful times to pray, and we ought to pray at those times.  But in the Letter to the Thessalonians, we are advised to pray without ceasing, and this is where the Liturgy of the Hours comes in.

As I've mentioned before, in the liturgy we lift up our hearts in love and are lifted up in the embrace of divine love, and by this love we gradually put to death those parts of us that can not partake of divine love. In the liturgy is loving intimacy with the divine, the greatest form of prayer to the one who loved us unto death.  Because we love Him, we want to join with all those who love Him in this greatest form of prayer, the extravagance of our love for God shining forth in the forms and sounds, in the incense and the vestments, in the precious metals for the Precious Body and Precious Blood.

Because the Church desires to express the extravagance of our love for Christ our God without ceasing, She has given us the Liturgy of the Hours, which is composed of Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, The Office of Readings, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer.  Like many gifts of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours is rich in history and tradition spanning from pre-exilic Judaism to the desert hermits and monastics of early Christianity.  The monks and hermits built their lives around daily prayers from the Psalms and from the tradition of the early Church, passing those prayers on to all the faithful so that they too might pray from the heart of the Church.

The Church invites us to begin each day with prayer, to continue each day with prayer, to dive each day into Sacred Scripture through the Psalms, to fill each evening with prayer, and to end each day with prayer.  This is the unending sacrifice of praise offered first by the exiled Jews in the synagogue and now by the Church to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Even within the small moments of each day, when waiting for our turn in the grocery line, sitting still as a train rumbles down the tracks, or running a trail at sunset, the Church invites us back to the liturgy.  No matter how small the number of minutes we have, they can be filled by the meditation on the Gospels that is the Christocentric rosary which keeps our gaze always upon Christ and His good news of salvation.  No matter how great the number of minutes we have, they can be an unending unveiling of Jesus as man, Christ, and God through the Apocalyptic rosary.

If we choose it, our lives can be a liturgy of minutes; whether we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the Dominican rosary, the Chaplet of St. Michael, or the Franciscan Crown rosary, we can pray without ceasing, making each minute a meaningful moment of showing God our love for Him.  Each minute is an opportunity for liturgy, an opportunity to cultivate an intimate relationship with the God who loved us unto death, reciprocating His love for us by making a sacrifice of the time He has given to us by filling it with praise.

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