Category: Liturgy of the Hours


Our discussion of Romans 10: 1-13 today was especially fruitful. Here are some highlights:

  • v. 4: Jesus fulfills the Law, but doesn’t destroy it. One way of looking at this is that the Law is a necessary guide because we don’t believe in “once saved, always saved.” [Further reflection on St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on this verse reveals that since we can’t observe the Law “aright,” we need Jesus for “wholeness.”]
  • vv. 9-10: Oral prayer (confessing Jesus with our lips) serves several purposes, including helping us to learn and believe, assuring us, protecting us, and unifying us with the Church. This discussion led to several interesting linguistic and other asides, including: a) We are united in community only through Jesus, like spokes on a wheel. b) We are united, but distinct. For example, in the Extraordinary Form Mass, the parts are in Latin throughout the world, but the readings and teachings are in the vernacular; also, in Heaven, we will all be together, but we will each have our distinct (glorified) body. c) Even in the Church’s second greatest prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, when one is praying it alone, one is encouraged to at least to move her lips, if not actually speak the words aloud, to signify unity with the Church in praying the prayers. [I promised the ladies some links on the Divine Office. See this newly-revised post. I would love to find a way to introduce whoever is interested to this nourishing practice; perhaps I can bring my copy and we could try praying Morning Prayer before the study sometime.]
  • We also heard a report on the highlights of a local Catholic conference, including: a) the importance of following spiritual urges and inspirations; b) to dispose of negative thoughts and replace them immediately with the positive, as if the negative thoughts were hot coals; and c) a good way to diffuse anger is to ask “What is your expectation?”
  • The ladies who arrived early enough prayed a Rosary for Nathaniel. The group agreed that we are so grateful for how Nathaniel’s family shares their struggle with us, as our prayers and sacrifices for them are also serving to build our own faith.
  • There are a few dates that we will likely be without a meeting room, due to school resuming. An e-mail will be sent-out with the arrangements for those dates (which may include meeting in a home), starting with October 7.

As always, I invite the ladies to add to what I’ve posted or discuss it further in the space below.

9/8/10 — In preparation for our study of Romans 10, please see this link. (I’m not sure what our tech scene will look like tomorrow morning, so I’m going to try to have the links off of my post pre-loaded in my netbook for reference, but those of you with smartphones might be able to help, too, by bookmarking the link above. 🙂 )

Romans x.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Is for them. That is, for Israel, or the Israelites, named before. (Witham) — After having said that the greatest part of Israel was cast off by the Almighty, the apostle, to shew that he meant not to insult or provoke them, here testifies that he sympathizes in their misery, and with groans prays in their behalf to the Lord, that he would vouchsafe to grant them understanding, and open their eyes to the truth. Thus, though tenderly affected towards his countrymen, still he could not dissemble the truth, or flatter them in their incredulity, and hardness of heart. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. According to knowledge, &c. The Jews ran with ardour in the paths of the law, but saw not whither they were going; they followed the law, but did not know whither it conducted them. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. The justice of God. That is, the justice which God giveth us through Christ; as, on the other hand, the Jews’ own justice is that which they pretended to by their own strength, or by the observance of the law, without faith in Christ. (Challoner) — Seeking to establish their own. That is, for justice, or to be justified by their works, or the works of their written law. (Witham)

Ver. 5-7. Moses (Leviticus xviii. 12.[5.?]) wrote that the justice which is of the law….shall live by it. That is, shall have the recompense of a long temporal life, or even an everlasting life, by joining a faith in Christ their Redeemer, that was to come. But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus, that is, Moses speaketh thus of it, (Deuteronomy xxx.) say not in thy heart, who shall ascend into heaven? &c. the apostle gives us the spiritual sense of the words, by adding, to bring Christ down, &c. The sense is, that it is now fulfilled in the new law, when Christ is come from heaven by his incarnation, and is also again risen from the abyss by his resurrection: and therefore,

Ver. 8. The word is near thee, is near to every one, who to be justified and saved, need but believe, and comply with the doctrine of the gospel which we preach, and make a confession or profession of it with his mouth; and then whether he hath been Jew or Gentile, he shall not be confounded. (Witham)

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  • I urge everyone to pray for Democrat Representative Bart Stupak and his allies, that they hold firm in their promise not to vote for health care reform in its current bad form, for they may be all that is standing between us and a health bill that will ruin not only health care, but the economy in our nation — and take many innocent lives, too. And, how would you like to go to jail for choosing not to/being unable to purchase health insurance?! Sometimes, doing something is WORSE than doing nothing, and this is one of those times. Let’s hold-out for REAL reform of our nation’s health care! (March 4, 2010)
  • I am thrilled that one of my all-time favorite saints will be discussed in Phoenix Bishop Olmsted’s latest series of columns for The Catholic Sun. I have most of St. Francis de Sales‘ writings (Introduction to the Devout Life, and his homilies on Prayer, on Mary, on Advent, on Lent, etc.) and would recommend them to anyone: helpful and not too scholarly. (March 4, 2010)
  • I am more upset than I thought I would be at learning that searchers have found the body of Poway High student Chelsea King. At least her family will now be able to lay her body to rest with respect and, hopefully, there will be enough evidence to help the three (?!) families put this rapist/murderer away for the rest of his life. Why was this unrepentant convicted child rapist given a short sentence in the first place?! And, please Ladies (especially) think of your safety when in remote/dark areas — no run is worth your life!
    I’ll be at St. Michael’s in spirit tonight as her candlelight vigil turns into a memorial. (March 2, 2010)//Our society needs to stop thinking of these crimes as “just” child molestation or “just” rape, and realize that not only are these devestating crimes, but they are also gateway crimes to other violence and murder! Please join this group, and let’s not forget this issue when we go to the ballot box! (March 3, 2010)
  • I returned home a few minutes ago after seeing Rwandan genocide-survivor Immaculee (http://immaculee.com/) in Visalia, thanks to a last-minute invitation from a friend. Her insight and humor were amazing; she held our attention for almost two hours straight. What a gift she is! Now, I definitely have to read her books! 🙂 And become a fan (http://www.facebook.com/immaculee?ref=ts) …
  • This book arrived this weekend as part of my modest Lenten reading goal and, though I’m just starting into the guts of it, I’ve already found some meaningful insights. Hopefully I’ll get through the main part by Easter (the supplemental material is almost half the book, so I’ll have to tackle it later). (Feb. 23, 2010)
  • While I’m making essential blog reading recommendations (like the Archbold brothers at CMR in the previous status), even though I’m trying (and mostly failing) to limit my online time during Lent, I still make sure to at least glance at all blog posts by Liz Scalia (aka The Anchoress) — insightful Catholic spirituality and some social commentary (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/theanchoress/), Jennifer Fulwiler (http://www.conversiondiary.com/) — amazingly perceptive and prolific Catholic mother of four little ones, Thomas Peters (aka American Papist) — news and comment on the Church and American politics (http://www.catholicvoteaction.org/americanpapist/index.php), and Mark Shea — edgier Catholic commentary (http://markshea.blogspot.com/). (Feb. 21, 2010)
  • My take is that basically, like many mentally ill people, the Austin bomber convinced himself for years that the whole world had formed a coalition against him: organized religion (particularly the Catholic Church), the government, insurance companies, businesses and unions, accountants and the IRS (of course!) etc. — and that these groups, not individuals (namely himself and perhaps his friends), were responsible for his personal failures (repeated financial wipe-outs, divorce, etc.). He also tacks-on quite a martyr (or perhaps patriot)-complex, looking for trouble and finding it, first playing some sort of game with tax laws that apply to churches, getting caught, and paying a high price. Then, he began agitating unsuccessfully against tax laws that he believed harmed his chosen profession of engineering. His manifesto ends with him offering himself as a holocaust, followed by a casual positive reference to communism. It seems to me that this man needed mental help for a long time and failed to get it, and that he could just have easily have flown his plane into any business highrise, government building, or even a church — if he had found a way to obtain and fly multiple planes at the same time. I thank God that he could not, and that he failed to kill his wife, daughter, and any more than the one poor victim in the building! May God have mercy on his soul and that of his victim, and may his wife and daughter find healing. (Feb. 19, 2010)
  • Another awesome idea for Lent is to use this link that I just found today to start to pray at least one of the seven daily offices of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). It is second in importance only to the Mass in our Catholic tradition. You will find both free mp3s and text without some of the complexities that usually overwhelm one at first. God bless you! (Feb. 16, 2010)
  • Lent (several weeks of spiritual preparation for Easter) begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. For those who may be looking for daily bite-sized meditations doubling as an intro to St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, I’ve heard good things about what the Jesuits linked here have prepared. May we all have a blessed Lent and emerge better than we were when we entered! (Feb. 16, 2010)

May St. Joseph intercede for us in the same spirit in which he watched over Our Lord and Our Lady!

The first reading of the Office of Readings in the Divine Office for this Feast is Hebrews 11: 1-16, a beautiful chronicle of praise of the faith in God of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara.

The second reading is particularly beautiful. I thought I would post it for those who don’t have access to the appropriate volume. I’ve underlined the segment I found most powerful.

[QUOTE]

From a sermon by St. Bernadine of Siena

There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.

This general rule is especially verified in the case of St. Joseph, the foster- father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.

What then is Joseph’s position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and, yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honorably introduced into the world. Holy Church in its entirety is indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her it was judged worthy to receive Christ. But after her we undoubtedly owe special gratitude and reverence to St. Joseph.

In him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of the patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfillment. What the divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms.

Obviously, Christ does not now deny to Joseph that intimacy, reverence and very high honor which he gave him on earth, as a son to his father. Rather we must say that in heaven Christ completes and perfects all that he gave at Nazareth.

Now we can see how the last summoning words of the Lord appropriately apply to St. Joseph: Enter into the joy of your Lord. In fact, although the joy of eternal happiness enters into the soul of a man, the Lord preferred to say to Joseph: Enter into joy. His intention was that the words should have a hidden spiritual meaning for us. They convey not only that this holy man possesses an inward joy, but also that is surrounds him and engulfs him like an infinite abyss.

Remember us, St. Joseph, and plead for us to your foster-child. Ask your most holy bride, the virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen.

[/QUOTE]

source

cross-posted on the Benedictine Spirituality Forum at Catholic Answers Forums

As it is unlikely that I will be posting again before Christmas, Merry Christmas! May the Baby Jesus bless you with the spiritual gift you are most in need of, may you welcome Him fully into your life, and may His Mother be your mother, too!

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Perhaps I’m dense (or, more flatteringly, an astute Catholic 🙂 ), but I’ve never really understood why people of faith struggle with the whole “why am I here/what is the meaning of life?!” question.

It used to be (long before my CCD/Catholic school religion classes in the ’80s) that even children were taught — through the Baltimore Catechism — the answer to that question:

“to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with him in the next.”

Though I don’t recall ever hearing that as a girl, I do know that by the time I was in high school, I could articulate, in student-like terms, that we are on Earth to learn to love God, and that He takes us home to Heaven when we’ve mastered the skill adequately. My little ones, the eldest of whom is not yet four, are already learning an age-appropriate version of the answer in the Baltimore Catechism. Children are never too young to hear that message — and neither are searching adults. After all, to do this takes a lifetime of work!

That brings us to the beautiful Office of Readings for December 21, this time an excerpt from St. Ambrose’s commentary on the Blessed Mother’s Magnificat in Luke’s Gospel (also mentioned here):

A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.

Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: “Magnify the Lord with me.” The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God, but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

By the “Word of God,” St. Ambrose is of course using a reference to Jesus from the beginning of St. John’s Gospel. (Is it any wonder that St. Ambrose was so influential in the life of another great saint, Augustine?!)

The meaning of life, then, is to “conceive and bring forth” Jesus — in a spiritual sense, to be another Mary! In order to do this, though, we must be as pure in the soul as Our Lady was in soul and body. To use her own words, we are to “magnify” the Lord; just as a dirty lens cannot properly convey to the eye what is being seen, if our souls are impure with sin, others cannot see Jesus properly through them!

We can also note the theme of godly joy which permeates this Advent season and these quotes (“be happy with [God]” and “rejoiced in God her Savior”). Though melancholics (such as I) struggle with this, we know that a sour person does not attract anyone and that, like everyone else, we must overcome the pitfalls of our natural temperament. The saints who were most effective in helping others find Our Lord were gentle, like St. Francis de Sales, and were cheerful, like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Neither was known for earthly attractiveness (nor, for that matter, was Jesus, Whom the Bible tells us was not physically notable), yet both drew even the most hardened of sinners and cynics. Why? Because it was impossible to escape the image of God they had within and were magnifying!

Dear Jesus, we beg You to help us conceive and bear You to the world, to magnify You as Your Blessed Mother did, with purity and joy! Blessed Mother, pray for us. St. Ambrose and all you saints of God, pray for us!

Many days, it is a struggle to find the time to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, especially the Office of Readings, but inevitably when I do, I find at least one very special point for meditation. Periodically, I’ll try to post a little Meditation on something particularly striking.

Here’s the first of these posts.

This past Sunday’s Office of Readings (for the Third Sunday of Advent) contained Isaiah 29:13-24 and a related sermon by our great St. Augustine. They lead us into an Advent meditation on humility. Of note:

Since this people draws near with words only …
And their reverence for me has become routine observance of the precepts of men,
Therefore I will again deal with this people in surprising and wondrous fashion:
The wisdom of its wise men shall perish and the understanding of its prudent men be hid.

When we turn deaf to Him to attend to our own priorities, Our Lord will do what He must to get our attention, even render us foolish!

Woe to those who would hide their plans too deep for the Lord!
Who work in the dark, saying “Who sees us, or who knows us?

All who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim.

Our sins are never hidden from God, Who knows and understands them all. Those who use their cunning to harm others will be parted from God definitively.

Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale.
When his children see the work of my hands in his midst,
They shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

God desires for us to worship and adore Him (which Catholics do especially in Mass and Eucharistic Adoration). When we worship and adore — when we heed Him — though we sin, He will correct us and teach us. To worship and adore — especially the Baby Jesus at Christmas — and to acknowledge our need for His correction and teaching, all take humility, such as that found in a key saint of Advent, St. John the Baptist.

St. Augustine then explains that St. John the Baptist was the “voice,” but Jesus is “the Word.”

John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning, Christ is the Word who lives forever.
Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound.

When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine. In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: “The word ought to grow, and I should diminish?” The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: “My joy is complete.”

[T]he voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offense to the word…And the question came: “Who are you then?” He replied: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord.'”

To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares that he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory…He humbled himself.

The “voice” (St. John the Baptist) does what God made him to do and then quickly fades out so that “the Word” (Jesus) may remain with us. The saint’s humble life and teaching — the “wondrous fashion” of God — prepares us for Christ’s Presence, unlike Isaiah’s sinner’s cunning, which only steals from us!

===

In Advent, it is especially fitting to consider the Magnificat, Our Lady‘s humble response to St. Elizabeth, despite the fact that Our Blessed Mother was preserved by God from all sin (Luke 1:46-55, RSV-CE):

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

We might also consider the lessons of the humilty of the shepherds who immediately came to worship the Baby Jesus, and the Magi who traveled far over much time to present valuable gifts to Our Lord. Finally, we might further explore the implications of a few contrasts: the humble faith of St. John the Baptist with the early assured doubt of John’s father, Zechariah, literally struck dumb by God for a time; or Blessed Mother, who humbly accepted God’s will to change her life, with Herod, who killed thousands of innocents to oppose God’s will and assure himself of dominance; or even the humility and honest seeking of the Magi and shepherds with the self-satisfied entertainment-seeking of the latter Herod, who assented to Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine!
St. John the Baptist, pray for us, that we may be humble.
Blessed Mother, pray for us, that we may be humble.
Holy shepherds and Magi, pray for us, that we may be humble.
Dear saints and angels of God, pray for us, that we may be humble.

UPDATED 9/9/10 to fix a broken link and add some new ones, and to reflect current prices.

Here is one of the greatest treasures of the Church, one that I lived most of my life knowing nothing of:

THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS

The site linked above is a good overview of LOTH.

Here’s my summary: The Liturgy of the Hours, which is sometimes called the “Divine Office” or “Breviary,” is — after the Holy Mass — the greatest prayer of the Church. It is prayed by priests, religious, and some lay people. The Church encourages us all to pray this beautiful prayer, as a sign of unity and to enrich our daily prayer life with the treasure of centuries of Christians, most notably early monastics like St. Benedict. One may even pray constantly by organizing her day around the hours.

The Liturgy of the Hours consists of seven “offices,” generally prayed every three hours: The Office of Readings (usually before Morning Prayer), Morning Prayer (at 6), Midmorning Prayer (at 9), Midday Prayer (at noon), Midafternoon Prayer (at 3), Evening Prayer (at 6), and Night Prayer (at 9). The “major” offices are generally held to be Morning and Evening Prayer, but one can benefit from praying whatever offices suit her schedule. Midmorning, Midday and Midafternoon Prayer are collectively called Daytime Prayer, and some people simply pray one of these offices. In general, each hour consists of a hymn, three psalms/canticles with antiphons, short New Testament readings, and other prayers. The Office of Readings consists of the hymn and psalms, along with a reading from the Scriptures and one from the writings of the early Church Fathers, saints, Vatican II, etc.

There is a great free Website (still under development) that offers the Offices as text and podcasts! An older favorite with excerpts from the LOTH (though in a different translation than the approved set) is at www.universalis.com.

There are three main publications of the LOTH: the complete four-volume set — used one volume at a time (at about $145), Christian Prayer — abbreviated prayers, most notably lacking the Office of Readings ($30), and Shorter Christian Prayer — with the four-week Psalter and Morning and Evening prayer ($12). The four-volume set comes with several useful reference cards and the publisher also sells a very helpful annual guide inexpensively.

For further information, visit:

Finally, if you would like an inexpensive, step-by-step guide to praying this beautiful prayer, I’ve found The Divine Office for Dodos useful.

[N.B. Researching, acquiring and learning to pray different versions of the Divine Office has become a hobby of mine, so I plan a future post to discuss the breviary associated with the Extraordinary Form, the traditional Benedictine breviary, etc.]

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