Among the first threads are an ongoing study of the Rule of St. Benedict, a brief bio of a Benedictine saint, and some basic Benedictine links. I’ll go ahead and repost the start of the latter thread here on my blog.
If you want to know what this Benedictine thing — truly riches from Heaven — is all about — or if you’re ready to chat — please come on by!
One of the most beautiful things on this earth is when an atheist comes home into the Church. It’s even better if the convert is intelligent, funny and a very insightful writer; mindful of this, I would urge you to visit Conversion Diary, where Jennifer often inspires me and always makes me chuckle. (It’s also cool that she is the pregnant mommy of three little ones — due in March, just like me!)
Also, I’ve stolen a blogging idea from her: 7 Quick Takes. Only, in my case, being less of a blogger than she is, having been trained as a journalist and writer of news briefs, and having an unnatural fascination with threes, I’ll call my new feature 3 Profundities. The first installment follows.
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 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:
- www.liturgyofthehours.org (great “frequently asked questions” about the LOTH and a guide to the books)
- www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/breviary.htm (a nice summary of the history and use of the LOTH)
- www.osb.org/sva/obl/pdf/LoHFAQ.pdf (a short Benedictine booklet that describes the history, format, use, etc. of the LOTH).
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.]
Have you found that the daily quest for holiness called for in our Faith from the time of our Baptism is inextricably linked to our human search for happiness? Are you therefore searching for a practical way to live holy Faith in daily life — to be happy here and in Heaven?
Or do you perhaps have an interest in/attraction to certain devotions (Sacred Heart, Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Fatima, etc.) or spiritualities (Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican, Ignatian, etc.), but find yourself overwhelmed by the possibilities? Maybe this post may be of use to you.
As I began my professional life after college, I gradually realized that I had to fan the spark of my love of the Faith into a fire of living the Faith in daily life. But, I soon discovered that one cannot dedicate herself to even a fraction of the absolute plethora of useful devotions and spiritual practices that the Church has gifted us with in the last 2,000 years. So, I set about selecting what would be most helpful for my spiritual life and growth in holiness. It’s still a matter of trial and error, but I have a mostly workable Plan of Life (a daily/regular spiritual regimen), which I will likely post on at length. It would help to have a wise spiritual director (such as a gifted priest or sister) to guide me, but like many others, I have not yet found one who is available. So, I pray and search.
Enter, again, our reliable guide, Fr. John McCloskey, this time providing us with:
Fr. McCloskey notes that integrating these habits into one’s life is a gradual process that may require some modifications, but at the same time a priority overriding lesser things/timewasters. He estimates that the habits as he describes them will take about an hour-and-a-half per day, but will yield unexpected benefits.
- morning offering (Rise promptly to offer your day to God, in your own words or with a formula.)
- meditation for 15 minutes (Please see the next post, “Meditation.”)
- spiritual reading for 15 minutes (Please see the previous post, “On Drowning by the Page.”)
- daily Mass (If you cannot attend daily Mass, perhaps consider spending some time before the Blessed Sacrament or at home prayerfully reading the Mass readings and praying a spiritual communion (asking to receive Our Lord spiritually since you cannot receive His Body and Blood at Mass). The Mass readings, in text or in audio with a homily, can be found at EWTN.
- examination of conscience (Before bed: give thanks to God; ask His grace to know your sins; examine your thoughts, words and deeds in each part of your day, especially in light of the previous day’s resolutions; pray an act of contrition; make specific resolutions to avoid these sins in the coming day; and pray an Our Father. This is a summary of the method of St. Ignatius.)
I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend here the greatest work of one of the greatest spiritual directors who ever lived, the Gentle Saint, bishop St. Francis de Sales. His Introduction to the Devout Life is very readable and practical, several hundred years after his death.
Finally, in creating this post, I am greatly indebted to one of the foremost sites on the Web and TV for authentic Catholic spirituality, which I highly recommend: Mother Angelica’s EWTN. Among the exhaustive resources there, you will find schedules, live feeds, and videos/podcasts of their excellent programming, including daily Mass and numerous spiritual shows. You will also find a very large library of texts, audio and video, and a religious catalog.
Way back in May, when I first decided to write this post, I apparently had it in mind to make book recommendations. I now find this rather amusing, so I’m retooling my original idea.
You see, I’m one of Those People. You might know one of us: we love to read and learn, so we start many books on many different topics, all at once. For a while, we read a few pages in each book every single day, then less frequently, and then as other books catch our eye and we get busy, we forget some of the first books entirely! The result, predictably, is two-fold: no book gets even half-read and there is at least one high pile of partially-read books cluttering our house at any given time!
So, rather than give some “partial-book” recommendations at this time, I’m going to link to a better source and recommend that we all bite-off no more than we can chew at once!
A very sharp and reliable priest, Fr. John McCloskey, has written “A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.” Below, I’ve reproduced some info on it that I wrote for a brochure some time ago. Perhaps, as I make my way through my ever-growing library, I will actually post some recommendations of my own.
A CATHOLIC LIFETIME READING PLAN
(A BRIEF SELECTION)
Fr. McCloskey’s complete list can be found at:
Catechism of the Catholic Church – Catholicism Explained/Theology
Boylan – Tremendous Lover – Spiritual Reading
Caussaude – Abandonment to Divine Providence – Spiritual Reading
de Sales – Introduction to Devout Life – Spiritual Reading
Escriva – Way, Furrow, Forge – Spiritual Reading
Guardini – The Lord
Lewis – Mere Christianity – Spiritual Classics
Liguori – 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation – Spiritual Reading
Lovasik – The Hidden Power of Kindness – Spiritual Reading
O’Connor – Flannery O’Connor: Complete Stories – Literary Classics
Phillipe – Interior Freedom – Spiritual Reading
Scupoli – Spiritual Combat – Spiritual Reading
Sertillanges – Intellectual Life – Misc
Many of these books can be found new and at a steep discount at www.amazon.com, or sometimes even new or used at www.ebay.com. It’s a great idea to buy what you can so that you can loan or refer to the books later. The local library system may also have some of them.
Please note that www.catholicity.com/mccloskey has
several other excellent articles by Fr. McCloskey, which I
There are many Web sites out there that call themselves “Catholic.” Sadly, even for the seasoned Catholic, it can sometimes be hard to determine if a site really contains the truths of the Faith. That’s why I’m glad to use and highly recommend Catholic Culture. Among many other services, this site reviews many other “Catholic” sites for fidelity, resources, and usability.
Among other helpful features, the site provides, all for free:
- detailed and useful information on the current day/saint in the Church calendar, with links
- helpful news and commentary from Catholic World News
- commentary on Catholic culture, as the site name implies
- an extensive Church library
The Better Part provides detailed meditations on all four Gospels and a powerful primer on spiritual growth through meditative prayer. The primer is probably worth the price of the book by itself, and the meditations will easily last for years to come. Though many are “into” spiritual reading and Bible study (which is great!), Fr. Bartunek makes the point that our spiritual lives and growth will stagnate if we don’t have a vibrant life of meditative prayer. Hence, this book, which is more for meditation than study.
Finally, Fr. Bartunek mentions free daily lectionary meditations available by e-mail through Regnum Christi. They’re as good as the book and only take a few minutes! The Regnum Christi site itself is chock-full of useful stuff, and I’ve also included the direct link to the meditation subscriptions.
“So, I’ve got these objections to the Catholic Church…”
For Catholics who don’t have all the answers (that’s about 98 percent of us!) and for all seekers hungry for the truth about the Faith, there are two really great sites that come to mind.
One of the most esteemed and helpful Catholic apologetics groups (Catholic apologists are basically people who defend and explain the Faith) is Catholic Answers. They have a number of outreaches, including a very thorough searchable webpage, a call-in radio show, and the best Catholic forums on the Web. A feast!
Another great apologetics site, especially for young adults, is PhatCatholic Apologetics. The author is a gifted writer who is studying at the Catholic powerhouse in Ohio — the Franciscan University of Stuebenville. He’s really good at finding and giving solid answers to questions he is e-mailed, and he has a set of apologetics links that cannot be matched elsewhere.