I’ve been trying to be faithful to saying the Divine Office for a few years now.
I’m successful in dribs and drabs. I’ll have weeks and weeks where I can get up and get morning prayer done, and then something will happen, or the schedule will change, and I am suddenly not as successful.
I think I am more successful in the summertime, when I can walk outside and listen to the prayers of the office on my phone at the same time. I had a lot of success during vacation too, when I could sit by myself while every one else was either sleeping or gone doing other things.
But I’m not as successful during the regular school year. It seems that as soon as I open my eyes, I feel the pressure on me to get things done right away! Morning prayer feels like one more thing on the to-do list instead of a respite from the world.
Then there are also the times when I start to pray the Morning Prayer and I find my mind wandering or wondering. For example, part of a recent Saturday’s Morning Prayer included Psalm 8 which had this passage:
When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,the moon and the stars which you arranged,what is man that you should keep him in mind,mortal man that you care for him?
I think, “Moon, stars…I need to review Rosie’s astronomy course before co-op on Wednesday!”
All of them, sheep and cattle,yes, even the savage beasts,birds of the air, and fish that make their way through the waters
“… I wonder if we should have chicken or fish for dinner next week?”
It’s as if certain words trigger things in my brain and I’m off on a tangential day dream before I know it.
I’m not an expert on the Divine office by any means, and for the longest time I kept my self limited to the morning prayer and night time prayer. However, a couple of times, instead of doing Morning Prayer, I have let myself wander over to the Office of Readings and I wonder if maybe that might be a better choice for me in starting my day.
As I understand it, the Office of Readings, if done in a monastery or community, would be done very early in the morning – as in, wake up at 4 a.m. and get-it-done-before-mass early. To me it seems to retain that sense of the spirit grating against the body. And I need that. I really need to let the spirit fight my corporeal existence. For example, this recent passage:
I am exhausted with my groaning;every night I drench my pillow with tears;I bedew my bed with weeping.My eye wastes away with grief;I have grown old surrounded by my foes.Leave me, all who do evil;for the Lord has heard my weeping.The Lord has heard my plea;The Lord will accept my prayer.All my foes will retire in confusion,foiled and suddenly confounded.
or this psalm prayer:
Lord God, when you judge, do not be deaf to the shouts of the poor; bring havoc to the madness of oppressors. Look at our wounds and save us from the gates of death, so that we may always rejoice in your help and speak your praise in the gates of Zion.
Nowadays the lay faithful aren’t required to wake up to pray the Office of Readings and in fact it can be read throughout the day. And for some reason that seems to work for me, a minute or two at a time. Keeping it open on my table or reading it on my Kindle from morning to afternoon just seems to “work” better for me.
But I also appreciate the sermons or writings that are included in the Office of Readings, from a saint or doctor of the church. If the homily is the insightful, inspiring and instructional part of the mass, than the Readings are all of that for the Divine Office. I find them usually to be all three.
Someday, my goal of course is to be able to pray the Divine Office with all of the prayers, just as the universal church does. But for this particular season of life, sticking with the Office of Readings through out the day seems to be working the best for me right now.
Image and Text Copyright 2015 Elena LaVictoire