The quest for a better prayer #1

16Nov07

I’ve decided that anything I post about prayer from now on will share this title. Why? Because I’m on a quest to find prayer I can say routinely and regularly and contributes to my growth as a theologian and a Catholic.

I sucked it up and ordered Christian Prayer from Amazon. It came with the 2008 guide, which is spiffy, because I was trying to figure out how to get the 2007 and 2008 guides so that even in my fumbling beginner stages I would at least know what page I was supposed to be on. I’ve never been to a communal service for Liturgy of the Hours. (Note to self, ask one of the boys if I can attend the evening prayer they go to before dinner one day.) It appeals to me because I like structure in my prayer, but there are options and readings and a specific way to do it that has been done since forever. The whole notion of sanctifying the day also REALLY appeals to me.

Really though, I like the rosary, but I don’t always like the repetition, I’d like some variety.

But I’ve never done it. Doc is remarkably the only person outside of SUCS I know of who prays the Liturgy of the Hours, and I didn’t know that until Be informed me at breakfast on Monday. Otherwise, really I would have asked him.

I’ve been trying to follow the instructions in the book, and I’ve been trying to figure it out. I’m notoriously bad with written directions that have not been explained to me. Cooking, baking, and academic things aside, directions and I don’t really get along. “Say the Black, Do the Red” is helpful only so long as you actually know what it is you’re supposed to be doing.

I’m pretty certain that if I got to attend a communal Liturgy of the Hours prayer, it would suddenly become much clearer. I’m not expecting it to be perfectly crystal clear. And I’m not saying that suddenly beginning to pray the Diving Office is going to make me a better Catholic. But it sure as heck can’t hurt.

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4 Responses to “The quest for a better prayer #1”

  1. I pray it every day; all seven hours.

    The key is the section called the Ordinary. The Ordinary is the skeleton outline that tells you “do this next”. That gives you the structure for the particular hour you care to recite. You then combine ingredients from The Proper of the Seasons (which are the 52 weeks of the liturgical year), The Proper of the Saints (which are the 365 days of the calendar), the 4 week psalter (the 150 psalms recited in a 4 week rotation), and the Commons, which are variations on the Proper for they type of saint or feast day you celebrate. What makes it complicated is that the Proper of the Seasons, the Proper of the Saints, and the Psalter all operate on a different own timetable — 52 weeks, 365 days, and 4 weeks, respectively.

    It took me a few months to get the hang of it. To start, the easiest thing to do is to follow the ordinary and use the Proper of the Seasons (we are today in Friday of the 32d week of Ordinary time) for the reading and the Psalter (we are in week 4, Friday) for the psalms. After you get that down systematically (say for about a month), you start adding in the Saints — substituting in the readings for the saint for the readings from the Proper of the Season (Saint trumps Proper of the Season.). When you get that down, you then start doing the Readings from the Common in place of the parts of the proper (keeping in mind that Saint trumps Common, Common trumps Proper of the Seasons, and Common also trumps Psalter). In effect, on a Saints day, the common for that particular type of saint (say a martyr) replaces the proper and the psalter for that day. The reading for the particular saint replaces whatever parts of the prayer it gives you a reading for (Saint trumps everything).

    To make it more confusing, the Ordinary typically is in the middle of the book, not in the beginning where you’d expect.

    My parish belongs to an order (the Assmuptionists) who do the Morning prayer combined with the mass — which actually makes it even more confusing. Instead of the tradtitional Liturgy of the Word, you get the hymn, three psalms, and then the mass readings for the day, a homily, and then the Eucharist, and then we return to the Canticle of Zechariah from the morning hour.

    I’ve been doing it for about a year now; it’s a great system. I can speak for me that it does make a better Catholic; I went from the Christian Prayer to the full system, and also try to include a Eucharistic adoration and the Stations in, also. It is addictive (in a good way).

    Good luck with it . . .

  2. cool
    Muslims have litanies that we can recite everyday

    do catholics have litanies?

    :)

  3. DWC, to read that makes me feel like there is hope for my yet. I think I’ve found the Ordinary. I’m pretty certain there’s a ribbon marker on that page.

    Sacrosanct, I want to say yes, but without knowing what the Islamic litanies are like, I’m not sure? At the moment the only thing I can think of is the Litany of the Saints, but we don’t pray that every day. When the Litany of the Saints is prayed at mass, its usually sung. And now its in my head. But the general for is:

    Cantor “All you Holy Men and Women”
    Response “Pray for us.”

  4. I use Benedictine Daily Prayer
    It’s a wonderful one volume Office Book with all the readings included.

    I run a spirituality and liturgy website with a monastic flavour, an increasing focus on the Liturgy of the Hours, even a virtual Chapel:

    http://www.liturgy.co.nz/


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