Mindfulness, Prayer

Liturgy of the hours 101

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Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering.(Psalm 141)

Our communal prayer takes on many forms.  We begin this part of our journey with a study of the “Liturgy of the Hours.” The parts of the Liturgy of the Hours that are more well known are Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (Vespers).  But there is much more to the Liturgy of the Hours than this.

“The Constitution on the Divine Liturgy of Vatican II tells us that praying the Liturgy of the Hours has special status, immediately after the Eucharist in importance as the public prayer of the church.”*

On the USCCB website, the Liturgy of the Hours is described this way: “The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God (Opus Dei), is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer.  The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer.”**

Liturgy of the Hours encourages us all to be in prayer all through the day.  We may not always have the opportunity to gather with others withing our worshiping community for a more formalized time of prayer, but we can do all or any part of the Liturgy of the Hours alone. And it is an important reminder that we are to hold in our minds and thoughts and prayer our needs and the needs of those around us and to live each moment in thanksgiving and praise.

“In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church fulfills Jesus’ command to “pray always” (Luke 18:1; also 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Through this prayer, the people of God sanctify the day by continual praise of God and prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.**

“The Liturgy of the Hours includes several specified times of prayer. The most important times, called the “hinge hours,” are Morning Prayer (which takes place upon rising) and Evening Prayer (which takes place as dusk begins to fall). The other hours are the Office of Readings (a service with a biblical reading and a reading from the Fathers or Church writers or a reading related to a saint which may take place at any time of day), a Daytime Prayer (which may take place at Midmorning, Midday, or Midafternoon), and Night Prayer (said before going to sleep).**liturgyofthehours

“Bishops, priests, deacons, and many men and women in consecrated life pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Their work is organized around this prayer, keeping God always at the center of their days. Lay people are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well, especially Morning and Evening Prayer. Many parishes in the United States schedule communal Morning and Evening Prayer on a regular basis.”**

The form for Morning and Evening Prayer are similar, they both include the singing of Psalms and Canticles from scripture, readings and prayers.  Morning prayer is more focused on praise and Evening prayer is focused on thanksgiving.

Here is a link to a more complete description of the Liturgy of the hours.
https://divineoffice.org/liturgy-of-the-hours/how-to-pray-the-liturgy-of-the-hours/

At this point in our journey, let us take a few moments to contemplate how we may use these prayer opportunities in our lives.  How would praying the hours help me be more mindful of Christ’s presence in my daily living? How may the hours help me to gain a better appreciation of my personal prayer life and my prayer at Mass?

May we continue to grow in our understanding and mindfulness of the many ways we can grow in relationship with God and with each other.

*Spirituality Committee of the Federal Association USA, The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and Malta, 28 Different Ways to Pray, Paulist Press, 2011.

**http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgy-of-the-hours

 

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Mindfulness, Prayer

The Two Sides of Prayer

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A prayer written by Dag Hammarskjold

“Give me a pure heart–that I may see Thee, a humble heart–that I may hear Thee, a heart of love–that I may serve Thee, a heart of faith–that I may abide in Thee.”*

St. Teresa of Avila–Carrying Out God’s Work

God of Love, help us to remember that Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours.  Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world.  Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now.  Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.

~ ~ ~

Prayer’s Two Sides: Personal and Communal:  “We need both personal prayer and communal prayer.  Our prayer isn’t really prayer without both.”**

Prayer is a mystery. Prayer is a matter of faith.  Prayer is not for the “faint of heart”–yet it is precisely for the “faint of heart.”  To me, the mystery is the connection between personal and communal prayer. One does not live and thrive without the other. It’s a matter of faith, trusting that someone is listening and acting on my personal prayers and the communal prayer of those gathered together in worship. Prayer opens us up to vulnerability, not only to ourselves and God, but to those we gather with for prayer on a regular basis.

I am reminded of what Bishop Morneau has written on prayer. “Three key qualities of personal prayer are humility, charity and honesty; and three qualities of communal prayer are objectivity, support and solidarity. . .”**

My personal prayer life is vital to my relationship with God–it is where I fully open my heart and soul and bask in God’s presence and the spirit’s direction, but if I am all there is, it can quickly turn into some self-centered diatribe of either my deplorable faults or stunning qualities.  If I am all there is, I block out the myriad of people praying for me and for the entire needs of the world.

When we enter into our prayer, let us enter into it with humility, charity and honesty.  God knows our every fault and failing, every fear and worry, every joy and happiness, but God wants us to open our entire selves–to be vulnerable–to be openly receptive to all of God’s abundant love and guidance.

We also enter into prayer as a community. When we gather with others at worship we join our personal prayers to the prayers of the worshiping community  and to the needs of the world.

“Personal prayer has a partner, the prayer of the community.  We call this ‘liturgy,’ the public expression of our faith in word, song and gesture.  . . .Prayer, alone and together, is a spiritual menu that nourishes our soul, the community and the world.  Three qualities underlie communal prayer, this communication with God that we do together.”**

“Henri Nouwen writes, ‘Without community, individual prayer easily degenerates into egocentric and eccentric behavior, but without individual prayer, the prayer of the community quickly becomes a meaningless routine.'”**

When we enter into the other side of prayer, we bring those qualities and add objectivity, support and solidarity.  We expand our horizon to see the hurting world around us, the needs and joys of fellow believers. We have support in our journey through life.  People who know what we are going through and who pray for us. We pray for each other. We belong to a global village, a community of believers. We are all members of God’s family.

This week in our journey, keep in mind who is praying for you. maxresdefaultRemember in your prayers those around you who are in need, those you don’t even know who is in need. Pray for the needs of our country and our world.  We are all connected and we need each other’s prayer and spiritual support.

When we gather for Mass, or other prayer opportunities, let us always be mindful of who and what we pray for.  Let us give thanks for this mystery of prayer, let us grow in our faith and trust in God’s presence and let us grow stronger as we become more vulnerable and open to each other and God’s loving presence in every moment of prayer and worship together.

*Dag Hammarskjold, Markings, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1966.

**Robert F. Morneau, Paths to Prayer, Cincinnati, OH, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

 

 

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Mindfulness, Prayer

Prayer: A Journey of Discovery

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Ps. 4:2:  Answer when I call, my saving God.  In my troubles, you cleared a way; show me favor; hear my prayer.

Ps. 5:2-3:  Hear my words, O Lord; listen to my sighing.  Hear my cry for help, my king, my God!

Ps .16:11:  You show me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Ps. 17:6: I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; Incline your ear to me, hear my words.

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Regardless of style, prayer is always to be holistic, involving the mind, heart and hands.  It is also to be inclusive, in that prayer embraces all of creation as we attempt to respond to a God who continually blesses us and calls us to full maturity.*

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Prayer takes on many forms–vocal, contemplative, communal, individual, liturgical, musical. Within each form there are many varieties of prayer. Essentially prayer is a journey of discovery–of God, nature, ourselves and our fellow human beings. At any given moment in our life, we may use a different form of prayer. When I am anxious, I may be calling out to God asking him to relieve me of my anxious thoughts. I may move into a form of contemplative prayer to calm my anxious mind and focus on all the goodness that flows into my life through the abundant goodness of God. I may pray for others and with others.

In this journey of life we all pack  a variety of tools to help us navigate the winding roads, superhighways, barely visible trails and practically impassible mountain passes we encounter. Those “prayer tools” allow us to discover more about ourselves and our God who loves us.

Take a moment as you read this blog and think about the prayer tools you have packed for your journey. What do you turn to mostly? One means of prayer which I find very beneficial is the “Ignation Examen.”**  It’s a beautiful means to remain in the presence of God on this journey of life.  Here is just a brief description of the examen, and I encourage you to use it in your time of prayer and see how  it allows you to be more mindful of God’s presence on your daily journey of discovery and more mindful of the many indescribable ways God accompanies us on our journey.

More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern his direction for us.

  1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.
  2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?  God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to them in some way.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.
  5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the Our Father.**

God be with each of us  on our prayer journey.

*Robert F. Morneau, Paths to Prayer, Cincinnati, OH, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

** http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen

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Mindfulness, Prayer

What do you mean there is no right way to pray?

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, Most High. Psalm 92:1

Have you ever heard, “Just tell me the right way to do and I will do it.” or, “There is always a right way and a wrong way to everything.”

Many times we want situations, decisions, life, to be black and white.  We want to know the right way to speak, live and interact with others.  Just show me, just tell me…

Well, it is not exactly that way when it comes to prayer. There is no one right way to pray.  There are as many ways to pray as there are people on this earth.  Prayer is a very personal matter.  The manner in which I pray may not be the most edifying way to pray for you.

I find comfort in that fact that  God is able to listen and act on our prayers. God  understands each and every prayer we offer up, no matter how we offer it up to God.

God knows our prayers even before we pray them!  God wants to be in relationship with us.  God wants us to be open and receptive of everlasting love, peace, goodness and abundance. How we communicate with God, whether through traditional prayers, meditation, centering prayer, saying the rosary, whatever.  God wants us to be mindful and prayerful–filled with prayer.

No pressure–God is there waiting, listening, sitting beside us. God is beside us when we meditate, legs crossed, breathing in and out.  God sits next to us in the pew, on our prayer rug, on the bus and in the taxi–ready to listen whenever and however we want.

So, as we walk this journey into prayer, let us be open to the kinds of prayer that help us grow closer to God.  I look forward to this journey of discovery and growth.  May God go with us always and everywhere.

Peace and happy praying!

 “The beauty is that God takes us just as we are and speaks to our heart.”*

*Robert F. Morneau, Paths to Prayer, Cincinnati, OH, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

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Mindfulness, Peace

Go, live and serve in the peace of Christ

d8435-go2bin2bpeaceLike a mother bird gently or not so gently pushes her baby out of the nest to fly into the great big world out there, we are summoned out of the  cocoon of God’s embrace during Mass into the world.  But I am not ready! I forgot to pay closer attention to the homily while my child was squirming in the pew. Wait a minute! I must of blanked out there for a moment, thinking about my week ahead?  We are done?  I am not sure I am ready to head back out again.

Or…finally!  Mass is over–time to go back to the real world and my own life again. I can’t wait to get out of here…hopefully these are not our feelings too often…

In any case we are directed to go in peace. We are called by God to live differently outside the walls of the church.  Live transformed, thus transforming the world around you. That transformation is different for each of us, but we are transformed when we are in God’s presence and feasting at the table and listening at the feet of Jesus. It may be dramatic or very subtle, but transforming just the same.  We go in peace, transformed, equipped to transform the world around us.

How do we go out in peace–one step at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time, one moment at a time.  We are not called to solve all the world’s problems–to the world’s Savior. That’s already been done. But we can be the person who is there for that troubled teen, struggling family, dying mother, or angered, demoralized person who sees no hope or future.  We go in peace even when no one is around to see us.

We live in peace. We are peace. Allow the peace of God’s love infiltrate every fiber of your being. When we are at peace, we can be peace for others. What a blessed experience to share the peace of Christ we know and experience in each moment, with someone else who is in need of peace in their lives–through that smile, touch, acknowledgement or word of love.

We all know turmoil to some degree. We see it all around us. But, let us go out and help this world (the person next to you, or the person around the world) go in peace, no longer afraid or hopeless, but filled with the certainty of love, of a brighter tomorrow because peace is our now–not in some far off time or place.  It is ours now. Peace is ours, thus we go in peace to serve the Lord and one another.

***

Go In Peace

“GO IN THE PEACE OF CHRIST…
However we came
however confused or discouraged
or afraid or alone
we may have been
before this Eucharist
we are told to leave in peace.
Presumably something has happened here:
We have found direction and courage
dispelled fear
been in communion,
thereby discovering the peace of Christ.
‘Thanks be to God.’

THE MASS IS ENDED: GO IN PEACE

However tenuously,
however unconsciously,
however fleetingly,
we have been changed
in the actions of this Eucharist,
in coming together,
submitting to God’s Word
and sharing his table,
therein learning the peace of Christ,
‘Thanks be to God.’

GO IN PEACE TO LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD…

However complicated
however full of suffering
however plain and ordinary
our everyday lives
we are told now to return there
knowing what the Lord has done for us
and what he commissions us to do:
‘The dawn from on high
has broken upon us
and has set our feet
in the path of peace.’
‘Thanks be to God.'”*

Reprinted from Liturgical Gestures, Words, Objects, Barbara Schmich in Eleanor Bernstein, CSJ, ed. © 1995 Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Liturgy.  Used with permission.

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Mindfulness, Peace

In Search of…peace

CDeEGqU“Grant us peace.”  We make this bold request every time at Mass. Give us peace in our homes, in our streets, in our hearts and in our minds. Give us peace in our relationships and in our break ups. Give us peace in our shattered dreams and fragmented lives. Give us peace in our joys and successes. Give us peace when dreams are fulfilled and life is at its best and its worst.

Peace seems so illusive these days in many respects. We have become more aware of the violence that invades our daily experience. We have become aware of the discord and brokenness in our political systems.  Violence and death are ever present. Disrespect for the human person and for differing opinions and beliefs  seems to be the norm. Where is peace?

Each of us has our own personal experience of discord and turbulence that pushes peace, inner peace, away.  We may face opposition at work, rocky relationships with our spouse, siblings, parents, next door neighbors.  Hard feelings and mistrust; lack of respect and love.  Where is peace, God?

Now I know and firmly believe that life is not all doom and gloom. We have so much, more than we can every imagine, to be thankful for and to live for and love. But still where is peace even in the goodness we have around us?

What kind of peace are we looking for? Is it fleeting, superficial peace–that is with us for a moment and whisked away unexpectedly? Is it a peace we look for outside of ourselves? Do we look for a peace that will withstand any and all storms and troubles and opposition? Do we find it within ourselves when we have the strength enough to calm our minds and breathe and be still and know God is present?

Finding peace is a challenge. It’s a challenge because often times it hides in the chaos we call daily living. Peace isn’t always some peaceful walk along the beach or hike through the woods, or a quiet moment on the front porch watching the sun rise or set.  Those are peaceful times for sure–but not always where we find the peace God gives us.

Where do we find peace? How do we make sure others find peace and that this world, our world, becomes a place of peace? We find it in the stillness. In being still and listening for God’s voice, becoming aware of God’s presence working in us and through us. Even in the midst of turmoil, quiet your mind, open yourself to God’s presence and know peace is yours right now, in this place, in this moment.  Know that peace is already yours. It not something to strive for.  It is yours now. It is here for the world now–if only people would let go of all their ego tells them is right and just and theirs for the taking no matter what. Stop “Edging God Out” and receive that peace which surpasses all understanding and prejudice and violent rage and discrimination and hateful speech. Live in God’s loving presence, no matter what or who you call God and live in the peace God offers us every moment of every day.

Grant us peace–it a bold request we make at Mass.  But in faith we know it is ours. We deserve peace because we are loved and cherished by God.  Peace resides in our lives because it was ours all along. It is right there waiting for us to see it, feel it, experience it and then give it away to others so they too can realize peace has always been theirs as well.

May we all experience God’s peace today, in this very moment and everyday. Peace be yours.

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances. ” Mahatma Gandhi

“Dear God, Please send to me the spirit of Your peace. Then send, dear Lord, the spirit of peace from me to all the world. Amen.”  Marianne Williamson

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” St. Francis of Assisi

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Mindfulness

Extravagant Peace

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Peace be with you. Really? Peace? Is that all you have to offer? Where is there peace in this world we live in?  Does this peace we share with one another at Mass make any kind of difference after we leave the four walls of the church? This world we live in needs something to bring it from the brink of collapse because of all the violence, hatred, racism, bigotry and terrorism. What help can this peace we share offer the world?

Sounds like a pretty hopeless reality–what difference will this simple act of sharing Christ’s peace make in this world we live in?  I have felt that over the last few days after hearing about the shootings and violence and hatred running rampant in this country. Can true peace be achieved here–anywhere?  Will love win out?

The peace we share with one another at church can make a difference, but we need to take it further than just giving a hug or handshake to those we know and mumble a quick “peace be with you.”  Like the “Amen” we say after each prayer. That “peace be with you” offers a lot of power–power for good in each others’ lives and in the life of the world.

To make a difference, we need to take it out to the world.  We need to offer this peace to so many more people than just the ones we know. Jesus offered this peace to a group of people scared out of their wits, worried they would be rounded up and killed all because they followed Jesus.  Jesus offered a peace full of promise–I love that description.  No matter the situation, or the person, or the time, Christ’s peace is present and active and powerful. When the storms of life attempt to drown us in sorrow and who knows what else, Christ’s peace is there to calm us and give us a sure hope that God is with us, guiding us, strengthening us for whatever challenge is coming at us.

This peace is extravagant and risky and even scary–but we can’t keep it to ourselves; it is meant to be shared with those who are very different from ourselves. It needs to be shared–in the most difficult times in our lives and in the most challenging situations. God’s peace belongs to all of us of every skin color and ethnicity, belief system, orientation, age or social and economic status. There are no qualifications for this peace–it is for everyone and resides within everyone. It is ours now and always. It’s not without cost–it costs us by putting our ego to death, letting go of judgment and us v. them. It does come with a cost. But! It never runs out–we can keep sharing this peace with every person in the world and we are still full of G0d’s peace. How extravagant and wonderful is that?

Peace is always relevant, always present, always needed and always ours. Sit with that for awhile. Peace is mine. I am at peace. I live in peace and I live at peace with everyone in the world–even those we are told to hate and despise. Peace belongs to everyone. This day and everyday, peace be with you.

Peace Be With You

THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE ALWAYS WITH YOU.

“Peace, salaam, shalom alaikum!
Ancient greeting heavy with future promise
a word worn with the interchange of centuries
of meeting and parting and passing on the road,
stranger to stranger, friend to friend.
A word transmuted in the crucible of Golgotha:
‘Peace’ — uttered from beyond the grave,
from the other side of suffering,
from the one who has traveled the road
we too must travel, from a place
we too must visit.

‘Peace is my gift to you,
my own peace I give to you,
not as the world gives
is my gift of peace to you.’

May we meet again in this place, you and I;
may we make it through safely, you and I;
for we meet on the road to Jerusalem,
city of death, city of peace.”*

*Reprinted from Mark Searle in Liturgical Gestures, Words, Objects, Eleanor Bernstein, CSJ, ed. © 1995 Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Liturgy.  Used with permission.

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