The Rhythm of Prayer

December_pictures_046When I first starting reconsidering Rhythm and Beauty, I began to make notes about how I wanted to incorporate the rhythm of the Lord into every moment of our day. It seemed at once overwhelming and simple to infuse our days with God's rhythm. After all, our God is a God of order and our Church has its own daily rhythm. But, I am not a monk and often my monastery bells are of the childish variety.This post is nearly six months in the writing.
    The Church's rhythm is the Liturgy of the Hours. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that , "The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole people of God." Even mothers with houses full of little children:-). John Paul II had great faith in the ability of the laity to prayer the Divine Office. He used his Wednesday audience to teach on the Psalms and he began his teaching with these words:

In the Apolostolic Letter Novo Millenio Ieunte, I expressed the hope the the Church would become more and more distinguished in the "art of Prayer" learning it ever anew from the lips of the divine master. This effort must be expressed above all in the liturgy, the source and summit of ecclesial life. Consequently, it is important to devote greater pastoral care to promoting the Liturgy of the Hours as a prayer of the whole people of God...If, in fact, priests have a precise mandate to celebrate it, it is also warmly recommended to lay people.

If John Paul II warmly recommended it, that works for me. There was no caveat against mothers praying the Hours or no warning that it is not intended for households with children under three. Just a warm recommendation. Like pretty much everything else worthwhile in a homeschooling mom's life, this endeavor required organization. It took a good deal of time to learn about how the Divine Office is prayed and for what all those different ribbons were sewn into Christian Prayer. The Unversalis site is an excellent source. If you don't mind sitting in front of your computer, you can almost pray the entire office from the site. It's a good way to become familiar with the different components as I fumble with all those ribbons.I've linked the site at the top of the righthand sidebar.  I learned that the Office is flexible enough to work in my household, provided that I'm disciplined enough to make it happen.
     Morning Prayer is meant to be said first thing in the morning. First, I pray the Invitatory Psalm (the Church's introduction to her gifts for the day).After that, Lauds consists of a hymn, two psalms , an Old Testament canticle, a short reading, and prayers of intercession. These prayers are ideally followed by Mass. Morning Prayer is fairly simple for me to pray on a regular basis. I am a morning person and this is what I do first thing. Ideally, I follow my morning prayer with the Office of Readings. This is the flexible part. It can be said at any time of day at all. Usually, I fix Nicholas a cup of tea and set him up with the sports page after Morning Prayer. Then, I can do the Office of Readings. If Kari awakens, she'll nurse while I pray. Anyone else can wait for me. This is my time to truly immerse myself in the Word and to listen to God. It's a good time to take notes and make resolutions. It's also a time to consult Divine Intimacy, for Carmelite inspiration. If, for some reason (and I can think of eight or nine), I am interrupted, I can move the Office of Readings to naptime. If worse comes to worst, I can take it with me and go early to pick up at ballet or soccer and pray it in the car while I wait.
    The Office of Readings contains much food for thought and prayer. There is a sizable Scripture reading, followed by a second reading, taken from the early Church or old homilies or from the writings or biographies of the saints. Truly, our faith is so beautifully revealed in the Office of Readings that I'm astounded that it's such a well-kept secret! This is the good stuff--the stuff that will sustain us and make us holy. This is the Word of God and the living faith of His people. It's all here. And it's so organized. Perfect, perfect rhythm (and those who know me, know I never, ever say "perfect").
    I do like to pick out the collect for the day and a brief biography of the saint to share with the children before we begin lessons.Usually, I find these at Catholic Culture.We also pray a decade of the rosary and a morning offering and consecration prayer. I love the Patmos rosary book for the joyful mysteries and I do hope that there are more coming soon. The daytime prayers--Terce, Sext, and None--are to be said separately at about nine, noon and three or I can choose to say one single daytime prayer, depending on the time it's said. Usually, it's simple enough to say this one with the children at noon, before lunch.
    Vespers is tricky. Frankly, my life is pretty crazy and entirely lacking in rhythm at this hour of day. Every day is different and it even differs from day to day and week to week. I'm told that this hour is supposed to take me from the bustle of the day to the calm of the evening. I find that I need to put it off until I'm nursing the baby to sleep.And, truthfully, this is where I start to fade. So it takes real effort for December_pictures_072_2me to focus and stay awake during Vespers.
    The Compline is the Church's night prayers.These are fairly easy to say in community--my community is my family. The Compline can be combined with Vespers and as my children get older, I'd like to see that happen. For now, I use The Night Prayerbook with the children and we say the Compline together.This is also our time for any seasonal novena.The exception is Sunday Vespers. Patmos has done a beautiful job of making Sunday Vespers accessible for family prayer and so,we get to that as often as possible.I've found it helps to light a candle and make it quiet, holy and apart from the rushabout routine. I'm slowly working on ideas for special candles. We have very much enjoyed using my "JOY" luminaria since Gaudete Sunday. So I'm brainstorming for what to light during ordinary time.It also helps to pray at the same time every night, as much as possible.
    I fall asleep saying the rosary. If I don't finish (and I often don't), I ask my guardian angel to finish for me. I am also a huge, huge fan of a rosary CD in the car and the iPod so that I can hear the rosary while driving or while pushing a stroller around the block. I sneak a decade in when nursing or washing dishes. I'm still pretty much addicted to the rosary.
    This sounds like so much!And it is. But it's not. It's one of those things that, once you do it, you wonder how you ever functioned without it. Truthfully, tell me, if someone told you fifteen years ago that you'd be spending the time you do sitting in front of a computer screen, wouldn't you have been amazed? How would you find that kind of time? But you made that time, didn't you? And in many ways you are a better person for the things you've discovered during that time. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours comes with no caveats. The time you found for the computer has been good time and it's been wasted time. Really.
The time you spend with God? It's all good.