Everyday Monasticism Part 2
Last week we defined everyday monasticism. It’s living daily in contemplation of the goodness of our Lord. We discussed how this gospel we are all wrecked over is a Catholic gospel. That’s not to say that we are all Catholic, but that the word Catholic is defined as “all embracing.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is for all. All were included in the gospel.
This week and the following two more weeks we are going to have a brief discussion of the Divine Office–the Liturgy of the Hours.
There’s a lot of whack, a lot of glory on the Liturgy of the Hours. Our Catholic and orthodox friends have quite the revelation when it comes to worshiping God in this way. Where some who have taken a straight shot of grace and continue to do so might call the Liturgy of the Hours religious, others of us are able to see the beauty in the Divine Office.
Those who regularly pray the Divine Office may be doing so out of a religious motivation to “do something” for God or prove their devotion to him. Both of which are unnecessary, rightly agreed; however, those who pray the Divine Office regularly also understand why they are doing it other than religious devotion. By praying the Divine Office each day they are recentering their focus on God during the various hours of the day. They are engaging in active contemplation–thinking deeply about our Lord and committing themselves to him over and over.
Those of us, again, who have as Crowder puts it, have chosen to “drink grace straight”, may look at the act of committing ourselves to the Lord over and over as unnecessary religion, but those who do it often see it merely as a part of their daily lives.
The Monks of the Desert located in New Mexico are part of a Benedictine Abbey called Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert. They are a cloistered, or sheltered, group of men who have given their lives to Ora (prayer) and Labora (work). They live and work at the monastery, which is beautiful, and pray the Divine Office each day between their work.
The following is taken from their website and gives an overview of their daily schedule:
4:00 AM – Vigils – , begins with the verse from Psalm 50, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
5:45AM – Lauds – This is the prayer of the Church as light returns to earth, recounting the eternal light bestowed on the world by the Risen Christ.
8:45 AM – Terce – the first of the “little hours” in which the monks come together and pray
1:00 PM – Sext – the second of the “little hours” in which the monks come together and pray.
3:30 PM – None – the last of the “little hours” in which the monks come together and pray.
5:30 PM – Vespers – This includes a half-hour of praying psalms, a hymn, the Magnificat, and a prolonged prayer of intercessions for the needs and intentions of the entire Church.
7:30 PM – Compline – Consists of a penitential rite, three psalms, a hymn, and an antiphon sung to Our Lady that varies according to the liturgical season.
Lauds is is morning prayer where the congregation focuses on praise. When praying Lauds, you’re thinking about the goodness of God for keeping you safe in the night. Often during Compline, the last prayer of the day, the congregation will pray Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” You are spending time praising God for a good night, for life to devote to Him, and asking for the day to be blessed and for your mind to stay in contemplation of His greatness.
A psalm often read or sang during Lauds is Psalm 62.
O God, you are my God, I watch for you from the dawn.
My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you.
I came to your sanctuary,
as one in a parched and waterless land,
so that I could see your might and your glory.
My lips will praise you, for your mercy is better than life itself.
Thus I will bless you throughout my life,
and raise my hands in prayer to your name;
my soul will be filled as if by rich food,
and my mouth will sing your praises and rejoice.
I will remember you as I lie in bed,
I will think of you in the morning,
for you have been my helper,
and I will take joy in the protection of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand raises me up.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Everyday Monasticism: Lauds
Don’t run out and join a monastery. By practicing everyday monasticism, you can enjoy celebrating Lauds by waking in the morning and sitting with your coffee and think about the wonders of God. Think about the grace we’ve been offered that Paul talks about in Romans 6-8. Celebrate that we’ve died with Christ and because we died with Him, we have also raised to life with Him! (Romans 6:8). Allow your day to begin with praise. It beats turning on CNN the first thing and seeing what else went wrong during the night.
Celebrating Lauds sets your heart on the goodness and majesty and grace of Christ. It helps you to pray about your day and remember that you are an open heaven. Everything you do is blessed because “Christ, who is your life, [has] appeared, and you [will] appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). There is nothing you can do apart from Him. He’s living His life inside you. The Distilled Translation tells us that Jesus is using our bodies (Galatians 2:20).
Don’t get religious. But do go into this week and practice loving God each morning. See how your days go!