The Gift of Praying the Liturgy of the Hours
by Dovile Cooper | July 23, 2017
There have been many blessings in the diaconal formation process. One of these gifts is praying the Liturgy of the Hours every morning and evening.
This collection of psalms, canticles, readings and prayers links me to the church today and through the ages. It connects me to the very prayer of Jesus. A few years ago I visited the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit in Boston. The displayed sheets of papyrus were written in Hebrew and were 2000 years old. The commentary informed me that the text was a compilation of the psalms collected for prayer. A Psalter! Jesus himself may have used a similar Psalter to spend time with the Father. Jesus prayed the psalms most perfectly. Through the Psalter I can enter into the prayer of Jesus Himself.
The monastic tradition has used the Psalter since its beginning thanks to the efforts of St. Benedict in the early sixth century. Now with a few changes, every ordained deacon is called to be part of this prayer. As the wife of a diaconal candidate, I join in, supporting my husband in this joyful duty. Although our morning prayer looks different than that of the monastics, it is essentially the same. We read the prayers, chasing away the morning cobwebs and gravelly throats with coffee on our front porch; the monks sit in the stalls at the Abbey Church chanting the psalms. Our wills are directed heavenward, praise fills our hearts and minds; we are fortified by prayer for the events of the day. We know that our prayers are joined by many others who are praying similarly.
This mini-communal prayer adjusts our perspective. Since it is one of the first activities of the day, it reminds us that God is God. We turn to Him before we work, because he is our salvation, our strength and our wisdom. It helps fix the ego problem which is ready to take over. This prayer also reminds us that we are called to serve those around us. It puts us in the proper place in the communities we inhabit and pray for. Finally, it reminds us that we are not our own, but we are God’s own people bought with a great price.
As the day draws to an end, we pray Evening prayer. Once again, we can review events of the day. This time we have the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer rejoicing in God’s great work. All the joys and sorrows of the day were within God’s great plan. Sometimes this is obvious, at other times it is mysterious, at other times hard to believe. Once more before retiring for the night we are reminded through the Prayer of the Church, that God is there, He is active, He cares for His people, He cares for us and those we pray for. We are called to be at peace.
This gift of Morning and Evening prayer has been blessing us throughout the four years of formation. I look forward to seeing the new ways the Lord will use this gift to bless us and His church after ordination.
This blog post was contributed by Dovile Cooper, Saint Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, NH.