by Sister Rose Marie, C.P.
MORNING PRAYER (LAUDS) REFLECTION:
MP Lectio: Psalm 86 (confident and humble trust in God)
Poverty and deep need before God. Trust God when in distress—to preserve, to save, to have mercy, to give joy, to answer us. “The servant who trusts in you” cries out for saving grace and help against the foe. “The servant who trusts in you” knows that “surely you will reply.” This is the response he gives when his confidence in you is tried.
The servant who trusts in God’s goodness, truth, and wisdom humbles himself, asking that God show him His way and His truth. His servant’s heart fears that his own heart will be found un-true to God’s Heart and, therefore, displeasing to Him.
The servant who is faithful, even though poor and needy, is determined to “praise you Lord with all my heart and glorify your name forever; for your LOVE to me has been great: You have saved me from the depths of the grave.” Our trust in God and love for Him finds its’ expression in faithfully praising Him BECAUSE we know and have known His great, faithful, and saving merciful love. We trust in the God of mercy and compassion, abounding in love and truth.
The servant who trusts in God prays to be given God’s strength in order to overcome enemies according to God’s way: faithful, trusting, and generous love. He relies on God’s grace and mercy.
MIDDAY PRAYER (SEXT) REFLECTION:
Antiphon: “Whoever follows me does not walk in the dark. He will have the light of life.”
This antiphon reminds me of the light of faith. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Faith is the light by which we see and walk and are able to trace our journey on this earth in a way pleasing to God. Christ says that we will possess the light of life when we follow Him. To actively follow Christ is to have living faith in Him. And in order to continue to always follow Christ, we need not only faith, but also faithfulness. Fidelity. We possess the infinite fullness of Christ (the light of life) to the extent of our faith and faithfulness.
God, Himself, is pure faithfulness. We vow faithfulness to Him who is eternally faithful to us. In the Liturgy of the Hours, our ‘freely offered praise’ is an expression of living faith, our faithfulness and fidelity in response to His.
Determination (resolution and commitment) is absolutely necessary if we plan on being faithful to the desires and plans of God’s Heart revealed to us through Jesus, the Living Word, His Church, and through the work of the Holy Spirit in our consciences. “I have sworn and have made up my mind to obey your decrees”. We need resolution and commitment (and, sometimes, sheer determination) to decide to be guided and influenced only by the truth. “I set myself to carry out your statutes in fullness forever.”
It is good to ask Him that the power present in His word (truth) may bring us constantly deeper into the eternal life of the Trinity. We need to ask Him often to help us subject ourselves in obedience and childlike faith to His wisdom and providence— as He desires, when He desires, and for however long He desires.
His will, His truth, His “way” is a sure and safe path. Since “I do not stray from your precepts,” the wicked will not ensnare me. “Your merciful love and your truth will always guard me.”
EVENING PRAYER (VESPERS) REFLECTION:
At the heart of this psalm is the merciful goodness of God. Recalling the miracles of God’s merciful and loving providence can plunge our hearts into a deep and humble gratitude that delights the Heart of Jesus, Himself. Remembering God’s mercy with grateful love is a high form of praise.
When we bring this grateful love to bear on our hearts, we strengthen our foundation in God’s deep and faithful love. These personal miracles of experiencing God’s mercy delivering us out of sorrow and distress color and shape our relationship with God and others. Remembering God’s mercy leads us to deeper love for Him and gives us a great desire to share it with others.
“I love the Lord, for He has heard… Our God has compassion… I was helpless, so He saved me… Turn back, my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has been good.”
The Communal Liturgy and the Liturgy of the Heart
My present understanding of the liturgy of the heart is that it is nourished by the communal liturgy, while it is simultaneously deepening our participation in the communal liturgy. It seems to me that as it nourishes the life and prayer of Christ in us through the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist, we are enabled to participate more in the communal liturgy. Our participation, then, becomes an expression of our communion as we all share more and more deeply in the life and prayer of Christ.
We go to receive God’s Word and Eucharistic Presence in the liturgy of the Holy Mass. This communion with God through the communal liturgy leads our hearts to pray and live in union with the life and prayer of Christ (our liturgy of the heart). Then, through the Spirit, life, and prayer of Christ, we are brought into communion with all souls in heaven, on earth, and purgatory. The communal liturgy, then, deepens the expression of the real and living communion that exists between souls (especially in Christ’s Mystical Body) as they offer their lives and hearts in prayer.
The mystery of this “communion” between souls and God and between other souls is so profound! I know that “liturgy” (even that of the heart) does not happen in isolation though it may happen in solitude. It is truly an amazing reality that we have others with us in our hearts, since we are one in the Heart of Jesus. “…we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another,” and, “All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.” (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:13)
My understanding of the liturgy is summed up in these words of St. Paul: “For me, to live is Christ.” (Phil 1:21) I receive Christ’s real presence when I participate in the communal celebration of the Mass. Through the Holy Mass (the communal liturgy), Christ’s word, life, and presence in my heart then leads my heart to offer all that I am, feel, think, say, and do in union with the offering of Christ in the Mass. So then everything in my life becomes, through faith, an experience of God and a response to Him. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7) In this way, life itself becomes a prayer through the Holy Spirit’s directing us in our interaction with the HolyTrinity and with one another. To me, this seems like one way of explaining what it means to pray “in spirit and in truth.”
I know that my “liturgy of the heart” extends to every last detail of each day (as I pray in my morning offering). So I can remind myself at any moment of a given day, that the least thing that I do for love of God and others, even if only taking another step on the stair, is part of my heart’s prayer. My work is a prayer. My relationships are a prayer. My rest is a prayer. And it goes on. When I can say, “to live is Christ,” everything is living prayer, or a “living liturgy,” because Christ is in me, and I am in Him. My heart’s liturgy enables me to offer my life as a “living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God,” as I respond to God’s will in each moment. This is “spiritual worship” as St. Paul says in Romans 12:1.
This understanding helps me to remember throughout the day the reality of my communion with Christ and others. As I move through the different stages of my day, I can call to mind that I live, act, and pray “Through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,” so that “all glory and honor is yours Almighty Father, forever and ever.” In my heart, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and the whole Body of Christ: “Make us an everlasting gift to you”, “a living sacrifice of praise.” Because of this understanding of the heart’s liturgy, I find even greater meaning in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, offering myself with Jesus to the Father in union with Mary, that we all will receive His grace and mercy.
(Click to read)