by Sister Mary Andrea, C.P.
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MORNING PRAYER (LAUDS) REFLECTION:
MP; 2nd Psalm Fri., Wk I (PS 100)
Nearly each morning, we use this Psalm, which cries out to all of creation to sing praise to God with joyful hearts, to serve Him, to know Him. “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Serving with gladness, for me, entails a choice that I have made, and continue to make, to serve, serving because it is He Whom I serve, not necessarily because the form of service is enjoyable. “He made us, we belong to Him, we are His people.” What joy it is to know that I belong not to an unknown group, nor to some vague idea, nor even to a mere man, but to God Himself! God has created me to belong to Him, and He allows me to know this, indeed He even desires that I know this. “We are His people, the sheep of His flock.” Yet, I am not alone in my belonging to Him. He makes me part of His “flock”, giving me other “sheep” (the Church on earth & in Heaven, my family, this Passionist Community) to support me, to give me comfort and encouragement in following Him. “Go within His gates.” For me, this image of going within His gates calls to mind God’s open invitation to come to Him, to enter within my soul where I can be with God, even as I begin the day. The Psalm ends overflowing with words calling us to praise and thank God for His greatness, His eternal (faithful), merciful love, as if the Psalmist cannot make himself stop calling us to praise God, so happy is he that God is God. May I take this enthusiasm to praise God with me throughout the day, allowing it to carry me to respond in love to Love.
MIDDAY PRAYER (SEXT) REFLECTION:
Psalm 119:9-16; Daytime Wed., wk I:
This section of Ps 119 starts out with the question, “How shall the young remain sinless?” followed by the Psalmist’s answer: “By obeying Your word.” This reminds me of the importance of obedience – attentive listening – to all that God asks of me throughout the day, however He chooses to present His Will to me. As I pray this Psalm, I am also reminded of why I came to the Monastery; “I have sought You with all my heart.” And I ask God, “Let me not stray from Your commands.” As I continue with the Psalmist in his prayer, I learn more specifically how to be attentive to God’s will for me, and also how to cooperate with the graces that He is offering to me. Namely, by treasuring God’s “promises in my heart”, praising Him in all circumstances, repeating His decrees throughout the day, pondering His ways, and finding my joy in Him and in doing His will.
EVENING PRAYER (VESPERS) REFLECTION:
EP; 1ST Psalm Wed., Wk III (PS 126)
In this Psalm, the Psalmist is remembering God’s deliverance of Zion (the Israelites) out of a previous bondage and remembering the awe of the Psalmist and his fellow Israelites as they came to realize that God truly had delivered them. Even their enemies, the heathens, seem to express some belief in God’s power, so great is this manifestation of His goodness. Now, as the Psalmist writes the Psalm, Israel again finds itself in need of God’s deliverance and thus begs God to deliver them, to set them free as dry land allows the waters of a stream to flow not only in it’s streambed, but also through all the land.
As I pray this Psalm, I, too recall God’s mercy in delivering me from “bondages” from which I could not free myself, thanking God for His grace to respond to His invitation to be His Bride, freeing me from the bonds with which the world held me in this regard. As I continue with this Psalm, I pray that God that He deliver me from the bonds which hold me now from responding more fully to His grace in my life. “Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap. They go out, they go out full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing.” Although I now feel the heaviness of the crosses, the tightness of the bonds, I know that these are the “seeds” of holiness, which God has given to me. One day (even if not until Heaven), I will sing as I reap the harvest of the virtues and the freedom to love God more fully which He desires to give to me through this “sowing”.
ongoing “liturgy of the heart”:
What is my present understanding of the ongoing “liturgy of the heart” and how it relates to the communal liturgy?
As I understand it, the ongoing “liturgy of the heart” is the prayer that continues within us, whether or not we are actually participating in / celebrating the communal liturgy. In fact, this ongoing “liturgy of the heart” can, and perhaps even should, be happening within us when we are not specifically aware of it. In each case, Christ is the Priest, inviting and calling us to partake in the liturgy on behalf of His people. In order to partake in the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”, we need to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as to how to pray, whereas in the communal liturgy it is possible to “go through the motions”, but not really to be attentive to the Holy Spirit. In the communal liturgy, we give voice to many different desires and longings of the human heart, the desire to praise and love God, the desire to spend eternity with Him, the desire to “hear” His voice and to follow His way, and more. In the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”, we continue to express these desires to God in the quiet of our hearts, desires which sometimes flow out in our words and actions. As it takes time for us to grow into the communal liturgy – what to say or sing, what page to be on, when to stand, sit, kneel, etc... – so also, the ongoing “liturgy of the heart” takes time for us to grow into. It does not happen overnight.
Does this understanding help me during the day, and if so, in what way(s)? Be specific.
Throughout the day, by being aware of the fact that I am here to participate in the liturgy, I seek to turn my heart and my mind again and again back to the Lord. In the communal liturgy, we do not pray alone, but are surrounded by angels and saints. So, also in the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”, we are not alone. Angels, saints, and our deceased loved ones are with us. What a comfort this is when I feel unable to pray or am aware of my weakness and need for prayer from others, I need only to call upon them to help me. In the communal liturgy, we use pre-written prayers (Psalms) or songs that others have written, but there are also times of silence for our own prayers or simple resting in the Word. In the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”, we may use pre-written prayers (Psalms), songs that others have written, or parts of these, but we are not bound to stick to them exactly. For example, we may put our own words to a familiar psalm or tune – if God so inspires us – or we may simply rest with the melody in the “background”. In the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”, we are not even bound to use these pre-written prayers and songs, so long as we are attentive to the Holy Spirit Who prays within us. Even just a “yes” (fiat) to this prayer within us is participation in the ongoing “liturgy of the heart”. In fact, sometimes this “yes” or a plea of “Help me, Lord, to pray” may be all that I feel I can manage at a given moment.