To live in Christ is to pray, is to become prayer. Fragments of our lives are thus gathered, offered, and transformed into bread for others, into Eucharist, into the Kingdom of God. Like the turning of a kaleidescope, prayer draws our bits and pieces into pattern.
(Continued from yesterday)
Prime (First Hour) "Prime shares with spring and early morning both newness and the sort of clarity emphasized by contrast." The prevailing theme is LOVE.
How beautiful and comforting is the sight
Of Brethren who dwell together in unity!
It's like precious balm poured on the head
Til it drips down onto the beard...
Tierce (Third Hour) In this "down to business" hour, Egan speaks to the practice of praying the words of others. "When we employ words they're like boats carrying the expression of our hearts to God. It matters more that they are good boats, than that we built them..."
This chapter is a treasure trove: Psalms, prayers of saints, the Lord's prayer, prayers lifted from the Divine liturgy, and the Jesus Prayer--Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Regarding the latter, she shares this lovely reflection from Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris:
The Jesus prayer helps to lift the whole life, body and soul, to a level where senses and imagination no longer seek for outward change or stimulation, where all is subordinated to the one aim of centering the whole attention of body and soul upon God in the sense that the world is sought and known in the beauty of God, not God in the beauty of the world.
Sext (Sixth Hour) This is the somber hour of crucifixion. And in it we must examine the role of the cross in our own lives.
The cross comes to us without our seeking it...Our task is to embrace its manifestations, allowing them to break us open, to smelt us in the furnace of suffering, purging the dross from the gold of experience, gradually weaning us from this passing life as the imperishable one develops within us.
It's a long journey from dust to divinity...Learning to see as God does--putting on the "mind of Jesus Christ," accepting what goes against the grain--turns adversity into fuel, into love...Faith untried is a wrapped gift. Adversity embraced unwraps it.
Nones (Ninth Hour): "Nones is the fullness of day. By its ripened light...we are able to see prayer in its fullest expression: the Eucharist, gathering all the fragments of our individual lives to offer them as part of the whole grateful hymn of redeemed creation."
Vespers: "Vespers sums up and, with lavish splendor, distills our day, reminding us of the 'joyous radiance'; Christ, the 'glorious outpouring of the immortal Father.'"
Vespers is candlelight, incense and bells. If it were a month, it would be October.
...For in the same way that the sun summons all the rich tints of the day through which it has traveled to make a final coloratura display before it sinks behind the hills, the waning year gathers its forces into a last explosion of brilliant October color before going dormant.
Compline: "The word 'Compline' is from the Latin completorium, meaning the hour that completes the others...Compline appears to share the darkness of Matins but, by now, Christ has so fully illumined the hours that even night is light."
Compline is incompatible with delusion. In that hour we are naked before God...the deep peace of Compline rests securely on both the recognition of the truth of our sinful nature and its healing through the cross of Christ.
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
*All unattributed quotes in the post: Patricia Colling Egan from A Book of Hours: Meditations on the Traditional Christian Hours of Prayer.