The Liturgy of the Hours in the Home, Christ in Our Hearts

The Liturgy of the Hours in the Home, Christ in Our Hearts

Elizabeth Foss, homeschooling mother of eight, writes about incorporating the Liturgy of the Hours into her day:

If John Paul II warmly recommended it, that works for me. There was no caveat against mothers praying the Hours or no warning that it is not intended for households with children under three. Just a warm recommendation.

If she can do it, so can anyone, I think. And she agrees:

This sounds like so much!And it is. But it’s not. It’s one of those things that, once you do it, you wonder how you ever functioned without it. Truthfully, tell me, if someone told you fifteen years ago that you’d be spending the time you do sitting in front of a computer screen, wouldn’t you have been amazed? How would you find that kind of time? But you made that time, didn’t you? And in many ways you are a better person for the things you’ve discovered during that time. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours comes with no caveats. The time you found for the computer has been good time and it’s been wasted time. Really.
The time you spend with God? It’s all good.

Though I would add that anyone inspired by her example should probably start small, saying perhaps just morning and evening prayer, and build up. Don’t try to do it all at once or you may well find yourself overwhelmed and discouraged. I’d also add that in the five years or so I’ve been praying the Liturgy, I’ve had many periods where I prayed more of the hours and many more periods when I have prayed less or not at all. During the early stages of pregnancy I often fell asleep with very little of the prayers said. Likewise when recovering from a c-section and learning how to nurture a newborn. (Though sometimes those late night feeding sessions are perfect for such prayers, at other times even prayer seemed like more than I could handle.) Be patient with yourself, with your failures, persevere. You will miss prayer times, you will skip them because you just don’t feel like it and you will backslide. But if you pick yourself up and try again, your perseverance will be rewarded.

Elizabeth also says, “Morning Prayer is fairly simple for me to pray on a regular basis. I am a morning person and this is what I do first thing.” I, on the other hand, am not a morning person. My wake up clock is usually Bella’s yelling when she drops a toy out of the crib or gets tired of playing by herself. Getting up before she does to pray just is not realistic. So I usually say it after we’ve both had breakfast. I retire to my bedroom, get dressed, make the bed and then sit down and pray while she wanders in and out and plays on the floor. Sometimes I do get interrupted when she’s not content to amuse herself, it’s not the most peaceful way to pray. I try to pray Daytime prayer and the Office of Readings during her nap time. If I don’t need a nap myself.  Dom and I try to pray Evening Prayer (Vespers) after we put Bella to bed. Or else we pray Night Prayer (Compline) right before we go to sleep. But that schedule has changed and adapted depending on my needs, my changing physical state and Bella’s changing needs. I’ve learned to be flexible and to not be too hard on myself when I am not able to do what I used to be able to do.

In a related note, Pope Benedict offers the following about liturgical song in his homily at midnight mass:

According to the Fathers, part of the angels� Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise. Liturgical song – still according to the Fathers – possesses its own peculiar dignity through the fact that it is sung together with the celestial choirs. It is the encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us capable of hearing the song of the angels, thus creating the real music that fades away when we lose this singing-with and hearing-with.

I don’t chant or sing the Liturgy. But even when praying the Liturgy of the Hours silently, it still has for me an echo of that celestial music. When I pray the psalms, I pray in union with the Church, in union with those who do sing or chant them. And thus I am also united, however indirectly, with the celestial choirs. In fact, in reading them silently, that very silence leaves room for God to enter in.

And Aimee Milburn, picking up the Holy Father’s train of thought, writes:

.  As the priest said during the mass I attended last night, �We gather here to sing Christmas carols and celebrate the birth of Christ.  But really our own lives are to become Christmas carols, songs of the birth of Christ in us, as He is born and grows in us.�

He is right.  When Christ is born in us, a song is born in us, and if we live for Him our lives become a song to Christ, ringing out through all creation.  So let us not be afraid, but open up, abandon the old world and its ways, and enter and begin living by the new, allowing the new world to enter us, and enter the world through us, in and through Christ.

Praying the Liturgy is another way of nurturing the Christ child within ourselves. As Elizabeth says, again, in another post: “We hope, we pray that we will one day very soon be dwelling places for a baby. But we know, with ever-increasing certainty, that we are called to be dwelling places for the Holy Infant. He alone can fill us forever.”

This Christmas season as we prepare for the long journey of the coming year, we being with a small, quiet song, a hope growing in the darkness. An infant has been born into the world, born into our hearts. We must nurture that child, give him room to grow. So that we will one day become one with Him.

Thanks to Elizabeth for reminding me how important the Liturgy of the Hours are for nourishing the life of faith within our busy homes. Thanks to her for inspiring me to strive to do more, pray more. If she, with her hands as full as they are, can manage as much as she does, perhaps I can do a little more than I have been doing.

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