Bella’s Compline

At three and a half Bella is still not quite willing to give up her afternoon nap. And since Sophie and Ben both need an afternoon nap (and often me too) it is convenient for me when she decides to sleep. Yet too often the consequence of this convenience is that she isn’t really ready to go to sleep when we tuck the girls in at 8 o’clock.

So she pops out of her bed three or four or more times before she finally settles down for the night:

I need to use the potty….

I need a tissue for my nose….

I need more water in my sippy cup….

I need socks on my feet….

I can’t find my piggy….

I’m having trouble sleeping….

And so Dom or I resettle her, take care of the stated need. We try to be patient and gently soothe her toward sleep. (Sometimes, of course, we fail and snap: What now?)

It’s easiest when she has a complaint like needing socks. But what to do with I’m having trouble sleeping?

Usually when I went to tuck her in for that fifth or sixth time and as I spread her quilts over her I whispered a prayer as I often do in the quiet dark. St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle…. Angel of God, my guardian dear…. Hail Mary…. Our Father…. A litany of our family’s patron saints. It seemed to work. She was comforted by the prayers. So that became our routine when she was having trouble sleeping. But it felt rather formless, I was always ad libbing and there was no certain end. I would just sort of grind to a halt. And sometimes it didn’t seem to work so well, she’d still be tossing and turning, rustling in the darkness of her bed.

Then one night she came out while I was nursing Ben and reading the Liturgy of the Hours. It suddenly occurred to me that Mother Church has provided us with the perfect prayers for late-night I’m having trouble sleeping. Compline is always the last thing I do before falling asleep. It always settles me and often I’m out before I finish praying. My iPod slips out of my hand in the dark and I find it later when I wake to Ben stirring. I decided to read them aloud to her. She has been used to praying the Liturgy of the Hours with me at other times and so is accustomed to repeating prayers after me. And so together we prayed. And then she scampered off to her bed and didn’t come out again.

Thereafter when I knelt by her bed in the dark I’d pray those prayers of the Night Office that are the same day after day, the responsory, the canticle (Benedictus) and the final Marian prayer, I omit the psalm and reading and final prayer that change daily. Bella has now memorized almost all of these prayers. And it seems that just saying this little Office is enough to settle her for the night. She never comes out again once I’ve prayed Compline with her.

Here’s what we pray:

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

O God, come to my assistance.
—O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Amen.

Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
� Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, Lord, God of faithfulness.
� Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
� Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Amen.

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

May the all powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

Amen.

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

 

3 Responses to Bella’s Compline

  1. Erika March 2, 2010 at 6:24 am #

    Thank God for antibiotics! Many prayers for you all…

  2. Katherine March 2, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    Hope all of you are feeling well soon!

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  1. Master Index of Liturgy of the Hours Posts - The Wine-Dark Sea - February 21, 2015

    […] Bella’s Compline My reflections on praying night prayer, otherwise known as compline, with my 3 year-old daughter. […]

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