When I first began to pray the Liturgy of the Hours Easter and Christmas were a revelation. I never before knew that each of these feasts was not a single day but an octave, a celebration that is so huge and earth-shattering that it takes a full week to properly celebrate. This is most clear when you pray Morning and Evening Prayer during the octave. For the full eight days you pray Morning and Evening Prayer for Sunday Week I. Every day the same psalms, the same antiphons. It is kind of like the movie Groundhog Day, you just keep repeating the same thing over and over. The first year or two of praying the Liturgy of the Hours it was just stunning to be able to enter so deeply into the Easter joy, not to have to feel like it was all packed away Easter Monday but to know that Easter just kept on going and going and going.
But I must confess that over time the newness wore off and in the past few years I began to almost dread the octave. The same prayers over and over. How dull. How tedious. Sigh.
I am so grateful to the Divine Office podcast for bringing the newness back to my experience of the Liturgy. On Easter morning I plugged my iPhone into the iHome speakers in my kitchen and hit play and then my heart soared. They were chanting the psalms! Before I even got to the end I was planning to play it again. I just have to listen to this again! All those glorious alleluias! And then I remembered: I do get to listen to it again! Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. A full eight days of it!
And still today I am on that high. It hasn’t grown old. It’s just as wonderful today as it was on the first day. I still want to play each hour again and again. The only difference is now I’m starting to really sing along: The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shown on the people redeemed by his blood, alleluia.
Our redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, alleluia.
Alleluia, the Lord is risen as he promised, alleluia.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the Lord’s tomb alleluia.
Come and see the place where the Lord was buried, alleluia.
Jesus said: Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see me, alleluia.
And Oh! the chanted Benedictus and Magnificat and the Te Deum at the end of the Office of Readings! If you haven’t heard it yet, I beg you to go to their website and listen to Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer and the Office of Readings now before the Octave is over. This just shouldn’t be missed. It will make you want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the Church.
The children are all catching the Easter fever too. Ben hears the prayers begin and runs into the kitchen to tell me that he loves it. I later hear him chanting alleluias as he plays in the living room. The girls sing alleluias too. We have all become alleluia people. And this is how it is meant to be. The resurrection changes everything. It brings our dead souls to life and we can’t help but sing out our joy.
Tonight Ben relived with me again the Easter vigil, recalling the candles shining in the darkness. He asked me why it was dark and told me how much he loved it when Father Currie brought the candle in. Tonight I just had to listen to the Exsultet one more time:
Now wasn’t that simply heaven on earth? Oh it really was hearing it while in a church lit up only by candle light, warmed by the glow of my children’s faces.
A very happy Easter to you all. Christ is Risen! He is truly, truly risen! Alleluia!