Saturday, December 7, 2013
When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours we participate in the rhythmic repetition of the morning and evening canticles that we find here in Luke. They – along with the presentation of petition, glorification and thanksgiving through the psalms – give our days and nights a deep sense of tranquility. These times of meditation and contemplation create the pathways through which God speaks. The heart, in this way, willingly readies the soul in hospitality for the reception of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ. Prayer cleanses the mind, prepares the spirit and animates the heart for the reception of God’s revelation to us. Nothing can be more important for it is our intentional and incidental prayers that bring us sanity and serenity. These canticles of praise help us to travel through our days, our years, our lives.
No one experiences life without feeling distress and anxiety, and it is when we turn to God – the source of all that is good – that we are healed, lifted up, salvaged and restored. When we allow harm to transform us through our grieving and our trust in God, we find the joy expressed in the canticles we read today. We also find reason to celebrate God’s salvific love.
These canticles sung by Zechariah who finds his voice after the loss of speech, and by Mary, who anticipated greatest joy and greatest sorrow, are meant to carry us from sun up to sun down continually. The canticle of Simeon, which the Liturgy of the Hours designates as part of the Night Prayer, is an anthem of gratitude, and together these songs can bracket our goings and our comings, they can guide our days and nights, they can fill us with hope and trust in God.
I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine . . . In my time of distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice . . . From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears . . . The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them . . . “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”. Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.
And so we pray . . .
God is in his temple and he hears my voice, it reaches his ears . . . we are the temple in which God resides, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
They tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power . . . we have nothing to fear when we walk in the way which is lighted by the light of Christ.
Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one . . . we have everything to gain when we live in God.
As we begin our Advent journey, let us sing these canticles at dawn, at the setting of the sun, and when we lie down to rest. And as we escape from the power of terror’s grip and watch it melt away, let us turn to God in all things, in all ways, at all times . . . and let us sing our canticle of joy. Amen.
Adapted from a reflection written on April 3, 2009.
To explore these songs of praise and what they can mean to us, click on the images above or go to The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.