Posts Tagged ‘Liturgy of the Hours’

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Liturgy of the Hours – Part II

Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.

Sext is the traditional noontime prayer and those who are frequent visitors of The Noontimes gather petitions to send on to God.  This pause in the middle of the day can steady frayed nerves and give us courage.  Pausing to relieve the tensions we experience in the living of ordinary lives, we place the burden of our worries precisely where they belong . . . in God’s capable and loving hands.

The None or Nones prayers are gathered at 3:00 p.m. and when we read scripture carefully we discover that the apostles maintained the Jewish tradition of going up to the Temple at this hour to pray.  In Acts 3 we read a delightful story of God entering into Peter and John’s lives in an amazing way when they go up to the temple area to pray at the three o’clock hour of prayer.  We modern-day disciples are given the chance to join our prayers with others as this mid afternoon hour moves from east to west around the globe . . . and to ask for our own amazing experience.

Sext at noon and None as we reach the middle of the afternoon, these prayer intervals interrupt the denser part of the work day and ask us to pause either for a sliver of a moment or for a half hour or hour, whatever is practical in our lives.  Sext and None, keeping us anchored as we bring our work to God. Sext and None, guiding us through hectic and perhaps tense hours. Sext and None . . . preparing us for our return home to take refuge before night closes us in.

These two afternoon intervals, along with their sisters in this rhythmic cycle of prayer, bring to us an opening to God’s presence in a special way.  Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers or Evensong, and ComplineThese invitations to join the faithful in prayer lifted to the Creator are ours.  These opportunities each day and night as a call to bring our sorrows and joys to God are ours.  These petitions and offertories we bring forward as our hopes and dreams regularly and faithfully are the heartbeats of the Spirit that unite us.

Whenever and wherever possible let us pause, if even only for a moment, at these appointed times to join our sisters and brothers in Christ because in this way we will come to more completely understand that we are never alone. In this way we more intensely feel that we are always accompanied.  And in this way we more fully join the chorus that rises like incense to God in a powerful cascade of love and prayer.

We can spend time on with The Story of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3.

Image from: http://dailytimewithgod.com/?p=3907

To read about research that investigates the power of prayer, go to: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,193084,00.html

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Luke 2:29-32


My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations.

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Canticle of Simeon is sung as part of Compline or Night Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.  For the story of Simeon, read Luke 2:22-35.

God says: Simeon is a faithful servant who waited patiently for the fulfillment of my promise that he would see the messiah before death came to him.  Just as Mary and Joseph were presenting the child, Jesus, in the Temple, this loyal servant saw in this family what I see, a trinity of hope, love and faith, promise, mercy and constancy.  Simeon also saw that the lives of these three people would be full of deep sorrow and great joy.  Simeon spoke words that I hear in waves from the faithful as they prepare to retire for the night.  Join yourself with them as you prepare for bed.  It is such a short prayer that it will not tax you.  Turn away from the cares of the world for a brief time and pray these verses.  You sleep ever so much better for having joined Simeon to visit with me.

Another faithful servant waited patiently for the appearance of God Among Us.  Tomorrow, the story of Anna . . .

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aert_de_Gelder_-_Het_loflied_van_Simeon.jpg

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mary's greatness quoteLuke 1:46-55


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. 

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Magnificat is sung as part of Vespers, or Evening Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.

God says: Imagine what I hear when so many voices are raised to me each evening with these words of Mary.  It is most pleasing to hear the babel of your many languages and even more pleasing to hear the petitions you lift up to me as you pray.  Do not worry if you find that the details of your life call you away at the appointed Evensong.  As best you can, pause for a moment to remember me and our Mother Mary who bravely stepped forward so that I might come to live among you.  Just say the word “Magnificat” with deep intention before you move into your evening.  I will unite your word with the other prayers that fly to me. Remember always how much Mary loves you as the sisters and brothers of Jesus.  And remember always that I also love you.

These words of Mary express the hope of all.  Let us spend a few moments of our precious time to unite ourselves with her and those millions of others who lift these verses to God each day as the evening closes in.

Image from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Society-of-Our-Lady-of-the-Magnificat/270422953001042

To read more about Mary’s own Prayer by Fr. John A. Harden, S.J., go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7340

To visit with a homily about this prayer by Msgr. Charles Pope and to reflect on an image of Elizabeth greeting Mary, go to: http://blog.adw.org/2010/12/the-magnificat-is-a-bold-prayer/

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Luke 1:67-79


In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours this Canticle of Zechariah is sung as part of Lauds, or Morning Prayer or Prime, and although the verses are intoned by Zechariah on the birth of his son John the Baptist, they prophesy the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Light of the World. Commentary tells us that their origin may have been an early Jewish Christian hymn that Luke adapted for his story. (Senior cf. 100) Today we examine these verses to see how we might bring full voice to our thanksgiving that God is not a remote and distant deity who merely observes the events that surround our lives, but a merciful and loving parent who chooses to live and move among us.

Zechariah begins by praising God for releasing us from all that binds and for delivering us from our enemies the prophets have promised. He reminds us of the covenant we have with God and all that it promises, and then he urges his child, John, to fulfill his role as herald of the Word. Describing the coming Messiah as the dawn from on high, Zechariah recalls for us the purpose of this light for the world: to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

In our world of immediate satisfaction and quick fulfillment, it is difficult to find our place in God’s plan that unfolds through the millennia to unite billions of souls, and it is both fitting and helpful that we rise each morning to intone these words of Zechariah as part of our morning prayer. When we pray the Benedictus we unite ourselves with all the faithful who greet each day with these same words of thanksgiving, remembrance and promise. So let us give thanks. Let us remember God’s promises.  And let us walk with our God in the way of peace.

When we look at the entire first Chapter of Luke we discover how God prepares the faithful for the coming of Emmanuel, the incarnation of God’s Word Among Us, Jesus the Christ. We also understand more fully how carefully God’s heart and hand entwine with each precious life.

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/180214422562937316/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.100. Print.

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Psalm 96: God of the Universe

Easter Thursday, April 25, 2019

A re-post from Easter Week 2012.

From commentary: “A hymn inviting all humanity to praise the glories of Israel’s God (1-3), who is the sole God (4-6).  To the just ruler of all belongs worship (7-10), even inanimate creation is to offer praise (11-13).  This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with Isaiah 44-55, as does Psalm 98.  Another version of the Psalm is 1 Chronicles 16, 23-33”. (Senior 712)

During the Easter Octave the entire universe confirms that God is great, God is good.  On this third day of Easter we will want to join our voice with all other voices in creation.   The Psalms give us a special way to praise God and from the earliest days of the Church this pattern of public, daily prayer was established. We read the Book of Acts frequently during Eastertide as it tells us of the passion and awe the disciples felt as they began to understand the inversions in the resurrection story and the implications it had for God’s entire creation.  In these verses we frequently hear that the disciples, inculcated in Jewish life, moved in a cycle of prayer.  For example, we read: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock prayer. (Acts 3:1

The Psalms played an important part in these prayers and centuries later the Christian Liturgy of the Hours continues to call both clergy and lay with these old patterns.  Today, as we move through the Easter Octave celebrating the miracle of Easter, let us investigate these Psalms from a long-ago time that still have very modern application.  These hymns of sorrow, praise, thanksgiving and petition are formed by ancient people but embody modern hope.  They are songs of acclaim and appeal, great sadness and un-bounding joy.  They are sacred poems traveling through time that together tell the marvelous story of our deliverance at God’s hand, and the limitless love that this God of the Universe has for us.

You may want to take some time today to read more about The Psalms on this blog at: www.thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/psalms-the-praises/, or Acts at:

Image from: http://tourinord.com/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.712. Print.   

For a wonderfully accessible explanation of the Liturgy of the Hours and for a version that has universal appeal, look for the series by Tickle, Phyllis published by Doubleday. 

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Ezekiel 46Offerings

Saturday, February 4, 2017balt9f

I am struck by several things as I read this chapter in isolation from the rest of the text: in Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem, the faithful make offerings each morning, the princes are to provide for their sons from their own resources rather than the resources of the people, and the temple offerings are cooked in the temple kitchens to prevent the risk of transmitting holiness to the people

Commentaries give us important information that puts the writing of this priest-in-exile in context for us.  Ezekiel, as we can see by his calling the secular celebrant prince rather than king, is clear about the importance of cultic authority over the secular.  (Barton and Mulliman 562)  The downside of this is, of course, that priests – be they Levites, Zadokites or princes – serve as intermediaries for the people . . . keeping God’s holiness apart and reserved for the specially anointed.

We live in the Messianic Age, a time at which our high priest has come to walk among us as one of us.  This priest, Christ, has torn down the temple to rebuild it in three days.  He grants access to all who seek authentic intimacy with God.  He comes to break down the barriers between God and man . . . and to transmit holiness to the people. 

As we rise each morning, we – like the Levites, the Zadokites and the princes before us – run the risk of allowing the demands of everyday life to erode this intimacy with God.  As we attend to our needs and wants, we run the risk of entering into a mechanical relationship with God – one in which we fulfill a requirement but leave our hearts and minds elsewhere.  Meeting deadlines, replenishing resources, tending to a million little tasks each day are activities which are necessary but which must be kept in proper perspective.  For there is no joy that lasts but for the joy we know in loving God with body, mind and soul.

When we commit to praying at regular times each day, as we might if we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we find that we have opportunities to offer both our anxieties and gifts of the previous day back to God. If we able to lay to rest all our worries and anxieties of that present day, we need not carry them into the next.  Children, grandchildren, friends, family, house chores, car chores, appointments, work . . . all of these we are better able to see as gifts from God, as this is what they truly are.  And all of our anxieties and worries about these gifts, we offer back along with our best attempts to do the best we are able in each circumstance.

Offerings . . . burnt sacrifices from our lives . . . these we offer to God each day.  Yet what our gracious and loving God truly desires is our clear and open hearts, hearts that are broken and dispirited and are ready to know true and lasting joy, hearts ready to take him in, ready to make a home for the Spirit.

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts and sin offering you do not require; so I said: “Here I am”; your commands for me are written in the scroll.  Psalm 40:7-8.

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23.

For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.  My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.  Psalm 51:18-19.

For God remembers your every offering, graciously accepts your holocaust, grants what is in your heart, fulfills your every plan.  Psalm 20:5-5.  Amen.

Blessings on all today.    

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 562. Print.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 29, 2009.

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Luke 1:46-55: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XI

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Today, when thousands of women converge on the U.S. capital, we explore Mary’s Prayer. A link for more information on the gathering follows this post. 

In days of political and civil turmoil, Mary the Mother of God reminds us how to pray

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

In times of family strife and confusion, Mary the Mother of God gives us words we might repeat.

For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

In the hour when friends become enemies and colleagues become strangers, Mary the Mother of God shows us the mind of God.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is more loving than we can imagine, more patient and compassionate than all of humanity gathered together.

The LORD has mercy on those who love God in every generation.

magnificatMary the Mother of God tells us that we have nothing to fear.

The LORD has shown the strength of God’s arm.

Mary the Mother of God asks us to put aside our pride to take up love.

God has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Mary the Mother of God shows us that power and might are as nothing.

The LORD has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

Mary the Mother of God tells us that God alone sustains for an eternity.

The LORD has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich God has sent away empty.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is persistent, God is faithful, and God is hope.

The LORD has come to the rescue of God’s servant, for God has remembered the promise of mercy, the promise made to Abraham and his children forever.

madona-morenaMary the Mother of God reminds us how to enter into and act in the world. Mary calls us to goodness, endurance, and love. In times, days, and hours when the world fails us, we might return to Mary’s MAGNIFICAT to amplify our love of God as we pray with her these words.

When we explore varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the healing power of Mary’s joy and thanksgiving.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church’s great communal prayer, the MAGNIFICAT is part of Vespers, or Evensong. For more information on this prayer and how it parallel’s the prayer of Hannah, visit: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditation-on-the-magnificat

For more on the Liturgy of the Hours and how each of us might join our voices with millions of others by pausing briefly a few times a day, visit The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

For more on Raphael’s image of the Madonna and Child, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/raphaels_madonna_della_sedia_1513-14 

Women gather in Washington, D.C. in solidarity for the protection of their rights, safety, health, and families, they recognize that vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of their country. https://www.womensmarch.com/ and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/womens-march.html?_r=0

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Luke 1:46-56: God’s Yardstick – Mary

The First Apostle

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tanner: The Annunciation

Tanner: The Annunciation

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Who among us might dance and sing with joy when discovering that our circumstances endanger our lives? Who among us can see that up is down and down is up when everything around us tells us otherwise. Who among is willing to sacrifice our lives with such outrageous hope? Who among us is so open to the indwelling of the Spirit? Who among us can see the world with Mary’s yardstick rather than the one we have fashioned with our lives?

To read other versions of these verses like THE MESSAGE version above, click on this scripture link and explore. Use the drop-down menus to find versions of the Bible that may be new to you. Consider why this canticle is part of the Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. To learn more about Henry Ossawa Tanner, click on the image above or visit: http://www.artstudio.org/virgin-mary-and-electricity/ 

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

images[1]Psalm 119:57-64


At midnight I rise to praise you . . . The earth, Lord, is filled with your love . . .  

We modern humans tend to believe that wakefulness during the night is a habit we do not want to foster, but our ancestors did not look for a marathon of sleep from bedtime to early morning rising.  They would sleep twice in a twelve hour range, rising for a time in the middle of the night before returning to bed for a second period of sleep before morning.

When we find ourselves awake at night for any reason, we might remember our ancestors and turn to scripture and prayer rather than curse our restlessness.

God says: You may call to me at any hour on any day for I am always with you. I rest but I do not sleep.  You may sing with me at any hour on any day.  I love to hear your voice resonate with mine.  You may pray with me at any hour on any day.  I am always holding you in my hands and heart.

Rather than curse the darkness of the midnight hour, let us turn to God in prayer.  We may find our restlessness melts away and the blessed sleep returns.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25).

I waited, waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry, drew me out of the pit of destruction . . . and put a new song in my mouth . . . (Psalm 40:1-4)

For interesting insight into sleep customs old and modern, go to: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/08/26/rising-at-midnight-sleep-patterns-and-daily-prayer/

For more information about Midnight Prayer, see the Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

Tomorrow, the letter Teth.

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