Posts Tagged ‘Liturgy of the Hours’

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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Friday, December 20, 2013

Joseph, Mary and Simeon with Jesus

Joseph, Mary and Simeon with Jesus

Luke 2:21-40

A Pierced Heart

This is a verse which is my consolation as a parent . . . and particularly as a mother: A sword shall pierce your own heart, so that the thoughts of many may be revealed.  When one of my children is suffering through an injustice brought on by no fault of their own, I ask them to remember that there are times when we suffer so that evil and corruption will surface.  This does not make the pain any less; it does, however, give us a place to put the pain.

I also love Simeon’s canticle, the prayer we pray as part of the Night Office in the Liturgy of the Hours.  It is a lovely way to be thinking as we put ourselves to bed at night.  When I am restless during midnight hours, I re-pray this oration because it reminds me why we are here on earth: To know, love and to serve God.

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 your people:

A light to reveal you to the nations

And the glory of your people Israel. 

The image of drifting into sleep having surrendered ourselves to God’s beneficent will is a calming one.

The image of God performing all deeds openly and honestly is a strengthening one.

The image of God keeping true to his agreement with us is a reassuring one.

The image of the Blessed Mother handing her child in confidence to the wise and holy Simeon is a moving one.

The image of Simeon rejoicing at the gift of holding in his arms the world’s salvation is a joyful one.

The image of God’s love for us being so intense, so enduring and so true that it pierces our hearts so that our very thoughts are revealed to us and to others . . . is at once challenging . . . and heartening . . . and generous beyond our expectations.  For we each hold the Christ child in our own arms.

What a generous and trusting mother is Mary that she allows her heart to be pierced for us.  What an awesome and piercing love is Christ’s that he remains with us . . . and that he persists in taking us with him back to the Father.  Knowing this, we might surely walk in peace, even though our hearts be pierced.

This reflection was first written on November 5, 2009.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

6508036-md[1]Luke 2:8-12

Keeping the Night Watch

Now there were shepherds in that region, living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

We become so weary with the daily earning of our bread that we are too exhausted to keep the night watch.  Our blessing is that the Good Shepherd never flags and he endures when we falter.  And this Good Shepherd who keeps a constant watch will awaken us so that we might rise to hear the words of Good News that bring healing, peace and light to the world.

Murillo: Adoration of the Shepherds

Murillo: Adoration of the Shepherds

God says: Do not stretch yourselves beyond your strength.  Rely on me for power that is eternal.  Do not ask too much of your mind.  Ask me for wisdom that has always been and always will be.  Do not tax your spirit more than it can endure.  Call on my Spirit to dwell in you and to bring you peace. If you are able, keep the Night Watch with me.  When darkness falls and you have lost your way, settle into the night with the sheep you are tending . . . and know that I am with you.  If you are too tired to stay awake, ask for my help . . . and I will keep the Watch.  And I will awaken you with the Good News that you will want to share with others.

When we spend energy that we do not have we endanger not only the body and mind but the soul as well.  When we find that we falter and cannot stand, we need only call on the one who always endures.

For beautiful prayers at night that strengthen the body, mind and soul when we find ourselves wakeful and uneasy, dip into Phyllis Tickle’s NIGHT OFFICES: PRAYERS FOR THE HOURS FROM SUNSET TO SUNRISE, Oxford University Press, 2006.  

For a Goodreads review, go to: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/613100.The_Night_Offices

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Canticle of Zechariah

Zechariah and the Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:57-80, 2:29-32


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.

Champaigne: Visitation The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

Champaigne: Visitation
The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

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.

When we sit with Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18, and John 10:31-42 we can see how we too might sing canticles of praise for God’s providence as we move from dread to joy.

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.

The Prophets Simeon and Anna with the Christ Child

The Prophets Simeon and Anna
with the Christ Child

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.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Psalm 18

 A Favorite Noontime first written on October 24, 2008. and posted today as we prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving in the U.S.A.

0707160038521psalm_18_28b_niv[1]Thanksgiving for God’s Help

I have a list of petitions I take to God each dawn . . . that I reprise in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and when I go to bed.  On those nights when I wake during the wee hours I ask again.  Scattered among the petitions are my Thank yous for prayers answered . . . I like to think of many big and little miracles with which I and my loved ones . . . and my enemies . . . have been graced.  This list brings me peace.  It reminds me of who I am, the Petitioner.  It reminds me that I was formed by God, the Creator.  It keeps the reality fresh that I have a purpose which is important and special.  It reminds me that I have a mission . . . even though I am often in a cloud of unknowing about what that mission is.  It renews for me the fact that I am child . . . that God is parent . . . and that my humility, fidelity and mercy are what my God requires of me.  In all of this reminding I settle fully into the knowing that my blessings far outweigh my sorrows . . . and for this I am continually thankful.

Psalm 18 29[1]My days go best when they are a constant, unceasing prayer.  My nights are happiest when I enter them with God.  My enemies touch me not when I step into the protective pillar of fire and smoke and pulsing prayer.  The lures of the other world melt away from the light of this guiding and protecting pillar.

The rocking of my world reduces to a gentle sway when I turn to God.  The darkness and thick thunder clouds dispel when I remember God.  The depths of despair evaporate when I call on God.  The harsh buffets of life become a gentle breeze when I sing with God.

The psalmist today reminds us that God gives us the swift feet and the sharp mind with which we avoid trouble.  God gives us himself as armor against the cruelties of the world.  God is our rock.  God is our breath.  God is our life.  Praise God.

Dear gracious and good God, You have shown us mercy.  We thank you.  You have shown us the way.  We thank you.  You have borne us up.  We thank you.  You have carried us away.  We thank you.  You have eased our burden.  We thank you.  You have created us.  We thank you.  You have loved us well.  We thank you.

We thank you when we come to you at dawn, in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, in the night.

We thank you when we make our life a constant prayer. 

We thank you.  Amen. 

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