From a beautiful hymn from Lauds the-day-before-yesterday:
“Tui precatus munere/Nostrum reatum dilue./ Arcens mali contagium,/ vitae repellens taedium.”
“Now join thy prayers with ours, who pray/ That God may pardon us and bless;/ For prayer keeps evil’s plague away,/ And draws from life its weariness.”
Yes! That is exactly what I have been feeling. Only starting to pray the Divine Office’s morning “hour” of Lauds within the last two weeks, I am happy to report that I feel like I have struck gold. Where has this been all my life?
Surprisingly, the hymns of the Divine Office have been one of my favorite things about this time of prayer. Of course, there are 5 or so psalms that are prayed each morning at Lauds, but there is also a metrical hymn near the end that honors the saint of the day (or rejoices in the season of the Church Year, if it isn’t a particular saint’s day). Since I know a few basic Gregorian hymn tunes, like the one used for the Jesu Dulcis Memoria, I can sing one of those simple, flowing melodies to whatever the hymn of the morning is. Then it seems as if all the joy that has built up in me during the reciting of the psalms comes flowing out in the singing of this hymn in praise of the virtues of a saint, or of God’s greatness and goodness. I wonder if this is how the monks and nuns feel and have felt throughout the ages when they have sung the Office; I wonder if this is one of their favorite things, too.
I can feel my whole day carried on this joyful prayer of the morning. Like the Gregorian chant I have been learning over the last two years, these beautiful words and prayers get lodged in my mind and heart. I have been so much more at peace during the last few days! I have been able to take disruptions and interruptions better as they come into my day. For the last week or so I feel like the prayer in the morning has created a force-field around me that has kept me from overreacting to the little things, and has given me the spiritual energy to persist in my duties day by day.
If you are like I was until two weeks ago, resistant to pray the Divine Office, I urge you to give it a try. What finally got me started was the incredible explanation of the cosmic importance of the Church’s prayer in The Little Oratory. David Clayton explains some of this on his blog in a four-part series; here is the first part: Praying with the Cosmos – the Ancient Treasury of the Divine Office I. The implications are stunning. After reading the series of blog posts, I hope your mind will be changed too. As I always say, start small, but start today! You’ll be surprised too, by what resonates within you during your recitation of the Divine Office, and how you will be moved by this ancient prayer of the Church.