Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Liturgy of the Hours
In my last post, I made the point that the Liturgy of the Hours (LoH) is our central community act, when three times a day we come together to pray. In this post, I'm going to explore what it feels like to commit to this and the effect that participating has on my spiritual life.
When I first started attending LoH, I thought it was wonderful, directly and perceptibly uplifting to me. It was like a fix three times a day. I have learned that this was part of the honeymoon. There are still times when a line suddenly strikes me from a psalm and seems to speak directly to me; times when our chanting seems to put me on another plane and I am drawn beyond myself; times when I become acutely conscious that not only am I bound together with my community in this activity, but that we are encompassing the whole world as we pray. These experiences are the ideals of what LoH should be. Would that it were always so!
On a bad day, I am distracted by things like pace, delivery, the scenery outside, my own thoughts, etc., etc. It is certainly not now the case that every time I attend LoH I have a good experience. So, why do I keep going? Well, after the initial delight wore off, it became a matter of choice, self-discipline and trust. I accepted that I was freely choosing to commit to this life and that LoH was an essential part of that commitment. Therefore, I had to discipline myself to attend, whether I wanted to or not. This is not as strange as it may seem. I recognized that in saying I felt called to this life, I was looking to be changed by it, to draw closer to God and I couldn't know if it would effect those things if I didn't live it fully. I guess that led to me to practice (practise, if you're English) the virtue of perseverance. I carry on going through dry times, trusting that I will finally reap a benefit in terms of my spiritual journey.
Unfortunately, I can't end by saying that I've had a great epiphany. I'm basically still persevering, but as I persevere, I am becoming dimly aware of being changed. Some of it is that the regular and frequent attendance at LoH has made God feel more pivotal in my life; I'm more conscious of the divine threading through the day, but beyond that is also a sense that I'm changed within, that I myself am threaded through the divine. I trust that, if I continue to persevere, I will continue to change, grow and draw closer to God.