Friday, January 20, 2006

ora et labora

As some know, I am a firm believer in the grounding of Christian life in the intentional practice of daily prayer -- in saying the Offices. And I am a big fan of Matins (Morning Prayer) and Evensong (Evening Prayer) according to the BCP. Indeed I believe that the Daily Office as in the BCP will be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest legacy of Anglicanism to the Church Catholic, long after Anglicanism has passed away. That is my hope, anyway. (And to that end, the Book of Divine Worship is a hopeful development.) The Daily Office grounds one's own life and one's own speaking in the Word of God: there is hardly a sentence of the Offices that are not taken directly from Scripture. And this appropriation of God's Word as our own words, by taking the scripture as the content of our own prayer, is a profoundly sacramental expression of the essence of Christian living.

I've done this before, but with little response. What I wonder is this: do you have a daily practice of prayer? If so (and I hope you do), in what does it consist? And also, for those of you who say the office, a specific question: how do you incorporate intercessory prayer? I know some of you have intercession schemes (different themes on different days, etc.). What are they? Intercession has always been the most challenging aspect of my prayer life, in that I find it difficult to intercede methodically and consistently.

So the question is: what is your daily habit of prayer, and how do you incorporate intercession into it?

Below is my method of reciting the office. It is how I said Matins today, verbatim. I normally say intercessions either as announcements of "intentions" as the very first thing, i.e. before the office; or I include them after the collect for mission, just before "Let us bless..." (at the end) or before the General Thanksgiving, if I say it. (I usually don't say it.) So here is the office as I pray it (some of it is Latin):

Open thou, O Lord, my mouth to bless thy holy Name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding; enkindle my affections; that I may say this Office worthily, with attention and devotion, and so be meet to be heard in the presence of thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention wherewith thou thyself on earth didst render thy praises to God, I desire to offer this my Office of prayer unto thee.

In the Name of the Father +, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest by my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes Sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum Nostrum. Amen.

Indulgentiam + absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.

O Lord, open thou my lips.
And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's Name be praised.

The Lord hath manifested forth his glory: O come, let us adore him.

Be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Be ye sure that the Lord he is God; *
it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving
and into his courts with praise; *
be thankful unto him and speak good of his Name.

For the Lord is gracious;
his mercy is everlasting; *
and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Lord hath manifested forth his glory: O come, let us adore him.

[Psalm 102]

LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me; *
when I call, make haste to answer me,
For my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered, *
so that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the voice of my groaning *
I am but skin and bones.
I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, *
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan; *
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
My enemies revile me all day long, *
and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes for bread *
and mingled my drink with weeping.
Because of your indignation and wrath *
you have lifted me up and thrown me away.
My days pass away like a shadow, *
and I wither like the grass.
But you, O LORD, endure for ever, *
and your Name from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon her; *
indeed, the appointed time has come.
For your servants love her very rubble, *
and are moved to pity even for her dust.
The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD, *
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the LORD will build up Zion, *
and his glory will appear.
He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless; *
he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation, *
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.
For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high; *
from the heavens he beheld the earth;
That he might hear the groan of the captive *
and set free those condemned to die;
That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD, *
and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together, *
and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.
He has brought down my strength before my time; *
he has shortened the number of my days;
And I said, "O my God,
do not take me away in the midst of my days; *
your years endure throughout all generations.
In the beginning, O LORD, you laid the foundations of the earth, *
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment; *
as clothing you will change them,
and they shall be changed;
But you are always the same, *
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants shall continue, *
and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight."

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[Psalm 103]

Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and forget not all his benefits.
He forgives all your sins *
and heals all your infirmities;
He redeems your life from the grave *
and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
He satisfies you with good things, *
and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
The LORD executes righteousness *
and judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made his ways known to Moses *
and his works to the children of Israel.
The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
He will not always accuse us, *
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, *
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, *
so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father cares for his children, *
so does the LORD care for those who fear him.
For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
he remembers that we are but dust.
Our days are like the grass; *
we flourish like a flower of the field;
When the wind goes over it, it is gone, *
and its place shall know it no more.
But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever on those
who fear him, *
and his righteousness on children's children;
On those who keep his covenant *
and remember his commandments and do them.
The LORD has set his throne in heaven, *
and his kingship has dominion over all.
Bless the LORD, you angels of his,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, *
and hearken to the voice of his word.
Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, *
you ministers of his who do his will.
Bless the LORD, all you works of his,
in all places of his dominion; *
bless the LORD, O my soul.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

A reading from the Book of Genesis.

Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.

Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chalde'ans.
And Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram's wife was Sar'ai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sar'ai was barren; she had no child.

Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sar'ai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chalde'ans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there.

The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

And Abram took Sar'ai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan,
Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

+ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, *
for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us *
in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, *
which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, *
and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, *
and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham, *
that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies *
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, *
all the days of our life.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, *
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people *
for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God, *
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipoténtem, Creatórem cæli et terræ. Et in Iesum Christum, Fílium eius únicum, Dóminum nostrum, qui concéptus est de Spíritu Sancto, natus ex María Vírgine, passus sub Póntio Piláto, crucifíxus, mórtuus, et sepúltus, descéndit ad ínfernos, tértia die resurréxit a mórtuis, ascéndit ad cælos, sedet ad déxteram Dei Patris omnipoténtis, inde ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos. Credo in Spíritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclésiam cathólicam, sanctórum communiónem, remissiónem peccatórum, carnis resurrectiónem, + vitam ætérnam. Amen.

Dominus Vobiscum.
Et cum Spiritu tuo.


Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Pater noster, qui es in cælis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cælo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie. Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem: sed libera nos a malo. Quoniam tibi est regnum et potestas et gloria in saecula. Amen.

V. O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage;
R. Govern them and lift them up for ever.
V. Day by day we magnify thee;
R. And we worship thy name for ever, world without end.
V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin;
R. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
V. O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us;
R. As our trust is in thee.
V. O Lord, in thee have I trusted;
R. Let me never be confounded.

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that thy people, illumined by thy Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, even as thou and he are one: Grant that thy Church, being bound together in love and obedience to thee, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom thou didst send, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may do always what is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of thy faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before thee for all members of thy holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

+ May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

+ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

To God Most Holy, in his Divine Majesty of Trinity in Unity;
To Jesus Christ, our Lord and God made man and crucified for us;
To blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, from whose glorious purity he took flesh;
And to the entire Company of the Saints of God, in heaven;
Be praise, honour, power, and glory, from every creature on earth:
And likewise to us sinners may there be full remission of all our sins:
Throughout all ages, world without end.
R. Amen.

V. Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the everlasting Father.
R. And blessed are the paps which gave suck to Christ the Lord.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee : Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners ; Now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

+ In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

ANGELUS Domini nuntiavit Mariae,
Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ecce ancilla Domini,
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut, qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et + crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

+ In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


Joseph Walker said...

Daily Office; Canadian BCP (1962); I incorporate further intercessions imediately prior to the prayer of St Chrsyostom.

A habit I picked up in college (King's Halifax), where the daily office was encouraged.

As often as possible I pray the morning office in the presence of my kids (ages 6,4,2).

father wb said...

I think its great that you say it with your kids. I wonder how they take it? In fact I've often wondered about the practical aspects of saying the Daily Office as a family, specifically how children would handle it.

J-Tron said...

Another great topic, WB. Thank you for bringing it up again.

Finding a pattern of daily prayer that makes sense for my life and that I can stick to has been a challenge for me. Life is inevitably improved when I am able to maintain such a routine, but it can also become tedious and hard to manage.

Last summer I had a very elaborate use of the Daily Office. I did all four offices daily, including a bit of variation from other prayer books around the world when I could. This was great when I could do it, but not very practical once school and work began again. I've spent most of this year trying to recover the Office, only to now be realizing that I am in fact not a monk and cannot possibly maintain this level of devotion with anything nearing the kind of focus it deserves.

For a while in the fall I had put together shortened versions of the office that incorporated some shorter set readings, an eschewing of most optional parts of the offices, and a single daily confession at Compline. The idea was that I would try to do at least one office a day in its fullest form, while using the short forms for the other offices. This seemed to work well for a while, although noonday has always been a challenge. But now even that seems to be becoming tedious, without the sense of true devotion I would like it to have.

So I'm stuck now. I'm thinking I need to work on my rule and spend some time in contempletive prayer asking tough questions about how and when and why I pray. I've been thinking that maybe the "Daily Devotions for individuals and families" would make more sense in my life (and the life of my family) then a continued effort to do all of the Cranmerian offices would. Another option would be to take a look at Common Worship, which I understand has some good material for daily prayer that isn't as monastic in its orientation.

As far as intercession goes, I actually find that to be the easiest to work in. At either morning or evening prayer (or both) I go through a litany of sorts. I start with praying for people who are on my mind, friends who are sick or relatives or people I know who have just had babies, etc. Then I bring in anyone who has asked me to pray for them (and for this purpose, my intention is to keep a small notebook handy with names). Then I make more general prayers for the state of the world and the presence of God in it. I also usually go through prayers for my school, for political and other secular leaders, for my home diocese and its bishop, the diocese I currently reside in and its bishop, the Episcopal Church and the Presiding Bishop, the Anglican Communion and the +ABC, and for all leaders in the Church, ordained and lay, that they may exercise right authority and always ground their ministry in Christ's love and truth.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to maintain the decipline, much to my regret. It is a wonderful habit to develop and as J-Tron said, life is, indeed, inevitably improved when I do. I don't want to encourage anyone away from the regular offices, but for those who find it difficult to find the time, Phyllis Tickle has compiled a shorter version of The Divine Hours for every day of the year. She has even done a special one for Eastertide. They are mostly from the BCP and I think they are wonderful. There are three books, Prayers for Springtime, Summertime and Wintertime. Here is a link to her website.

And here is a link where you can find it online all during the day.

They change it as the prayer times change. It is from, surprisingly, a Vineyard church who maintain the site. For those of us with our faces in the computer a lot, this is a wonderful thing! It is posted in EST, but you can even localize it if you are in another time zone. And here is a link to a site with the whole thing online. Even has a karaoke kind of thing for singing the Venite, etc.! This is the complete Morning and Evening prayers from the BCP.

I would encourage everyone to pray the hours with their children. Especially Matins and Compline. What a wonderful way to begin and end the day with your children and together as a family! I think it is a fantastic thing to do with children, although I would recommend you do it in their native language and not Latin! It is most special to me when I pray it with my son. WB+, you have encouraged me to try again. MMBX

U.B. Kule said...

WB+, Was there some formative experience of prayer in your home growing up, if you don't mind sharing it? And, if so, what effect you do you believe it has had vis-a-vis your current view of prayer and it's discipline?

joseph walker said...

The "practical" aspects of praying an office with younger children really boil down to some very basic things. Each one has a book - doesn't matter if they are on the right page - they just want to have something in their hands. The power of imitation is frightening.

Then there is the cadence of the language. Why do young children remember nursery rhymes? - because of the way the rhyme is spoken (or better yet sung). I over-emphasize the accents and rythm of the language, which does wonders for allowing little ones to remember words and phrases which they cannot read. Our 6 year old knows a good deal of the morning office by heart (in both senses), and our 4 year old (who has Down syndrome) can sense rythmically when various things are coming, and knows by heart some of the short responses.

When it is time to read the lessons, the kids all have their own childrens' picture bibles, which they look through in some sort of regularized fashion, while I read the lesson silently, or with my wife if she is joining us. Then before we proceed, we talk about the story they looked at, and I do an on the spot summary of "the story I read".

And it reinforces in a wonderful way the whole notion of "common" prayer.


father wb said...

JW -

That's terrific, and very encouraging. Thanks for sharing. I will henceforth recommend your practice to parents.

DDX said...

My son also had a picture bible. I enjoyed it more than he did!

John J. O'Sullivan™ said...

I've been using the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, with the canticles being the ones I know and love from the BCP. (Besides, they're memorised, so why not?) I do like the comprehensiveness of the Roman Office, although frankly, I'd never use it for public recitation of the Office. I don't care for much of the translation of the Psalms.

Next month, I'll probably go back to my old habit of praying the Psalter from 1 to 150, from the 1662 BCP, with readings from the LotH's Office of Readings. Hopefully, God willing, I'll have a job by then.

I've discovered a local Roman Catholic parish that has perpetual adoration. Lately, I've been saying the office in the morning down there. *That's* powerful, and the power of Jesus' grace through the Blessed Sacrament is palpable.