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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prayer Without Ceasing

We are often reminded to "pray without ceasing", and for most of us, this can be quite a challenge. Far too many don't even pray the simplest of childhood prayers, or even remember Christ at any point in their day.

Some look at prayer as a chore, something their parents used to make them do, just one other "duty".

For those who do have a habit of prayer, perhaps regular morning or evening prayers, or a rosary, they still may struggle to "pray without ceasing". But we have to remember that God is present in the smallest moments of our lives, the most humble of tasks, and even in the most menial necessar chores.

It's easy, in some ways, to pray costantly, and we do that by making Christ the center of our lives. We keep pictures of Him about, crosses, crucifixes, statues of the angels and Saints, all to point us towards God. Perhaps we're scrubbing the kitchen floor and have to actually get down on our knees to reach an area under the stove or refrigerator, and in so doing, find that someone dropped a Miraculous Medal. There, down on our knees, completing the most menial task...we're immediately reminded to pray. Our Lady had to scrub floors, too, and Christ was most certainly the center of her life.

We can take a hint from that. Actually....we need to embrace that reality and live it out ourselves.

But no one can do that in an instant. It takes time, it takes a re-ordering of priorities, and real discipline...or does it?

It starts simply, maybe with a simple prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus". Maybe small professions of love for Our Lord. Maybe a random meditation on His life.

Our work cannot be our prayer, per se, however, if we remember that our work is being done for the glory of God, no matter what the task, it infuses those things with purpose, helping to sanctify even the most humble moments. Our goal is to never allow Christ to slip from our view, never to allow that "mystical" conversation of prayer to stop. For as long as we remember the presence of God, we cannot help but constantly pray.

We can only do so much as laity, in all the distractions of the world, but there are some who are called to constant prayer; their lives are dedicated to living that ongoing conversation with God, on behalf of the rest of the world. It is a life of sacrifice, a life of beauty, and a life of humility.

This morning, I stopped in at Vultus Christi, where Don Marco (Fr. Mark) has posted the schedule that reveals how the world is constantly covered in those called to the task.

Pray for them, as they pray for YOU, for all of us, without ceasing:

"The Church's Blanket of Prayer

It is comforting to recall that the Church in her wisdom has woven a blanket of prayer that covers all the hours of the night. The great Orders of the Church relay each other in keeping watch for the coming of the Bridegroom. Should the Night Office ever cease being celebrated in monasteries, which God forbid, the world that night will die of the cold. The repartition of the nightwatch is, more or less approximately, as follows. In some instances, individuals may prolong the Night Office in solitary prayer.

From 9:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. -- Carmelites and some Benedictines
From 11:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. -- Carthusians
From 12:00 midnight until 1:30 a.m. -- Poor Clares, Dominican Nuns, Franciscan Friars of certain reforms, and some Passionists in Greater Solitude
From 2:00 a.m. until 3:15 a.m. -- Benedictines of the Primitive Observance
From 3:00 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. -- Trappists
From 4:00 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. -- Cistercians
From 5:00 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. -- Benedictines


Even as we sleep, there is prayer. Maybe we can't pray without ceasing, and so we should take comfort that there is always someone praying. If we wake up in the wee hours of the night, perhaps we should take some time to interceed and give thanks for those whose practice is to sacrifice their own sleep to interceed for the world.


Melody K said...

If we say a morning offering, then in a sense our day is our prayer. It seems like it's easier to remember God throughout the day if we started the day by offering it to Him.

Anonymous said...

To a certain degree, maybe. However, if we say our morning offering, and then never give God a second thought throughout the rest of the day, the morning offering is rendered to...lip service.

It doesn't work for me, that's for sure. There are people out there with a mistaken idea that "their work is their prayer", and so they just go about their day and don't even think about God, or whether anything they're doing glorifies him. There are of course, also those who do pray...but their actions aren't affected...makes those prayers pretty useless, too. (I'm often in the latter category, actually)

Sarah Reinhard said...

Thanks for this, Adoro. It was a timely reminder for me. :)

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting. I am only familiar with the hours of the Poor Clares. Thank you! Blessed Christmas to you.