Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Moving into Advent

I bought the four volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours in 1987, the summer after Tom died. I’d been keeping the hours for a couple of years at that point, having happened on a small volume that included a two week cycle of Morning and Evening Prayer and Night Prayer for Sundays.  Those four volumes were an extravagance at the time, but I so wanted the texts of the Office of Readings, to keep vigil with on those many nights when I couldn’t sleep. 

Saturday night I pulled the first volume — Advent and Christmas season — off the shelf in my small prayer space. Each year I mark the start of the new liturgical year by re-reading the instructions that are included in this volume. It’s a reminder to pray mindfully rather than on auto pilot.  There is always some nuance that I’ve missed in previous readings.

This year I was struck by Pope Paul VI’s reminder that when we celebrate the office it is both our voices echoing in Christ, and Christ’s voice echoing in ours. He reminds us too that we are called to a warm and living love of the Scriptures, particularly the psalms. On a cold night, sitting to pray by a warm fire, I am drawn to the warmth of that inner fire as well.

As I paged through the rest of the volume, resetting ribbons as I go, I remember those whose prayer cards are tucked into the propers of the Saints. My mother, the mother of a close friend, the priest who gave me my first communion, the young daughters of two friends. There are photos of my children when they were very small, and one of a sunrise that I saw on the long retreat. There is a page marked with a blank strip of paper, and — on a fine piece of rice paper — a list of the O antiphons waiting for those last Advent days. 

I’m moving into Advent, looking back at where I’ve been and forward to what is to come.

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