Sunday, November 20, 2022

Morning prayer: In praise of lament

The traditional name for Morning Prayer is Lauds, a chorus of praise. Examinations of conscience and penitential rites are reserved for the end of the day. Every day is a new start, venturing forth into a world lit up by the grace of its creator. But I’ve been trying something different these past few months. Listening to the news. To the groans and howls of a world in pain.

About 10 years ago a director on a retreat suggested praying with the news. “Oh, no, I never touch the paper while I’m on retreat.” “Well,” she replied, “Maybe you’d read the news differently on retreat?” I still steadfastly avoided browsing the NY Times sitting on a table in the hallway. But she was right.

So when I wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer last spring about thoughts and prayers in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, someone apparently decided I needed to be ‘educated’ about guns and signed me up for a daily email from a gun company. Every morning I get links about why I need to be armed, and how best to neutralize targets. I could click and unsubscribe, but I haven’t. It sits in my email to remind me to be persistent in praying for an end to the violence and equally persistent in doing the work for justice this demands. It reminds me, too, to examine my conscience to see where I am complicit in the culture that fosters such disregard for human life. To start the day determined to work for the Gospel - for peace, mercy and justice.

This morning I awoke to the news of the shooting in Colorado. I wanted to look away, to pull up psalms of joy on the Solemnity of Christ the King. But instead I sat with the reality of a fallen world, to which I have contributed. And wept for those who died. Lamentations instead of Lauds.

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