What can I say? The sisters have been keeping me busy of late. I just got back from a week spent at our central convent in Lodi, NJ where, among other things, we have a college and at said college, we were holding a “Take Time Out for God” retreat. My classmate and I were there mostly just to be a presence to the students. Being there brought back memories of college at Aquinas. The days spent at class and studying and the evenings spent with friends. Many happy memories though there were/are some rather glaring faults but no place is perfect. Imperfect beings cannot create perfection by themselves or ex nihilo. Society today thinks it can and look where it’s gotten them/us. *facepalm*
My classmate, a contact (aka “a person who is likely to perhaps apply for entrance”), and I went to New York City. For the others, they had been there before: my classmate lived and went to school there and the contact had visited there as a child. This was my first time. It was well-worth waking up at four in the morning to catch the bus into the city and walking around a very overcast and rainy megaopolis like NYC. We saw the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and other things. We went to Ground Zero thinking that the park was open to the public. Yeah, the public that can afford 24 bucks for one hour of walking through the park and an active construction site. Talk about profiting off the suffering and death of others. *facepalm*
But regardless of the rain, the best part of the whole trip was the first thing we did: Morning Mass at Saint Patrick’s cathedral. Not only is the church gorgeous beyond words, when you walk in, you can just feel the history imbue your whole being. Fulton Sheen preached and is buried there! Popes have visited and prayed here. Many well-known Catholics have had their funerals and such here. Pure Catholic history.
Not to mention the fact that the Mass was beautiful and the cantor was pretty easy on the eyes. Meh, as a seminarian buddy of mine told me, just because you enter formation does not mean that some metaphysical switch is flipped and you cease to notice or feel those things. It’s just a matter of what you do with those feelings and such. To call those feelings and such evil or disordered is just plain gnostic (I think that was the heresy). And it has nothing to do with objectification. The cantor was a very fine example of God’s Image and Likeness. To NOT acknowledge that is an insult to the Creator.
But anyway, about the title …
No, I am not some Linus Van Pelt who carries around a powder blue blanket whenever he goes sucking his thumb and sharing simple wisdom with others. This is a different security blanket, if you could even call it that.
It’s my spiritual security blanket: my Breviary.
I have been praying the Divine Office in one form or another since about the middle of high school. I started with Christian Prayer and in college upgraded to the four volume Office. When I was home, I would try to pray at least a couple hours a day, almost always Lauds and Vespers. It just kinda depended on my schedule at Saint Joan.
Since I have entered the convent, I have been blessed to have been able to pray Office of Readings, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline and it has done nothing but help me. When I am feeling particularly homesick, which happens when one leaves behind some rather deep roots behind and embark on something new, I almost always resort to my Breviary.
How could anyone say that anyone who prays the Office regularly is not getting any Scripture? It’s all Scripture! In the four-week Psalter, one recites most, if not all, of the whole Book of Psalms and a good chunk of the Epistles and other books of the New Testament. In the Office of Readings, one reads even the lesser-known prophets such as Baruch and they get a nice healthy helping of Patristics and other Traditional texts. I love it!
I find that God speaks through the Office. At least He does to me and I have heard of others who have had similar experiences. When I am having a tough time with one thing or another, I pray my Office. I am not looking for anything special, I just let my soul be refreshed and revived with the praying of my Office, even in the times when I may kinda rush through it a bit more than I ought. But I do make up for it later. And it does not happen that often.
It’s at those moments when I am least expecting it, when I am not even aware that I need such consolation that He attaches a particular meaning to the section I pray in the Office. It tends to happen in the antiphons of the Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis or the reading or the responsory. Wherever it is, it’s almost like He puts that text there for that very moment, even if it is printed on the page in permanent ink on the gilded paper and the feeling of peace I get I would not trade for the best edition of the Brevarium Romanum in the created world.
One of my priest friends told me to continue praying the Divine Office no matter what flak I may face because of it because it will “keep [me] sane.” And he has been right and he will most probably continue to be right. It keeps me sane in that it keeps me rooted. It keeps me oriented in the right direction. It gives me such a wonderful sense of security and peace that I will, hear me, Lord, never doff the Divine Office from my personal prayer. The only thing that could make it better would be able to pray it in common but I am not holding my breath. I shall savor the sweetness of the Office on my own and thank God for the gift everyday.
Another thing I love about the Divine Office is the fact that it is the prayer of the Church. When I pray the Divine Office, I am praying the same prayers (albeit probably in a different language) as the Holy Father, as the clergy of the Church, all religious who are bound canonically or by their Constitutions to pray the Office, and with the laity who pray this prayer of the Church. It is a wonderfully unifying prayer and it shows the one-ness and the singularity of the Church. Anyone who could bad mouth the Office does so not understanding the true beauty that dwells in itself and in the fact that it brings the Church’s children together in contemplating the Word of God and the Tradition of the Church.
Also, as a non sequitur, another security blanket is the smell some of my clothes still have that I have yet to wear since I have moved into the convent (I shall have a lot of clothes to bring home at Christmas time). Whenever I open my closet I can still smell the lavender fabric softener we use at home in Michigan. When I go to bed and put my head on my Saint Joan plaid pillow, I still smell the smell of home and it puts me at an even deeper sense of security.
Senses can be a security blanket and not a “security blanket” in the negative sense. They remind the person of his roots. They remind the person of the happy memories they have. They remind the person that life is an ongoing process of development where when one thing is sacrificed (and not without its own levels of pain) and while we may still be recovering from the sacrifice, God has brought us to this place in our lives for us to do something beautiful for Him and His Church/people.
All right, I have to get to bed. The Wings lost so I am in the process of grieving. I am sorry about the looooong silences. Like I said, them sisters have just been keeping me busy. I hope to post as much as I can!
Have a blessed evening and happy Feast of Blessed Pope John Paul II!