“If you want to he attentive to your soul, you simply must find ways to honor your need to acquire a sense of rhythm in your life-some kind of balance in your work, leisure, and prayer.” (Weiderkehr)
How can ordinary people practice a rhythm of pausing and noticing, noticing the work and presence of God in their world?
Why are the Divine Hours a helpful rhythm of prayer?
A few years ago I discovered the Divine Hours – those ancient rhythms of prayer that purposefully take one through the day with the Lord, pausing in the middle of the day for small conversation. I’ve discovered wonderful prayerbooks that guide through the hours, but it wasn’t until I came across a Benedictine Short Breviary that I had seen a prayerbook that really guided through all seven hours (see below).
I quickly purchased that Breviary and excitedly kept company with the Lord on the seven hours, with some routine, but a lot of struggle to keep the rhythm. Carrying that little book with me everywhere as well as trying to pause in the middle of the day was a tough discipline to establish. I enjoyed, however, the significance of the pauses in the day; each pause and time of prayer had a certain something to add to that time of day, even projecting and connecting times of life to times of the day.
To illustrate what I enjoyed, this comes from Weiderkehr’s book: “We practice pausing to remember the sacredness of our names, who we are, and what we plan on doing with the incredible gift of our lives-and how we can learn to be in the midst of so much doing. We have to practice loving and forgiving. We practice breathing and being careful with one another’s life. We practice nonviolence. We practice enjoying what we have rather than storing up possessions. We practice silence.”
After loosely keeping company with the Divine Hours (6, 9, 12, 3, 6, 9, with sometime in the middle of the night for an enthusiast – which I wasn’t) and the breviary, I needed to pause. What I wanted to discover was a rhythm that I could share with my family, Jenny and my two boys who are 3 and 1. I wanted to practice rhythms of prayer so that I could walk with them in prayer as well, once the boys discover the beauty of sitting still (this might be a while…).
So, the Benedictine Breviary, though so richly beautiful, was too much to engage for where my family is at and will be for a while. But, I wanted to retain the beauty of the hours, the significant pauses of the hours.
That’s when I discovered Seven Sacred Pauses (through seeing it mentioned in Phileena Heuertz’s A Pilgrimage of a Soul).
I read with thirst.
What I’ll share with you now comes from the book; these clips are helpful phrases regarding the intent of each hour. I find them helpful and hope to memorize them in order to continue to keep company with God, pausing in the various special times of a day.
1.) Matins or Vigils. “The Night Watch” (Sometime between midnight and dawn). Themes for the hour: vigilance and deep listening mystery and silence surrender and trust.
2.) Lauds or Morning Prayer. “The Awakening Hour” (apx. 6am). Themes for the hour: praise and resurrection joy and delight the coming of the light.
3.) Terce or the Third Hour of the Day. “The Blessing Hour” (apx. 9am). Themes for the hour: the coming of the Spirit wind and flame, breath and blessing strength and courage the sacredness of work.
4.) Sext or the Sixth Hour. “The Hour of Illumination” (apx. noon). Themes for the hour: commitment and passion courage and faithfulness healing, truth, and peace.
5.) None or the Ninth Hour. “The Wisdom Hour” (apx. 3pm). Themes for the hour: steadfastness, surrender forgiveness and wisdom impermanence, aging, maturing death and transition.
6.) Vespers or Evensong. “The Twilight Hour” (apx. 6pm). Themes for the hour: gratitude, praise serenity, mystery the lighting of the lamps.
7.) Compline or Night Prayer. “The Great Silence” (apx. 9pm). Themes for the hour: silence, rest, and sleep darkness, trust, and protection personal sorrow, completion, intimacy.
I recommend Weiderkehr’s book to those who would like to hear more about the hours. There are helpful guides for prayer tucked into the back of each chapter as well. I found her book a good, concise guide to the hours, to taking the soul of the hours into my life, pausing with the above thoughts in mind to inspire simple prayer.