When I made my promises as a Professed Lay Cistercian at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, I promised to seek God every day where I might be and in whatever venue I might find myself. This is a lifetime promise which I still reflect on and renew at least once per week. In order to maintain my Faith by having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), I have devised a spiritual plan of action that includes daily Liturgy of the Hours (Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the AM and Evening Prayer and Compline in the PM. I began slowly and gradually progressed to four of the seven Hours that is the official, public prayer of the Church. Among other things, that means, even if I pray these ancient prayers in private, it is in union with the Church Universal. I am saved by my Faith in Christ Jesus. The Liturgy of the Hours is not for everyone. It demands substantial commitment that needs sustaining on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at what the Church Universal is. We can pray the Liturgy of the Hours in private, but it is, along with the Eucharist, a universal prayer of the whole body of Christ, each time.
THE CHURCH MILITANT– These are the faithful who are alive now but who are baptized and received the Holy Spirit but who must continue to struggle until death. Christ walks with each of us on our journey, but he won’t let us skip being human. My grace is sufficient, He says. Grace produces God’s energy in us (Faith) and we must do what Christ taught us to be counted as one of his disciples. This Church (assembly) makes Christ present in their bodies daily and joins with Christ to give fitting honor and glory to the Father through, with, and in Christ.
THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT- Christ made it possible for us to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father. This is the Church of those whose names are written in the book of the Lamb, those judged worthy as they are judged before the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Read Matthew 25.
THE CHURCH AWAITING PURIFICATION: To get Purgatory, you must also think about the resurrection of Christ. If there is no resurrection, what we do is a colossal waste of time (my interpretation). The Resurrection is important because the reason Jesus became human was to be our redeemer. Redeemed from what? If you just live in two universes (physical and mental), you won’t get what I am about to say. It doesn’t make sense. If you live in three universe (physical, mental, and spiritual) then you get that everything in this universe is a sign of contradiction. Up is down. Right is left. This universe begins on earth when we are Baptized (given a reservation to the banquet of Forever by God) and continues on in the Kingdom of Heaven after we die. In order to sustain us in our lifetime, we are given grace by God (we eat the bread of Heaven in the Eucharist) and continue to make all things new by loving others as Christ has loved us. At some point, we all wake up and say, “Wow! Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.” The very early Church had a symbol of this statement by drawing a fish, in Greek, Ichthus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthys This awakening is sometimes termed being reborn. I like to think of it as getting a credit card from Jesus which we can use to love others as Christ loves us. No one gives out the credit card but Christ.
A PARABLE OF WOE: If you think of heaven as a restaurant and you show up for a meal there, what is the first thing the Maitre ‘D asks you? “Do you have a reservation?” If the answer is “YES”, they look for your reservation and escort you to your table. If you answer “NO” you will have to wait for a table to be opened. The second question they will ask you is “Do you have a credit card recognized by the restaurant to pay your bill? Again, you will answer either “YES” and they will seat you at table, or “NO.” If “NO,” and you only have cash, they will escort you out of the building and tell you that you should have called ahead to find out what kind of payment they accepted. They advise you to contact your family or friends and ask them to come down to the restaurant and use their credit card, provided it is one accepted by the restaurant.
WHAT I DO WHEN I PRAY
Prayer is lifting the heart and mind to God. It is seeking God wherever we are and recognizing that God is Master and Lord of the Universe. I do not limit myself to one prayer, but I do have a routine of prayer. Life becomes a prayer of reparation to the Father for the sins and failings of the Church Universal, my own shortcomings, and my prayers for the Church Purgative. 2 Maccabees 12:46 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA) “46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”
I take five to ten seconds before each of the hours (Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline or Night Prayers) to stop and offer this for those written in my book of Life, the Church Universal, my family and friends, in reparation for my sins and to ask for God’s mercy. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12775a.htm
Simplicity is what I strive for in my contemplation and meditation.
I try to mean what I pray, when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict