…as morning breaks I look to you O Lord…

There are those times in our daily lives when things just seem to fall into place; times when the world around us gives us examples that reinforce something that we have read or heard; times when we see or hear something that gives us one of those, ‘Aha’ moments – enabling us to experience in our hearts what we have learned with our intellect. Moments, when we become aware of God’s presence and in His glory reflected in the world around us.

Those moments happen, I think, more often and more frequently than most of us would imagine or expect. Certainly there are those major revelatory moments, when a deep theological truth almost hits us between the eyes! However, I think those moments happen daily, perhaps many times each day, in small and simple and seemingly quite ordinary things. We might tend to discount them, because (we might think) these are ‘ordinary’ things of no consequence or importance to anyone else. The truth is, though, that any moment that thoughts of God move from our minds to our hearts, that is something of consequence and importance.

This morning I had one of those moments.  I was in my car, driving into the parish office along my daily route which runs from a rural area, along a country road past farms and woodlots. The sky was an intense blue, without a single cloud, and I was listening to a version of Psalm 63 adapted and written by John Michael Talbot (it’s from his CD ‘Come to the Quiet’…but I digress)

This particular version adds an antiphon, ‘As morning breaks I look to you O Lord to be my strength this day’, and is taken from the Liturgy of the Hours.Through the cycle of the Liturgy of the Hours, psalms and particular scriptural texts are read, and re-read as the cycle repeats.  On the first Sunday of the four week cycle, during morning prayer, Psalm 63 is prayed with this antiphon.

As I drove along, and noticed the brightness of the sun, and the clear skies, I was struck by the beauty of this route I travel each day. At the same time, I was mindful of the words in the psalm,

‘so I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory’

I’m not saying that God is ‘in’ His creations in nature, but that His glory is reflected in His creation. The simple, daily beauty that was before me as I travelled on this road became an apparent and clear reminder to me of the beauty and goodness and glory of God.

And that led me further along the psalm;

‘my soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.’

Needless to say, that set the tone for the rest of the morning.

I certainly am not holding myself up as any kind of ‘guru’, or suggesting that there is any kind of magical ‘formula’ for bringing about an awareness of the presence of God each day.  I am suggesting though, that when we spend time sincerely praying and reflecting on the psalms, scripture, and sound spiritual reading, God will make Himself known to us in the most surprising of ways – perhaps surprising in their ‘ordinariness’; or in our daily routines where we have failed to notice His many gifts and blessings.  One way to express that openness is to take the time and make the effort, no matter how small, to pray and read and reflect; the reward for that effort can only lead to those ‘aha’ moments – even if it is only during a morning drive to the office. 

Because any morning where we feel that God has filled our souls, ‘…as with a banquet’, well, that just has to be a great start to the day!

sunriseset

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

…O, O, O this is exciting…

I can still remember the excitement as a small child, counting the days until Christmas. As that wondrous day drew closer, the excitement increased exponentially, building up to an almost constant state of ‘butterflies’ in my stomach. That anticipation grew from a mental thought and expanded to become a physical response; the ‘waiting’ became something that involved my whole being!

That waiting and excitement was something that abated somewhat over the years, until I was introduced to praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The collection of psalms and readings, petitions, antiphons and prayers was something that eventually would become integral to my daily routine and spiritual journey (and of course would become an obligation – though a happy one – through ordination).

Praying through the Liturgy of the Hours tracks a rhythm and flow throughout the liturgical year; it provides a whole new dimension to one’s daily routine and is a reminder that at some point, somewhere in the world, someone is constantly praying for all of us. But what has that got to do with excited anticipation?

Because as of December 17th, when praying the Evening Prayer of the hours, we enter into seasonal antiphons to introduce the prayer, The Magnificat, with what are referred to as the ‘O’ Antiphons. For an explanation of these ‘O’ Antiphons, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, does an excellent job here

When I enter into those’O’ Antiphons, I am filled now with that same wonder, excitement, and yes, I have to admit, ‘butterflies’ reaction as these signal the approaching feast of Christmas. But they mean much more than the countdown to a date on a calendar. They are a reminder to me of the many aspects of the graces, gifts, and the wonder of the One who loved us all into existence – the One who emptied Himself completely to enter into our own human condition; to restore that image and likeness with which we were created.

We celebrate the feast and commemorate His coming among us as one of us at a definite point in our human history; we anticipate His coming among us each and every day in those we encounter in our daily lives; we rejoice in His presence to us in His Sacraments and His Church; we excitedly look forward to His return, to the time that we will each gaze upon Him and see Him ‘face to face’.

That’s what the ‘O’ Antiphons do for me – and I hope, if you are able to begin celebrating in prayer the Liturgy of the Hours, that they will do the same for you, with the grace of God.

And I hope they give you ‘butterflies’ too!

candle

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!