CHANTING THE PSALMS
As my monastic spiritual quest unfolds God continues to put amazing books in my path. Each leads to another and on and on they go. My Amazon account is grateful to be sure!
In early 2014 when I was looking for books to use with my Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours practices, I started reading Phyllis Tickle’s book series The Divine Hours. She spoke about the history of The Hours and how years ago monks (and some still today) would chant the Liturgy vs. speaking it.
A light bulb moment hit and I began looking for a book on chanting. Then voila’! I discovered Cynthia Bourgault’s book Chanting the Psalms. The perfect answer to my search.
Not only is this book an incredible history of chanting but it is a beautiful teaching tool of music and worship. The best part is the instructional CD that is included to help you learn the chants.
Don’t worry if you’re not a musician or a singer. Cynthia has all that covered. She does an awesome job putting us at ease with our uncertainties and inexperience. As a novice with chanting I need lots of practice. But that’s where our spiritual growth comes through our practice.
I am so excited about Chanting the Psalms by Cynthia Bourgeault and plan to use it for many years to come. I hope you will consider it as an addition to your prayer and personal worship experience.
Originally published November 26, 2014
IN A MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.
THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS.
One thing that attracted me most to Benedictine spirituality is the custom of praying The Liturgy of the Hours. Fixed-hour prayer has its origins in Judaism from which Christianity came and is still widely used today. The connection to this ancient practice is fascinating to me and draws me in with an incredible sense of unity to my spiritual family.
In a previous blog I wrote a book review on The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle. Ms. Tickle has done a marvelous job compiling scripture and prayers for daily use built around the seasons of the year. If you are just learning about this type of prayer routine Phyllis Tickle’s books are an excellent place to start.
By far my favorite way to pray the hours is with my iPhone app The Divine Office. This wonderful ministry has developed beautiful productions of worship experiences and brought them to us via technology. Not to worry, if you don’t have a smart phone you can still participate through their website.
What an incredible experience to join the live recording and gather with a world-wide community who are praying together. This takes Christian community worship to a whole different level! As the earth rotates and each time slot changes we pass on the prayers like a baton to the next time zone. I find this such a sweet thing to imagine. I’ve been using The Divine Office app for 2 years and look forward to hearing the now familiar voices each day.
As a recovering addict this prayer routine has been a great tool especially in rough times. When I can rotate my day around praying the Psalms it helps to push out things of the world by keeping my heart and mind focused on transformation.
I encourage you to consider praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It has given my prayer life new direction, energy and purpose.
The Benedictine Handbook Liturgical Press 2003
The Divine Hours: A Manual for Prayer by Phyllis Tickle
Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monks Insights for a Balanced Life by Lonni Pratt and Fr. Daniel Homan
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life by Benet Tvedten
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine**
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal
THE DIVINE HOURS: Prayers for Summertime
For the last several months I have been using Phyllis Tickle’s prayer book series. I purchased the entire set which includes prayer books for each season of the year, along with a book of Night Offices. I started with Prayers for Springtime and have now moved to Prayers for Summertime.
If you are unfamiliar with Phyllis Tickle you will find her a prolific writer with dozens of books to her name. She is the founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly and has been a much sought after speaker on religion in America.
In The Divine Hours Ms. Tickle makes primary use of The Book of Common Prayer, the writings of the Church Fathers and takes Scripture readings from the New Jerusalem Bible. Each book is divided into specific time categories: Morning, Mid-day, Evening and Night and is easy to navigate to find today’s reading.
As a recovering addict it’s critical that I keep my prayer routine on track and The Divine Hours series has been most helpful in this area. Although I have several prayer books and iPhone apps, I really enjoy Phyllis Tickle’s books and use them regularly.
If you are looking for a way to freshen your prayer and praise routine while participating in the ancient practice of the liturgy, I highly recommend The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle.
A Book of Hours
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was an incredible spiritual thinker of the 20th Century. Though he lived a mostly solitary life as a Trappist monk, he had an amazing impact on the world through is writing. He was an out spoken anti-war and civil rights proponent and was reprimanded for his social criticisms. He was unique among Christian leaders in that he embraced Eastern mysticism and sought to bridge the gap between the East and the West.
Over the last several years I’ve run across Thomas Merton’s name in many books. Having read several by now, I am quite taken by his way of teaching, his convictions and his sweet poetic writing style.
A Book of Hours wasn’t written personally by Thomas Merton, it is a recent compilation from his books sweetly edited by Kathleen Deignan and beautifully illustrated by John Giuliani.
Designed as a daily prayer book, A Book of Hours has various selections from Merton’s poems and other writings divided up as hymns and prayers which are to be read each day of the week at Dawn, Day, Dusk and at Dark.
It has been the a tradition of the Christian church since ancient times to pray throughout the day. In this way the church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing. As I have embraced monastic spirituality, praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been a wonderful way to keep me spiritually focused through the day. It helps me specifically in my recovery walk to stay on track.
I highly recommend The Book of Hours by Thomas Merton. Beautifully bound, it is a great gift for yourself or a friend. It is one of the sweetest prayer books I own. I will treasure it for many years to come.
In A Monk in the World we are learning the values, teachings and principles of Christian monasticism and how we can apply them to our lives outside the monastery walls. Today we’re focusing on the Prayer of Lectio Divina.
Lectio divina which means “holy or divine reading” is an ancient form of prayer using Scripture as the voice of God to our heart. This type of prayer is simple in concept but powerful in practice, taking us deeper and deeper in our relationship with God.
There are various takes on the practice of lectio divina. We are going to use the one I’ve learned from my resources listed below. Before beginning any prayer time we must find a quiet place to sit with the Lord. Focusing on our breath, we prepare to listen as the Holy Spirit brings openness and guidance.
- LECTIO: (Latin for reading) In this step we read a section of Scripture slowly, savoring each word as a delicious morsel that will nourish our soul. It’s helpful to read the passage aloud watching ever closely for a word or phrase that shimmers in our heart.
- MEDITATIO: (Latin for mediation) Here we take the phrase that caught our heart’s attention and ruminate on it through repetition and reflection. As we chew on the given text we connect it with our life situations.
- ORATIO: (Latin for prayer) In this next step we actually begin our conversion with God, our closest friend and confidant who we can share anything with. Here we may find much needed joy and gratitude; a renewal of hope and trust.
- CONTEMPLATIO (Latin for contemplation) Here we stop doing and just be, we still our hearts and minds, find rest in God’s loving arms as His precious child. We may continue our reading or end our prayer with thanksgiving.
Certainly one of my favorite passages of Scripture to meditate on is Psalm 23. Here are a few others you may consider:
Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.”
Psalm 91 “You who live in the shelter of the Most High”
Romans 8 “There is therefore no condemnation…
I hope you will enjoy the practice of lectio divina. I’m looking forward to putting it more into practice for myself this upcoming year.
St. Benedicts Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten