This past week I was thinking about how the church has helped people to keep a “liturgy to life.” A cadence, if you will, for living and relating to God. By the end of the 5th century, the Liturgy of the Hours was composed of seven “offices,” or times. Of these seven, Compline seems to have been the last to appear, because the 4th century Apostolic Constitutions do not mention it in the exhortation “Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing”. An eighth office, Prime, was added by Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century. These eight are known by the following names:
- Matins (during the night); also called Vigils or Nocturns or, in monastic usage, the Night Office
- Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn, or 3 a.m.)
- Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = approximately 6 a.m.)
- Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = approximately 9 a.m.)
- Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = approximately 12 noon)
- None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = approximately 3 p.m.)
- Vespers or Evening Prayer (“at the lighting of the lamps”, generally at 6 p.m.)
- Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring, generally at 9 p.m.)
This arrangement of the Liturgy of the Hours is attributed to Saint Benedict, but it is also found in descriptions of the monastic practices of the Desert Fathers of Egypt.
I was thinking of something similar to a modern day non-monastic existence to keep us relating to the creator throughout the day and came up with ones that you might find appealing and workable.
1. Worship and Thanksgiving (when you first wake up)
2. Centering (a time of prayer to keep God at the forefront of your day – on your commute, over coffee, perhaps when you first get to work, or if you take an early morning jog or workout.)
3. Focus (mid-day to keep you focused on what God is up to all around you.)
4. Release (toward the end of the day – a ritual of turning everything over to God)
5. Rest (a time of calling on God to help us rest and have a holy sleep)
I tried to come up with a catchy way of using a word like G R A C E or T R U T H but I couldn’t capture these concepts with a single word. Maybe later. Imagine if your day was led by the Pacesetter of your life – God. What a difference it could make as you move from beginning to the end of each day.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Jesus (Rev. 22:13)