27 January 2012

Briefly on the breviary

Thought it was time for a brief update on my earlier post about the arrival of the new Benedictine breviary (although why it is called a breviary when it's anything but brief at over 2260 pages I don't know - unless it's related to breve as in music. Mmm, might have to check that out...!).

Enough blather. I have been using the new breviary for a couple of weeks now and am starting to get the hang of its geography. It's much easier than it looks now I've actually had a go with it. I've got adventurous and fully observed several feasts (including the Conversion of St Paul on the 25th - this was almost a disaster because I got the date wrong, but I figured it out in the end!). I've also made it work in terms of my time: I'm anticipating Vigils. Just as major feasts have a first and second Vespers, I'm anticipating Vigils the night before (so Wednesday Vigils are done on Tuesday night and so on), followed immediately by Compline. This works well as I have more time in the evenings.

I am enjoying the readings for Vigils immensely: daily readings are contiguous parts of OT and NT books (currently Deuteronomy and I Corinthians), but on Sundays and feast days, the readings are a piece from a Church Father and a Gospel (and they have the correct readings for Years A, B, and C which means I get to hear the Gospel twice for the day). The readings from the Fathers are particularly interesting as my reading in this area was limited to what was required for theology and church history papers, usually segments from particularly argumentative people! We had Clement of Alexandria on Sunday, a piece I hadn't read before, and that was really lovely.

This has also meant that I've been able to use Lauds as my first morning prayer, and I've been doing Vespers in the early evening where it belongs instead of at night like I was doing with my old Morning and Evening Prayer book. I've managed to keep the Little Hours (Terce, Sext, and None) nearly at their right times by doing them at morning tea, lunch, and afternoon teatime. It hasn't worked every day, but it's worked most days. This means that for the first time in 11 years since I first started getting involved in things monastic, I've actually managed to keep the full Hours, all seven of them. It's worked for two weeks, so hopefully I can make it stick.

The interesting thing about this is that I'm finding the prayer slots very easily into my day, it doesn't take a lot of time, but it does help me focus again back on my work and why I do it. It's also feeding into my personal contemplative times as well. These are becoming richer too - the psalms feed the contemplation and vice versa. Balance is slowly being found....

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