15 February 2015

Sophia prayer

One of my distinct frustrations at present is the invisibility and lack of resources for liturgical exploration of Sophia. Part of my vocation as a Benedictine is to pray the Opus Dei, the work of God - usually known as the Divine Office or breviary. Those of you who follow the blog (I have followers?!) will know that I've been trying to find resources for Sophia-prayer for some time. The most recent foray into an expansive language Office was from the Order of St Helena, which I used for a while. However, somehow it didn't seem to truly fit, although it gave me some very good ideas.

The next step, which was suggested by one of my Brothers in the Community, was to create my own version of the Office. Purists among you will now be shouting that the Office is the "official prayer of the church" and therefore shouldn't be tinkered with. However, praying the Office as I currently have it is an exercise in trying not to grind my teeth to the gumline, through frustration and anger over the misogynist language used for God - which hardly helps me connect with the One who truly Is! The pattern of each service of the Office is set historically so putting together a Sophia version shouldn't be that tricky (just time consuming!) and I am going to use the lectionary for the readings, so I don't fixate on the readings I like and ignore the bits that are harder for me.

The first step was to find a four-week psalter pattern, which sounds significantly easier than it was. The complication comes when you consider that Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all number the psalms slightly differently - RCs and Protestants both have 150 psalms but they're "chopped up" differently; the Orthodox add another one and have 151. I needed to find a Protestant arrangement as my translations were all numbered that way! I also wanted to make sure it included all of the psalms, including the so-called "imprecatory psalms", because I think it's more honest to human experience. I think I cracked that one, finally.

Step two: which translation of the psalms? Should I re-image a known translation into Sophia-language, use the OSH psalms, use the NZ Prayer Book psalms with changed language, use the psalms from the Inclusive Bible.... ?

This was a source of extreme teeth-grinding, until about a week ago I googled "sophia psalms" in sheer desperation. And I think I found a treasure! I stumbled across the blog of Mother Laura Grimes, an Old Catholic Bishop and feminist, who has taken the 1979 Book of Common Prayer version of the psalms and made them Sophia-centric. And they are beautiful. And bless her, she's made them available to others! I have always loved the way the BCP psalms flow, as they were written for singing, and she's captured that.

The neat thing is that Mother Laura has also created a Sophia little office and rosary! I've ordered those too and am excited to explore her work. Here's hoping....

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