I’d like to share with you a reflection by Sister Elizabeth Hillmann on our community prayer. (This reflection dates from our time in Gainesville, Florida. Sister Elizabeth and I are both in Chicago now.)
The Divine Office in its entirety is meant to sanctify the whole day — morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night — which is why it is also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. (In the Cenacle we usually pray together morning and evening.)
ON PRAYING THE DIVINE OFFICE
Sometimes when we are praying the Office together here in Gainesville, I feel that I am singing with a vast host of people from all the ages since these psalms were written.
I am amazed at their trust in God. They were able to open their hearts and speak to God about all the feelings they were experiencing — their joys and sorrow, their questions, their pride, their hatreds, their depressions, their despairs, their self-righteousness, their exultations, their love and longing for God. It seems to me that they knew that God knew the secrets of their hearts, and so they did not pretend to only pious feelings and thoughts.
These are not the prayers of “rugged individualists.” These are common prayers, prayers of solidarity with the human condition, prayers in which together we acknowledge the Presence of the Mysterious One in all aspects of personal and communal life. These are the prayers that Jesus sang and said — not just alone, but in common in the synagogue, in the temple, and at home. What a gift to be praying with Jesus!
And sometimes when we are praying, I feel a nothingness like dry bones. A time for trust! “The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to prayer as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
- Sister Elizabeth Hillmann
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night.