Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, Praise and exalt Him above all forever. (Daniel 3:57)
The day began with sun shining and birds chirping. It is truly a day to give praise for the beauty of Spring. Even though the clouds are moving in, we need the rain, so we can give praise for that as well. The image I selected for today was taken yesterday during a visit to Hornabaker Gardens, for the New Plant Workshop, with my dear friend, Kathy. The morning started with rain but as the workshop went on, I saw the sun shining and the clouds departing behind Dave and Molly as they spoke to us in the hoop building we were in. It was a lovely morning; new plants, the beautiful gardens and a kindred spirit filled my soul with such joy!
Once I began to pray and become more familiar with the Psalms I pondered writing a book comprised of prayers and psalms of daily praise and thanksgiving. I tend to gravitate to Psalms of praise so I think it would be great to have them consolidated, along with other prayers from great spiritual teachers, in one place. My cousin is working on final edits of her first book in her nineties, so maybe there is still hope for my book.
I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the 1990’s as a result of the encouragement of our parish priest at the time. It took me awhile to figure out and get in a rhythm of moving the ribbons, using the weekly and daily prayers, while moving around the book (I use the Shorter Christian Prayer version rather than the full set of books with complete Office of Readings, etc). Once the lightbulb went on it, using the Liturgy of the Hours has been a blessing to me. I wish I was more consistent, I waver at times and often use condensed versions in prayer books like Give Us This Day, which I have previously mentioned in this blog. The Liturgy of the Hours is also called the Breviary, or the Divine Office, and is prayed by religious and monastics in the Catholic Church daily. It was one of the things that drew me to Benedictine spirituality and monastic life, to realize that someone, somewhere in the world, at this moment is praying for all of us and the Church. I wanted to do that same thing for others.
Quickly Sunday Morning Prayer, especially the Canticle of Daniel, became the favorite part of my prayer time using the Liturgy of the Hours. Various parts of the Canticle are used on each of the 4 Sundays of the Psalter but verses 57-88, used on Week 1 and III, are verses I return to many times, often on days other than Sunday morning. There are probably only a handful of items I would want as part of my funeral liturgy and this Canticle is one of them! Like Canticle of the Sun attributed to St. Francis, these Canticles perfectly praise all aspects of creation and the Creator. They fill me with such joy and thanksgiving.
This week I discovered a new prayer method of thanksgiving, the Rosary of Gratitude. I have used a gratitude journal many times in my life, listing 5-10 things each day for which I am grateful. But I have a few other ways of journaling at the moment, so one more journal to write in wasn’t feeling like a way to be grateful! Our prayer group has selected a new book and study program by Ascension Press for our reading and reflection. There is a video as part of each section of the book. In the video, Fr. Josh Johnson encouraged praying the Rosary of Gratitude. I googled it to learn more about the format and realized it was something I had done before but didn’t realize it was a “real” prayer method. I have prayed the Rosary, the Franciscan Rosary, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy but when I used the beads for things I was grateful for I thought I was not honoring the true intent of the Rosary. What a delight to learn that there are ways to use my beads for gratitude.
I fell in love with it as I prayed. I soon realized that as I entered deeper in prayer there weren’t enough beads to cover all the things I was grateful for. I started with more broad items like being grateful for my family, for my friends, for my home, our parish and our area priests. Within a decade or two very specific things came to mind; Jeff’s successful surgery, Becky’s test results, the assistance I received on a work project, dinner with friends, and as I prayed it this a.m., after reading Judith’s blog about her airport experience, for the goodwill of people that help and that she obtained her phone before boarding her flight to Italy. It’s only been a week but I hope to incorporate this as part of daily prayer and can only imagine the blessings that will come from reflecting on the good things that I experience each day, things that I am grateful for instead of the things that aren’t going as well as I hoped.
This week consider ways you might spend a few moments each day in gratitude for the blessings in your life. Whether it is formal prayer, a gratitude journal, or a few moments basking in sunshine and saying “Thank you”, let’s watch and see what a difference it might make.