Since I do not own a car, I tend to take public transportation everywhere I go. I started working earlier this month and I also started getting into the habit of reciting the breviary every day. I use an old Benedictine breviary from 1930 that I found in pristine condition. All of it is in Latin, but I am understanding more through force of habit than by learning the language itself.
Anyway, I have had a dilemma when it comes to praying Vespers or Evening Prayer. I don’t like to pray it late in the evening or during the night because Vespers is supposed to be prayed at dusk. I decided today that I would recite it on the bus today.
It was an odd experience for me because I had never done it before. For the most part, though, I felt that I wasn’t even on a bus. I felt that I was somewhere else thinking about other things. For the most part, I concentrated on the meaning of the words that I was reciting. I thought about Mary being more beautiful than the dove, the meaning of the Rosary, and its mysteries. I felt enveloped in what I was doing.
To tell you the truth, this is why I love the Divine Office so much. The fact of the matter is that you can really get sucked into it. Even with the contemporary Liturgy of the Hours, there is so much that we can think about and meditate on while we read. There are so many passages from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and readings from Scripture that it may seem pointless to use anything else. Yet it is the psalms themselves that speak to us more than any sermon does.
To me, the psalms encapsulate my days very well. Some days, they are joyful. At other times, they are full of contrition and longing. Yet no matter how much one recites them, one never grows weary of them. There is constantly some new meaning that we can find with the psalms. Even in ones that we know by heart, there probably is something that we may never have thought of before.
To me, it doesn’t really matter that I am reciting the breviary in a language that I only partially understand. (I say partially because I studied Latin for two and a half years in high school and college.) What matters is that I am praying with the Church at large throughout the world and I am connected with it. As the psalmist wrote, “Oh Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom, You have made them all!”
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!