Praying the Divine Office is a bit more of a challenge that one might expect. As I previously posted, I have added to the Divine Office short readings from C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen. I am finding the Nouwen readings especially fulfilling, as he reflects on prayer. It's still the time factor. as I've said before, the prayers of the Office seem to go by too quickly. But its not really the Office, its me. It is a struggle to slow the mind, (insert here any 'isn't your mind already slow enough' jokes). Seeking silence and time for contemplation takes planning and requires making choices. I have to choose not to do other things in order to take the time to pray and reflect. But there are so many other things to be done, that I have found myself charging through the Office to get back to doing other things.
I am reminded of the work of a good friend, mentor and colleague Kirk Jones and his pastoral theological work on this issue which resulted in two books, 'Rest in the Storm and Addicted to Hurry.'
It is, no doubt, important to get things done, regardless of our careers, vocations or callings. But especially as disciples of Christ in a complex society, it is also important to etch out moments of reflection so as to clearly discern exactly what it is that must be done so as to best serve Christ and bring Glory to God. I may very well be repeating myself with this post. But this is apparently what I must learn, this lent, to slow down and listen.
this morning I read this from Nouwen's work entitled 'Prayer Embraces the World'; 'To pray is to unite ourselves with Jesus and lift up the whole world through him to God in a cry for forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and mercy. TO pray, therefore, is to connect whatever human struggle or pain we encounter - whether starvation , torture, displacement of peoples, or any form of physical or mental anguish -- with the gentle and humble heart of Jesus.'
I suppose this encapsulates my hesitation about the very popular 'Missional Church' movements and some of its proponents who suggest that worship is less important than active service. This point of view seems to be falling into our cultures desire for hurry, action, busyness. While a faith that remains inactive and cerebral is certainly offensive to the Christ who called us to take up a cross, I fear that the action of the 'church' will be in vain if it is not rooted in worship, prayer, study and discernment.