There’s never enough time I thought as my alarm chimed annoyingly upon the floor, it’s vibrations sending mild shockwaves through the floor as I pathetically scrambled out of a peaceful night’s sleep and frantically tried to silence it’s 21st century cockcrow. Oh well, I thought, I’m used to mornings, and if I’m brutally honest I have actually cherished this pre dawn hour more than any other time of day for as long as I could remember. To risk sounding tacky, there’s something semi mystical about that early hour when it’s just you, your prayers and the darkness. After years of praying at this hour I feel like I understand in part just why the wee hours before dawn were held in high esteem from our fathers in the faith from the desert dwellers of the Egyptian Wadi to the stone monasteries of St Benedict’s time and even till now.
The psalms come alive in this hour, and over the years they become familiar. It’s funny but now that I’ve taken up the Benedictine Office again in earnest I am floored by just how much the Office is made up of parts of scripture, especially the psalms. St Benedict ordained that the entire psalter would be prayed in the course of a week. He puts a premium on the psalter, and since the Benedictine life puts the praying of the breviary above all else, it goes without saying that the Benedictine life is a life lived immersed in the richness of the psalter.
This morning after Matins I leashed up the dog and prayed Lauds and Prime by starlight and streetlight as I took him for his morning stroll. As I looked up I saw the morning star in the heavens and thought of that name sometimes given to the Theotokos, “Star of the Sea” and it kind of made the moment even more prayerful.
I confess I am still agnostic about the Roman Catholic Church and whether I can in good faith consider myself a member again. After years of agonizing over ecclesial membership I find that I am wholeheartedly Orthodox in terms of ecclesiology, believing more in a sort of Eucharistic ecclesiology and a Slavophile Sobornost way of looking at things than the monarchical, papal, and bureaucratic Roman Catholic view. There’s some of me they can’t totally let go of Rome, but I’m mostly Orthodox in praxis, theology and even in the saints I venerate. It’s always been that way if I’m honest.
Maybe I’m destined to be an ecclesial outsider, forever on the margins. I often wonder whether I’d ever have had these ecclesial crises if I would have had say, Clear Creek or Silverstream nearby, or, on the Orthodox side, if I lived across the street from Jordanville or the ROCOR monastery on Vashon Island in WA. Since I’ve got no real traditionally inclined community of either Church within my limited resources and traveling options, I’ve got to make up for it it’s the next best thing— the Office.
For now when I pray the Office I do so more in communion with the saints of all ages and with all those who say the Office alive today. When I think of bishops and priests I keep agnostic, praying that I may be in communion with true priests and true bishops wherever they may be.