I've tried to stay consistent with the Monastic Office for the last three weeks and so far it's been manageable, although if I'm honest it's sometimes hard for me to pray all the Hours, especially Compline. The morning hours are fairly easy for me since I'm regularly up before 5 am most days, but for some reason my energy level and desire to slog through another round of prayers dries up like a puddle caught in the midday sun once the late afternoon rolls around with its lazy allure. I actually love Benedictine Compline with its stability and rootedness, the only change being the Marian Antiphon at its close, but that's the one I miss most.
I've often wondered why Compline was set up the way it was, why was it so unchanging, and it dawned on me that symbolically Compline and its prayers are meant to ease one into sleep, both for the night and for life– the sleep of death. It's meant to be memorized and prayed at the end of ones day and the end of ones life. I've often heard it said that in some monasteries the monks can chant it by heart recto tono in the dark. Heck, even in the short time I've retaken up the Office I've memorized a little of it, and hope that in time I will know it by heart!
Matins is my favorite hour, the time of day when it's just me, Kratom, coffee and my 7 year old ginger feline curled up purring on my lap. I rise early and it never gets easy, it's just that you get used to feeling like dirt first thing in the morning, the sleep and the first pangs of caffeine and kratom withdrawal clinging to every part of me like the crust under my eyelids I have to wash away in front of the mirror.
Sometimes I confess I slog through Matins, so sleepy I hardly pay attention to the content of the psalms, hymns and antiphons, but at other times something catches my eye and I touch upon something profound. The majority of the time it is about discipline and having the fortitude to set your mind on something and do it no matter what, at other times it really does become something of a subtle spiritual experience where you fleetingly see a connection between an antiphon or a verse and your own life, some aspect of Christian dogma, or some insight, but it's not like that most of the time.
The most recent feast where I felt that special something was during the feast of St Laurence early this week. For some reason one of the antiphons and psalms took me to that beach in Libya where those Copts were beheaded a few years ago. I could vividly imagine some of these guys kneeling in the sand, watching these jackals with knives, listening to the crashing of the Mediterranean, the lazy call of the gulls and terns oblivious to the coming red tide, and perhaps praying one of these psalms by heart, making these ancient Hebrew prayers applicable to their own life and impending death.
I could see somehow that sometimes the Breviary comes alive, the psalms reveal their mystic character. This is not why I pray the Breviary, as I don't go chasing visions, but it does help make it worthwhile. It gives you an immersion into the mysteries of our Faith, and acts as a compass and a map for our life's journey.