Monday, September 28, 2009

Two things guaranteed to make my day better

1. Get myself ready for the day before the kids get up.

This makes a huge difference for me. Huge. If I'm behind on this, I feel behind on everything.  Atticus gets up first (which I admit makes it easier for me) but then I'm next ... I drag myself out of bed, head straight to the shower, and then have time to get a couple things done (and a cup or two of coffee) before I wake up the girls. Then, everything -- really, everything -- goes so much better for me. For us. 

St. Josemaria Escriva said:

The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and... up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.

I'm no hero, but I know that, for me, it's a mortification I need. That may not be true for everyone, or for every schedule, or every homeschooling household. But it helps me. 

And, please, please, please remember, if you are tempted to compare anything with anything, I'm in this season of life: kids who are 15, 13 and 7.  No baby, no toddler, no pregnancy here ... you get me, don't you?  If you've been up all night with the baby, nothing about "getting up before the kids" applies to you.  Go catch a nap.

2. The Liturgy of the Hours

This is one of the things I get done before the kids are awake. 

From today's Morning Prayer:

When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart, Because I bore your name, O LORD, God of hosts. ~~ Jeremiah 15:16

I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours a couple of years after becoming a Catholic. (I would have bet all three of my children that I've written extensively about the Liturgy of the Hours before on this blog. But, I just did a search and I cannot find a thing. How is that possible?)

It was the Office of Readings that really captured me -- both the Psalms and the second reading of the day (usually some treasure from one of the fathers of the Church.)

Back when my spiritual director was a priest here in our parish (he has since moved away) he mentioned the Liturgy of the Hours at an RCIA meeting (I was on the team at the time.)  I had never heard of it, but he talked about "praying in rhythm with the Church," and I thought, "Hmm ... that's intriguing." The next time I met with him, I asked about it and he showed me what it was, and how to use it.  I fell in love with it, and especially with the richness of the Office of Readings.  I didn't think the full set of books (rather pricey) was within grasp, so for awhile I used the free, online version at  (Note that Universalis doesn't use the official Catholic translation, but it was still a nice way for me to break into using the prayers while I looked at other option.) Then, Atticus bought me set for my birthday/Mother's Day that year. Oh, I love that man.

It took a bit of time to learn how to navigate through the books, the ribbons, the feast days and Solemnities. I remember having Father over for dinner shortly after Atticus gave me the books and I said, "I am loving the Liturgy of the Hours!" and Father said, "So, you know that today is the feast of Charles Lwanga and Companions!" and I said, "Ummm ... no. Who?"

So, he gave me another navigation lesson and I finally caught on.

I don't pray all of the hours, and I don't do it every day, but I still love the Office and Atticus and I try to start every work day with Morning Prayer together.  It's amazing, fascinating and comforting to me to see how often something in the prayers applies to something that I'm praying, thinking or worrying about. 

I love Night Prayer, too. Every night there is the Nunc Dimittis:

Lord, now let your servant go in peace.
Your Word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal You to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

And there are various other Scriptures -- this is from Tuesday night prayer:

Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. ~~  1 Peter 5:8-9

And Evening Prayer gives us the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. 
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Riches abound.

Awhile back, Melanie did some marvelous posts about the Liturgy of the Hours that I highly recommend. You can find them here and here (and the second one is full of links, details, recommendations, great stuff.) One other source (I can't remember if Melanie mentioned it)  is The Magnificat.  This little magazine/prayer book is an easy and beautiful way to start.

Like Melanie, I have fallen in and out of use of the Liturgy of the Hours, but I always come back to it. It's an anchor.


Leonie said...

I'm with you..I have to get up before the is truly that heroic moment. When I had babies, it was baby and me up I often slip out to early mornung mass...and sometimes a teen comes with me, too!

Michele Quigley said...


Another beautiful, family-friendly resource for night prayers are the Patmos books Evening Prayerbook: Sunday Vespers and Night Prayerbook: Compline

Melanie B said...

Thanks for the link, Karen.

Trying not to be a wee bit jealous of your early mornings. I know things do go better for me, for us, when I drag myself up before the kids. Like I mentioned in the first post you linked to, there was a beautiful golden time in my pregnancy after the first trimester exhaustion passed and I found myself waking early and praying before the girls woke. (And you have to wake up pretty early to beat our girls!) Oh well... like you say this is not the season for me. Right now Dom gets the girls up and feeds them while I enjoy an extra cuddle with Ben, filling his little belly so I'll have a nice respite to get breakfast and get dressed before he needs to eat again. Now I need the extra sleep and I still find myself crashing at nap time. But I do miss those quiet mornings up with the birds and time to pray without someone begging me to read a book. I look forward to that season rolling around again.

I've really been wanting to check out the Patmos books Michele mentioned. We have their rosary book and it's lovely.

Catharina de Bononia said...

Thank you for the caveat about the ages of your girls... mine are 3-year-old twins, their 18-month-old sister, and I'll be delivering baby girl #4 in mid-December!

Embarrassingly enough, it took me about a year of reading different homeschooling blogs to recognize the commonalities among mamas who seemed to do the neatest crafts and have the sweetest tea parties: not necessarily the absence of newborns, but the definite presence of children old enough to... pour their own milk, brush their own teeth, and read a book to the baby.

Secondarily, (and completely apropos of nothing) I've really enjoyed your rosary book. I, too, am a convert, and had several of the same questions you did when I first began to explore that prayer.

Anyway, I'll go back now to lurking (and storing ideas in my "in ten years, this will be possible for me" mental file...)


Emily said...

Oh, that heroic minute! I think that name is PERFECT for what it is. It's so hard for me (especially now that it's getting light later in the AM) to get up when that alarm goes off!
And yet my day is so much better when I do. I actually have time for morning prayer, for a somewhat relaxed breakfast, etc.
Great post.

Sarah N. said...

I love having time before my girls wake up to pray, drink coffee, enjoy the quiet. My girls are very early risers so the time is often far shorter than I'd hoped but that's the season we're in. I'd been using Universalis and I just bougth the single volume Christian prayer. I'm learning to use it but loving it already. Thanks for the great links!

Roz said...

You have a wonderful eye for a good quotation. The combination of the "heroic minute" quote above and the earlier lovely excerpt from Charlotte's Web won you a place on my sidebar.

Glad to have found you.