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14 July 2010

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Tabitha

Ok, Erin, I'm going to have to pick this book up!
I've been discussing with a friend the issue of Daily Mass--am I called to that at this stage in life or not? I'm still not sure, but this surely lends more food for thought. I've struggled finding the "right" devotion (LOTH hasn't worked out yet for me, either). Thanks for these posts.

Kate

This book is the reason I stopped beating myself up about being able to do daily mass, or any of the other oh-so-holy devotions I hear of other women doing. I haven't actually finished the book though, I can't quite remember why but I stalled halfway through. I should pick it up again. I'm really enjoyed reading your thoughts on it!!

As for what sort of devotions work well with small children - the sort I'm best at maintaining (though I'm not consistent here either) is the sort that ritualizes small moments through the day - crossing oneself passing a church or at the name of Jesus, saying a quick prayer when an ambulance or fire truck passes, praying over and with the small kids when they hurt themselves or are angry or upset (and asking them to pray with me), saying a quick prayer for all mothers when I tie on my apron to cook or bake. I call these my 'apron prayers' since I started with the apron one. :-) I'm also prone to posting snippets of bible verses, hymns, or quotes on my walls to keep my mind on 'whatever is true, lovely, etc' and playing devotional music while doing housework. These things sometimes don't seem like *enough*, but they do fit my life.

MelanieB

I agree that you shouldn't force yourself to stick with a devotion that simply isn't working. However, I have had some success with modifying my ideas of how LOTH should work s that it meshes better with my life as mom of little ones. So you may find that LOTH just doesn't work for you; but perhaps you might also have some success by tweaking the way you approach it.

I have found that I can mostly fit LOTH into my chaotic life but I have had to learn to be very flexible and interruptible and loosen my expectations. I did already have the habit of saying morning and evening prayer before I was married, so I did have a leg up in that regard, I suppose. I also started praying LOTH by being loose in my expectations. I was in grad school at the time and kept very irregular hours and very short in discipline. I said morning prayer whenever I first got up, no matter how tired I was and if I fell asleep a dozen times as I tried to pray, well that's just how it went. And evening prayer I would say last thing before going to bed, also falling asleep many nights multiple times before I got through it all. For me developing the habit of daily prayer was more important than the quality of the prayer on any given day. So yes my concentration wsn't what I'd like it to be; but I think one can pray the hours with reduced concentration and there is still much good that comes from just saying the words even if it feels very empty. But like I said, I was single, so I did push myself to finish each hour.

These days those habits do stand me in good stead. Still, some mornings I only get through part of one psalm before I'm interrupted. And I've learned to count that as my morning prayer time and just pick up on the next hour and do the best I can. It's been very hard to overcome my perfectionist tendencies which try to insist that it doesn't "count" if I don't say the whole hour's psalmody and reading and intentions and prayers; but I've definitely made progress in that regard in the past couple of years.

Like Kate suggested, I print out some of my favorite hymns and post them on the cabinets and sing as I cook breakfast and wash the dishes. They are my backup plan. On mornings when LOTH is interrupted or disappears completely, I try to at least start with a mumbled morning offering, try to say the Invitatory Psalm (95), which I've memorized, and then sing a few hymns as I go about my morning, making breakfast and doing dishes.

At noon I have my cell phone set to ring and we all pray the Angelus (the 2 yr old and 4 year old know most of the prayers and often join in; but I don't require it of them.) I just pray regardless of what I'm doing, I don't necessarily stop momming changing a diaper, dishing out lunch, moderating an argument, etc.

If I can, during nap/afternoon quiet time I pray either the short midday or midafternoon prayer or the longer Office of Readings.

Then evening prayer usually doesn't happen these days till after the kids are in bed, which may be 8 or 9pm. I'm often nodding off or very distracted; but I do my best to get through. If I'm really tired, I just skip evening prayer and say the much shorter night prayer and if I'm super tired I do a shortened version of night prayer that omits the psalm and just says the responsory and canticle and closing prayer.

I've also had success in getting the kids involved in praying LOTH with me instead of fighting to keep them away, make them be quiet. I allow myself to be distracted and figure God will give me quiet prayer times when I need it and at other times praying in the midst of interruptions and the circus is undoubtedly good for me too.

I have a big pile of holy cards in my prayer book and hand them to the toddlers to look at as I pray. Sometimes that becomes my prayer as I use the cards for an improvised litany of the saints: that's St Patrick. St Patrick, pray for us...

The girls have both learned how to repeat antiphons and like praying with me. Another way to get them involved was to listen to the LOTH at divineoffice.org I was totally able to feed the baby and listen to that while I got stuff done. Not optimal to multi-task while praying; but better than not praying, no?

When I've got a new baby I try to use the nursing sessions as my monastery bell and say at least a part of the nearest hour whenever I sit down to nurse. Having a laptop nearby allows me to access universalis. Or with the latest baby I did the readings on my ipod touch. Very handy technology which lets you scroll with one finger and works until baby is old enough to be fascinated with the shiny thing in mama's hand.

Sorry if this is too long and not helpful. But I think I might have given up early on if I hadn't had some cheerleaders telling me it could still work for me if I reduced my expectations of what LOTH requires.

It's kind of the same thing I've learned about attending Mass. I may be very distracted by keeping the baby and toddlers from screaming and fighting and I may not hear the readings and miss the homily and even have to leave to change a diaper and miss the consecration; but there is a grace at simply being present as much as I am able and allowing God to be present even in the midst of the distractions and interruptions. I've become convinced that liturgy doesn't require our full attention and concentration to be a source of grace for us-- though it is good for us to try to give it as much as possible.


Tamara @ Living Palm

I wanted you to know that I found you through Conversion Diary and am really enjoying reading your posts. Thank you for putting effort in here in order to share the benefits of your learning!

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