By Fr. Bjorn, OES
Liturgy (literally "the work of the people") has many faces. There is the liturgy we celebrate in community with others in a church setting, the liturgy of sanctifying the hours of our through the Divine Office, and other, more personal liturgies such as formalized prayers like the Rosary, the Litany of the Saints and many others.
One thing I find often overlooked in dialogue about monasticism in daily practice is what I like to call the "personal liturgies". These are the acts that we do regularly, as part of our monastic observance, to both give thanks and make intercessions on behalf of those in need.
These do not always take place in a sanctuary, oratory or even our private cells; for example the short, silent prayer of thanksgiving and intercession before a prepared sack lunch and a bag of clean socks and personal toiletries leaves my hands and enters the hands of a homeless person. I also include in this the short prayers and meditations that take place during the hours of manual labor, caring for the animals we are stewards of, and many other acts of keeping the place running.
I would like to suggest another kind of act that (for me) falls under the category of personal liturgy, and that is the act of listening. While it is (somewhat) easier to listen for the Still Small Voice when there is no environmental noise, trying to remain focused and practice inner silence amidst the everyday hustle and bustle of wherever we may find ourselves is much more difficult.
Silence is only the beginning of the liturgy of listening, however. It prepares us for the second step of this sometimes convoluted "work" (the word 'liturgy' means 'the work of the people'), which is that of authentic, charitable and honest listening to another of God's children who is in need of an ear; whether it is to express joy, sorrow, gratitude, or to seek assistance in finding a direction when one has lost their path, the work of listening requires much more of us than the simple act of being quiet and waiting for our turn to speak.
I would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the subject(s) of personal liturgy. Do you have a personalized way of doing the Divine Office? Do you participate in an active ministry, and if so, could you share with me what it is and how it is changing you?
Thanks for reading, and may peace and good seasons follow you all of your days.
+Br. Bjorn, OES, OFH
Reflections from the monks and nuns of OES.