By Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB
I live in Peoria, serving as a canon lawyer in the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese. But I love spending time at the monastery, my home.
Every time I go home, I look forward to praying Liturgy of the Hours with my Sisters.
Our chanting at Lauds (morning) and Vespers (evening) gives the psalms a quiet, transcendent beauty – makes them float, as it were, through the chapel and, I often think, through space.
It’s as if, through chant, the spiritual nature of prayer becomes audible.
Especially in these days – with so many poor, suffering people facing additional difficulties both here and abroad – we need to hold fast to the hidden effects of prayer. We need to remind ourselves that at every hour of the day, some Benedictine and other communities all through the world are praying this Liturgy and offering it up, as one unified voice, to the suffering world.
Our daily communal prayer is the opposite of demonstrations and rallies (however important and necessary they are).
Our prayer is a quiet activity that is anchored in the deep ethical values of Christianity, as well as other great world religions.
While the ‘cursing’ passages of the Hebrew psalms may be jarring, at times like these I pray them as the immediate cry of the poor, those suffering physical and mental harm from war and violence, those suffering injustice, enduring additional hardship in the name of ‘law’ or protectionist fear, those suffering persecution for their religious and/or ethical values.
Praying in the quiet of our chapel, accompanied by the harmonious sounds of music, are we far away from the world?
Of course not!
For our prayer upholds the very values that we need in times of uncertainty, struggle, fear.
In our communal dedication to prayer, we can find the strength and the patience to trust in God and to believe in justice, respect, faith, hope and love. Through prayer, we show in some small ways our solidarity with all those who suffer.