Friday, 30 January 2009
About 5 or 6 years ago I visited Ampleforth Abbey and thought it was delightful. Here is their schedule of prayer. Getting up at six 'o' clock in the morning seems rather civilised for a monastery! Lightweights! I wonder if they have TLM there. Apparently all the Brothers there train to be Priests and many of them serve the local communities around the Abbey. There are so many Abbeys around the UK. I visited Pluscarden Abbey, which was lovely too, nice chant there, then there was a brief visit to the Abbey of St Michael in Farnborough last week which was very lovely, oh and Worth Abbey for a short stay. Then there was The Friars in Aylesford, who were Carmelites and the Franciscans of the Renewal in Canning Town. I mean, seriously, if you felt called, where on earth would you start?!
Religious life in the UK doesn't seem to be waning so much as vocations to the Priesthood. I guess the secular Priesthood is possibly more lonely sometimes and isolating. I suppose that given I am still largely unemployed I could try a day 'peppered with prayer' as the Abbot told me on the phone all those years ago...wonder what would happen! Chances of me getting up at 6am seem minimal right now, but will try and give it a go one day.
This is sometimes called ‘Vigils’ and some communities get up in the middle of the night to pray it, while all around them sleep. As well as psalms it includes a couple of substantial readings, one from Scripture, another from the early Church Fathers. It lasts about 40 minutes. This gives us fuel for the private prayer that follows.
This is the main Morning Prayer, and the tone is celebratory, full of praise and thanksgiving. Lauds and Vespers are the two most important ‘hours’ of the day. It lasts about 25 minutes. Breakfast follows.
Little Hour, 8.45am
For us this replaces the old Prime, Terce, Sext and None, the short offices that punctuated the day. It lasts a mere ten minutes, and consecrates the working day.
This is not part of the series of prayer services, because it is in a category of its own. It is the sacrament of the day, in which we offer ourselves to the Eternal Father with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and commune with Our Blessed Lord Himself. Lunch follows.
This is the second principal office of the day, the Evening Prayer. At Ampleforth we sing it in Latin, in Gregorian Chant. It lasts 25 minutes and is followed by half an hour of Lectio Divina, and then supper.
This is Night Prayer. It begins with a reading from the Rule. All the psalms, readings and prayers are about protection, safety and the love of God. It lasts 15 minutes and is followed by an antiphon to Our Lady in Gregorian Chant. Silence lasts from the end of this office until Matins the next day.
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