The Dean’s Corner: Praying Together

The Dean’s Corner: Praying Together

The Very Rev. BJ OwensOne of my favorite descriptions of praying the Daily Office speaks not of cloistered chapels or vested clergy, but of couches, cats, and iPads. In a Living Church blog post, Derek Olsen writes:

“I do not know why my cats seem attracted by prayer, but they are. Perhaps it’s because my lap will remain in a fixed position for 20 minutes. Maybe it’s because they like my fuzzy robe. Maybe there really is an air, an attitude, a spirit of peace and serenity that gathers around those who pray: that feeling you have when you step inside an ancient sanctuary and instantly recognize an odor of holiness, a space sanctified by decades of prayer, the hopes and dreams and anguished breaths clinging to its walls like lingering incense smoke.

I do not know.

But what I do know is that settling onto the couch for Morning Prayer, coffee cup in one hand, tablet in the other, I inevitably find one or both fuzzy lumps snuggled next to me, purring in my ear from the couch’s back, or plopped in my lap.”

Derek Olsen is not a priest, though he happens to be married to one. Rather, Dr. Olsen is a scholar and a layperson who writes about the rhythms and practices of the church that have been shaped over the centuries. One of those ancient rhythms is daily prayer as practiced by the Anglican tradition: morning and evening prayer is a daily discipline that roots our days – and if we are faithful to it, our whole lives – in a regular engagement with psalm, canticles, intercessions and thanksgivings. It is a practice that changes us subtly and slowly, yet profoundly.

I don’t have cats, but I do try to start each day with coffee and the Daily Office on our living room couch before my children wake up. But though the Daily Office can be said in private, it is especially meaningful when said in community. During the season of Advent, Dale Murphy, the chair of Cathedral Council and someone who prays the Office regularly, will be leading morning prayer on Wednesdays in the Cathedral Chapel at 7:30 & 9 a.m. This offers both a way of observing the season of Advent while also exploring this practice as a possibility for Trinity going forward. We’ll just do it for the season (December 4, 11 and 18) and then see how it worked. It’s lay-led, so if you’d like to lead it or simply want to know more, please connect with Dale at dale.murphy@sbcglobal.net.

This is a wonderful opportunity for prayer and community, and to ground our Advent fellowship in the sacred rhythms of daily prayer. Whether this is a service you faithfully pray at home with your cats or something you’ve yet to experience, I hope you’ll join us for morning prayer in Advent on Wednesdays.

The Very Rev. Bernard J. Owens