August 17, 2006


I couldn't sleep on retreat. Maybe it was the unfamiliar place, or the noisy house, or the cycles of the central air conditioning, who knows. But it made me reflect a little on trying to make spiritual friends with the night hours.

I find it curious. Religious life is definitely for morning people. Morning prayer and conventual Mass are usually early in the morning. When you live in community, the early morning is often the best (or only) time to find quiet for peaceful prayer or reflection.

On the other hand, the two greatest mysteries of our faith, the birth of the Lord and his Resurrection, happened in the middle of the night. Jesus was born in the night, presumably with only Mary and Joseph as witnesses. Of course it's normal to be born at night. The Resurrection seems to have happened at some moment in the night following the Sabbath of Good Friday night and Holy Saturday. Jesus, good Jew that he was, rested on the Sabbath, and didn't want to start the work of renovating the world until it was over. And there were no witnesses to the Resurrection itself.

On every feast and solemnity the psalmody for morning prayer declares, "On my bed I remember you, on you I muse through the night." (psalm 63) And in the night prayer for each vigil of Sunday we pray, "Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord through the night." (psalm 130)

With so much spiritual mystery to the night, it's funny that religion is so based on getting up early in the morning!


brother lesser said...

I agree, mornings are best for prayer. I like to walk out into the woods and fields while the dew is still thick on the grass and watch the fog drift slowly up out of the valleys. It is here that God speaks to me so gently and sweetly.

Barb, sfo said...

I am laughing about your comments on prayer life/religious life and mornings!
As a mom, I find that mornings are my ONLY time. That is my time without an "agenda." No appointments, school buses, errands or dinners to cook. For this reason, I find Evening Prayer to be a challenge. It often has to wait until bedtime and I am struggling to stay awake long enough to finish it. But in the morning, it's more quiet, and I can listen.

Crescentius said...

My Dear Brother:

I find myself not being able to fall asleep or if I do, waking up throughout the night . This happens when I am anxious or worring about a future or unfolding event. I have come to use these times of non-sleep for intercessory prayer.

A friend of mine from Steubenville used to get up at 1:45 AM each night and make a "Holy Hour". During this hour she would pray for people who were in trouble or hurting. When I asked her why she picked such an unusual time to pray her reponse struck me. My friend said that last call in bars is 1:45 AM and there is much trouble: morally, physically, and spiritually durning 1:45 AM - 2:45 AM. People might not only be talking to trees, but might be running into them as they leave the bars.