12 March 2011

Mormons and the Breviary

This morning, I hopped on the orange line planning to travel two stops down the line to the Roxbury Crossing Station.  I had confession and mass at Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help -- run by the Redemptorists -- as my goal.

Being a Saturday morning, I had on my old jeans and my Red Sox cap (the better to blend).  I hadn't even taken the time yet to shave this morning; a pastoral care paper had occupied the better part of the day.  The only thing that might denote me as different from anyone else was my breviary.  I began praying the Office of Readings on the platform and planned to continue on the train.

Roughly thirty seconds after I settled into my seat, an Elder (elder, heck, he couldn't have been more than twenty-two years old), of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints  (Mormons) plopped himself down next to me and inquired as to what version of the bible I was reading.  I explained to him that I didn't, in fact, have a bible in my hand, but rather my breviary.  I was Roman Catholic, a Franciscan, in the seminary and the breviary was made up of psalms and readings.

My new Mormon friend listened to all this intently, likely deciding mid-way through my explanation that I wasn't ripe for conversion.  I talked to him about this mission (in Cambridge and Boston), where he was from (Arizona) and the weather (neither of us like Boston weather).  It was a pleasant enough conversation and as we parted I offered him encouragement.

Yet, there was a distinct part of my explanation to him that I left out in my above narrative, but served as the linchpin of my comments.

You see, I told him that we prayed the breviary for two reasons: 1) Paul's admonition to pray unceasingly (1 Thes. 5:17); and equally 2) that as (future) clergy and (current) religious we have a responsibility to pray for and make intercession on behalf of the people of God.

I bring this up, because I find these explanations to tack against two of the more deleterious and false ideas present within theological education and the Church at present time.

One, there is the lie that if we believe and consistently repeat that our work is our prayer, we abrogate our responsibility to place ourselves specifically in the presence of God in times of prayer and devotion.  Prayer = work, yet work does not necessarily equal prayer, especially if we aren't praying!

The second lie is perhaps less explicit, but equally as dangerous, and it suggests that we pray simply as a communal activity in which our reference point is anthro-centric(human) and not theo-centric (God-based).  In other words, prayer for the sake of our own creativity, congratulation or need for a combination of these two might miss the point of prayer and be self-defeating.


Paul A. Zalonski said...

I suppose you also covered with the Mormons that prayer is adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, always addressed to the Father, through the Son under the power of the Holy Spirit. And the sacred Liturgy? Never mind, Mormons are not Christian.

mtjofmcap said...

Gee, Paul, we only had two stops on the Orange Line and I had only just begun to explain why Marcion was wrong...

Brother Charles said...

I know where they can get some solid crypto-modalist doctrine.

mtjofmcap said...

And go broke while getting it!