08 March 2011

No More "A" Word

Perhaps the greatest change the Lenten season brings for religious is the discontinuation of the use of the word "Alleluia."  Each hour in the Divine Office normally begins with the "Glory to the Father ..." doxology, capped by "Alleluia."  Inevitably, someone in choir will forget this each of the first three hours prayed in common during Lent.  And then, sometime during the fourth week of Lent, someone will again forget and blurt out "the A-word."

There does some to be some sort of analogy to be drawn from this about my own spiritual condition.  How often will I forget to be conscious and aware of the prayer that I am beginning when in choir?  How often will I, when praying one of the minor hours in private, silently move my lips through the doxology and subsequent alleluia without pausing?  The answer, quite unrealistically and unfortunately, is that I will likely do it more often than I would prefer to admit.

This certainly does provide me with an insight into my spiritual condition.  Perhaps even more importantly, it provides me with a realistic assessment of the frailties of any person (read: me) willing to think honestly about the spiritual life.

Lent is, I think, a time to radically assess the failures of life.  It necessarily points out the foibles and values not suggested by the Gospel which I believe to be a constitutive part of a happy life.  In other words, the beauty of Lent is that it magnifies our failures in a real way each year.

The beauty of the Christian life, however, is that regardless of the sins, failures, half-starts and poorly attempted penances of Lent, everyone who shows up to Morning Prayer on Easter gets to say "Alleluia" once again.


Brother Charles said...

I was fortunate to be leading Morning Prayer this morning, and so I punched the start of the hymn at the end of the 'Amen,' so as to forestall any other utterances and remind us all. It worked and we made a proper start to Lent. Amen!

UP said...

I have to disagree, my brother, that Lent is a "time to radically assess the failures of life." I prefer to see it as a time to reflect on the human-ness of life, which includes our failures, but also our successes, tiny and glorious. Reflecting on the entirety of our lives is, indeed, a reason to break out in "Alleluia," because, we are, after all, perfect in our imperfection.


Anonymous said...

with all this talk of perfection and imperfection, it makes me think of the Phillies and Mets pitching staff, respectively.....(this bravado is to cover up my fear that Utley won't play this year)

Chris J