Eastern Orthodox icon of the Praises of the Theotokos
Before ending this month of May devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a remembrance of the Holy Mother as the day ends seems to be a good thing to recall for those of us devoted to the Virgin.
As Seculars we are exhorted to “try to recite Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer of the Hours in union with the Church spread throughout the world. When it is possible they will also recite Night Prayer.” (Constitutions III, 24)
Night Prayer, also known as Compline, is said as the last prayer of the day. It is at this time that a brief examen of the day is also to take place. At the end of this prayer there is a hymn to the Blessed Mother. The breviary lists several popular Marian hymns to choose from.
During the Easter season the Regina Coeli is appropriate and can be sung throughout Eastertide and through Pentecost. During Ordinary time the Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen is an appropriate night time hymn. The Advent season is a good time for focusing on the Alma Redemprois Mater which beautifully connects the Incarnation theme of that part of the liturgical year and can be recited until February 2nd (Candlemas). Then from Candlemas to the end of Lent, the Ave Regina Coelorum is most fitting. For more on the singing of these seasonal Marian hymns go here. To hear these check out the chants here.
Nancy over at The Cloistered Heart has a lovely post on the Divine Office. Read about it here.
One evening while St. Teresa was the prioress at the monastery of the Incarnation she had a vision of Mary. In this vision, she saw Mary sit in the prioress’ chair where St. Teresa had previously placed a statue of the Virgin Mother. There were angels all around and this intellectual vision lasted during the whole length of the Salve Regina.
The Salve is the traditional Marian hymn sung at the end of the day to conclude Night Prayer. One can probably assume that this vision took place while the nuns were in the choir reciting the Liturgy of the Hours.
Our Lady told St. Teresa that it was good that she had placed her in the prioress’ chair for our Lady told her that:
“ I shall be present in the praises they give my Son, and I shall offer these praises to Him.”
(Spiritual Testimonies #21
As a Secular Carmelite I would like to think that Our Lady is also present whenever I praise her Son, and that she “offers these praises to Him”. What a pleasant thought to have in mind when praying the Liturgy of the Hours!
. . . O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us!
Setting up the new foundations in Spain took St. Teresa out of the monastery and onto the highways and byways of the Spanish countryside. Traveling in Medieval Spain was either done by donkey, horse or mule, covered wagons or a carriage. St. Teresa preferred to travel with her nuns by covered wagon. This way St. Teresa and her nuns would not be visible to the curious as they passed through towns and villages. While traveling throughout the countryside to set up these new foundations, St. Teresa moved the life lived in the monastery into the covered wagon. The life inside this wagon had a “prioress, their schedule of prayer, a water clock, a tiny bell, their breviaries, holy water, a crucifix, and some statutes of our Lady, St. Joseph, or the Infant Jesus.” Even outside this wagon there was a driver, as well as a noblemen, merchant or friend ready to lend them a hand, just like the life these nuns live in the monastery. There was even a “chaplain who would celebrate Mass in whatever little church they might happen upon along the way.”
(The Collected Works of St. Teresa, Volume 3, page 51 by ICS Publications)
St. Albert of Jerusalem
The Lawgiver of Carmel
Albert Avogadro was born in Italy in the middle of the twelfth century. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross and was elected prior in 1180. In 1184, he was named Bishop of Bobbio and of Vercelli in 1185. In 1205 he became Patriarch of Jerusalem. Sometime between 1206 and 1214 he was approached by the hermits living on Mount Carmel with the request that he would prepare for them a written rule of life based on the traditional patterns of their contemplative communal life.
This Rule inspires Carmelites all over the world. It is one of the shortest of the great rules giving the Carmelites a Way of Life. It is obvious when reading the Rule that St. Albert lived every moment the Gospel, having internalized it so completely that the words of the Bible are used to express his thoughts. Writing the Rule for the hermits on Mount Carmel, it is quite notable that he relied on the Scriptures. The Rule is steeped in the Gospel’s message; though there are not any explicit passages quoted, there are many allusions to Sacred Scripture.
As Carmelites, we too should be personally familiar with the Scriptures in our daily encounter with them. Then as St. Albert says of St. Paul in number 20 of the Rule we may have “both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words.” The sacred texts should be in our minds and expressed in our thoughts and words. As Carmelites our day is filled with opportunities to meditate on the Scriptures: Mass, Morning and Evening Prayer, Night Prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina.
you have given us a Rule of Life
according to the Gospel
to guide us on our journey
towards perfect love.
Help us always to keep watch
at our prayers, to live in
allegiance to Jesus Christ,
and to serve him
faithfully until death.
Through Christ Our Lord.
Enjoy this video meditation. For more information about the “O Antiphons” check out this page.
New Page added with information on Secular Discalced Carmelites here.