Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ora et Labora

It seems to be one of the unavoidable elements of my life right now (and for the forseeable future) that the vast majority of my waking time is spent at work -- in my case, in an office. And much of the time that I spend not at work is spent in activities that preclude a lot of through: trying to keep the kids under control, making meals, cleaning up, doing yard work, chores, etc. I typically get home around 6-7pm and often have a bit more work (usually phone calls) to clean up. Then dinner and kid time and bed time and by the time MrsDarwin and I sit down to contemplate adult activities such as reading, writing or conversation without interruption, it's definately after 9pm.

Thus we seem to find ourselves, much of the time, having a family prayer life that consists almost entirely of "with the kids" activities: mass with the kids, grace with the kids, bedtime prayers with the kids, bible stories with the kids, rosary or chaplet in the car with the kids, etc.

All of which is, of course, good. But once if all of your spiritual is "with the kids" you end up feeling a little stiffled as an adult sometimes. This leads every so often to resolutions on our part to get up early every morning and pray together before the kids get up. But beating the kids up is rather more difficult than beating the sun up, and these always seem to drop off after a while. (The senior Darwins are not morning people.)

Lately I've been wondering if what I need to do is set aside a brief break every day at work (that is, after all, my longest stretch of waking time) to go off and catch some prayer or spiritual reading time. Which leaves, of course, the question of what to do with that time. Say an hour of the Divine Office? The liturgy of the hours is available online through Universalis. However, I must admit that reading prayers off a computer screen just doesn't seem very prayerful.

We just got a subscription to Magnificat (first issue hasn't arrived yet) so perhaps that will seem like the right sort of thing. Or maybe I need to buy a compact copy of the Bible (ours are all pretty large), though I'm thinking I want something a little more directed than just working through selected books.

Does anyone have any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Haha--you're life sounds almost identical to mine, bro! Except I'm guessing I'm just a little bit older (not much) and maybe have more kids? I've got #4 on the way, so maybe not...

My advice, if its worth anything, is to realize

1) You are doing GREAT! If you're doing all those things with the kids, you are honestly doing great.

2) The older you get and the more kids you have, the less of that "self" time, whether it be prayer or anything else, will be there: don't worry about it. Your prayer with your kids is very real.

3) Yeah, if you can, get up REALLY early in the morning--an hour and half before the kids if possible. I've done this for almost a year now, for prayer time, and it has done wonders.

4) Get strep throat (also like me)then your kids won't be allowed near you, and you can pray or post on random websites all day, once the horrendous fever breaks and hallucinations go away, that is...


Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Wow, you're doing a lot better than I am already.

What about the noon daily Mass at St. W? If you're office is where I think it is then you're really close.

I have this fantasy that as soon as I can receive communion I'll be there every day.

bearing said...

Last time I heard, the Divine Office was also published in a dead-tree version.

Get a breviary. For beginners, I recommend the one-volume Liturgy of the Hours (not "shorter Christian Prayer"). You could try it out by taking on Morning and Evening Prayer for Lent.

I'm planning to do the Office of Readings for Lent myself...

Darwin said...

Good point, Bearing. I do actually have a nice one volume (with a translation that's pretty readable from before Vatican II -- the new one always strikes me as rather un-poetic.) I guess the thing is, I know a number of the hours rather well at this point, and (this is my downfall with the rosary as well) I have more difficulty with keeping concentration when I'm covering the same words again and again. (The one volume I have is very brief, it just has one version for each day of the week, no cycles at all.)

Which is why I was thinking maybe I needed to try some kind of meditative reading. Just haven't figured out what yet.

Anonymous said...

Two words: Church Fathers. EWTN has a fantastic online library. Encyclicals are good too.

One thing that Mrs. Tex and I will be doing is listening to some talks on CD etc... after the kiddos are off to bed.

Dorian Speed said...

beating the kids up

You probably need to curb these tendencies before tackling your prayer life.

Ah, who doesn't love a good child abuse joke? Classy.


I just got a subscription to Magnificat, too. I have been enjoying it so far. Other than that, I have no suggestions. We keep intending to pray together and it never seems to happen.

Anonymous said...

Lately I've been wondering if what I need to do is set aside a brief break every day at work (that is, after all, my longest stretch of waking time) to go off and catch some prayer or spiritual reading time.

Picking up off of what Jennifer said…if there is any conceivable way you can make it to mass on a daily/regular basis, there is simply nothing better you could possibly do.

I have a church literally across the street from my office that offers a noon mass. Over the past 6 or 7 years, I have by far made the most spiritual progress when I make regular/daily mass attendance the center of my devotional life. We can of course offer no greater prayer (as I am sure you already know).

Beyond that I think embracing where you are in your life right now, rather than stressing about what you aren’t doing, might be a wise approach. If you don’t already, try getting in the habit of offering those acts you mention above (making meals, doing yard work) as your little prayers throughout the day (ala St. Terese’s ‘little way’).

The only other suggestion I have is the age old advice that I’ve heard over and over from the saints, from my confessor, from my spiritual director, and every other person I’ve ever encountered who seems to me to radiate God’s love. Make at least some time each day for quiet prayer (even 5 or 10 minutes). No books, no guides, no radio.

Personally, I’ve always had great difficulty with this as my intellect constantly desires to be stimulated, to read, to learn (all good things of course). Finally after seeing this advice for the umpteenth time (while reading Mother Teresa’s book No Greater Love), I decided to really make a go at this.

Not surprisingly, as Mother Teresa predicted, it’s been difficult. But the more I attempt it, slowly I am getting a bit better. And not surprisingly I feel God drawing me closer to him in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

That’s all I gots. :-P

LogEyed Roman said...

...I was going to start with the Rosary, but I note in one of your responses to a comment that you have trouble with it. Okay; first of all, let me get that out of the way: If you wish to reconsider the Rosary, let me offer a few suggestions. I pray the Rosary (not often enough) with "clauses"; wherein I add a phrase to each Hail Mary--rather like this: For the Presentation at the Temple: "Hail Mary, full of grace, [whose son is a sign of contradiction,] the lord is with thee..." It's common to add it at the end, after the name of Our Lord: "...Jesus [sign of contradiction]." I like using more than one clause: "Sword in your heart" and "...Jesus [sign of the rise and fall of many in Israel]" and "...Jesus [through whom the secret thoughts of many hearts will be revealed." It makes for fewer decades you can say in a given time, but I find it helps me. There are also "scriptural Rosaries", which give a list of short quotes from the Gospels to be said after each Hail Mary.

Okay. That being said. Better suggestions have been made, whcih I can only add my sedond to; the best is to get to daily Mass if you can. Remember weekday Mass is half an hour or less.

Regarding a daily devotional reading, here's one I have used from time to time: The Bible readings for that day's Mass. There are booklets which list them all; my church bulletin gives the upcoming week's readings every time; and there are websites where you can find them. Remember how each day's readings relate to one another.

As I said, plenty of other good suggestions have been made.

I will concur with the people who say you are doing very well. However, do not dismiss your felt need for more "adult" prayer.

Very sincerely yours,

Log Eyed Roman