30 August 2008

Emptying ourselves to pray in the name of the Church

A reflection on praying the Divine Office by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

When we come to pray, it's important that we empty ourselves. As Benedictine nuns we have statio*-- that's a very important time for us. It must be a time in which we empty ourselves of ourselves-- of our cares, our jobs, everything we're doing. Our hearts have to be empty because when we pray the Divine Office, we don't pray our own words. We pray the psalms, and we must be empty enough that our hearts can take up the psalms as if they were our own, because we pray as the Church before the throne of God. The psalms carry every person in the world, every emotion, every situation.

Mary prayed the psalms, Christ prayed the psalms! When we pray the psalms, it's the Holy Spirit within us praying. But if we're not empty, how can that happen?

*Statio is the five minutes before Vespers which the nuns use to recollect themselves before entering the Church to pray.


BillyD said...

I'd like to hear more about statio, and it was/is done.

Is the photo from the Holocaust Museum, by any chance?

Scott said...

Not the Holocaust Museum, as far as I know. I believe it's the hallway leading into an abbey church. I think it might be Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY, but I could be wrong.

In monasteries, typically at some of the daily prayer services, the monks or nuns arrive informally some minutes before the service begins, but often at Vespers (evening prayer) and other services on holy days, they line up in a double line in a hallway like this one, five minutes or so before the service, and pray in silence (this time and that place are called statio). They enter the church in procession. The Benedictine tradition is that when they arrive at a spot in front of the altar near their seating area (choir), each pair bows to the altar, then turn and bow to each other, then go to their places.

margaret of the sea of galilee said...

This is a lovely concept.
Put a lot of things together for me. Like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle (not the *whole* puzzle but the bottom left corner of mine is looking really solid since reading this).
I passed it on to a friend who I thought might like it too.