Monday, June 23, 2008

Vigils — Christ’s Office. A Benedictine oblate blog.

The defining and God-centering activity of my life as an oblate is praying the Divine Office during the day and during the night on those fairly rare occasions when I just wake up with a feeling that I must pray Vigils.

When I am suddenly awake in the middle of the night, I know it is for the purpose of praying Vigils.

Each office of the Liturgy of the Hours (or the Divine Office, or also called the Opus Dei --- the "work of God") has a personality all its own, but praying Vigils in our quiet and always-cool sunroom at 3:30 am is an experience that is different in kind from praying the other parts of the Liturgy of the Hours during the light of day or praying Compline at the close of day before bed.

Vigils is the part of the Divine Office that feels so close to Christ. This makes sense to me because the office of Vigils grew out of the Easter Vigil and its weekly remembrance each Sunday.

Originally Vigils was not a separate office at all, but was part of a Mass lasting all night. In some parts of the early Christian world, Vigils and the Mass were also used to remember Christ’s martyrs and Vigils was then held outside by their tombs.

Even though Vigils is now one of the seven parts of the Liturgy of the Hours, and several of the other hours grew out of Vigils, the night office of Vigils will be forever linked to the earliest Christian practices of celebrating the risen Christ, and by that distinction, Vigils will draw us close to Christ.

By the long tradition of Vigils and the call of a great cloud of witnesses, “On those nights it was meet that none should sleep, but watch and pray till dawn, awaiting the coming of the Lord.”

A good reason to wake up any night.

1 comment:

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