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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spiritual practices: Night Prayer

by Ruth Ann Pilney
Leaf from a Noted Breviary, ca. 1420 (photo credit: J.P. Getty Museum).
For the Christian who centers his or her day on God, the last act before sleeping is Night Prayer. When we were children our parents called it Bedtime Prayer.  
Through Night Prayer we dedicate the time we normally sleep to God. Also, we remind ourselves that one day we will die and rise, just as Jesus did. We entrust this time of unconsciousness to Him. As Psalm 15 says, "I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel, who even at night directs my heart." Many holy men and women have learned God's Will at night through dreams and visions.  St. Joseph, for example, was assured that it would be okay for him to take Mary as his wife.  He also learned that he should leave Bethlehem and flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.

Examination of Conscience

Part of Night Prayer is a brief examination of conscience, a silent time for reviewing the day.  This is to recall the times one did not live up to God's commandments, God's standards for good Christian conduct. As penitents we consider our faults and failings so as to make amends.  We express our sorrow to God and ask for His mercy and forgiveness.  I posted one version of an examination of conscience here.  There are other ways of doing it.

Scripture Readings from Liturgy of the Hours

The main feature of all the hours of the Liturgy are the psalms.  This is true of Night Prayer as well. Besides the psalms there is a weekly cycle of seven short Scripture readings for Night Prayer that consist of just a few verses.  
I am presenting them here, because, for those who don't do the Liturgy of the Hours, these are well worth reading and meditating upon before going to sleep.
Continue reading at Ruth Ann's blog From the Pulpit of My Life.

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