By Dr. Carol Younger
Recently, at my spiritual director’s strong suggestion, I have begun morning and evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. I know, I am probably the most tardy of souls to begin this ancient and most effective way to join the Church in its daily, ongoing prayers. I’ve barely begun this practice, and I already have an insight. So, stay with me here, because I’ve an insight to share.
I’ve noticed that every night we pray the Magnificat. And I (mea culpa) can hardly wait to get to that Magnificat. The announcement of its coming recitation reads: “The Soul rejoices in the Lord.” At first, I thought, “sometimes.” Depending on the day, depending on the challenges survived, depending on the burdens that need to be carried. Then, later, and soon, I thought, “It’s only the Lord in Whom I can rejoice. How appropriate to end the day with that sense of joy before laying my head on that pillow.” It tends to put worries, concerns, even the little faults of the preceding day off to the side. Let’s take time for joy, I said to myself. What a peaceful way to end the day, thinking about the Blessed Mother’s joy expressed to Elizabeth. So I continued for a few days with that inner sense of praise to Mary.
Then, the joy sort of just ran over into the Magnificat being my prayer, not just Mary’s. My soul began to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. I was proclaiming it to the darkness at the end of day, but proclaiming it none the less. And I began to count the great things that “the Almighty has done…for me.” Now, that’s a different way of praying the Magnificat. And one I would not have thought of, if I had not been following my spiritual director’s suggestion to take up this liturgical prayer of the Church. As I pray evening prayer, eager for that announcement of “The soul rejoices in the Lord,” it has become clear that Mary is praying with me, and with every other soul who is rejoicing in the Lord each night, with every other soul who is counting the many great things that God has done for them.
Here’s the thing, the big thing: Mary is tucking us in each evening, wrapping her mantle around us, her mantle of joy, repeating her words to Elizabeth as she reminds us of all the wonders the Lord showers on us. He looks upon us lowly servants with favor, increasing our life with Him in grace each evening after each day. Everyone who knows us will call us blessed because of the great gifts He gives us throughout our faith life. His mercy toward us increases each time we turn to Him. His protection surrounds us; His promises will be renewed every day. We are His, and He is ours. With the day ending in the Magnificat prayed with Mary, how we fall sleep in thanksgiving and joy.
This Easter Season practice ending the day with JOY!
Dr. Carol Younger – A Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Advisory Board Member for the Great Adventure Bible Studies, author of Listening and Study Guides for biblical and theological presentations through St. Joseph Communications, author of the Retreat Companion for 33 Days to Morning Glory through Marian Press. An accomplished leader in public and private education and a popular adjunct professor at an evangelical Christian university in Southern California. Active in many parish ministries, including RCIA and Catechetical training.