Little Office of Sophia

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Ecstasy and the Divine Office

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You would think I could make claims to something at this point.

I’ve been on the mystic’s path for some god-awful number of years now, and the problems are always this or that; either there are people of whatever path (in this case, Christian) acting like complete fuckwits, or I have atheists and secular humanists who equally are fuckwitted attacking me and…well, I guess between the two, I’d rather deal with atheists and secular humanists. They tend to behave more like Christians are meant to behave, save for some details.

They do say God is in the details, though.

To the best of my ability, I’m praying the Divine Office. I downloaded iBreviary on my phone and am using that.

Yes, in a perfect world, I would have all four volumes of the Roman version of things and be praying all the things in Latin.

I have to settle for praying things from a digital handheld device. It doesn’t feel as authentic to hold such a piece of technology to do my prayers, but I get the benefit of praying in Latin, which feels incredibly right for me.

I finished reading Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain tonight, almost two years after receiving the book.

To be sure, his whole writing about his “sinful” life was incredibly monotonous, such to the point that I quit reading for a year, and only resumed out of a sense of loyalty to my husband having bought the book for me in the first place.

But Merton’s sudden spiral into Catholicism- well, that sounds like me swirling back into Christianity.

There aren’t many suitable ways to explain it- my favorite way to express what happened is, “Christ compelled me.”

Now, of course, that might sound strange to many people, but to explain it in other terms: my return to Christianity in ANY form came from some Greater Force Outside of Me. No, I’m not doing it to satisfy someone else; it’s largely an internal process.

The same is true of the first time I set foot in Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama. I was almost horrified at the lack of Tabernacle but found quickly that God dwelt there either way, and I wasn’t going to let the lack of a Tabernacle stop me.

Being compelled by Christ is also what began the Divine Office. I predicted I would pray for maybe a week or two and then fall away from the practice.

To the contrary: with the exception of being a bit tired the first time I prayed all the way through the Morning Prayer in the BCP, I have willingly gone into prayer each time. I have been desirous to pray; I have felt the grace of God descend upon me more clearly because I have prayed the Divine Office.

Tonight, I was reading something about Orthodoxy and the Jesus Prayer, and my heart was struck with ecstasy, ecstasy the recalled to my mind the image of the angel piercing St. Theresa of Avila’s heart, an ecstasy so strong that I had to close the computer and do whatever was necessary to make it to the bedroom and lie down to allow whatever was going on to go on.

The feeling began in my chest, somewhere below where we might call the “heart chakra,” and it then moved down somewhere to the bottom of my spinal cord and all the way up mine into the back of my head. It felt profound and wonderful, and I had to just lie down and allow the ecstasy to run its course.

So I know somehow that I’m on the right path. Maybe these things won’t last. But they’re comforting for now, and I feel empowered to serve God through my contemplation or what we might call the prayer of silence or prayer of stillness.

There’s another experience regarding that to be shared soon.