Evening, morning and noon

The three times of day for meditation and praise of the title correspond to the biblical pattern, as for example in Daniel (Dan 6:10), as well as the pattern for the Fraternité des Veillieurs of which Daniel Bourguet was prior; that is, thrice daily devotions. The book looks helpfully at aspects both practical and spiritual of the devotional life; as one would expect with Daniel, the emphasis is on the enabling presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The first chapter has a look at monastic practice, particularly as found in the early Desert Fathers, from whom, Daniel likes to say, we have much to learn; it then turns to what he terms the “liturgy” of the book of Revelation, where liturgy means worship; it is in this liturgy, which includes the entirety of creation, that we participate in our private devotions.

The second chapter concerns “Helps and difficulties in prayer.” Of course, this has to do with prayer as devotion rather than petitions, so the issue is soon raised of “distraction.” Some practical suggestions are made, but mainly the concern is why distraction occurs; interestingly, the only biblical reference to distraction is about Martha, who was distracted by many things, which Daniel takes to mean that we are distracted as a result of what he elsewhere discusses under the rubric of spiritual maladies or malaises.I don’t remember quite where, but somewhere Daniel discusses a man’s possible reactions to seeing a shapely woman sunbathing on the other side of the street — does he close the curtains over his window, or perhaps he reaches for the binoculars? The subject of our distractions will tend to reveal a spiritual malady!

The third chapter covers some of the same ground as Bible Meditation, that is, it concerns meditation, and contains some most interesting examples of meditation in action (so to speak!). There are passages and books of Daniel’s which more directly deal with the Bible, but, as always, there is a wonderful spirit to breathe in as we read.

There is what amounts to a little afterword which concludes as follows:

Without this love our devotions come to nothing. When I have my devotions, morning, noon and evening, “If I have not love, I am no more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor 13:1).

The question is not, “Do I pray well?”  Rather it is, “Do I love truly?”

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