February 14, June 15, October 15
Sunday Lauds begin with Psalm 66, said straight through without a refrain. Then Psalm 50 follows with an “alleluia” refrain. Lauds continues with Psalms 117 and 62, the Canticle of the Three Young Men, Psalms 148 through 150, a reading from the Apocalypse recited by heart and followed by a responsory, an Ambrosian hymn, a versicle, the Gospel Canticle, the litany, and the conclusion.
Benedict invites us, both personally and communally, to recite scripture by heart. This is more than just remembering words without reference to their written form. Re-membered words re-member attention into heart. The heart then comes to be where we live and where we recognise, in and with Divine Love, who we have always been. Scripture spoken from the heart is scripture soaking in the heart; this soaking transforms the personality.
As well as this, the psalms and other scripture are a preparation for meditation because they, like the mantra, can draw attention away from the distractions of thought and fantasy. This is especially the case when we do not rely exclusively on the written word during prayer. The repetition of communal prayer plants the words of scripture in our hearts, drawing attention deeper, helping us to be more receptive to the mantra.
As we recite, re-member scripture and the mantra with heart, it becomes easier to see that life itself is made to be lived with heart. This is a seeing that is conscious. In this seeing, words and thinking recede to their proper place and the intuitive spontaneity of being ourselves in love (without fear) happens. Life by heart is living God with us and us with God, seeing heaven on earth, and allowing our humanity to be a part of that new creation coming in Christ.
I was thrust down, thrust down and falling, but the Lord was my helper. The Lord is my strength and my song; he is my saviour. (Ps. 118: 13-14, RNJB)