On ordinary weekdays, Lauds are celebrated as follows. First, Psalm 67 is said without a refrain and slightly protracted as on Sunday so that everyone can be present for Psalm 51, which has a refrain. Next, according to custom, two more psalms are said in the following order: on Monday, Psalms 5 and 36; on Tuesday, Psalms 43 and 57; on Wednesday, Psalms 64-65; on Thursday, Psalms 88 and 90; on Friday, Psalms 76 and 92; on Saturday, Psalm 143 and the Canticle from Deuteronomy, divided into two sections, with the doxology after each section. On other days, however, a Canticle from the prophets is said according to the practice of the Roman Church. Next follow Psalm 148 through 150, a reading from the apostle recited by heart, a responsory, an Ambrosian hymn, a versicle, the Gospel canticle, the litany, and conclusion.
The psalms speak into the ordinary of our lives, highlighting what we might not notice. They reach into our hearts and engage our experience, helping grace to heal and community to grow. The psalms are touchstones into the ordinary, into our daily struggles and joys, facilitating a way that makes it possible to simply be in life.
In light of this, Benedict offers us a steady and faithful rhythm of psalms so that the gift in them may not be overlooked or forgotten. Like any wisdom literature that we return to again and again, the psalms, over time, can speak into different and deeper parts of us and our lives. In this repetition we practice noticing the movements of spirit and psyche and so learn the art of consciousness.
We can be slow to learn this art and we are often tardy. Psalm 67 is an invitation to arrive, both physically and psychologically. If we miss the words of the psalms, we risk non-involvement in the work of God. The words are there for us to soak in as they are said; this allows us to be in the movement of them, allowing rather than examining.
Stillness and presence are important if we are to be this way with the psalms. A stillness of body aides a stillness of mind, a stillness of mind helps a stillness of body. In this we are present, free to let the words do their work. It is the same during meditation as the mantra does its work. In stillness is the fullness of a silence that draws attention beyond all experience. Both the psalms and meditation serve this silence: with the psalms we come to heart and with the mantra we move deeply into the heart of a silence forgotten.
And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6, NRSV)