Monastic Practices – Short Prayers
Short Prayers is our seventh theme of Monastic Practices.
When I created the above meditations to hang on our wall in our monastic cloister I did not realize that I forgot to include in this practice some examples of Short Prayers. There are so many examples, including what you find in Sacred Scripture, plus there is the Jesus Prayer that is so well-known.
I would like to share with you a Short Prayer that I used today (or rather had started the day out hoping I would use, but now as I come to the end of the day I realize I didn’t think of it too often. 😦 Thankfully I can begin again in this present moment!)
For Christmas Mother Catherine Marie gave each of us a copy of the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee Year of Mercy – “The Face of Mercy”. This morning I was reading section #7. In this number Pope Francis challenges us to take up the following Short Prayer: “His mercy endures forever.” Perhaps you can make this your short prayer too.
7. “For his mercy endures forever.” This is the refrain repeated after each verse in Psalm 136 as it narrates the history of God’s revelation. By virtue of mercy, all the events of the Old Testament are replete with profound salvific import. Mercy renders God’s history with Israel a history of salvation. To repeat continually “for his mercy endures forever,” as the psalm does, seems to break through the dimensions of space and time, inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history, but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father. It is no accident that the people of Israel wanted to include this psalm — the “Great Hallel,” as it is called — in its most important liturgical feast days.
Before his Passion, Jesus prayed with this psalm of mercy. Matthew attests to this in his Gospel when he says that, “when they had sung a hymn” (26:30), Jesus and his disciples went out to the Mount of Olives. While he was instituting the Eucharist as an everlasting memorial of himself and his paschal sacrifice, he symbolically placed this supreme act of revelation in the light of his mercy. Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon his passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the cross. Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more important for us as Christians, challenging us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: “for his mercy endures forever.”