I had never heard the term “domestic monastery until Jennifer Fulwiler recently blogged about it in a post I linked to. To me, domestic monastery and contemplative home(school) are 2 ways of expressing the same thing, but with different emphases. The contemplative home is one where mental prayer and meditating on God’s word day and night are primary. Domestic monastery connotes the rhythm and discipline of monastic life. I’ve decided to bring this rhythm and discipline into our home.
This is an experiment you can try vicariously through my blog, or practice in your own home.
The monastery bell is a call to prayer
Monks in a monastery drop everything to gather for prayer when the bell rings. Now, in school, bells signal changing class periods. I’ve read that the school bell comes from Prussian military training. Not an inviting picture. Nevertheless, the bells function in a similar way. Children at school must stop their task, whether finished or not, to move on to the next subject, come in from recess, etc.
I hate being interrupted. Monastic life would be difficult for me. Some people say that a mother’s constant interruption by the needs of her children serve as a monastic bell. That gives me something to ponder.
But what I really want is to call my children to pray throughout the day.
Choose a prayer to repeat
Dan and I already pray Evening Prayer together and I pray Morning Prayer on my own from the Liturgy of the Hours, a habit we formed while in OCDS. It’s too much to expect our children to join us–at least at this age. Instead, I will modify a practice I’ve used off and on for years.
To remind myself to pray throughout the day, I choose a short prayer to say every time I look at the clock. I have used, “I am the handmaid of the Lord…,” and “Jesus, I trust in you.”
2 years ago I added this antiphon from the Breviary to our school morning prayer: “My heart is ready, Oh, God, my heart is ready” (from Psalm 108:1). It reminds us to make our hearts ready to learn, to be open. Beginning yesterday, the boys and I are repeating it every time we change subjects, break for snacks or lunch, or end our day’s lessons. The words themselves are our bell.
An antiphon, not a mantra
Our repeated prayer is not magic. We don’t pray it to appease God or obtain anything from Him. Nor is it simply a repeated motto or theme. Rather, we pray to place ourselves at God’s disposal. We pray to unite ourselves with the prayer of the Church. I find an antiphon from the liturgy especially appropriate for this. You can search for your own here.
If you prefer, choose a prayer that accords with the virtue you are working on this year, or a favorite Bible verse.
You don’t have to be cloistered to bring a prayerful rhythm to your days. A simple prayer at specific moments can hallow your life.
Share with us: What antiphon or prayer do you say throughout the day? What is your reminder to pray?