As we follow the urging of our hearts along the spiritual journey, we encounter many sources of grace and inspiration—sometimes in unlikely places, but often in the treasured writings of those who have gone before us. One resource I have come to rely on over the years is the People’s Companion to the Breviary, (1997) by the Carmelites of Indianapolis (ISBN 1-886873-12-7).
Many mornings as I sit down for a time of centering prayer, I prepare by reading the morning prayer from this book. If I have plenty of time, I read the complete morning prayer, but if I am short on time, I simply read the reading for the day and allow the words to make my heart open and receptive to God’s presence.
Some readings come from the writings of mystics whose words have been treasured for centuries—respected guides like Teresa of Avila and Francis of Asissi. Others are seekers and guides from our own time including Teilhard de Chardin and Elizabeth Johnson. As I cycle through the year, I rejoice when I return to a favorite reading. Just as often, however, I am surprised when a reading I did not remember speaks to me in a profound way. Let me share an example from this recent Easter season. The reading is from evening prayer for the second Thursday of Easter. It is quoted from the writings of Elizabeth Meluch, OCD.
Each of us is still in the making, but as responsible for our lives as we are, we do not have to do it all alone. God is creating the world through us, but we are part of the world that God is helping us to create. If at times we can just be, just quietly sit in the sun of God’s love for us, if we can believe that the One who formed us in the first place is waiting to transform us in the embrace of love, then in what we are doing with our lives, God will increase and we will decrease in the best sense of the word (224).
I encourage anyone who is looking for a resource to use as a short inspiration before centering prayer to peruse the People’s Companion to the Breviary. Perhaps you will discover that it is what you are looking for to help you “sit in the sun of God’s love.”
Carol Quest is a presenter of Centering Prayer and a member of the Minnesota Contemplative Outreach Leadership Team.