David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and the author of A Listening Heart and Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer, and Sharon Lebell, the author of three philosophical books, guide us through the eight canonical hours of the day. The text is designed to speak to the monk in each of us, tapping into our yearning for a full appreciation of the present moment, our reverence for the many moments of mystery and grace in each day, and our sense of gratitude for the abundance of gifts we have received.
The authors note that time in the monastery has a depth dimension to it that cannot run out: “The hours are the inner structure for living consciously and responsively through the stages of the day. The monastic relationship to time through the canonical hours sensitizes us to the nuances of time. And as this sensitivity deepens, we become more available to the present moment.”
Steindl-Rast and Lebell celebrate Vigils as “time outside the practical demands of the day”; Lauds as an opportunity for the spiritual practice of attention; Prime as an important teacher of intention; Terce as a gateway to openness; Sext as an occasion to exercise perseverance; None as a moment to face “the little death of each passing day”; Vespers as an invitation to acknowledge “the quiet beauty of the evening”; and Compline as a time “to examine our conscience and ask forgiveness, and thereby make a clean transition into night and sleep.”
Music of Silence was originally published in 1995, and it is cause for celebration to see it back in print with a new introduction by Kathleen Norris. It is a small book overflowing with spiritual riches.