Resting in Prayer

by Joseph Riordon

Over our years of formation at St. John Paul II Seminary, we are required to expand our observance of the Liturgy of the Hours. We begin our first year with Morning and Evening Prayer, which are required events for the whole house. Each year we add one or two more times of prayer throughout the day, until now, in my senior year, I pray all five “hours” of the Liturgy of the Hours every day (“hours” refers to the practice of praying at certain times throughout the day; each “hour” only takes a few minutes). The Office, which consists of three psalms and two readings from Scripture and Church fathers, was traditionally the first hour of the day, but can now be prayed at any time.

All the seniors at JPII are required to pray Office, so after breakfast every day, a few of us gather in my room or another room to pray together. As the guys trickle in from breakfast, we take the opportunity to catch up or talk about the classes coming up that day. These are men with whom we’ve lived, prayed, and studied for two years or more; they are men whom we know well. We don’t usually spend much time talking, or have our most important conversations then. But it is an opportunity to simply enjoy each other’s company. When we turn to prayer, we are praying psalms we have prayed many times before, and there might not be any surprises. But we are speaking to and being loved by the Lord who has become the most important person in our lives. It is an opportunity to enjoy the familiarity of the prayers and of the Lord’s presence. It is an opportunity to enjoy the gifts into which we’ve grown.

The requirement of praying the Office of Readings at first seemed like a burden – one more thing to put in my schedule. What it truly was, however, was a gift: an opportunity to share my love for God with my brothers. People often enjoy it when their friends from different circles meet – when “worlds collide” – but how much better it is when your friends all become friends to each other, and you can rest together in community. This is the blessing of praying the Office with my brothers. It is not a moment of evangelization, but a moment when I can enjoy and strengthen those relationships that are already established. In this way, it is one of the most restful parts of my day. It is a reminder from the Lord, as he works in my life, it is sometimes good simply to enjoy our friendship and to look back on the time we’ve spent together. As a senior, it is a great gift to see that formation works: that the Lord has become a part of my everyday life, a person with whom I can be familiar. His constant presence, and the presence of the brothers with whom I’ve grown, encourages me to continue in formation and take the next steps toward priesthood.

Joseph Riordon is a College IV Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington.


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