I am well aware that many Wel-com readers have heard me say in different places and in varying circumstances that one of my favourite websites is www.gratefulness.org.
I find these inspiring pages a great source of reflection. It is a website which for me leads into prayer. On that website there is a link entitled “Meet the Angel of the Hour,” which is clearly based on the monastic hours of prayer and the Prayer of the Church. The wonderful thing about this is that it is an accessible way of leading us into living and praying each hour of the day conscious of God’s presence and how we are responding to that presence.
I want to look at one of the hours of prayer. It would seem natural to begin with the first hour of the day, but I am not going to do that. I write instead about the last hour of the day, Compline, because it asks us to review our day, to look back at what we can be grateful for, what we regret, to ask God’s forgiveness and to plead for God’s grace for the next day. We learn to do all of this in a spirit of gratitude.
W e are still near enough to the beginning of the year to remember the new year’s resolutions we made, to think of the promises we made to ourselves, to others and maybe to God, to recall the decisions we made to love more, to be more forgiving, to be more prayerful.
From time to time we need to think of those resolutions we made, whether at the beginning of the year or at the start of an ordinary day. That’s why the Church has always recommended a time of prayer and reflection at the end of each day.
Many of you will remember the examination of conscience; it was something most of us were brought up to do.
We now have a different understanding and perhaps think more about an examination of consciousness, as simply trying to prayerfully reflect on our day and to be aware of how we lived or did not live the day with God.
Recently, while in a parish, I realised that most people simply want to live good and holy lives. Most people want help from their priests and lay leaders to live in God’s presence and try to reflect the love of Jesus to people in their daily lives.
Therefore I offer these simple reflections which may be used in prayer at the end of each day – questions which help us all to think of where we are with God, what we can be grateful for and where we need God’s help to do better.
I recommend a nightly examen and suggest that some of the following may be helpful:
• Reflect in silence on the ways in which you have served in faith the coming of God’s kingdom. Ask for pardon for those ways in which you have not lived according to the kingdom’s laws of love.
• God knows us through and through and loves us deeply. Reflect in silence on the ways in which the Lord has guided you and given you hope, and on the ways in which you have accepted or refused God’s guidance.
• What have you loved? What have you sought?
• Reflect in silence on the past day. How has God acted in your life? How have you accepted or rejected God’s help?
• In what activities have you sought rest. How have your activities led you to a deeper spirit of prayer, a deeper love of God, a greater patience with your neighbour?
• In what ways have you blessed God in prayer and in deeds of charity towards others. In what ways have you refused God your blessing?
• What thoughts of peace, justice and love have you brought to dwell in your hearts? What thoughts of discord, criticism and evil?
• How have you experienced God’s protection? How have you relied on your own resources rather than put your trust in God’s care?
• What can you be grateful for today? What has given you hope?
I come back now to www.gratefulness.org and to the last formal time of prayer and the Angel of the Hour which accompanies Compline.
The website says:
With eyelids closed, the angel of Compline represents the peaceful transition into the silence of sleep. Compline means completion. It is the hour that completes the circle of the day.
Briefly we review our day and resolve to do better tomorrow. After that, we approach the night with trust and joyful anticipation, as though it were a deep ocean from which we can fish up all sorts of wonderful things. Trust opens our hearts to the blessing of rest and the promise of helpful dreams.
I offer the above reflections with the prayer that they may be useful for each one of us as we try daily to respond to God’s love and to be ever more grateful.
John A Dew
The photo shows Archbishop John with students from Chanel College, Masterton, in the school’s new tech block.