What means should be used to promote pious recitation?
A.—THE MEANS TO ADOPT BEFORE THE RECITATION.
Preparation is necessary before beginning every prayer, for the Holy Ghost says, “Before prayer prepare thy soul, and be not as a man that tempteth God” (Ecclesias. 18. 23). This preparation necessary before other prayers is above all necessary before the recitation of the Divine Office, which is the greatest of all prayers. Two kinds of preparation are necessary, the remote and the proximate.
The remote preparation demands the removal of all obstacles which impede prayer, and the greatest of all prayers, the Church’s official prayer. The chief or capital obstacles which impede or prevent a pious recitation of the Breviary are: sin, the passions, the absorbing thoughts of creatures and the ignorance of the Divine Office. And the means to remove these obstacles are to purify the conscience, science, to mortify the passions, to guard the sense and to have an intelligent knowledge of the duty and requirements of a proper fulfilment of the daily task of the saying of the Canonical Hours.
The first means is to purify the conscience from sin, for sin hinders prayer. But what effect has sin on the recitation of the Office? The Office is a prayer, an elevation of the soul to God, and as all writers on ascetics teach, sin is a chain that binds us to earth; it is, says St. Francis, as birdlime which impedes the soul in its flight upwards. Prayer is a conversation with God, but a soul loving sin cannot converse with God; “Peccatores Deus non audit” (St. John, ix. 31). Prayer is an intimate union with God, but a soul resting in sin can have no intimate union with God; there can be no intimate union between light and darkness, between sanctity and sin, between good and evil; in a word, between Christ and Belial. Quae participatio, quae societas lucis ad tenebras? Quae conventio Christi el Belial?