"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep..."

"... I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

How old were you when you first uttered those rhythmic words as you turned off the lights at the end of the day? Perhaps that prayer, memorized at some point in our childhood, would become a springboard for further prayerfulness in bed. Most of us offer prayers of spontaneity, I would assume, while others may depend on more structured prayers such as Compline or the Rosary. Regardless of what words are used, many of us use the bed as a quiet sanctuary where we try to process the ups and the downs of the day just completed; we pray for a night filled with rest; and perhaps we're even anticipating the issues that we will confront at the break of day. When you consider we spend nearly 1/3 of our time in bed, it should be a place that is hallowed by our very being -- our prayers only adding to the solemnity of the already blessed environment.

This past Friday night I was at dinner with a friend who mentioned that as a child she had seen her father on any number of occasions kneeling beside his bed reciting his nighttime prayers. It sounded as though the father made it his private devotional practice; he was not aware that his children were attuned to his nighttime routine. For this friend of mine, it would be an image that spoke so silently, yet profoundly of who her dad really was. ....She cherishes such memories.

As she shared her story, I was reminded of some very good men I know -- true "men's men" associated with the Green Bay Packers who end each day at the foot of their bed offering their nighttime prayers in the darkness and silence of day's end. I think this is so impressive, and yet, sadly, it is not an aspect of my daily routine -- or weekly, unfortunately.

I am also reminded of my Norbertine brothers who spend time before the Blessed Sacrament at the priory chapel or college church. Their silent presence there challenges my own Eucharistic Devotion. And then there are those college students who do the same: either in the oratory or in the Marian Chapel throughout the busy demands of the college day -- I think their good example calls me to a greater respect and need for a heightened personal prayer.

Many of you know that my car is my sanctuary! I'm in it so much that I try to make the best of it. Returning phone calls, working on homilies, listening to the Catholic Channel on XM Radio -- these all take place as I try my best to focus on the road. While I try to make the "prayerfully most" of these captive situations behind the wheel, I know that I can bolster my personal prayer to an even greater degree at other moments of each day... ... ... while walking on campus, while running the treadmill, while contemplating the events written in my calendar -- and just perhaps in the future, when "calling it a day" and tending to unfinished business as daylight fades.


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