Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

In which I Liken Myself to a Horse

As I grew up on a ranch, I was surrounded by a wide array of animals from my birth. Besides the cattle by which we made our living, there was a steady stream of cats, dogs, sheep for training the dogs, a brief interlude with a pig, a much longer interlude with a goat, and a variety of ponies and horses. Among the horses were two large work horses, both half Belgian as I recall, both mares, and they always seem to stick out in my memory. A whole variety of stories surround these mares, and my father would be happy to tell them sometime; but for me, a two word sentence summarizes my memories: "Walk, girls!"

Our draft mares liked to trot. The reason for this was that, once they had begun to pull whatever load was behind them, they could create a certain amount of momentum by trotting. Then, as long as they could maintain their momentum, they really had to pull very little of the load. To trot made their work easier. For rider and driver, though, it was often unpleasant. Large hay wagons are not designed for trotting horses. They have no seats and no seat belts. The ground over which the horses pull the wagons is rough. As a result, the constant refrain of my father was, "Walk, girls!"

This image came to me recently after I had been speed reading through the Psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours. At the end I realized that I had simply been operating on momentum, so to speak, and failing to really do my work. A lot of people have asked for my prayers. Had I even thought of them? A lot of people are suffering. Had I given them any mention? The Church needs my prayers. Had I actually prayed? I did the office again, much more slowly this time.

The Liturgy of the Hours is, in a way, like a yoke for those who have promised to pray it. The yoke rests on the shoulders of work animals, and is an important piece of equipment inasmuch as it is the means by which an animal carries a load. My yoke, too, draws a burden behind it. In late May, when Deacon Gregory was ordained, his bishop remarked that it was by the Liturgy of the Hours that he would pray for all those who had asked for his prayers and for those for whom he had promised to pray. How true this remark was. I usually pray the Liturgy of the Hours with this thought in mind, but sometimes I realize that I am giving less than they deserve. Unlike the horses of my childhood, I don't have the option of pulling my burden by means of momentum. While it may work for horses pulling a wagon full of hay, if I trot through the Liturgy of the Hours, I will have failed to bear the load at all.


Deacon Tyler said...

In the interests of full disclosure, I should have noted that the horses pictured in the post are not the original two from my childhood. They are, rather, Ron and Ross, a pair of Halflingers of smaller stature and gentler (slower?) disposition.

J. Thorp said...

Great post, Deacon Tyler -- both the yoke metaphor (which is beautifully scriptural) and the idea of letting momentum carry you along without doing the real work. I struggle with this is my daily prayer life.

Some work is hard work, period -- it can't be done lightly.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks for this. I began praying LOH in the spring, love it, but still often find myself distracted and rushing. I'll remember this image (I love horses...great metaphore to get my attention!)

Shirley said...

I too find myself carried by the momentum of my prayers- particularly the Rosary. Thanks for the image of "walk, girls";I intend to use it to get my focus back when I find myself rushing.

Jinglebob said...


liturgy said...

I've today developed a badge for websites interested in encouraging the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours:

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