Prayer among deadly days

One of my morning rituals for some time now has been, in the wee hours of the morning before dawn, to pray the morning prayer (lauds) of Office of the Dead. It is one of the prayer cycles for the repose of a soul found in the Divine Office of the Catholic Church, also called the “Liturgy of the Hours.”  You can find versions online. The morning prayer consists of Psalm 51; Isaiah 38:10-14, 17-20; Psalm 146; a reading from 1 Thessalonians 4; the Canticle of Zechariah found in Luke 1:68-79; intercessions for the dead; an Our Father; and final prayer.

I began doing this a while ago as the death toll associated with the pandemic continued to rise.

I suspect many of you saw a report about a tweet that went “viral” (ironic expression these days). Shown here the list ranks the deadliest days in American history, including the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas; the Civil War Battle of Antietam in 1862; the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and others. And then, starkly and bluntly we read “Last Thursday” with that day’s reported number of deaths from Covid. From remote history we are snapped into the realization that we are living in the midst of that list.

The author, Carey B., commented that her post wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment idea. She had been thinking about the climbing COVID death numbers as the Dec. 7 anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack approached. She was reading a novel set in the 1940s, and was struck by how the Americans in the book pulled together and united to win the war. She could not help but notice the stark differences between American society’s reaction to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and this pandemic.

Today is was reported the the San Francisco earthquake (1906) and its 3,000 deaths was replaced by “Today, COVID – 3,055.”  May Antietam and the Galveston hurricane not be surpassed.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray the Office.

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