Vatican City (Fides Service) – During the general audience on Wednesday 8 October, Pope John Paul II commenced a new cycle of teaching on the Psalms, this time dedicated to the psalms prayed by the Church at Vespers. “Sunrise and sunset are not impersonal moments of the day – the Pope explained – Their physiognomy is unmistakable: the joyous beauty of dawn and the triumphant splendour of sunset, mark the rhythm of the universe in which human life is intimately involved. What is more the mystery of salvation which is actuated in history has its moments linked to the different moments of time. This is why, along with the celebration of Morning prayer at the start of the day, the celebration of Vespers at evening time became a tradition for the Church. Each of these liturgical Hours has its own evocative charge which recalls two aspects of the Paschal mystery
The lighting of lamps in the house at sunset was once a moment of rejoicing and communion. And so too the Christian community, lighting the evening lamp invoked the gift of spiritual light. “As the shadows fall in fact Christians know that God illuminates even the darkest night with the splendour of his presence and with the light of his teaching – the Holy Father said-. Drawing inspiration from the symbolism of light, Evening Prayer became an evening offering of praise and gratitude for the gift of physical and spiritual light and the other gifts of creation and redemption. The evening is an opportune time to examine before God, in prayer, the day which has ended…it is also the time to ask forgiveness for the evil we have committed, and to implore divine mercy to let Christ shine again in our hearts”.
“In the past, and still today, the succession of night and day regulates life, provoking reflection on the great problems of our existence. Modern progress changed in part the relation between human life and cosmic time. But the busy rhythm of human activity has not subtracted men and women of today from the rhythm of the solar cycle altogether. Which means that the two fulcra of daily prayer retain all of their values since they are linked to unchangeable phenomena and immediate symbolism. The morning and evening are always opportune times to devote to prayer, community and personal. Linked to important moments of our living and acting the Hours of Lauds and Vespers, Morning and Evening Prayer, reveal themselves to be effective means of orienting our daily journeying and directing it towards Christ,