Friday, August 31, 2018

The Opportunities in Newborn Nightlife

For the past week, as I've gotten acquainted with our newborn baby, I've also become reacquainted with the range of nighttime activities of little babies. The first night, I guess he was so tired from childbirth that he slept soundly, waking only a couple times to eat. Another night, he didn't "go down for the night" until 6 a.m.

As much as I love sleep, though, I've found this easier to bear than I thought it would be. Perhaps it's due to the newness of it all, and after another week I'll pulling out my hair and drinking all the coffee. And perhaps it's because I'm rediscovering the opportunities that having a nocturnal newborn provides. In all honesty, one of the activities I can now do is actually watch shows without my toddler constantly running over and trying to touch my laptop! Plus, I don't like watching shows while my toddler is awake and with me anyway, so it just works out better this way.

However, I've found myself not spending as much time with my "watchlist" as I thought I would be-because I've decided to adapt a bit of a monk's lifestyle. In this, I've rediscovered the beauty of praying in the deep stillness of nighttime. While reading Cardinal Sarah's wonderful book the other day, I came across this passage:

"In order to face the Cross, which is still far off, silence and solitude are a necessity. In Gethsemane, when the end is near and the Apostles are sleeping, incapable of understanding in depth the drama that is playing out, he remains one last night in silence, in prayer. In his final moments, nocturnal silence is Christ's companion. The faithful must get used to praying at night, like Jesus. God carries out his works in the night. In the night, all movement is transformed and grows by God's strength."
Years ago, as a student, I participated in all-night prayer vigils, late night Holy Hours, and made late-night visits to the chapel. Praying late at night was so peaceful, a way to reflect on the day and see how God had been at work. Praying late at night helped me withdraw from the noise of student life and dive deeper into silence. With life after college, my prayer life adjusted. Instead of spending late nights in prayer, I've taken to devoting time in the morning to silence--though admittedly, I'm not as dutiful about this as I could be. 

Yet, as I find myself caring for a newborn whose favorite playtime is 2 a.m., I've been diving deeper into prayer at night. Spontaneous prayer, Rosaries, and silent mental prayer are all great, but I've found tremendous beauty in praying the psalms. For centuries, monks throughout the world have risen at night and in the early hours of the morning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (here's one schedule). While not all modern-day monks keep an all-night prayer schedule, there is still the regular practice of praying the Liturgy of the Hours in monasteries and convents worldwide. Drawing from this rich heritage of faith and devotion, I too can join in the song of praise to God late in the night or in the early morning hours. 

While I will be overjoyed the day that we are all able to get a full night's sleep, I am extremely grateful that I--united to the whole Church in liturgical prayer--have the opportunity to consecrate the hours of the day and night through this prayer. 


  1. So beautiful, AnneMarie! Such a worthwhile thing to do with those nighttime hours. And so good to hear adjusting is going okay so far! I had only ever prayed the liturgy of the hours a couple times in my life before getting to my current job where we do afternoon prayer everyday. I know the psalms so much better now because of that, and am loving them more and more!

  2. In college I used to go with a friend to a 2am Adoration hour. Often, there 3 am person wouldn’t show, so we would stay until 4 am. And then go get waffles because we were in college and had energy for things like that! You are right, it was some beautiful, silent prayer time.

    1. Ann-Marie, that sounds like such a cool thing to do!