In a right spirit of Christian charity, the students of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts have been visiting a local veteran’s hospital to provide chanted Vespers. The students are participating in the New Evangelization through one of the most powerful and oldest traditions of the Church—the Divine Office—led by Father Boucher, a longtime friend of the College; David Clayton, Artist-in-Residence; and Tom Larson, Choir Director.
“I didn’t expect anyone to welcome us with open arms,” admitted David Clayton. “All I wanted was for us to be tolerated, so that we could pray the Office for them. The point in mind is to make the personal sacrifice in prayer, praying for the well being of the patients and for the hospital as a community.”
Fortunately, the welcome the students received was warmer than anyone expected. In fact, the Catholic chaplain at the VA Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, invited the group to come every other Monday.
Many of the veterans are in no condition to leave their rooms without assistance; helpers are not always available and consequently, the numbers in attendance at Vespers are small. Of course, even if health was not an issue, they may not be flocking to a prayer service that for them is unusual.
“We are undaunted,” said Clayton regarding the small numbers in attendance. “It has been gratifying to hear veterans, many of whom have never been to any Office before, pray with us. I am especially grateful for how gracious the staff and the priests and ministers of various denominations have been.”
Because the Divine Office consists primarily of Psalms, the group has presented the prayer as ecumenical. Administratively, this has enabled them to fill an available slot in the chapel and even attract a few non-Catholics to participate in this traditional form of prayer.
For any who are interested, recordings may be found here of the group singing compositions by Paul Jernberg, Composer-in-Residence of the College. As you will note, some are in unison and some are harmonized.
The young men and women of Thomas More College are privileged to receive an education rooted in the wisdom and traditions, both intellectual and spiritual, of Western Civilization. Our mission is to form students accordingly; our hope is that graduates live the truths they encounter in the classroom and community, and while doing so create a ripple effect that touches an immeasurable number of lives. It is precisely through such things as bringing the Divine Office to veteran hospitals that such an effect will occur.