The very first time I learned about “Morning Prayer,” (to eventually practice doing the prayer) was during a Monday flag ceremony sometime in 1954, in front of the so-called “barn,” of that old Ateneo de Davao high school building in Matina, when the entire school was gathered in the front lawn, and after the 7 AM flag raising, when all right hands were raised, and we were asked to reverently pray the Morning Prayer.
This was typically on a Monday, with either Fr. Hudson Mitchell in front with Fr. William Walsh (ex-marine) or Fr.Spinello or Fr. Dolan. I was with section 4C, which was, in a sense, the remnant section, where 4A had the best and brightest: Balchand, Jover, dela Serna, Jesena, Dacudao, Tiongson, Aledia, Sarenas, Arcangel, Gonzales, Cavestany, et al.
Source of photo: page 130, “A Camiguin Island in Mindanao and The Houses of my life,” by Eduardo S. Canlas (www.amazon.com)
The prayer was led by a mid-height,young, dark, bespectacled student who, I learned later was Asandas Balchand, who later turned down being named Valedictorian of their class, and acquieced to being Salutatorian so as to be eligible to receive the Ateneo de Manila scholarship, typically not granted to school valedictorians in the country, for the reason, I suppose of not “overly favoring,” the country’s top high school performers, who may already have too much “offerings” on their plate, from the prestigious colleges in the islands.
50 or so years later, when class ’57 had their reunion at Marco Polo Hotel ( when all expenses were paid by class member Ben Du, brother of Romy), this issue of who was the class valedictorian came up again, with much heat and discussion. Balchand, who by then was already a Jesuit priest teaching in Ateneo de Manila, did not, I was told “reveal” the real story, but eventually did so in private to others and to me.
This may be long introduction to this piece “Morning Prayer,” but suffice it to say that what I will share here, was not that traditional “morning prayer,” said on that fateful morning in Davao City, but another one, more recent, and Jesuit-composed just the same.
The Morning Prayer goes like:
“Lord Jesus, I come before you at the beginning of this day. I gaze at your face. I look upon your side. Pierced by a lance on the cross. Your wounded heart speaks to me of God’s love poured out for us.
Take Lord and receive my heart today. Take the words of love and faith that I will speak today. And the works of justice that I will do.
Take Lord, all my joys and sufferings of this day.
And at the end of the day, place me with Mary, your mother And for her sake, take me into your heart tonight, when I go to sleep.
This prayer, like the true Ignatian prayer that it is, makes abundant use of one’s faculties of imagination, as if one was kneeling or standing or “gazing,” at the foot of the cross, picturing the face, the wounds on the side and the soldier lancing the side of Jesus.
And, to complete the theology, the prayer affirms that all these is a one act of God pouring out His love for us.
And, not just to stand and watch, spectator-like, but to participate with reciprocity, in affirming that if God loves us, then, indeed, I must, in return give God my heart to him, today.
And that all these pledge that I make, I can summarize them as “words of love and faith”, and “works of justice.” that I do or will do.
Not only that, but ending with “Please Lord, take ALL my joys and my sufferings for this day..”
And that when I die, “place me, with Mary, your Mother, and for her sake, take me into Your heart tonight, when “I go to sleep.”