IF IT be a duty of the greatest importance to begin the day well, it is one of no less consequence to conclude it properly. The graces conferred on us during the course of the day, and the protection we stand in need of against the dangers of the night, are urgent reasons why we should address ourselves to God, and pray to Him with the utmost gratitude and fervor.
A daily examination of conscience in general, with regard to our whole conduct throughout the day, and in particular with regard to our predominant vice, passion, or evil custom; and the virtue we want most to acquire is strongly recommended by all spiritual writers as one of the most important duties of Christian life, and the most profitable exercise we can apply ourselves to, for avoiding sin and acquiring virtue. It is a looking- glass in which we see ourselves in our true colors, and come to the knowledge of our sins and evil inclinations. It is a sponge by which we wipe away guilt from our souls, and become the more pure before God the more diligently we practice it. If we do not daily weed the garden of our souls by this holy exercise, the corrupt ground of the heart will naturally produce vices and imperfections in abundance.
The examination of conscience and act of contrition form the most important part of your evening exercise.
St. Francis Xavier says: "At night, before you go to sleep, you must examine your conscience, inquiring into your thoughts, words, and deeds of the whole day, and also whether you have left out anything of what you ought to have done."
Sleep is the likeness of death. Meditate on death and eternity. Retire not without being prepared for death.
"Compose yourself to rest in such a way that sleep may steal upon you with your thoughts fixed on divine things, and your mind preparing itself to spend the next day in greater holiness. Always keep in mind that saying of our heavenly Master: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?" (Mark 8:36.)
The evening prayer does not always have to be alone. "The many signal blessings which God has bestowed, and does bestow, on those families where prayers are regularly said in common, should be a sufficient inducement to establish this practice everywhere; and chiefly at night, when all may be assembled with greater convenience. "Where two or three persons shall be assembled in my name, there," said Christ, "shall I be in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20.
1. Night Prayer from the Key of Heaven (Imprimatur 1924).
2. Evening Prayers from My Prayer Book, 1908.
3. The Evening Sufferages from the Lutheran Church.
4. Table of Psalms for Feasts and Seasons.
5. Prayers before Sleep.
6. Evening Devotions.
7. Family Prayers.
Liturgy of the Hours: Universalis, evening and night prayer (compline).
You can see the Office from the Book of Common Prayer (Anglican) in Spanish or English. Click on the link to today's prayers.
Rev. F.X.Lasance, My Prayer Book, Benzinger Brothers (1908), pp. 130-132. Imprimatur, +John M. Farley, Archbishop of N.Y., Sept. 19, 1908.
The color image is the Angel in Adoration by Fra Angelico (1387-1455).