By Sister Christina M. Neumann, OSF
This past Sunday evening, we again received a phone call at our convent from one of our night aides; these aren’t calls we look forward to, necessarily. She was vomiting, and contrary to her hopes, she would not be able to make it in to work that night. Unable to get anyone to replace her, I was again called upon to work the overnight shift (starting at 10 p.m.) During the night, aides make rounds to check on our residents, as well as doing laundry and cleaning here at St. Anne’s.
As Sisters in our congregation (as in many others), we pray night prayer at the conclusion of the day; we refer to it most often as Compline (derived from Latin). Although I pray this “hour” of the Office (which really only takes a matter of minutes) when I work “nites,” the liturgical texts seem a bit ironic when I am really just starting a new shift.
The texts of this beautiful part of the Liturgy of the Hours are ones that seem to say. “Thank you for this day; now as I go to sleep, I commend myself to You.”
When I pray “May the All-powerful Lord grant us a restful night…,” I almost want to change the word “restful” to something like “blessed” or “uneventful,” hoping none of our residents have an accident or start roaming the halls. I shared some of these thoughts with our Sister Rebecca (who has in the past worked some nights) and she had experienced similar sentiments.
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When the nurse comes on at five and I am free to go and get my beauty rest, I feel more in the mood for Compine, my work being completed. I remember settling down for a nap this past Monday morning, after the night, with a feeling of peaceful gratitude that the night had passed smoothly and everything had gone well. I could now truly say the words of the canticle for night prayer: “Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace.”