[Lectio: Exodus 14-15]
Everyone knows that religious in a monastery pray a lot more than most folks. The Liturgy of the Hours—also called the Divine Office—is this regular prayer offered by the Church as a kind of extension of the holy Mass throughout the day. Every priest promises to pray it out of his breviary, but the solemn chanting of this Work of God is an especial duty of canons like the Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey. The seven “hours” that we sing at set times of day are taken mostly from sacred Scripture: Psalms, canticles, short and long readings from throughout the Bible; complemented by traditional hymns, prayers, and writings of the saints.
Being so immersed in God’s holy Word, we begin to penetrate through the literal meaning—what the author meant by his words—and perceive also the spiritual meanings of Scripture. This spiritual sense is more than just foreshadowing and symbolism; any good writer can do that. But because God is the Author not only of the Bible, but of Nature and of History, he can make the things described to really be signs of other things!
Consider Israel crossing the Red Sea. Moses is a “type” of Christ, meaning that he represents, foreshadows, and draws his own meaning from Jesus our Savior. Just as Moses led his people out of slavery to Egypt through the waters of the sea, so Jesus leads us out of slavery to sin through the waters of baptism. The Israelites’ fear when they didn’t trust God—followed by being saved when they obeyed—teaches us that we must overcome our fear of the world and trust in Jesus who will overcome every evil. The triumphant song which follows is a sign of the wonderful celebration that awaits us in heaven. All this is not merely “reading into” the literal meaning. Rather, God’s inspired word is so infinitely full of wisdom that a lifetime would not suffice to “read out” all its spiritual meaning! Praise to our heavenly Father, who grants us to sing forever the song of Moses and of the Lamb.