Christ Jesus, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise.
For He continues His priestly work through the agency of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the whole world. She does this, not only by celebrating the Eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying the Divine Office.
By tradition going back to early Christian times, the Divine Office is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God. It is the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His body, addresses to the Father.
// Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concilium, 83-84
The first time I prayed the Liturgy of Hours I was in a small chapel with about ten people in college. I woke up early one morning after seeing a sign in my dorm’s hallway stating the time and place to meet to pray.
Someone handed me a thick prayer book with ribbons. For the next fifteen minutes the most beautiful thing happened. Though I was completely lost and not on the right page the entire time, I felt part of a community, I felt the unitive power of prayer. I felt part of something great and beautiful.
The Prayer of Our Church
The more I learned about this great prayer of our Church, I realized by praying the Liturgy of Hours I am part of something great and beautiful. The Liturgy of Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is the daily prayer of the Church. The purpose is to give God His due worship throughout the hours of our day. As a natural result of this, like all proper worship, we become sanctified, too.
The Words and Wisdom of God
The USCCB has a beautiful description of the Liturgy of Hours:
“The [Liturgy of] Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer. The dialogue is always held in the presence of God and using the words and wisdom of God. Each of the five canonical Hours includes selections from the Psalms that culminate in a scriptural proclamation. The two most important or hinge Hours are Morning and Evening Prayer. These each include a Gospel canticle: the Canticle of Zechariah from Luke 1:68-79 for Morning Prayer (known as the Benedictus), and the Canticle of Mary from Luke 1:46-55 for Evening Prayer (known as the Magnificat). The Gospel canticle acts as a kind of meditative extension of the scriptural proclamation in light of the Christ event. Morning and Evening Prayer also include intercessions that flow from the scriptural proclamation just as the Psalms prepare for it.”
A Transformative Prayer
Uniting ourselves as a Church in prayer is powerful. The Liturgy of Hours is the prayer of Mother Church. After years of praying the Liturgy of Hours I have strengthened my relationship with God.
Through the Divine Office I am more aware of the importance of our liturgical seasons and the beauty and Scriptural bounty found throughout the year. I am closer to the Saints through reading their writings on their Feast Days. I am continuously touched by the witness of the Church Fathers, whose prose has transformed my heart.
These are just some of the many fruits that I have experienced from praying the Liturgy of Hours. From personal growth to uniting myself with the Church, I have grown deeply as a person through this prayer. Ultimately, I pray because God is worthy and deserving of our worship. There are many fruits that come from this proper worship and each is a blessing and a gift.
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Helpful Resources, Tips, and Links
- A Liturgy of Hours set is an investment. If you are open to a second hand set, talk to your pastor or a religious community in your area to see if they have a set you can have for free. You can also ask local bookshops if they have a discounted Set available for you to buy.
- You can purchase your own Liturgy of Hours Set here and use code CLAIRE for 15% off this set and your entire order.
- The Saint Joseph Guide for the Liturgy of Hours (code CLAIRE for discount) is something I use daily when I pray the Divine Office. It gives the page numbers for each of the five “hours” every day of the year and includes the page numbers for Feast Days, too! It’s always on my Christmas wish list!
- This Burrowshire Podcast Episode, ‘How and Why to Pray the Liturgy of Hours,’ is so informative and lit a spark in my heart to be faithful to praying the Divine Office each day.
- Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, section on the Divine Office (83-101) is worth reading.
- The USCCB explanation of the Liturgy of Hours is one of my favorites!
- A Layman’s Guide to Liturgy of the Hours by Father Timothy Gallagher is a great resource (Discount code = CLAIRE).
- I use the DivineOffice App not only to pray the Liturgy of the Hours on the go but also for ribbon placement if I ever am a little lost and don’t have my Saint Joseph’s Guide available.
- Don’t give up! Invite your parish priest over for dinner and Evening Prayer, asking them to spend some time teaching you the Liturgy of Hours. Or, watch this amazing instructional video on YouTube.
- Start small. Don’t feel pressured to pray all of the five hours starting out. Start with Morning or Evening prayer. I have found that the more I pray the Liturgy of Hours, the more I desire to! It truly orders your day towards God.
Do you pray the Liturgy of Hours? How has it changed your spiritual life? Do you have any tips or resources that have helped you? Share in the comments below!
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