A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the rhythm our devotional lives has taken on since becoming Catholic. (I am not just referring to Natural Family Planning )
One of the most beautiful devotions that the Church has for us is the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office. The Liturgy of the Hours is truly the prayer of the Church for all the people of God: bishops, priests, deacons, religious and the laity (us). From New Testament times, the faithful of the Church have prayed at specific times of the day as seen in the Old Testament as well as the book of Acts and the LOTH has its roots in that ancient practice.
The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, "the divine office."46 This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to "pray constantly," is "so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God."47 In this "public prayer of the Church,"48 the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in "the form approved" by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours "is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father. (Catholic Catechism)
So practically speaking, what does the Liturgy of the Hours look like? It is a prayer book that can be purchased as a four volume set (more often used by clergy and religious) or a more compacted version called Christian Prayer (more often used by the laity). I purchased mine used on Amazon.com and it is pictured above. When it arrived and I unwrapped it, it gave off such a beautiful scent of incense ! Do they all do that? At any rate, it is a collection of Scripture, prayers, antiphons, hymns and readings about the lives of the saints that correspond with particular feast days. There is a particular order to the way in which it is prayed and it is broken down into morning, noon, evening and night prayers. Sacred Scripture is the backbone, particularly the Psalms and the antiphons are often from the Psalms.
It is meant to be prayed communally but can be prayed alone as well. It is an awesome reality that as I pray the prayers in this book at the appointed times, I am communing with Christ along with hundreds of thousands of other believers simultaneously across the globe. Talk about a "communion of saints!"
Though most priests and religious are required to pray the Divine Office for morning, noon, evening and nightly prayer, I am not so devout or ambitious. I am hoping to pray the office for the evening prayer and readings as part of my devotional time . I am so tickled that the Church provides for us a way to remain focused on him throughout the day. I can't see how our devout non-Catholic brethren couldn't get into this too!
It is a bit daunting at first and I am having a bit of trouble getting the knack of the order. I had my pastor bless the prayer book after Mass tonite and he gave me a few pointers. If any of you have some pointers regarding its use or how it has blessed you, feel free to post.