Monday, November 27, 2017

Why You Should Pray the Liturgy of the Hours...

Editor's note: This is another great contribution from the one and only Holly Vaughan. You can follow her on Twitter here!


Because Pope Benedict says so!

Just kidding.  But not really - almost exactly six years ago he said I would then like to renew to you all the invitation to pray with the Psalms, even becoming accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours of the Church, Lauds in the morning, Vespers in the evening, and Compline before retiring.”  You can read the whole address here (LINK: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20111116.html)

Anna Mitchell wrote a beautiful chapter on the Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic Hipster Handbook. (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Catholic-Hipster-Handbook-Rediscovering-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B072HVZR6L/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511240655&sr=8-1&keywords=catholic+hipster+handbook) Buy the book!  Read the chapter!  
I don’t want to repeat what she has already explained so well, but instead want to continue to encourage you to consider trying the Liturgy of the Hours - it’s almost Advent, and that is a fantastic time to start.  It could be your New (Church) Year’s Resolution!

As Anna mentions, the Liturgy of the Hours, not the Mass, is the official public prayer of the Catholic Church.  When you pray these prayers, you are praying the same prayers that your local priest, your bishop, and even the Pope are praying.  This is how we as a Church fulfill Jesus’s command to “pray without ceasing.”  


I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for right around two years, and recently promised to pray it daily when I became an Oblate of Saint Benedict.  What follows is a quick rundown of the benefits I’ve seen - and why I think you should give it a try!

First, as I mentioned above, the Church encourages it!  All clergy and religious are required to pray it.  Think of all the holy people you will be praying with! On a personal note - the monastery that I am an oblate of is a couple of hours away, but through the Liturgy of the Hours, we are connected in prayer each day.

Also, if you are like me and tend to fail at structuring your prayer life, and also struggle to get in Scripture reading everyday, the Divine Office is here to help you out!  Each hour (it doesn’t take an hour! Each part only takes about ten minutes) has not only the Psalms for that hour, but a reading from other parts of Scripture as well.  Think of how much ground all of this covers - you can offer your Office for the day for your intentions, just the way you use the Morning Offering to offer up your day.  You can do some Lectio Divina on some Scripture that you chose from one of the hours, and you have planned moments in your day to stop and spend time with God! Three birds - one stone.

Praying the Office also keeps us in tune with the Liturgical Year, and the many Feast Days that happen throughout the week.  Especially if you aren’t able to attend Daily Mass, this is a great way to keep up with the Church Calendar!

Many people start praying the Office with Morning and Evening Prayer and choose whether to add in more hours.  That’s a great place to start, and to get a feel for the prayers.  I also highly encourage you to add in, at some point, the Office of Readings and Night Prayer.  Office of Readings is one of the longer hours, but the wisdom you glean from it is priceless, especially the homilies from the Saints themselves (here’s looking at you Augustine).  Night prayer is quite short but oh-so-beautiful.  “Protect us Lord, as we stay awake.  Watch over us as we sleep…”

Are you are at least considering praying the Liturgy of the Hours?!  Or at the very least are you considering doing more research on the Liturgy of the Hours? ;)  If so, here are some helpful resources!

The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is a fantastic resource on both the history and the how-to’s of the Office.  Find it here: (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Catholics-Guide-Liturgy-Hours-ebook/dp/B00BSI816S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511242275&sr=8-1&keywords=pray+liturgy+of+the+hours)

If you want to start with Morning and Evening Prayer, you can begin with the one volume breviary: (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0899424066?ie=UTF8&tag=divine-office-20&creativeASIN=0899424066)   It also includes night prayer.  

Ready to jump in with both feet? The whole four volume set is available here: (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0899424090?ie=UTF8&tag=divine-office-20&creativeASIN=0899424090)
You can also search on Amazon and buy each volume of the four volume set as you need it.  Pro tip: to start praying in Advent, purchase Volume 1. You can get it here. (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0899424015?ie=UTF8&tag=divine-office-20&creativeASIN=0899424015)

Also, grab this (LINK: https://www.amazon.com/St-Joseph-Guide-Liturgy-Hours/dp/1941243851/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511242832&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=litiurgy+of+the+hours+guide) inexpensive and crazy helpful guide that tells you how to set your ribbons and what the readings are for the day.

I am a huge fan of the printed breviary but in the interest of honesty, I must tell you that I learned to pray the Hours using www.divineoffice.org, and still use it frequently, especially when I’m on the go.  I highly recommend using this online breviary first, which tells you exactly what you should be praying and lets you get accustomed to the format of the prayers.   Then move to praying with the online breviary and following along in your printed breviary.  Before you know it you will be setting ribbons and flipping back and forth like you’ve been doing it all your life - which will earn you some serious hipster cred!

That’s it!  I’ve made my case, and now the rest is up to you!  I hope you look more into this beautiful prayer ritual, and maybe test drive it during Advent.  It can be overwhelming at first, especially if you are trying to learn it alone, so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t click right away.  I would love to help you if you need!  Feel free to drop me a comment here, or “@” me on Twitter and I’ll do my best to help!

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