The Universal Prayer of the Church – The Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office)

Many customers come into the store lookng and asking about “The Liturgy of the Hours“. More and more people want to join the rest of the Universal Church worldwide in prayer.

The “Liturgy of the Hours” or Divine Office has been commonly know as the breviary, or the prayerbook that has been used by the priests for centuries. Before Vatican II, the “Liturgy of the Hours” was primarily used by priests and religious (monks & nuns), and it was very rare to find anyone else praying the “Hours”. Since the lituricgal reforms of Vatican II, the “Liturgy of the Hours” has been restored to it’s original purpose, the prayer of the entire Universal Church.

According to the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours:  “Gatherings of the laity for prayer, apostolic work or any other reason are encourged to fulfill the Church’s office by celebrating part of the Liturgy of the Hours. The laity must learn, especially in liturgical actions, how to adore God the Father in spirit and in truth.”  (General Instructions of the Liturgy of the Hours, nos. 13-14, 25-27.)

I have been praying the “Liturgy of the Hours“,  in one form or another for the last 17 years. These days, we are very fortunate to have a choice of the type and form of the “Liturgy of the Hours” that is available to us. The full “Liturgy of the Hours” is a four volume set. Volume 1 contains the Advent and Christmas Season, Volume 2 is Lent and Easter Season, Volume 3 is Ordinary Time – Weeks 1 to 17, & Volume 4 is Ordinary Time – Weeks 18 to 34.  Your next option, and the most popular for the laity (non-ordained) is called “Christian Prayer“, which is a condensed version of the four volume set into just one volume. Your next option would be what is called ” Shorter Christian Prayer” which is just what it implies, a condensed version of “Christian Prayer“. Just recently more options are available, if you have a smart phone, there are two apps I would suggest, ibrevery & MassReadings. I chose MassReadings for my phone because it also comes with the Mass Readings for the day, the “Liturgy of the Hours“, the rosary, and selected prayer. My phone app makes great reading when I catch the train into work.

By this time you are probaly asking yourself, what is the “Liturgy of the Hours?”  Here is a simple break down of the “Liturgy of the Hours“:

The Office of the Readings (Old Testament reading & a sermon from a saint or “Father of the Church”)

Morning Prayer (Lauds)

Mid-morning Prayer (Terce)

Midday Pray (Sext)

Afternoon Prayer (None)

Evening Prayer (Vespers)

Night Prayer (Compline)

I think you will find praying “The Liturgy of the Hours“, in whatever form you choose, ideal for both your private and your communal daily prayer.