Editor’s Note: This is a re-posting from 2014 on prayer which I thought could be useful as we contemplate resolutions for the New Year.
At times referred to as the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Breviary, Christian Prayer is an ancient Catholic prayer tradition that is almost as old as the faith itself. Though traditionally it is prayed by those in Religious Orders or the Clergy, it can also be prayed by laity and in fact this is encouraged by the Catholic Church.
These specific prayer recitals provide the opportunity for the faithful to attain a deeper intimacy with the Lord our God and to develop a consistent closeness to the faith, thus keeping you near to the Lord our God throughout the day.
Christian Prayer consists a series of prayers (called ‘The Offices’) recited generally in the morning, evening and at night before bed. For those obligated by their Religious Order, the prayers are also recited at various additional times throughout the day.
The prayers consist of reciting a number of Psalms, Canticles, biblical readings and hymns. These vary daily and with each ‘Office’ throughout the day. Unless obligated, the laity can choose to recite all or some of the ‘Offices’. Most will recite the Morning Prayer (Lauds) Evening Prayer (Vespers) and Night Prayer (Compline).
I started reciting the ‘Offices’ six months ago. I first started with the Compline and worked my way to Morning Prayer and Evening prayer. Recently, I have also added the ‘Midday’ Prayer as well.
I cannot tell you how deeply these prayers have affected my spiritual life. Though challenging when I started, with practice and some guidance via the web and some instructional articles, I was up and running in no time. Some will also seek the help and guidance of their parish priest or deacon or a fellow parishioner who is experienced in reciting the “Offices’.
I look forward to starting my day with the Morning Prayer. It prepares me for the challenges to come. My Midday Prayer allows me to take a few precious minutes out of a busy day and focus on my Lord my God and place my spiritual life into perspective as I face the demands and stresses of the day. The Evening Prayer allows me to take a well deserved rest and thank the Lord for all of the help and guidance that He has provide me throughout the day. It allows me to rest in the Lord my God. Finally my Night Prayer allows me to close out the day and sleep in peace knowing that my last thoughts are with the Lord my God.
In addition to helping me get through my day, Christian Prayer has had a profound influence on my understanding of the faith. As I slowly read the psalms and prayers and meditate on them, I am better able to allow the Lord to move me to a deeper intimacy with Him and a greater appreciation of the teachings of my faith.
I currently use a single volume of the Christian Prayer. Though you have to move from one section to another, with a little practice you will be able to master this in a short period of time. Don’t give up! Patience is a virtue. It is well worth the initial frustration. I use the version found at Catholic Book Publishing.
I find this volume has all of the prayers I need, it is easy to navigate and it is cost effective. It is also very convenient for when I travel. For those that choose to take on the complete Christian Prayer (all the Offices) and avoid or limit ‘flipping through sections, one can purchase the 4-volume set (more expensive).
Each volume covers a different part of the liturgical calendar. I encourage you to shop around and find a volume or a set that you feel comfortable with.
There are an abundance of web sites that help and guide you through the Liturgy of the Hours. In fact, some sites have the complete ‘Offices’ on-line. Here are a few:
There are numerous other sites you can find on the web, but these will give you a good place to start.
However you choose to approach Christian Prayer, the best advice that I can give you is to simply jump in and get started. Rather than worry about the initial frustration, use that initial frustration as an opportunity to practice patience, obedience, humility and sacrifice while exploring your faith. More importantly, know that when you recite the ‘Office’, you are joining literally millions of other faithful Catholics across the world reciting the same prayers at the same time as you, while together, as a community of faith, we all journey with God .
Copyright 2014, Luciano Corbo