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What is the Liturgy of the Hours?

 

“Seven times a day I praise you.” – Psalm 118(119):164

The Lord has commanded us to pray without ceasing, and this is what the Hours help us do.

Morning Prayer – at the start of the day’s work and the coming of the light.

Daytime Prayer – at mid-morningnoon and in the afternoon, to unite us with the one for whom and through whom we are working.

Evening Prayer – at the end of the day’s work, to offer up what we have done.

Night Prayer – last thing at night, to commend our souls to God.

And finally, there is the magnificent Office of Readings, at whatever time of day is best for us to reflect on the mystery of salvation, with the help of Scripture and the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

“The purpose of the Divine Office is to sanctify the day and all human activity.”
Apostolic Constitution, Canticum Laudis.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the richest single prayer resource of the Christian Church, with prayers, psalms and readings for each of the Hours, changing each day and through the seasons.

But such riches come at a price. With more than a thousand different Hours every year, the books are thick and using them is complex. So complex that it is rare to find anyone reciting the Hours apart from the clergy and religious. Which is not as it should be. This treasure is too marvellous to be the exclusive possession of our servants:

“The Office is… the prayer not only of the clergy but of the whole People of God.” 

Apostolic Constitution, Canticum Laudis.

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