No, I’m not talking about a new desk and chair with beautiful decor, I’m talking about the Divine Office, a.k.a. the Liturgy of the Hours. From time to time, I would be intrigued by the Divine Office. It seemed so mysterious, so “old” and that really sparked my curiosity. I knew this was something that priests did and by the title “Liturgy of the Hours”, I figured it took a lot of time. I have a bad habit of judging a book by its cover and this cover along with its title intimidated me; plus since I’m not a priest, how weird would it be for me to be praying this thing. Over time, I learned that Religious brothers and sisters also prayed “the Hours” and the title was not about how long they took, but about when they were prayed. (How embarrassing!!) More recently, I’ve started seeing various blogs mentioning and recommending that the laity pray it as well, but I was still intimidated by it and determined that I just didn’t have the time to add yet another prayer to my list. After all, those were some mighty thick books!!
A few weeks ago, Jeff Young, The Catholic Foodie had an episode on his podcast about the Divine Office. This episode was not just about the prayer itself, but about DivineOffice.org. The episode was primarily an interview with the crew of that ministry — Dane, Chriss, Denise and Greg. DivineOffice.org is recording audio of the Liturgy of the Hours “with the purpose of promoting the tradition of praying always through these ancient treasures of the Church, not only to Catholics but to all Christians universally.”
This interview had my headphones glued to my ears. They not only explained how they ended up in this ministry but also explained what this prayer is really all about, and that helped demystify it for me quite a bit. As I implied above, one of my biggest hesitations has always been how much time this employed-full-time-Catechist-by-night-husband-and-father would be able to commit to a prayer that could be lengthy. I honestly never considered the possibility of just praying some of the prayers throughout the day. The crew suggested that one begin with just one of the Hours of the day and grow from there. I had always assumed it was all-or-none. Additionally, the fact that you can pray the Hours together with these fine folks by downloading their recordings or listening to them directly off their site, made this even more of a possibility. One might otherwise feel lost or intimidated on how to pray them correctly. Even though the recordings don’t contain specific instructions, they still almost double as a tutorial of sorts.
So I decided to begin praying the Divine Office. I try to pray the three major hours each day — Office of Readings, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Occasionally, I’ll sneak Night Prayer in before going to bed. These prayers are absolutely beautiful! There is a lot of focus on the psalms and the readings thus far have flowed like stories. This is this a great way to grow in your familiarity with the scriptures overall. I’m starting to have a broadened understanding of salvation history even within the short time since starting this.
Have any of you contemplated trying the Divine Office? If you have and have been scared off or have otherwise delayed doing so, let me strongly recommend that you listen to the interview on The Catholic Foodie, then go over to DivineOffice.org and have a look around. The service is available for free directly through their website, RSS Feed or iTunes podcast. They do have a paid iPhone app, but that is completely optional and not getting it will have no impact to your ability to pray the Hours. (It’s a great app, by the way.) I hope you will consider praying this beautiful prayer of the Church.
Until next time, keep sharing the faith!