Year of Faith and the Liturgy of the Hours

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The Liturgy of the Hours is the constant prayer of the Church. Even if you personally don’t do it, it is constant rhythm of prayer, as people are praying it all around the world every single day at every hour of the day and night. Priests and deacons are obligated (by Canon Law and many teachings of the Church, including the Second Vatican Council documents) to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Religious orders generally have this obligation as well, and pray the Hours in community, usually sung! Every day, the hours are Lauds (Morning Prayer),  the midday prayers (Midmorning, Midday, Midafternoon ), Vespers (Evening Prayer) and Compline (Night Prayer).  Each of these hours contains different psalms, hymns, readings, and intentions. Lauds and Vespers (Morning and Evening) are considered to be the most important, the “hinges” on which the day revolves in prayer. The Office of Readings is also a part of the Liturgy of the Hours. It used to be a part of the first prayer of the day (Matins) even sometimes read in the middle of the night! Now it may be read at any time of the day, and consists of Scripture readings, Church documents (like papal teachings) and writings of the Saints (like homilies from St. John Chrysostom, which are pretty neat).  I recommend giving the Hours a try…if it sounds daunting, start with one, like Night Prayer. You don’t need to buy a whole breviary set… there’s an app for that!

So what is the point? There are people around the world praying constantly, and some who do nothing BUT pray. Why? Prayer is not just asking for what you want, like writing a letter to Santa. We may ask for help, but we also pray in praise of God. The liturgical life of the Church is a constant reminder of our life in Christ, a way of guarding our thoughts, turning our mind, our eyes and our ears towards the things of heaven. It is a way of preparing ourselves for that day when, hopefully, we come to see God face to face, and are joined forever with him in heaven.

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