One Further Note on the Liturgy of the Hours

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Before I move on from the veritable hotbed of controversy-praying the liturgy of the hours (more comments on this one than I've ever had on any single post before--didn't realize the depth of feeling regarding it) one final note. Yesterday Tom made a distinction between the full Liturgy of the Hours and any other similar system of praying by the hours. I tend to disagree with him on this one as well. I find the Magnificat nearly perfectly suited for a "little hours."

Throughout recent time the Church has produced abbreviated versions of the hours for a variety of reasons. Most popular among these is the "Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Even the Book of Common Prayer has a simplified morning and evening prayer from its earliest editions. I make the assumption that was borrowed from common practice of the time and thus ultimately from Catholic Sources--but that is merely an assumption, I've done no research to document it.

As such, I find the importance of the Liturgy in sanctifying the day. If for whatever reason one finds it difficult to do with the full hours, the point and purpose is certainly laid out in the Magnificat. There you have three full hours in shortened format--Morning, Evening, and Night, as well as a kind of shortened "Office of Readings" in the reading and saint of the day material that appears. I would think that following the format of the Magnificat, while not having the full stature and grandeur of the full Liturgy would certainly serve to sanctify the day with formal prayer of the psalms and scripture after the manner of the Liturgy of the Hours.

After all, I note that Jesus from the cross did not recite the full psalm, but simply prayed it's first line--that being sufficient to convey the intent. So, I would encourage all who can afford to do so and who are receiving the Magnificat, to take full advantage of all that is offered there. Perhaps the stepping stone will lead to fuller participation in the formal Liturgy of the Hours, perhaps not. Nevertheless, it will be a good step. Also recommended for those on the run and on a budget "Shorter Christian Prayer." Derived from the Liturgy of the Hours, but somewhat simplified, without all of the seasonal variations, but including the most important seasonal antiphons.

Regular, formal, "work of the church" prayer is a great step toward making your life more oriented toward God. It need not be wrestling with the four volume (plus if you're a member of religious Order) complete Liturgy, but regular intervals of formal prayer will give you a focus and a support. This works as a mainstay and provides regular fuel for practicing the presence of God.

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To keep the coals glowing: The two nouns in the phrase "Liturgy of the Hours" signify two distinct ideas.

A "Liturgy" is a public prayer of the Church, which is to say a prayer from Christ to the Father publicly offered by the Church.

The "Hours" are different times of the day, all of which are to be sanctified and each of which calls for a somewhat different sort of prayer (e.g., praise in the morning, surrender (or handing over) at night).

The Liturgy of the Hours derives value from both its liturgical and its hourly aspects.

Magnificat offers an excellent and accessible program of "Hours" prayer. Subscribe today!

At the same time, however, Magnificat does not offer the liturgy of the Church. It is not a prayer from Christ to the Father publicly offered by the Church.

(On the other hand, Shorter Christian Prayer does contain the liturgy of the Church -- or, more precisely, part of it.)

From the perspective of personal growth in holiness, I'd say the "Hours" aspect is far more important than the "Liturgy" aspect, at least for layfolk outside religious orders.

Still, the "Liturgy" aspect is by no means a trivial component of the Liturgy of the Hours, and I think it's an aspect deserving more attention than has been given in the years since it was reformed to (among other goals) facilitate lay participation.

Dear Tom,

I think you have articulated it quite well and it well captures the spirit of my intent if not my statement. Thank you.



Perhaps a workable compromise is to pray the Liturgy a few times a week and the Magnifcat the rest. I find I like the idea of praying the Liturgy of the Hours prayed by the entire Church worldwide. It's like being part of a big prayerfest even though one is in the quiet of one's room. Weekends might be a good time and especially Sundays to pray the Liturgy rather than the shorter hours.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 17, 2004 7:44 AM.

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