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Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours)

Invitatory, Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daily Prayer, Evening Prayer (Vespers), Night Prayer (Compline) ...

Introduction + Links and Resources

Divine Office Introduction

The Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office, is the Universal Prayer of Holy Mother Church. Prayed by Priests, Consecrated Religious, and Laity alike, the Divine Office is required of Priests, under pain of sin, and often forms the Monastic Day for those living in religious community.

Major parts of the Divine Office including the Invitatory, Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daily Prayer, Evening Prayer (Vespers), and Night Prayer (Compline). If one were to prioritize, priority might be given to Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Office of Readings. Night Prayer is shorter, taking several minutes.

The Liturgy of the Hours is prayed both privately and in groups. Groups divide in two, alternating parts for some portions.

The Divine Office also can have portions that are sung, such as the opening hymns as well as Psalms and prayers. Monks sometimes will divide their community in two and alternate singing parts.

When praying the Divine Office in a group especially, different physical postures are adopted for different portions of prayers, such as bowing for "Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit." Monks praying in their Chapel have additional variations of postures for different parts of the Divine Office.

For Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, some major components include (but are not limited to):
+ God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.
+ Glory Be ...
+ Hymn
+ Psalmody (three Psalm excerpts and short antiphons for each; sometimes an excerpt from Revelations or an Epistle in place of the third Psalm excerpt)
+ Short Scripture Reading
+ Intentions
+ Our Father
+ Concluding Prayer
+ "May the Lord Bless us, Protect us from all evil, and bring us to Everlasting Life."

Heavily Scriptural, the Divine Office includes a journey through all 150 Psalms in the course of completing the Four Week Psalter that forms a backbone of the Liturgy of the Hours. It also includes extensive use of passages from the Gospels, Epistles, Revelations, the Old Testament. In the second reading in the Office of Readings especially, the Liturgy of the Hours also features writings of early Church Fathers, as well as excerpts of writings by other Saints, and on occasion other Church documents such as dogmatic Constitutions relating to specific Solemnities, or excerpts from Vatican II documents.

Abbreviated Christian Prayer is available in one "red-colored" volume. The entire Liturgy of the Hours is a four-volume set, with one volume each for Advent-Christmas Season, Lent-Easter Season, Ordinary Time Volume I, and Ordinary Time Volume II. The Liturgy of the Hours also is featured in the periodical "Magnificat."

In the Washington, D.C., area, or online, one can purchase the four-volume set from the Newman Bookstore at the Saint Paul's College facility to the right of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or, in more limited quantities, at the bookshop in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception a few blocks in the other direction.

Divine Office - Links and Resources

+ Liturgy of the Hours online [partial; link, new window]
[external site ebreviary.com includes daily Night Prayer, full Liturgy of the Hours for Sundays and Fridays, and paid subscription for additional days ...]

+ "The Liturgy of the Hours" — Catechism of the Catholic Church [external link, new window]
"The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God. In it Christ himself "continues his priestly work through his Church. ... The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper 'understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms.'"

+ "General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours" — Congregation For Divine Worship [external link, new window]
"To the different hours of the day the Liturgy of the Hours extends ... praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation, the petitions and the foretaste of Heavenly Glory ... present in the Eucharistic Mystery ... The Liturgy of the Hours is in turn an excellent preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist itself ... it inspires and deepens in a fitting way the dispositions necessary for the fruitful celebration of the eucharist: Faith, Hope, Love, Devotion, and the Spirit of Self-Denial."

Divine Office - Listen Online

+ Listen Online: Morning Prayer
... from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame du Lac (sung and spoken)

+ Listen Online: Evening Prayer (Vespers)
... from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame du Lac (sung and spoken)

- page last modified Sept. 6, 2008 -

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