Liturgy of the Hours
1. Introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church and has been a key element in the spiritual life of many of the saints.
Vatican II highly encouraged all Catholics to make this treasure a part of their daily prayer.
2. Free Resources
Thankfully there are many apps available that make it very easy to pray the Liturgy of the Hours easily on our phones, besides offering a lot of other helpful Catholic prayers and readings.
We recommend iBreviary as most of our team finds it the most helpful, but these other options are great as well.
There are many podcasts that allow you to listen to the daily Liturgy of the hours, making it easy to pray while you work or drive, for example. These are available on all the main podcast platforms.
Other good options:
- The Liturgy of the Hours: Sing the Hours
- Liturgy Of The Hours
- Divine Office Liturgy of the Hours The Maine Catholic Guide
3. Get Your Own Printed Copy
4. Learn More about the Liturgy of the Hours
Prayer and Christ’s Mission
The whole point of the Church is to continue Christ’s mission on Earth. When we hear “the Church” we often think of the Pope and bishops, but it’s all of us together who are the Church. Jesus passed on that same mission to each of us, which is nothing less than the salvation of the world. We live that mission first of all through our daily prayer.
The Height of Christian Prayer
We cannot lead an authentically Christian life without making time for prayer each day.
And there are so many devotions and ways to pray: the Rosary, adoration, lectio divina, the examen prayer, etc. They’re all excellent, but two are in a category alone: the Mass, and the Liturgy of the Hours.
In fact, the Rosary was originally given as a substitute for the Hours, for those members of the Church who were unable to read the psalms; the 150 Hail Mary’s of the original 15 decades (before the Luminous Mysteries) representing the 150 Psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Prayer of the Church
The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church, for ALL of us. It is the prayer of the people of God rising in unison throughout the day to raise our minds to heaven and praise our Creator and Redeemer in the timeless words of Sacred Scripture. The revised version of the liturgy of hours has been adapted with lay people in mind, making it more accessible and possible amidst the cares and concerns of everyday life.
It’s such a tragedy that THE official prayer of the Church is almost entirely unknown and removed from most Catholics’ spiritual life. It truly does not have to be that; it’s never been more readily accessible, with books, apps, podcasts, even live streaming of the office that Catholic anywhere in the world can use.
One of the things that makes it so special is that the psalms are at the heart. They were the prayer of the early Church. When Christians got together at each other’s homes and prayed together in the catacombs, this is what they would pray.
This is of course rooted in the fact that the early Church was predominantly Jewish, and the psalms have been the prayer of the Jewish people for millennia. So in praying the psalms, we unite ourselves to all of salvation history. We join our voices with the young Church huddled in the darkness of the catacombs, boldly worshiping God in the candlelight.
The Hours and The Mass
Paul VI said the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours are a “necessary complement.” You can’t have one without the other. The liturgy of the hours prolongs the graces of the Mass and brings them throughout the rest of the day.
In the Mass we live Christ’s sacrifice. In the Eucharist we are present at Calvary and participate in that part of redemption.
In the Liturgy of the Hours, we participate in the prayer of Christ. It is not only our prayer, rather we join in with His prayer for the salvation of the world.
Paul VI said, we continue the prayer of Jesus in time. We become the echo of Jesus’ voice as He prays to the Father.
The Hours in Catholic Life
Bringing this ancient but ever new form of prayer of the Church into our daily lives holds so many benefits and has so much potential to bring us closer to God and make us more mindful of our need for him and our connection to a broader Church, both militant and triumphant.
All of us need a mission greater than ourselves. We have to have something in our lives worth fighting for. We are built to struggle and sacrifice. And that greater purpose is the only way to deal with the suffering life throws at us.
Paraphrasing Paul VI – Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is the greatest act of service or ministry. We become like Christ, taking on His role and action on behalf of all mankind. We offer this concrete moment of our lives for a world trapped in darkness and sin. We offer ourselves for the needs of a broken and wounded Church, for the poor, the lonely, the suffering, and the lost.
The Hours and Our Lady
Mary was a daughter of Israel, and prayed the palms daily like every devout Jew from an early age and throughout her life. She also had the privilege of accompanying Jesus throughout his days, for the 30 years of his hidden life, off and on throughout the 3 years of his public ministry, and especially through the 3 hours of his Crucifiction. She is the ultimate example of a life dedicated to following Christ and allowing him to fill her heart and accompany her days. And in the mystical body of Christ, his Church, we believe that just as the prayer of the Church transcends time and space, history and physical realities, we are in a very real way accompanying Mary in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, as our voices join with hers in praise to God.
Try it Yourself
If the Liturgy of the Hours in some form is not already a part of your daily prayer life, I would urge you to give it a try. Even start with just one of the hours daily, and build from there; each “hour” takes 10-15 minutes, max. Start with one. See how it helps. Watch how turning our mind to God throughout the day slowly orients your life away from your cares and worries and brings your heart and very life closer, always closer, to unity with our Loving God, the goal of our existence and the source of our joy. Give it a chance. You’ll be glad you did.