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The Liturgy of the Hours

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  • The Liturgy of the Hours

    It seems to me that some Christians think the Catholic Church is obsessed with Mary and the Saints and not focussed Jesus. This is a big misconception.

    Liturgies are the official worship and prayer life of the Church, laid down in detail. They are clearly focussed on God and use much scripture.

    'The word "liturgy" originally meant a "public work" or a "service in the name of/on behalf of the people." in Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in "the work of God." Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.' (CCC 1069)

    The most important liturgy is the Mass, but I want to look at another – The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as The Divine Office.

    "The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at certain hours of the day or night. In the Psalms we find expressions like "in the morning I offer you my prayer"; "At midnight I will rise and thank you"; "Evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament"; "Seven times a day I praise you". The Apostles observed the Jewish custom of praying at the third, sixth and ninth hour and at midnight (Acts 10:3, 9; 16:25; etc.). The Christian prayer of that time consisted of almost the same elements as the Jewish: recital or chanting of psalms, reading of the Old Testament, to which were soon added readings of the Gospels, Acts, and epistles, and canticles such as the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Other elements were added later in the course of the centuries."
    (Wikipedia).

    The Divine Office was originally developed for monks, primarily by St. Benedict of Nursia. It is recited regularly by priests and religious. However lay people are also encouraged to pray this, either individually or in groups. There are prayers for morning, before noon, midday, afternoon, evening and at night. There is also the Office of readings which makes up the seven times a day.

    The most important, for laity at least, is Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.

    I go to Mass most morning at a Convent chapel and we all pray Morning Prayer together.

    Here is a brief summary of this morning’s as a typical example:

    Hymn (this morning's was based on Jn 15:1-5)
    Psalm 50(51) “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness…..”
    OT Canticle, Tob 13:8-11, 13-15
    Psalm 147
    Scripture Reading – Gal 2:19b-20
    NT Canticle Lk 1:68-79

    Each psalm or canticle is started and ended with an antiphon which is normally taken from (or based on) the psalm or canticle . For example the antiphon for the first psalm was:
    “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.” (cf vs 12)

    Intercessions. Too long to print them all out but here is the first one:
    (One person reads the intercession and we all respondJ
    Reader: “Christ is the image of the unseen God, the first born of all creation, and the first to be born from the dead. All things are to be reconciled through him because he made peace by his death on the cross.”
    Response: “Lord Jesus, come to us today.”

    Prayer – Our Father…..(Mt 6:9-13)

    Concluding Prayer:
    “Lord God,
    Bestow a full measure of your grace on us
    Who are gathered here in prayer.
    As you work within us
    to keep us in the path of your commandments
    may we receive consolation in this present life
    and eternal joy in the next.
    We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.”

    All very scriptural. All focussed on God
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