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Introducing the Prayer of the Church or LITURGY OF THE HOURS

‘Where two or more are gathered there is Christ’ (Mt 18:20).

“The “Liturgy of the Hours”, also referred to as the “Canonical Hours”, “Breviary”, “Divine Office”, “Morning and Evening Prayer”, are a fabulous form of prayer, belonging to the praying people of God from the time we organised prayer together.  It is the “prayer of the people” and an ancient and deep form of communion with God and each other.  Some of our parish communities recite the Liturgy of the Hours in their churches during the week as part of their community prayer rituals.

Christians borrowed the concept of reciting prayers at various times of the day from the Jewish people who prayed the Psalms together. The Apostles continued this pattern after the death of Jesus and the later followers added new Christian prayers like “the Gloria”, “Magnificat”, the "Lord’s Prayer” and “Benedictus” to what they recited.  By the Fifth Century our Christian church began to develop day-to-day prayers at set times 7 times a day. St Benedict developed this style of prayer further for his monks. This was the prayer of the laity.

Loosely the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours begins with one of our ancient Christian Hymns, then 2 Psalms and a Canticle (a scriptural song), a scripture reading, “The Benedictus” (before noon) or “The Magnificat” (after noon) Prayers of Intercession, “The Lord’s Prayer” and a closing prayer.  

The Liturgy of the Hours, are a wonderful way to connect our time with the passing of the days and seasons. The intercessions remind us that it is God who gives the gifts we have and need.  But always the Liturgy of the Hours calls to us to remember.  Remember the journey we have taken with God, and with Jesus as companion, the journey of faith we continue. The Liturgy of the Hours provides a wonderful way for community to pray together. [Denise Braddon]

Lay people have prayed this prayer since earliest times, although for a while many people think it belongs only to priests and vowed religious. At all times of the day and the night, this prayer is being prayed in many parts of the world, by communities and individuals, blessing the hours of the day and night for the whole world. The psalms of this prayer reflect experiences of anger, pain, despair, sorrow and bewilderment, suffering and evil and the sense of God nearby or seeming to be absent.  This prayer form supports a life of attentive listening to the voice of the Spirit who dwells in us. The whole of life can be transformed into prayer. The readings and prayers of the Hours nourish and strengthen Christian spiritual life and activity.

Those who pray the Hours, join with the entire Church, as ‘Body of Christ’, in a prayer that brings grace and blessing to those who pray and to the world.”

  pdf  Click to download "Lent: Prayer of the Church Week 1 to Easter Sunday" document