Monday, August 21, 2006

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours

The two central prayer forms of the Church are the Eucharist
and the Liturgy of the Hours. Monday through Friday all are
invited to pray Lauds following the 7:00 am Mass in St. Olaf
Chapel. Lauds is the Morning Prayer hinge of the day (the
other, Evening Prayer) according to the Liturgy of the
Hours/Divine Office. The order of the brief service is:
Invitatory, Hymn, Psalm, Psalm Prayer, Canticle, Psalm,
Psalm Prayer, Scripture Reading, Responsory, Canticle of
Zachary, Intercessions, Concluding Prayer.

From its inception, the Church has felt an instinct for regular
prayer. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours
(GILH) notes how “public and common prayer by the people
of God is rightly considered to be among the primary duties
of the Church.” From the very beginning those who were
baptized ‘devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles
and to the community, to the breaking of the bread, and to
prayer’ (Acts 2:42).

With the appearance of monasticism in the fourth century,
there arose an ongoing problem of seeing daily prayer as
something done only by those with an exceptional devotion
or special calling. Monastic and cathedral (public) Office
developed each with distinct elements. Is daily prayer a
concern of the laity? The Second Vatican Council answered
with a resounding affirmative. The 1970 revised Office
describes itself as “drawn up and arranged in such a way”
that clergy, religious and laity may participate in it, “since it
is the prayer of the whole people of God.”

The full liturgy is the totality of prayer that Christ continues
through His Church on behalf of humankind.
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, CSL) puts it:
“Christ continues His priestly work through the agency
of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising
the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the whole
world. She does this, not only by celebrating the
Eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying
the Divine Office.”

The Liturgy of the Hours thus extends the Eucharistic mystery
throughout the temporal cycle of the year and into each hour
of the day. This public prayer of the Church is more than

private piety. “The purpose of the Liturgy of the Hours is to sanctify
the day and the whole range of human activity” (GILH). The Divine
Office is “the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His
body, addresses to the Father” (CSL). It is the liturgy of Christ
extended through the hours we live.

It seems that each generation must rediscover the excellence of
Christian prayer. This was on the mind of Pope John Paul II when he
looked forward into a new millennium. In the jubilee apostolic letter

Novo Millenio Inuente, he reminded us that “training in holiness calls
for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer” and that
the desire for spirituality is one of the signs of the times.

The resource used for the celebration of Lauds at St. Olaf Church is
Shorter Christian Prayer (Catholic Book Publishing) available at our
St. Patrick’s Guild Store.
by Dr. Lynn Trapp, Director of Worship/Music
from the St Olaf Parish, Minneapolis, Bulletin]

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