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July 08, 2008
50 years with the same companion
By Archbishop John C. Favalora *

By Archbishop John C. Favalora *

Since I will be on vacation for a few weeks, I thought I would yield this space to a series of reflections on the Liturgy of the Hours written by retired Auxiliary Bishop Agustín Román as he marks the 50th anniversary of his priesthood. They already have appeared in La Voz Católica, our monthly Spanish-language newspaper – Archbishop John C. Favalora

 

This year I will be celebrating 50 years of life with the same companion. She has been the first one to speak to me in the morning and the last one to speak to me before I fall asleep at night.

 

Her words so overwhelm me that sometimes they become part of my dreams. Her words encourage me during the day when she whispers phrases that resemble the rays of a lamp whose oil is never exhausted, and stir me back from my many and frequent distractions.

 

She is a companion who remains young despite the years, who rather has been rejuvenated with the passage of time. If she was beautiful when I first received her in 1958, she was more so in 1961 and even more beautiful after 1970.

 

My companion has a first name and a last name. Her first name is “The Liturgy” and her last name is “of the Hours.” June 29, 2008, marked 50 years since the church placed in my hands the treasure of the Liturgy of the Hours, which at the time was called Divine Office or Breviary.

 

Five decades ago, Cardinal Paul Emil Legé, then archbishop of Montreal, Canada, ordained me as a subdeacon in the chapel of the Seminary of Foreign Missions in a picturesque city called Pont Viau. As I received the Liturgy of the Hours, the church was asking me to pray with her every day of my life.

 

She asked us not to forget to lift our hearts in prayer, interceding for the great family of the church so that she would remain a servant, with the Lord, to all men and women, believers and unbelievers alike. She asked us to remember the newborn children and those already departed to the heavenly kingdom.

 

I have always tried to remember, as I hold this book in my hands, those who know the Lord and, especially, those who do not know him, but even more so, those who wrongly reject him.

 

The Liturgy of the Hours has helped me “feel” the communion of saints. I can rightly say that, as I start praying with her every day, I am distracted by thinking about so many who suffer poverty, oppression from totalitarian regimes, disease, and physical and moral tribulations. But I also rejoice with those who smile and know how to enjoy their lives of faith.

 

With the Liturgy of the Hours I roam the world, but not alone. The Lord keeps me company with his divine word, both when I listen to biblical readings, so appropriate to the different liturgical seasons of the year, as when she offers me the psalms so I may speak to him in his own words.

 

That June 29, I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin from the edition of Pope Pius XII. In 1961, when I was expelled from my country into exile and briefly passing through Rome, it was a consolation to be able to acquire the new edition published by Pope John XXIII, which gathered all four volumes into one under the name of “Totum.”

 

With this edition I spent my years in Chile living with the missionaries among the Mapuche Indians. I treasure this well-worn book for the many memories it always brings me of those days of evangelization.

 

In 1970, I received the third edition, published by Pope Paul VI, the precious fruit of the work of Vatican II. I have grown old with the years, but my companion, as I said, has gotten younger, not in content because that is always the same, but in presentation, which makes her so appropriate for prayer at all times.

 

I invite those who do not know the Liturgy of the Hours to become acquainted with her, and discover the treasure she hides which is so helpful in experiencing the catholicity of the church of Christ, where Christ is for all men and all men are for Christ.

 

Thank you, Lord, for this half century in the pleasant company of the Liturgy of the Hours.

 

Printed with permission from Florida Catholic.

Most Rev. John C. Favalora is the archbishop of the archdiocese of Miami, Florida.
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