The Liturgy of the Hours is no longer intended just for clergy or those in consecrated life. More and more laity are using electronic devices for praying the Hours on their way to and from work. The Hours are available in many convenient formats on one's Desktop, provided each day at http://divineoffice.org. Or, the Hours may be listened to or prayed on one's mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, Android, or Mac at http://divine-office.com.
Spiritual Rewards of Praying the Hours
Praying the Hours nourishes Catholic family life. It brings consolation, courage, and a host of other virtues that sanctify the daily grind.
The faithful are encouraged to pray portions of the Hours, if not the entire cycle. The reader may bristle, objecting that this suggestion can become an undue burden for the average Catholic, busy at home raising children, or for the person working long hours. Here common sense applies. There is no suggestion of shirking one's responsibilities. Still, the rewards of praying the Hours are immeasurable. If a family is convinced that prayer is the underlying power of strong family life, then parents will find ways to incorporate some part of the Hours in their daily schedule. In prayer, married couples derive the strength of God's grace to live their demanding vocation. God's generosity far surpasses ours.
Spiritual Benefits of Praying the Hours
The spiritual benefits of praying the Hours are many.
First, Jesus prayed the psalms contained in the Liturgy of the Hours. When we pray the Hours, we are praying with Christ and putting on Christ.
Second, the psalms are a treasury of human emotions. Praying the psalms supports and guides our emotions permitting their expression within the context of prayer. Our emotions are raised to the level of prayer. The words and expressions of the psalms become ours, and after a short period, the tone and quality of our vocabulary as well.
Third, when we pray the Hours, we unite ourselves with the Catholic Church around the world. While Catholics in the East are praying one Hour, the West is praying another.
Fourth, praying the Hours is an experience in reading profoundly beautiful religious poetry.
Fifth, when we pray the Hours, we are not only praying in ordinary time, but the ordinary is transformed into sacred time.
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The Benedictine rhythm of prayer, work, and rest offers the family a rewarding liturgical life of beauty, piety, and learning.
The practice of praying the Hours should be encouraged at Pre-Cana instructions so that couples will make the Hours an integral part of their married life. In fact, it is recommended that shortly before or after their wedding, they make a week's retreat. It takes three to make a marriage.
A Parish Prays Sunday Vespers
Some years ago when I was visiting the Benedictine Abbey of Chur in Switzerland, the Abbey church was filled to capacity for solemn Vespers on a Sunday evening. From the procession of monks into the sanctuary to the end of the service, the entire Assembly sang the Office of the day with full and enthusiastic voices. This was an indispensable Sunday prayer that took priority over all other activities. One of the monks remarked that the townspeople so loved this liturgy that they were wedded to Sunday Vespers.