Liturgy of the Hours: Prayers for everyone?
Friday, January 21, 2011 by Ruth McDonnell

I am a lay person. For sometime now I have been praying The Catholic Book of Hours (Loyola Press).
I find some of the prayers most unusual. Should I continue this devotion or drop the activity which I understand is for the clergy.
Thank you
Signed, Laurence

Dear Laurence,

The Catholic Book of Hours is an abbreviated book of prayers that is known by its longer form, “The Liturgy of the Hours”, which is recognized as the prayer of the Church. Throughout the world, priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, monastics and lay people use The Liturgy of the Hours” as their regular prayer form either in common or individually. As you say, it is the regular prayer form for clergy, but not isolated to clergy as I mention above. The Liturgy of the Hours finds its roots in the praying of the psalms at regular intervals of the day, often morning, noon, afternoon, and night. The monastic tradition in the Church adopted this pattern of praying the psalms from our brothers and sisters in the Jewish tradition, which of course is the pattern of prayer of Jesus. Through the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council, the text has adapted for our times, providing texts that have allowed communities and lay persons to make this prayer form a part of their prayer experience. The version that you are using is an adaptation of the complete version which can engage the pray-er to use it for their prayer life, in often busy times!

As with any devotion or prayer form, it should lead you into deeper communion with God. As some of the prayers might seem unusual and perhaps not applicable to your day to day experience, it is meant to be a uniting prayer to God. Every hour, for at least 20-30 minutes someone around the world is praying the same psalm as you. We join together in this devotion and praise to God as a unity with the whole pilgrim Church. But use this prayer to bring you into deeper reflection. Allow the words of the psalms and the prayers to enrich what you bring to God through prayer. When Jesus prayed the psalms, he prayed words that were written generations before him, yet their words seeped into his Spirit, and nurtured his soul as his longings and desires for peace, justice and love were expressed from his heart. I pray that for you, this might be a similar experience.

In Christ the Redeemer,

aka. Fr. Santo, C.Ss.R.