Friday, April 06, 2012
What is the Liturgy of the Hours?
The Liturgy of the Hours is also called the Divine Office, and is rooted in the Jewish practice of praying the Psalms at various times of the day. The Apostles continued this practice, as is seen in the Acts of the Apostles. For example, "Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour" (Acts 3:1). By the time of the 6th century, a particular weekly schedule of night prayer along with prayers seven times during the day was established that included Psalms, hymns, and passages from the New Testament. This scheme continued into the 20th century until the Second Vatican Council. After the Council, a new simplified scheme was introduced that combined some of the hours, and introduced a new "Office of Readings", which includes extended Biblical readings along with selections from writings from throughout the history of the Church.
The Office of Readings contains many gems from the tradition of the Church, and I am often struck by their beauty and how they so perfectly express important truths of the faith. That's why I am compelled to share some of them in this blog. I hope they will be of some value to some of my readers.
In preparing this post, I read this page on the Liturgy of the Hours from the EWTN web site, and this article from Wikipedia. You can also see the form of the Divine Office using the Universalis web site. It has just about all of the texts, but due to copyright issues, some of them are not in the official translation.