That's what the documents of the Second Vatican Council tried to communicate to the faithful; that the Divine Office, now more commonly called the Liturgy of the Hours, was not the exclusive property of clerics, or even of religious but, as the official public prayer of the Church, it belongs to everyone.
These days that is being taken more and more to heart by many in the Church. Last evening, 18 earnest, faithful folks, ranging in age from early 20s to over 80, came to our monastery to be introduced to or to brush up on the Liturgy of the Hours. Their interest spurs us contemplative monastic nuns on in our own apostolate of prayer. And the group included seven men! That's over and third and it is hard to find such a ratio at most religious adult education.
Last night's presentation covered the theology of the Liturgy of the Hours, the trinitarian prayer of the Church to the Father, united with Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. It is the prayer of the whole Church, sanctifying the hours of the day and fulling the priestly office of Jesus Christ in which we participate by virtue of our baptism.The seven sacraments, especially the Eucharist; the observance of the Liturgical year of the Church; and the Liturgy of the Hours comprise the official public worship of the Catholic Church.
Next week we will compare notes on using the Hours during this coming week - the trials, frustrations of using the book and, hopefully, the contribution made to our prayer lives. We will also cover the long history of the Liturgy of the Hours in our Chruch. The last week will also include more encouragement and how-to but also discussion of the Psalms as a particular prayer form.
If you would like to know more; if you would like to consider this time-honored prayer practice for yourself, here are some resources:
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Vatican Council II)
General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours
The Divine Office for Dodos - Nugent, Catholic Book Pub.
The Origins of the Divine Office and Its Meaning for Today by Taft, Collegeville 1986
The Holy See on the Internet for all documents http://www.vatican.va/
****Daily Instructions and whole offices for the Liturgy of Hours http://www.blogger.com/www.universalis.com