Pray with the whole Body!

When we started this blog one of the things that you, our readers, showed interest in is how to live a consecrated life in the world.  I’d like to suggest a very practical way of doing this: pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

The other day one of our postulants told me about a woman she knew who converted from Catholicism to Islam.  This woman was attracted by the beautiful chanting of their prayer.  My heart broke to hear this because we have the same tradition and she probably doesn’t know it!  

A few years ago I spent a summer on the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania.  Ninety-nine percent of the population is Muslim.  In the village where I was staying, their daily prayers were relayed over loudspeakers, so everybody could participate no matter where they were.  In the Islam faith everyone prays at the prescribed hours.  No wonder this woman was attracted by their faith!

In the Catholic faith, we have the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours.  We continued the Jewish practice of praying at certain hours of the day.  Priests, deacons and religious are required to pray the Office.  However, this is the prayer of the Church – the entire Church.  We pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church, especially for those who cannot.  Ideally all of the faithful would pray together this prayer of the Church.  We are meant to be a cohesive body – the Body of Christ.  Praying together is one way of unifying the Church into this one Body.

I would encourage those of you who are able to do so to take up this practice. Lent could be a good time to start.  Morning and Evening prayer are the “hinges” of the day, so if you have a limited schedule, start with praying those hours.

Liturgy is never private.  Find a religious community near you and join them for prayer.  Pray the hours with your family, form a group in your parish to pray Morning Prayer before daily Mass; the possibilities are endless! 

We also have other prayers in the Church which are traditionally prayed at certain hours.  There is the Angelus which is normally prayed at six a.m., noon, and six p.m.  We can also remember the Lord’s passion by stopping at three o’clock to pray the Mercy Chaplet or a short prayer.  What a witness it would be if every Catholic prayed, no matter where they are, at these times.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, says, “… when this [the Liturgy of the Hours] wonderful song of praise is rightly performed by priests and others who are deputed for this purpose by the Church's ordinance, or by the faithful praying together with the priest in the approved form, then it is truly the voice of the bride addressed to her bridegroom; It is the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His body, addresses to the Father” (84).

The Church is beautiful and we need to show the world her beauty!  We are liturgical beings; this is ingrained in our hearts.  The young woman who was attracted to Islam is just one example of this.  If we can show the world who the Church really is – a bride and mother – her Truth, Beauty, and Goodness will attract all people to the Bridegroom.

Find the Liturgy of the Hours online:
http://divineoffice.org/
http://www.ibreviary.org/en/
-Sr. Magdala Marie Clarizio, novice


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2 comments:

  1. I converted from Islam to Catholicism a little more than a year ago (I should to figure out how to change my Google ID name for commenting). I do really miss the beautiful, chanted congregational prayer, and praying together in community, shoulder to shoulder, so I understand what this girl felt she was missing. It is sad she didn't look for beauty in the Eastern Catholic traditions instead.

    Thank you for this reminder about the LotH - it's a practice I have wanted to begin. I'd prefer a group to pray it with - better yet, a religious community that knows how to pray beautifully - but as I'm in little Athens, I may be praying by myself!

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  2. Great article Sister! I try to pray LOTH as much as I can, but often times I miss doing it because of work, or other obligations. my parents used to do it daily when the Franciscans were here, but now we are run by diocesan priests, and the practice is pretty much died off, much to my dismay.

    I do however pray the Angelus at the prescribed times and that is really helped me a lot in my prayer life, and the direction it has taken recently. I have also been interested in the Franciscan crown rosary, or the Seven Sorrows, but haven't really tried them yet. can either one of these be replacement to the traditional rosary?

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