Updated: Mar 25, 2020
We are living in strange times. I think it is safe to say that very few Catholics in the West would have ever imagined living through a time when they were prohibited from attending Holy Mass. And yet here we are.
Due to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many find themselves quarantined inside their homes and practicing “social distancing” when necessary. Some have been laid off from their jobs. Others are wondering whether or not they will still have a job when all of this is over. I am sure there are many who have cold or flu like symptoms, and are wondering whether or not they are actually experiencing symptoms of the virus. Then there are those who have tested positive or know of others who are infected. Of course, these are mostly physical effects. We cannot forget the emotional and psychological stress that people are under due to social separation, uncertainty of the future, and anxious concern for themselves and others.
Thankfully, many Catholics are seeking to use this time to grow in their faith and remain close to our Lord. There have been many priests who have been willing to livestream their private Masses, Holy Hours, Stations of the Cross, and more. We have read of those priests offering “drive-by” confessions in Church parking lots, offering Eucharistic Adoration from the front steps of their Churches, and doing Eucharistic Processions to pray for deliverance and healing. We must pray that all these efforts may deepen our love for the Lord and our devotion to our Catholic faith during this time of trial.
While all of these are tremendous aids and are certainly lifting the hearts of Catholics all over the world, there is one thing that has been largely missing – the promotion of the Liturgy of the Hours as the prayer of the whole people of God. There are of course some exceptions, namely the recent launch of Keep the Lord’s Day, a wonderful resource for those seeking to honor the third commandment by praying Morning Prayer on Sundays. But other than this and a few casual mentions here and there, the praying the Liturgy of the Hours has largely gone ignored.
The truth is that, while spiritually uplifting, watching a livestream of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or of Eucharistic Adoration cannot make you a participant in the Sacred Liturgy. When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, on the other hand, we are able unite ourselves to the very prayer of Christ himself and help to fulfill the Church’s duty of offering the sacrifice of praise.
This work is so important that it is an indispensible part of the Sacred Liturgy! Which is why the Church teaches that together with the Mass this prayer is “unequaled in its title to power and degree of effectiveness” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). If that is not reason enough to want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and promote it among the faithful (especially in a time like this), below are the TOP TEN REASONS why we believe all Catholics should want to get in on praying the prayer of the Church.
#1 The Liturgy of the Hours is like an extension of the Eucharistic Celebration (CCC, 1178)
#2 Our sanctification is accomplished and worship is offered to God in the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH, 14).
#3 The mystery of Christ celebrated in the Eucharist permeates and transfigures the time of each day through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (CCC, 1174)
#4 By praying the Liturgy of the Hours we can reach all humanity and contribute significantly to the salvation of the whole world (GILH, 27)
#5 In theLiturgy of the Hours, our praise is united to that of Christ along with all the angels and saints in heaven (GILH, 15-16)
#6 The Liturgy of the Hours keeps us rooted in Sacred Scripture, which the Church has always venerated even as she does the Lord’s Body (CCC, 103)
#7 The Liturgy of the Hours consists mostly of praying the Psalms, which have the power to raise our minds to God, fill our minds with holy thoughts, help to give thanks in prosperity, and console us in adversity (GILH, 100)
#8 The Liturgy of the Hours forms us according to the mysteries of Christ celebrated in the Church calendar (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time)
#9 Praying the Liturgy of the Hours allows us to celebrate memorials and feast days of saints, thereby giving us models of faith to love and imitate
#10 Praying the Liturgy of the Hours provides a consecrated rhythm needed to orient our days around prayer or communion with God.
Now, if people haven’t prayed the Liturgy of the Hours before it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you cannot get a book, we recommend one of two apps: Universalis ($11) or iBreviary (free). Both are easy to use and will enable you to get started praying the Liturgy of the Hours right away.
Maybe you already have a single volume Christian Prayer book or the 4 Volume set or plan to purchase them (you can find them on Amazon here and here or on our online store). If that is the case, you can find our Beginner's Guides for each by clicking here. These provide you with a tutorial for setting your ribbons and basic instructions for praying the Liturgy of the Hours.
And remember, this is a public and communal prayer. Pray with family. Pray with your roommates. FaceTime with a friend. Ask your priest to livestream the Liturgy of the Hours before he says Mass. Tune in to our Facebook livestream every morning at 8am for Morning Prayer. Do what you can to pray it with others!
Lastly, if you want to learn more about the Liturgy of the Hours you can visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter, read our blog, listen to our podcast, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. You can even give us a call (814-676-1910)! In short, we want to do everything we can to help get you started and make the Liturgy of the Hours the prayer of the whole people of God.
May the Lord Jesus use this time to give all of us a greater love for the prayer that He offers to the Father together with His Body for the glory of God and the salvation of the world!