In the Spring of 2020, we were just beginning to feel the spiritual effects of the COVID lockdowns and restrictions. Churches were closed. People were literally prohibited from attending Mass. Some priests tried to make the best of it, providing the faithful with live-streamed Masses that they could watch from home. Here at the St. Thomas More House of Prayer, we even started live-streaming Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (something that we have continued to offer for those who wish to join us virtually).
Altogether, it was an experience that no one could have ever imagined or predicted. As this was starting to unfold, I noticed that very little was being said about the Liturgy of the Hours and the opportunity that the faithful had during this time to share in the Sacred Liturgy of the Catholic Church through participating in her public and communal prayer. So I wrote a piece titled “Top 10 Reasons to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours (In a Time Like This!)”. We also recorded a podcast episode on this topic.
But now that churches are open again and parish life begins to return to normal, I thought it would be good to revisit these top 10 reasons. After all, regardless of the time or circumstance, the Liturgy of the Hours remains the prayer of the Catholic Church and an indispensible part of her Sacred Liturgy. Together with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is the pearl of great price and the source and summit of our faith. Indeed, it is a “sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).”
So here are the Top 10 Reasons to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours (in all times and circumstances!)...
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 the Liturgy 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
*CCC – Catechism of the Catholic Church
GILH – General Instructions of the Liturgy of the Hours
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, I recommend one of three apps: Universalis ($11) iBreviary (free), or DivineOffice.org (free). Each of these is 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 these at our online store). If that is the case, make sure you check out 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 your family. Pray with friends. Pray with a group of parishioners before or after daily Mass. Ask your priest to celebrate Sunday Vespers in the parish. Tune in to our Facebook livestream Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8am for Morning Prayer and 5:30pm for Evening Prayer. Whatever you do, 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, follow us on Facebook and Instagram,or best of all you can come visit us in person! 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 give us all 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!