Ministry Tip of the Week
Twelve years ago, a group of Franciscan Friars taught me how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and this “prayer of the Church” has been a powerful source of grace for me ever since. I work fulltime for a parish and wear countless hats; I’m married with three young children. Obviously, I don’t pray the Hours as ‘religiously’ as those Friars, but I do enter into this great and mysterious dialogue as often as I can.
You can learn more about the beauty of this prayer here:http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdwgilh.htm
What I find most profound about the Hours is the intentional organization of Scripture that permeates the pages. Nearly every word is taken from the Scriptures, and the Church has carefully ordered the various daily readings and Psalms in such a way as to foster a rich and prayerful encounter with the Lord through praying his Word. Monks often chant in choir, but it can just as easily be prayed silently in a bedroom. Even when I’m alone, however, I know I’m truly united to the Church - which fills me with consolation and joy. I think that’s why I hold this prayer above all others (besides the Mass).
If you’re curious but don’t know where to start, here’s a few helpful tips. First of all, pray the words, don’t just say them. It makes all the difference. Second, persevere through dryness. There are times when I feel God’s presence almost instantly as I begin to pray, and other times when the experience is arid and cold. Like all prayer, these dry times remind us that our Faith is based not on feelings but truth. So persevere in Faith and remember the profound reality. Third, get it on your Smartphone if you have one. iBreviary is a free app with an aesthetically pleasing presentation. It comes with you wherever you go, and any time is the right time to unite your prayer with the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours.
However we find ourselves praying the Hours, grace is at work. In my own life, the fruit of this universal devotion has been tremendous. The rhythm keeps me prayerful throughout the day. The Scriptural richness fosters deep meditation on the mystery and Person of Christ. Most powerful of all, I think, is what I rarely experience in a tangible way, namely the communion I enjoy with his Bride, the Church, as I pray it.