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in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

A Guide to the
Liturgy of the Hours

 

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Introduction | Preliminary Remarks: Sections of the LOH, Glory to the Father, Postures, Sign of the Cross, Signs of Reverence, Languages | Complete Instructions

 
OUR LORD Jesus Christ told us to pray constantly (Luke 18:1). The Liturgy of the Hours (or The Divine Office) provides one way to fulfill this obligation in a structured format. Moreover, the mandate of the Liturgy of the Hours applies not only to all bishops and priests, other sacred ministers, and the religious, but also to the laity. But, for the laity especially, without clear and unambiguous instructions, praying the Liturgy of the Hours can be confusing and difficult.

 
Introduction

Actually, everything you need to learn the format of the Liturgy of the Hours can be found in the volumes themselves.

The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH) can be found in Volume I of the four-volume set. It can also be found online: General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The section called the Ordinary in each volume provides complete instructions for the entire office.

Nevertheless, “digesting” all this information can be difficult for someone without a liturgical background, and this fact alone can prevent many persons from learning a beautiful form of Catholic prayer. 

Therefore, on this page I have organized all the information you will need to learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in individual recitation, step-by-step, as simply as possible, with the four-volume set. (The single volume Christian Prayer will follow the same basic format, with simplifications.)

Download a supplement that has
the Gospel Canticles with simple chant tones

 

Everything is really much more simple than it seems. Most of the material on this page is commentary, not instructions, and it is meant to help you understand why and how you must do the “page flipping.” But once you have “walked through it” a couple times and catch on to the basic concepts you will find yourself moving through the Hours with ease and confidence.

It will be essential, however, that you use the St. Joseph Guide for the Liturgy of the Hours (hereafter referred to as SJG), a small booklet that serves the entire calendar year. You should be able to buy the guide in any good Catholic bookstore, or direct from the publisher’s website. It’s available for both the four-volume set and the one-volume Christian Prayer.

The Liturgy of the Hours has been designed to be sung; however, the words recited, said, and sung can be interchanged, and it is allowable, especially in individual recitation, to simply “recite” the hours.

 

Preliminary Remarks

 
Each volume of the Liturgy of the Hours has several basic sections:

The Proper of Seasons is found at the beginning of each volume. It follows a one-year cycle beginning with Advent and progressing through Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, and another period of Ordinary Time. It contains material specific to each day of the current season.
 

A short description of
Liturgical Seasons

 

The Ordinary contains the basic instructions for each celebration: the invitatory, the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer.

The Psalter contains all the basic psalms, readings, and intercessions.

A common-sense guide to
Reading the Psalms

 

Night Prayer follows a simple daily cycle through the week.

The Proper of Saints contains material specific to celebrations of various holy days (memorials, feasts, and solemnities) throughout the year.

The Common of Saints contains material common to celebrations of various kinds of saints: martyrs, pastors, virgins, and so on.

Locate each section of your volume and place a ribbon there to mark the place for daily reference. I keep the ribbons for the Ordinary and Night Prayer fixed, since, when we need to go to those sections we always start at the beginning of them, but I move the other ribbons as I progress through each day of prayer.

Beginners often ask, “How do I know which week of the Psalter we are in?” To find out, just go to the Proper of Seasons and find the Sunday of the current liturgical week (e.g., 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time) and right there it will tell you which Psalter week to use. (If the Sunday of the week is a special solemnity such as Christ the King that does not use the Psalter, then look to the following Monday.)

 
Throughout the Liturgy of the Hours, every psalm and canticle is concluded with the Glory to the Father unless otherwise indicated.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The recitation of each psalm (or canticle) therefore takes this order: antiphon, psalm, Glory to the Father, and antiphon. The psalm-prayer, which is optional, traditionally follows an interval of silence after the repetition of the antiphon at the end of the psalm (GILH 202).

 
Postures during the Office:

All taking part stand (a) during the introduction to the Office and the introductory verses of each hour; (b) during the hymn; (c) during the Gospel Canticle; (d) during the intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer (GILH 263).

All should sit to listen to the readings (GILH 264).

When the psalms and canticles are said, the assembly either sits or stands according to local custom (GILH 265).

In individual, private recitation you may use whatever posture(s) you prefer, including sitting through the entire Office.

 
Making the Sign of the Cross during the Office:

All make the sign of the cross, from forehead to breast and from left shoulder to right (a) at the beginning of the Hours, when God, come to my assistance is being said; (b) at the beginning of the Gospel Canticles of Zechariah, of Mary, and of Simeon (GILH 266).

The sign of the cross is made on the mouth at the beginning of the invitatory, at the words Lord, open my lips (GILH 266).

The sign of the cross can be made at the dismissal/final blessing. (The GILH does not say anything specific about this.)

 
Sign of reverence during the Office:

A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named (e.g., Glory to the Father . . . ), at the name of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor the Liturgy of the Hours is celebrated. (See Ceremonial of Bishops, 68; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 275).

 
Languages during the Office:

Different languages (e.g., English and Latin) may be used for various parts (e.g., saying the Gospel Canticle of Mary [Magnificat] and the Lord’s Prayer [Pater Noster] in Latin) at one and the same celebration. (See GILH 276).

 

Who wrote this web page?

 

COMPLETE INSTRUCTIONS



The Richmond Guide to
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours

 
THIS BOOK has organized all the information you will need to learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours using the four-volume set, step-by-step, as simply as possible. (The single-volume Christian Prayer follows the same basic format, but with simplifications.)

This new second edition contains comprehensive instructions for praying the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer on weekdays, Sundays, Memorials, Feasts, and Solemnities; plus, this edition contains the following material not in the first edition:

Detailed information about how celebrations differ in ordinary time, in Advent, and in the Easter season.

Detailed graphic charts for all of the celebrations as they vary by liturgical season.

“Walk-through” examples to lead you step-by-step through the celebration of a Memorial, a Feast, a Solemnity, and a Sunday in Advent.

5" x 8"  Softcover, 144 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0-9786627-2-1

ISBN-10: 0-9786627-2-5

 

Ordering Information

 

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