Many people are looking for a reason to get up in the morning. All the usual taskmasters that create the morning blitz have been rendered powerless. Our New York City streets are quiet, buses keep to their routine, though nearly empty, and the cars are few. Unless it is 7:00 PM, there is little human noise, and while we are noting changes, there is far less litter than ever and there are dramatically fewer pigeons around! (The two falcons that have moved to our East Harlem neighborhood only add to the oddness of it all.)
Perhaps this is your experience too: just when you’re getting your stride in your “new normal,” a fresh wave of disbelief washes over you, and you’re stunned again by the state of things in the world and the state of your new life. And, to top it all off, you’re finding it really hard to get up in the morning. It’s not that there aren’t still many important things you must do each day; it’s just that doing them from home, consistently day after day, changes everything.
You need structure. Now is the time for a scheduled rhythm to your prayer life. The Divine Office, also called the Liturgy of the Hours, could remedy the formless meandering of an unstructured day.
Are you aware that the Church is conducting an ongoing concert of praise and intercession for the whole world? This ceaseless praise is a continuation of the heavenly praise that Jesus the High Priest ushered into the world with His Incarnation. This offering of praise is not only done by the celebration of the Eucharist, but also by praying the Divine Office, which is open to everyone.
By ancient tradition, with its roots in Judaism, the Office is devised to make the whole course of the day and the night holy by the praise offered to God. This is the song of the Bride to her Bridegroom.
The Divine Office consists of the praying of the psalms, along with other prayers and readings from Scripture and the Church Fathers and Saints, at intervals throughout the day. Priests are obligated to do this, most religious men and women too, and many lay people have made it a regular part of their lives as well. There are many reasons to take up this official prayer of the Church other than the pressing need we all have for order. Here are some of them:
The Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. You will be praying not only with creative or poetic words, but with the inspired Word of God.
Jesus Himself knew and prayed the psalms during His earthly life.
Our blessed Mother, Mary, and St. Joseph prayed them too; in fact, they would have been Jesus’ first teachers of the Psalms.
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is a way to be united with the universal Church (the Holy Father prays the same Office I do) and to intercede for the world.
When you are listless, uncreative, sad, confused, or otherwise unable to pray, the prayer is provided for you.
In a time when you are unable to attend the Mass, this is a liturgy you can offer anywhere.
The Liturgy of the Hours extends the offering of Mass throughout the whole day.
The readings from the Office familiarize you with inspiring texts from a wide variety of saints and from the earliest centuries of the Church.
Allowing prayer to provide the central structure of your day reverses the tendency to squeeze prayer in around everything else. It sanctifies your day, fulfills the command to “pray always” (1 Thes 5:17), and has the potential to change your outlook on everything.
Giving this worship to God will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
The structure of praying one or more of the Hours (Morning, Evening and/or Night Prayer, for example) brings a sense of order to your day, and order brings peace.
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours with my Sisters five times each day is the primary way I intercede for the world. It is a beautiful legacy entrusted the Church by Jesus our High Priest, and it is a privilege to join into this universal offering of praise.
I hope you will consider joining us!
Mother Clare, CFR
For helpful information on praying the Liturgy of the Hours please see: