Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Divine Office, Part III

boots_small.jpgSee all posts in this series.

The Rosary is not just a prayer, it’s a meditation on the life of Christ. Similarly, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a set of prayers; it is also fruit for meditation.

First, (as I seem to keep saying) the Divine Office is based around the Psalms. I hadn’t really gotten to know the Psalms all that well before I started praying the Office; they are poetry (which is usually not to my taste) (which is a sad commentary on my taste), and poetry needs to be lived with. The Psalms speak of the history of the Israelites and their relationship with God; they are the hymns used in the Temple; they are prayers Jesus would have used growing up, and prayers that (through his mystical body) He uses today. More than that; it is said that the New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament; the Psalms have much to teach us about Jesus.

And then, each Hour on each day has its own ancillary prayers; and Morning and Evening Prayer include detailed intercessions that can help keep us on track, praying for the Church and our brothers and sisters in faith.

And then, the Divine Office leads us through the liturgical year. There are special prayers for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter that take us day by day through each season. It becomes much easier to see how everything fits together once you’ve lived through it with the help of the Divine Office for a few years.

And then, the Divine Office leads us through the calendar of saints. Each saint in the calendar has his own proper prayer; some even have their own selection of Psalms and related prayers. This helps us to remember our own particular favorites, but also introduces us to saints we might never have heard of otherwise. Each one has something to teach us.

I’ve been praying the Divine Office since the spring of 2007. I began with excitement and confusion, especially confusion; and that’s OK. Eventually I learned how to use the printed breviaries properly, and how to know which prayers to use on which days; and then came the iBreviary app, which is what I use now. Some of the Psalms have become old friends. Some days the Liturgy is exciting; most days, it’s a bit of a chore. Some days it’s a real slog. But it means that three times a day, every day, I’m spending time with God.

I’ve spent three posts on the Divine Office, not because I think everybody will want to dive into them—prayer styles differ—but because they’ve worked for me, and because it’s a large topic. These days I’m a Lay Dominican; and praying the Hours is part of the promise I made when I became a Lay Dominican. But I was praying them for several years before that, and promising to continue seems a little like promising to continue eating every day.

  • By karrde, September 23, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    Thanks for the continuing series on the Interior Life.

    It’s been a combination of enlightening and challenging.

  • By Will Duquette, September 23, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

    You’re welcome! I hope it continues to be both. I’ve got at least a few more topics to go through, and I plan to continue as long as I’ve got stuff to say. (With luck, no longer than that.)

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