Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Liturgy of the Hours

Today, as on any other morning at St. Peter Chanel, the Liturgy of the Hours began at 7:25 AM. The priests began gathering with the laypeople in the back of the church a few minutes before that. I studied the "Saint Joseph Guide for the Liturgy of the Hours", which offered the following cryptic instructions for today:

10. Sat. St. Leo the Great, Po & D (Mem) (1548)
From Com of Pas 1748 or D 1777
OOR 1067, Rd 495 & 1549, Pr 1551
MP from Com, Ps 1072, Ant & Pr 1551; DP 1076
EP I (of Sunday) 1081, Ant & Pr 500; NP 1233

Theoretically, this gave me all I needed to know to find the right place in my breviary at all times.

So we kicked off as usual with the Invitatory on page 613.
Then over to page 1777 for the antiphon.
Psalm 95 is always on page 613.
For the antiphon after each strophe we flipped back to page 1777.
The hymn was taken from the Common of Doctors of the Church on page 1784.
Psalmody came from the Psalter, Saturday of Week III, page 1067.
The first reading and its responsory were found on page 495.
The second reading and its responsory came from the Proper of Saints on page 1549.
Morning Prayer started in the Psalter on page 1072.
The reading came from the Common of Doctors of the Church, on page 1783.
The antiphon came from the Proper of Saints, page 1551.
The Canticle of Zechariah is always found on page 620
We flipped back to page 1551 for the antiphon at the end.
Intercessions came from the Common of Pastors on page 1765
The Prayer was in the Proper of Saints, page 1551.
And at last we snapped our breviaries shut. The whole thing took about twenty-five minutes and a mere twenty or so page flips.

When I was learning how to pray the Hours, I found pages of instructions on the Internet brightly telling me how easy it is, how effortlessly I'd be reciting the Liturgy in very short order. It's all been much simplified since Vatican II, they assured me. Now laypeople can join in, no problem.

It may be true that the Liturgy of the Hours has been greatly simplified, and we do indeed have lots of laypeople joining in. But I'm here to tell you that it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy!

As a side note, today we were commemorating a man who was made Pope, and after his death was declared a Saint, and given the title "the Great", and made a Doctor of the Church. Doctor Pope Saint Leo the Great. His mother must be so proud. :)


Bosco said...

I think you make a very important point. Liturgy only works when it's like old slippers - so we pray & hardly notice what we are using.
I pray from Benedictine Daily Prayer - but suggest it also is not easy for a beginner

I run a spirituality & liturgy website
it has a monastic flavour
I'm increasing resources for the Liturgy of the Hours
it even has a virtual chapel

liturgy said...


I have been working hard to provide a simple introduction for those starting out on praying the Liturgy of the Hours. This is what I have prepared:
I would be happy to receive any constructive suggestions to make this a better starting resource. I will incorporate suggestions if they appear helpful – and if other suggestions don’t say the opposite ☺

Please consider placing a link called “Liturgy of the Hours” or “Liturgy of the Hours (ecumenical)” to

Blessings on your venture