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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) for the Rest of Us

June 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Liturgy, Liturgy of the Hours, Prayer

If you're like any number of Catholics, you've heard of the breviary, the Divine Office, and the Liturgy of the Hours. Maybe you've tried your hand 51TlTZ8QrEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Liturgy of the Hoursat an Hour or two. Maybe you've even succeeded.

But maybe, like many of our fellow Catholics, you've failed and given up, coming to the conclusion that those who devote themselves to the Liturgy of the Hours are either insane or much less busy than you are. If this is where you are, I hope you will find encouragement here to re-engage or begin a new adventure into the unceasing prayer of the Church.

Since the beginning of my journey into Catholicism, I have prayed the Hours, and I can assure you that I am neither insane nor idle. What I am is grateful for the tremendous blessings of this daily practice – and how it has drawn me more deeply into the liturgical cycle of the Church. Each morning during any season, I am led through rich history and prayers of the people of God, and hopefully, I am open to allow each element to shape my day as I seek to immerse myself in the rhythm of the Church.

“The opportunity to sanctify time is something we should welcome,” writes Daria Sockey in her just-released book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. “Certainly we all value our time. We are always complaining that we do not have enough of it. We are disappointed with ourselves when we realize we've been wasting it. We marvel at the swiftness of its passing. We cling to our day planners and calendars as to anchors in a storm. So it makes sense to dedicate this valuable commodity – the fleeting hours of morning, noon, evening, and night – to our Creator.”

The challenge of time is a real one. However, once you get used to how to navigate in and through the daily prayers, you will find that the time commitment is really minimal. Even so, as you mature in the Hours and mental prayer, you might find yourself enjoying more time than you had planned. It really is one of the lesser-known treasures of the Church, and those who discover it and persevere past the mechanics rarely leave it behind.

In just over 100 pages, Sockey manages to do what scholars and theologians have tried to do for hundreds of years: She convinces the rest of us that praying the Liturgy of the Hours is neither impossible nor fruitless. She makes a case for it, chapter by chapter, while explaining the history, giving instruction, and even sharing a chuckle or two.

Within the pages of Everyday Catholic, you'll find inspiration and motivation. You'll find the things you probably learned in a class somewhere at some time – yet put into terms that you won't be able to forget. How about the image of Night Prayer as Mary tucking you into bed? Or the encouragement that it's better to pray “badly” than to get into the habit of being “out of habit” with praying the Hours?

Sockey isn't putting on a front or faking it for publication. She's a mom of many, a grandmother, and a struggling pray-er of the Divine Office. She maintains, on page 114, that “by now you know far more about the Liturgy of the Hours than most Catholics do,” and she follows with the admonition, “If you haven't started [praying the Liturgy of the Hours] yet, please start now, before the interest that inspired you to read this book wears off.”

You'll find here a combination of catechesis and prayer aid, with encouragement on the side. It's both a guide and a love story, and belongs on every Catholic's reading list. Pick up your copy, and let the beautiful adventure of the Liturgy of the Hours begin – or begin anew – in your own life.

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey (Servant Books, 2013), 116 pages

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Art for this post: The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey book cover, used with permission. Feature image art: St. Thomas Aquinas centered detail of All Saints The Forerunners Of Christ With Saints And Martyrs, Fra Angelico, 15th century, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • MaryofSharon

    A great tool for those who’d like to start the liturgy of the hours are the beautiful books published by the St. Thomas More House of Prayer in Cranberry, PA. This is a beautiful retreat center in the Allegheny Mountains of western PA, built and run by a wonderful family, specifically for the purpose of promoting the Liturgy of the Hours. Anyone who goes on retreat, whether alone or in a group, participates in the Hours with a helpful leader guiding them in the use of the book. They have published two wonderfully illustrated books that make it really easy to pray Sunday vespers and daily night prayers. They are easily used by even young families. Check out the retreat center and their gift shop at http://www.liturgyofthehours.org/

    • LisaB101

      Marvelous website! I had no idea about this one. I love that it gives the page numbers for each section of Lauds and Vespers. Thank you Mary!

  • Celeste Lovett

    One can pray using this wonderful app tool. There is no need to flip through pages or wonder about if it is being done correctly. There is also a hymn sung for all times of the day and because it provides audio, you may pray along with others. This site also tells you how many people are praying along with you at any given time. It is, most importantly, approved by the church! divineoffice.org

    • Yes divineoffice.org is a great service if you can stomach the use of an electronic device for prayer. I find the temptation to wander over to email much to great.

      • I agree with Dan. While I do have the Office in my mobile, the probability of a text message or e-mail coming through are too high. So I disconnect from media and go the old fashioned way. Nothing like leafing through the Office like the saints and thousands, if not millions, of faithful did in the past. Whether one uses the traditional Breviary (pre-1962), current version or supplement with a religious order’s breviary, the Office is a treasure to anyone seeking union with God.

        The Office is the official prayer of the Church, second only to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If more lay persons joined their hearts and voices in praying the Office – along with the Rosary – I’ve no doubt that we could transform the world.

    • LisaB101

      Celeste, this is a great app tool, but I believe the mobile app does cost money. iBreviary (free) is also good. I’m like Dan, though, and prefer the Christian Prayer book. I don’t want to be any more dependent on technology than I already am…. sigh. However, on occasion I use the Divine Office app to confirm I’m praying the correct prayer as it offers the page numbers in both the Breviary and the Christian Prayer (iBreviary does not as far as I can see.)

      • Becky Ward

        I like the iBreviary app because I can use it in the car, waiting in the doctor’s office, or any other place I find myself waiting to pray hours that I usually can’t.

        • LizEst

          Yeah, the car would be great! Unfortunately, I don’t own the kind of phone that takes apps. In this case, it would be most helpful. The rest of the time, I just take my breviary with me and pray wherever I am, doctor’s office included.

  • LizEst

    I can’t say enough about what a blessing praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been for me. This Prayer of the Church has instructed me in the faith, enlarged my prayer life, expanded my heart, opened my ears to hear God’s Word, and helped anchor me in the vicissitudes of life. I highly, highly recommend it. Daria Sockey’s book is getting rave reviews…it seems, with her instruction, she has made it easier to follow for many. It is worth the effort to make the Hours a part of one’s prayer life. The Lord will richly reward you!

    • Alexandra Arias

      Thanks for the encouragement Liz! — God bless you!

  • Alexandra Arias

    I very recently started praying the Divine Office at the recommendation of a good spiritual friend. I have found that even as a “beginner” of the Divine Office, it’s a beautiful way to feel connected to the Mystical Body of Christ. Thank you for this post Dan!

  • The Liturgy of the Hours prayers are also available on the Laudete app. This app is free and comes with lots other prayers, Catechism, etc. But you need internet access to download the day’s prayers.
    I only pray the Lauds. Hopefully I can learn to pray the others too!

    • Nicholas

      If you know how to pray Lauds, evening prayer should be very easy, since it’s almost the same thing (just a different canticle, really). From what I’ve seen, the apps are great if you’re not sure how to pray the other hours.

  • All my life I used to see the Priests praying the Breviary especially in the late afternoon walking slowly around the Parish Compound or the Convent where I went to School. Yet, it was only in 2004 when I got myself a copy of Volume I of the Divine Office for the Advent and Christmastide Season and began to pray the morning, evening and night prayers. Later I bought Volume II of Lent and Eastertide. I then settled to pray the Morning and Evening Daily Prayers during these two Seasons. Not able to buy the complete new 4-Volume Edition, I have continued to pray during these Seasons. However, I was happy recently to see the Pocket abbreviated Version printed by the Pauline Press which I can afford and I plan to purchase them soon.

    Even though I am unlikely to find Daria Sockey’s Book in our Catholic Bookshop, I have no doubt her Book is a precious Gift from the Holy Spirit to aid us in participating in perpetual Official Prayers with the Universal Catholic Church

  • Southern Catholic

    I purchased Daria’s book as soon as it was available and I found it very helpful. There are a few other books available which provide instructions on the LOTH but I found hers to be the best organized and well explained. She also has a blog called Coffee and Canticles http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/ which she posts on several times a week. Her blog contains great information on the LOTH and readers are encouraged to post questions about how to use the LOTH.

    If you are interested in singing the hymns there is another blog which she recommends called Breviary Hymns http://kpshaw.blogspot.com/

    This blog contains hymns both in Latin and English. Some are chanted in Latin while the hymns in English are played on an organ. Beautiful music.

    • LizEst

      Thanks for your additional comments on the LOTH. It’s good to hear from a satisfied customer! I especially appreciate your link to the Hymns. I do sing the hymns but don’t know all of them, have taught myself a few, put a few to known song meters, and would like to learn more. I think I found that site some time ago on my own…but didn’t bookmark it. You can be sure I will do so this time around. Your link is a godsend! God bless you Southern Catholic.

  • Erin Pascal

    The Liturgy of Hours has helped me in many ways. It strengthened my relationship with the Lord and also my faith in Him. It really helped me a lot. Thank you so much for sharing this post Dan! May God bless you!

  • LizEst

    Sarah Reinhard is giving away a copy of Daria’s book in a raffle. Go here this week to put your name in: http://snoringscholar.com/2013/07/weekly-giveaway/

  • michael

    i want to have a book on liturgy of hours, but how to have?

  • michael

    I am Vietnamese, I know a little English, I wish to have a book on liturgy in English, but I don’t know how to have it. if you can help me. I thank-you very much! now I live in Vietnam. You can sent me a new book or a book used. I am poor. I cannot buy it, but I like it very much! My address is:

    NGUYEN THANH HIEN
    DAN VIEN BIEN DUC THIEN PHUOC
    18 DUONG 7 KHU PHO II, P.TAM BINH
    Q.THU DUC – TP.HCM – VIETNAM
    michaelnguyenthanhhien@gmail.com

    I wish that God give you His graces

    Thank-you!

    In Jesus Christ

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