Posts Tagged ‘Liturgy of the Hours’

iPray the iBreviary

I have written about the Public prayer of the Catholic Church here before where I explained what the Liturgy of the Hour or Breviary is,  how it started and who is supposed to pray it. Now I thought I should write a quick post on a couple of Catholic Apps designed for Blackberries and Ipods/Iphones, which are well worth reviewing. 

I first came across the Liturgy of the Hours for Iphones through an Application called ibreviary, which was designed by a Catholic Priest, Don Paolo Pardini, and is really great.

Don Paolo Padrini’s invention , the 1.2 version of the prayer app, has the blessing of the Vatican, is now available in Spanish, French, English and Latin (for those, like the Pope, who want a return to pre-Second Vatican Council days) and a version that follows the  Ambrosian Rite, for the five million Catholics or so in the Milan area. But it has no audio, at least the Latin Version doesn’t, which is the one I am using at this time.

There are a couple of other Applications for the Liturgy of the Hours that do include audio, from church bells to the Psalms sang in a  ‘Monastery or Gregorian Chant style’, as well as the readings of the day. I am totally impressed with the idea, although I recognize that some of the Apps available still need some work. I have downloaded the Divine Office by SurgeWorks, which includes a nice feature that lets you know about other peoploe praying at the same time as you around the world, which somewhat helps emphasize a sense of  ‘communion’ with the greater Church.

The Applications can be downloaded from iTunes:  The iBreviary is free, whilst the  Divine Office by SurgeWorks can be purchased for $US 14.99 or for free for the Compline only. The Lauds or morning prayer costs $US 2.99.

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This morning I could not find my book of prayers with the Liturgy of the Hours to do my morning prayer … I read some Psalms instead and tried to take some time to pray and praise God in the morning, soon after getting up and saying my morning offerings.

I have already posted an entry on the Divine Office here, but today I felt I wanted to write a new post, I think more to remind myself than anyone else, that as a Catholic, I am called to join the greater Church in the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Public Prayer of the Church which, after the Holy Mass, is our most important form of Worshiping the Lord.

Many times I fail to set time aside to recite the Divine office and worship the Lord in the quiet of my mind or with beautiful chants and readings. In the midst of all that goes on in the day, maybe because I am not very good at keeping my schedules or just because I might forget…  May God forgive me for not blessing Him enough.

A rich prayer life is a great remedy for the maladies of the soul. May God help me and all of us to elevate our thoughts to Him at least Seven times a day, as did David. Amen!


 The Liturgy of the Hours

Traditional Roman Breviary

By the end of the fifth century, the Liturgy of the Hours was composed of a Vigil or Night Service and seven day offices, of which Prime and Compline seem to be the last to appear, since the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions VIII, iv, 34 does not mention them in the exhortation: “Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing”.[3]

These eight hours are known by the following names:

  • Matins (during the night), sometimes referred to as Vigils or Nocturns, or in monastic usage the Night Office; in the Breviary of Paul VI it has been replaced by the Office of Readings
  • Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn)
  • Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = 6 a.m.)
  • Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = 9 a.m.)
  • Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = 12 noon)
  • None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = 3 p.m.)
  • Vespers or Evening Prayer (“at the lighting of the lamps”)
  • Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring)

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I think The Prayer of the Hours, The Divine Office or Breviary, is a great Catholic tradition that seems to be going through a ‘revival’ among lay people in  recent days.  As a result, some parishes have (re)-introduced this practice in their community (morning & evening prayer), so people may come to church to say the daily Prayer of the Hours,  and practise a tradition which has been somewhat ‘restricted’ to consecrated religious people and clergy. Many people, however, recite the Divine Office at home with their families.

The Divine Office is the public prayer of the Church. This beautiful Catholic tradition has its roots in the Psalm and ancient daily prayer of the Jewish people, and has developed throughout the history of the Church in monasteries, cathedrals and parishes, in the more present day. The Acts of the Apostles give frequent testimony to the fact that the Christian community prayed with one accord. [See Acts 1:14, 4:24, 12:5 and 12. See also Eph 5:19-21.] The Divine Office used to be prayed in Latin, but in the past 3 decades modern languages have also been introduced by parishes.

So where does this Tradition originate from?

In Psalm 118 (119), a Psalm ascribed to King David, we read: ‘Seven times a day I will praise you’, this originated the tradition of  regularly reciting sets of prayer throughout the day. The Divine office is comprised, therefore, of seven sets of prayers to be recited through the day. These are:

1- Matins or Lauds ( Midnight prayer)
2-Prime ( the name comes from the start of the Roman day, 6 am)
3-Terce (the third Roman hour, 9 am)
4-Sext (the sixth Roman hour, 12 am)
5-None ( the ninth Roman hour, 3 pm)
6- Vesper (evening prayer)
7- Compline ( night prayer)

The chanting of psalms makes up a major portion of each of the hours of prayer. Each of the prayers have a particular theme according to the time of the day they are meant to be prayed, for instance the Morning Prayer is a prayer of praise, consecrating the day to God. It has a strong theme of  ‘Offering our day to God’, whereas the Night Prayer has a theme of thanksgiving.  For instance, the traditional structure of  the Morning prayer is:

First Psalm
Old Testament Canticle
Second Psalm
Scripture Reading
Benedictions ( Gospel Canticle)
Our Father
Concluding Prayer

In this way each of the prayers should follow a particular structure with some varying components. These components may change according to the Calender of the Church or seasons, such as during Lent, Christmas, Eastertide, Solemn Feasts and so on…

Why is the Prayer of the Hour called the Church’s Prayer?

Because the Divine Office is prayed throughout the Church it must follow some very specific rules as to how and when each Psalm should be prayed, where even particular postures (sitting or standing) have to be observed for each specific component of the prayer. But more importantly, the Church establishes the proper themes,  Psalms, canticles and readings for each period or season which are organized in periods of 4 weeks Psalter, which are tied up with the liturgical year of the Church.

The Church’s calendar include, besides the main sections (such as Lent, Eastertide, Advent, and so on), a general 34 weeks every year. Each of these sections has a particular Sunday on which they start – first week of Advent (when the Baptism of Our Lord is celebrated [the first week of the year], first week of Lent and Easter Sunday).  Each of these correspond with the first week of the four-week Psalter. The cycle then repeats itself so that there is always a relationship between the Sunday of the year and the week of the Psalter.

There are various informative websites where one can learn more about reciting the Divine office and using a prayer-book.  Once one gets familiar with the different prayers and learn how to place the various markers for each particular time of the year,  it becomes a great enjoyment to be able to unite with the whole of the Church in prayer to praise God and give Him thanks. I find that reciting the liturgy of the hours has been a wonderful way to enhance my prayer life.

 For further help and info on the Divine Office please check these:






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