“From ancient times the Catholic Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.” – Office of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship.
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office (latin: liturgia horarum) is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings. Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public prayer life of the Church.
The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day: for example, in the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers (Acts 3:1). Psalm 119:164 states: “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”
Following the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church’s Roman Rite simplified the observance of the canonical hours and sought to make them more suited to the needs of today’s apostolate and accessible to the laity, hoping to restore their character as the prayer of the entire Church.
The modern Liturgy of the Hours usage focuses on three major hours and from two to four minor hours:
· Invitatory (not an hour properly called, but the introduction to the first hour said on the current day, whether it be the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer).
· the Office of Readings (formerly Matins), major hour
· Morning prayer (Lauds), major hour
· Daytime prayer, which can be one or all of
· Midmorning prayer (Terce)
· Midday prayer (Sext)
· Midafternoon prayer (None)
· Evening prayer (Vespers), major hour
· Night Prayer (Compline)
For those interested in joining in the prayers of the Church, please look at the following resources on the internet: