Sacrosanctum Concilium 83

Sacrosanctum Concilium devotes Chapter IV, the next nineteen sections to “The Divine Office,” or the Liturgy of the Hours.

Let me preface these next 19 posts by saying the reform of the Office is conceded as one of the big disappointment of the Council, at least in progressive circles. I would concur.

Christ Jesus, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of (hu)mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise.

Christ is the source of the introduction of heaven’s liturgy among believers on Earth. The Liturgy of the Hours is not so much part of the domain of clergy and religious, but the prayer of Christ and of the sainted and angelic believers in heaven.

For he continues His priestly work through the agency of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the whole world. She does this, not only by celebrating the eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying the divine office.

Christ acts as a priest through the celebration of earthly liturgy: the Eucharist, certainly. But also the Hours.

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Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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8 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 83

  1. In what way disappointing?

  2. The people don’t pray it.

  3. TerryC says:

    Not true. I am neither a priest or deacon, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day and have for years.

  4. Gavin says:

    I agree with the author. To so many, (and I have lamented this often), Catholicism is an early Sunday morning and Friday thing. I’d predict (just throwing this out there) that a celebration of any of the hours as a parish would have half the attendance of daily Mass. Not that numbers count more than the benefit of those there, but the attitude of “I’ll only do what I HAVE to do” is what’s bad. Heck, a good way to make sure a member at your church DOESN’T do something is to tell them “you don’t have to do it, but it’d be nice.”

  5. Anne says:

    “”…the attitude of…I’ll only do what I have to do…”

    Part of this is true with some but how do you explain Adoration? People come for that. I have asked “Adoration” people about coming to Evening Prayer and they say it’s just not for them, not their kind of prayer. The reform of the Liturgy of the Hours is definately a reform not yet grasped. IMO it should be a priority to promote this prayer of the whole Church. Catechesis, even among the clergy is needed.

  6. Liam says:

    May I suggest that the translation of the LoHs is part of the problem?

    I have different sets of the books, some from the US and some from the UK, and while the US materials are a bit more ample, the UK materials are often more gracious in layout and translations et cet. The US materials are often very user-hostile.

    For years I tried to acquire the habit of the LOHs but the poor materials just got in the way.

  7. Gavin says:

    Anne, good point about adoration. I think we can at least agree there’s plenty of reasons the LoH hasn’t picked up among the people. I think another one to throw out there is that many people are just too individualistic to desire communal LoH. For me, it would be great if, for example, my parish had Matins between Masses led by laity or monthly Vespers on a Sunday night. A lot of people wouldn’t go for that, however. The popular devotions are probably the rosary, said by one’s self; the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which is said to a tape (so really is one-on-one); and of course Adoration. Not that it’s bad that people desire more personal prayer (is it?), but it seems the idea of communal prayer is just as hot now as it was before Vatican II. As for me, I’m tired of saying both the preces and responses when I do the hours! :(

  8. Liam says:

    I would caution about understanding Adoration as too individualistic: many Catholics have understood for centuries that it was a participation in the adoration with the heavenly court. There are communities in which Adoration is punctuated by the Divine Office (minor and major liturgies of the hours).

    Another problem for many people is that, Easter Vespers aside, the liturgy of the hours has not been as much of a liminal moment for people as the devotions.

    A major unsold opportunity for a liminal moment with the LOHs is the Office for the Dead. Were more votive offices developed, they would also provide the kind of opportunities that laypeople may find resonant.

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