Mediator Dei 142-144

More on the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, as many of you know. A basic definition, which doesn’t include the laity:

142. The divine office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, offered to God in the name and on behalf of all Christians, when recited by priests and other ministers of the Church and by religious who are deputed by the Church for this.

Before Vatican II, this would definitely have been seen to be outside the province of lay people.

The mood we bring to the Office:

143. The character and value of the divine office may be gathered from the words recommended by the Church to be said before starting the prayers of the office, namely, that they be said “worthily, with attention and devotion.”

As with the celebration of the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours is a prayer of Christ the Son offered to the Father in which we mortals participate:

144. By assuming human nature, the Divine Word introduced into this earthly exile a hymn which is sung in heaven for all eternity. He unites to Himself the whole human race and with it sings this hymn to the praise of God. As we must humbly recognize that “we know not what we should pray for, as we ought, the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.”[Rom. 8:26] Moreover, through His Spirit in us, Christ entreats the Father, “God could not give a greater gift to (people) . . . [Jesus] prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us as our Head; we pray to Him as our God . . . we recognize in Him our voice and His voice in us . . . He is prayed to as God, He prays under the appearance of a servant; in heaven He is Creator; here, created though not changed, He assumes a created nature which is to be changed and makes us with Him one complete (person), head and body.”[Saint Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 85, n. 1]

Outside of religious orders, this liturgy had more the character of personal devotion. MD 143 says that literally. Though I suppose priests sharing a rectory would “say” it together.

We have a long way to go to recover the Liturgy of the Hours for the whole Church. This would be one abject failure of Vatican II: the inability to capture this fire for the whole Body. *sigh* Another century,  I suppose.

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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