The Office aka Liturgy of the Hours
“No man is an island.” We need community. Even God, when we first encounter Him in the Bible says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen 1: 26) Of Course our God is Three Persons and since we, his creatures, are made in His image, we also need others. Hence Eve, but that’s a different story.
There are plenty of times that we pray privately--all day in fact. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” (Jesus prayer) But there are prayers that we pray in community. The Mass is the best example. The Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary can be prayed both privately and in Community. But the Liturgy of the Hours is special because it is prayed all day long, especially by religious communities. So God is consistently being prayed to all day long by someone, somewhere, in the world.
Another great feature of Liturgy of the Hours, is that no matter how one is feeling, because I am praying the Office (Liturgy of the Hours), and the psalms, hymns, prayers, readings, and canticles, of the day and the time, may have the opposite sentiments of my current mood, I can feel comfort in the knowledge that my prayers are helping someone, and others are helping me.
For example, today is a wonderful day. A few days previous were beastly humid. I was not getting a good, solid night’s sleep. That heat wave broke yesterday. Last night I slept wonderfully. I woke up to the birds singing. I also woke up early enough to go to the 7:00 Mass at the Abbey. That’s a blessing. My coffee brewed perfectly. The scale said I lost a couple of pounds. When I opened my Office, I saw Psalm 51. Although I was in a joyous mood and was praising God, I pictured my “cloistered brothers” praying:
Have mercy on me…in Your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me…O purify me, then I shall be clean;…A pure heart create for me, O God,…Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of you Holy Spirit.
See what I mean?
I can join their pleas to God. My joining their lament strengthens the communal bond between myself and them. I help them and they will help me. That’s the beauty of community. That’s the flower of the Liturgy of the Hours.