The Divine Office
“In the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours we proclaim God's saving deeds.”
From our Constitutions
The Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office, is the public prayer of the Church. It is an extension of the Eucharistic celebration. Through its celebration, the mystery of Christ permeates and transfigures each time of day. This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to “pray constantly,” is so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God.
The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole people of God. Each person is to participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted to the pastoral ministry, because they are called to remain diligent in prayer and the service of the word; religious, by the charism of their consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible. The laity are encouraged to recite the Divine Office.
The faithful who celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours are united to Christ our High Priest, by the prayer of the Psalms, meditation on the word of God, and canticles and blessings, in order to be joined with his unceasing and universal prayer that gives glory to the Father and implores the gift of the Holy Spirit on the whole world. (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1174-1177, 1196)
The Divine Office is made up of seven sections, or "Hours." Morning Prayer (the Latin name is Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) form a double hinge for the day and are considered the principal Hours. Morning Prayer is celebrated as the light of a new day is dawning and recalls the resurrection of the Lord. Evening Prayer is celebrated when the day is far spent as an evening sacrifice to give thanks for what has been given us, or what we have done well, during the day. The Daytime Hours are broken up into three Hours: Midmorning Prayer, Midday Prayer, and Midafternoon Prayer. Shorter periods of prayer, they constitute a pause in our work to sanctify each part of the day. These Hours are linked to a commemoration of the Lord's Passion and of the first preaching of the Gospel. Night Prayer is the last prayer of the day and is said before retiring. It includes an examination of conscience and a closing hymn to Mary, the Mother of God. The seventh Hour, Office of Readings, may be prayed at any time of the day (in our community, we pray it together with Midmorning Prayer). It consists of two longer Readings, one from Scripture and one from a selection of the Church Doctors and the finest spiritual writers. It seeks to provide God's people with the treasures of revelation and tradition in order to enhance their spiritual lives.
The Sisters praying the Divine Office.
“In the choral Divine Office our solidarity with the whole Church and its activity is tellingly expressed. When we, who are deputed by the Church, worthily render this sublime song of praise, then our prayer is truly the voice of the bride addressing her bridegroom; it is the very prayer which Christ himself, together with his body, addresses to the Father.”
From our Constitutions