Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gems from the GILH, part I

As promised last week, I'll start posting little bits of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. The following is from the Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI which precedes the actual Instruction. Its always good to remember that liturgical prayer is not so much "our" prayer as Christ's eternal prayer to the Father, and we have the privilege of joining in as members of His body:

The hymn of praise that is sung through all the ages in the heavenly places and was brought by the high priest, Christ Jesus, into this land of exile has been continued by the Church with constant fidelity over many centuries, in a rich variety of forms. 

The Liturgy of the Hours gradually developed into the prayer of the local church, a prayer offered at regular intervals and in appointed places under the presidency of a priest. It was seen as a kind of necessary complement to the fullness of divine worship that is contained in the eucharistic sacrifice, by means of which that worship might overflow to reach all the hours of daily life. 

Pope Paul then goes on to give a brief summary of the history of the many revisions of the breviary over the centuries, and then explains the intent of the most recent revision during the Second Vatican Council. Of special note is his statement that The Office has been drawn up and arranged in such a way that not only clergy but also religious and indeed laity may participate in it, since it is the prayer of the whole people of God. 

We have the Second Vatican Council to thank for making the Divine Office so accessible.