Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Public Prayer/Personal Prayer: No Conflict, says the Church

Another in our series of excepts from the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. This bit is from Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution which introduces the General Instruction.

It looks like Pope Paul wanted to help priests and religious  to stop looking at the Divine Office as "chore" to be gotten through before they could  go on to personal, private devotions. Rather, the Office could: a. be both "public" and "personal" at the same time, and b. give them plenty of nourishment and wisdom that would in turn inform and expand the rest of their spiritual practices. In addition, he explains why the Office helps all Catholics, laity included, by giving our lives a framework to support everything else that we do in the service of God.

"Because the life of Christ in his mystical body also perfects and elevates for each member of the faithful his own personal life, any conflict between the prayer of the Church and personal prayer must be entirely rejected, and the relationship between them strengthened and enlarged. Mental prayer should draw unlimited nourishment from readings, psalms, and the other parts of the Liturgy of the Hours. The recitation of the Office should be adapted, as far as possible, to the needs of living and personal prayer...If the prayer of the Divine Office becomes genuine personal prayer, the relation between the liturgy and the whole Christian life also becomes clearer. The whole life of the faithful, hour by hour during day and night, is a kind of leitourgia or public service, in which the faithful give themselves over to the ministry of love toward God and men, identifying themselves with the action of Christ, who by his life and self-offering sanctified the life of all mankind.

The Liturgy of the Hours clearly expresses and effectively strengthens this most profound truth, embodied in the Christian life.

For this reason the Hours are recommended to all Christ's faithful members, including those who are not bound by law to their recitation."