Thursday, January 26, 2012

Divine Office help from New Zealand

I just found a Liturgy of the Hours webpage from New Zealand. Father Bosco Peters give some good, basic explanations of the LOTH is, plus some resources and reviews. The page is a recent addition to Father's larger prayer and liturgy website. We can expect more information on this page in the future.
Father Bosco offers some insight that will be helpful to anyone who worries too much over having missed one of the hours that one has committed to, perhaps feeling they have to still do morning prayer in the evening if they did not get to it in the morning. On the contrary: 

 The Liturgy of the Hours, as the Prayer of the Church, and essentially the prayer of Christ (the whole Christ - head and members) is ongoing, and we have the duty and joy of sharing in this prayer whenever possible. When we miss the prayer we can be conscious that the prayer goes on - we do not catch up with it, rather we pick it up again when we can. For those who want to incorporate this insight into their Rule of Life it is helpful to put time limits on when a particular Hour is prayed. If, for example, one's discipline is to pray the primary Hours (Lauds - Morning Prayer, and Vespers - Evening Prayer) one might decide that one does not pray Morning Prayer after a certain time in the morning. If you miss it, you miss it - and pick up the discipline when one next again can.

That's good advice.It brings to mind  two different metaphors of the liturgy. One: as a train or bus with a regular route that loops around and around every day. If I missed the morning train, I get on the evening train. I don't try to get on the morning train during the evening.  Two: the Liturgy is a choir of the Church universal, being sung always on earth and in heaven. I can step in an out of the choir at any time to add my voice to its song. But when I join in the morning, I sing the choir's morning song. When I join in the evening, I sing its evening song. 

Of course, no analogy holds up completely. Because of different time zones, every hour of the liturgy is being sung somewhere on the globe. And this fact was certainly helpful several weeks back when a reader who works the night shift asked about her preference for evening or night prayer when she gets home from work in the early morning, and morning prayer when she wakes up late in the afternoon. It makes sense for her to hop on the "prayer train", or join the "choir" that is going on in India. 


  1. Hello!

    I've recently found your site, and it has been very helpful to me in beginning the Liturgy of the Hours. It's the only place I've been able to find a clear, approachable explanation of how to make sense out of all the pieces! It is, for some reason, difficult to pray the Hours when you're not sure if you're doing it right. At least it is for me! But your website has alleviated those fears. Thank you!

    I'm commenting on this post because I just poked around on the website you link to, and it turns out that Father Bosco Peters isn't actually a Father--he's an Anglican! Perhaps you might wish to add a note.

    1. Hi Reuben,
      You're right, Fr. Peters really is an Anglican. I didn't go any further than the page I linked. With a first name like Bosco, no wonder I hadn't noticed! That being said, everything he says about the Liturgy of the Hours is in accord with the Catholic understanding of it. So I think I'll just leave this post as is, and your comment will be all the proviso that is needed. Lots of Angicans and Episcopalians use the Catholic breviary, and a few of them follow this blog. I think the Liturgy of the Hours is a great place for Christians of other denominations to "meet" and pray with Roman Catholics.

    2. He's a Father all right; many of us Anglicans also call our priests Father, but I know what you're saying here. :)

      We Anglicans have a fine Liturgy of the Hours in our Book of Common Prayer, but many Anglicans (especially Anglo-Catholics) do use the Roman Catholic LotH. As Daria mentions, the Divine Office/LotH is a great opportunity to pray together interdenominationally. I was glad to see Pope Benedict XVI visit Westminster Abbey but was disappointed that it was a specially concocted liturgy rather than the Evensong of the day. Would have been great exposure for the Daily Office and a chance, maybe, for commentators to talk about what this sort of service is and the fact that both Communions have forms of it.