Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Which Hour is Hardest to Do?


Last week's Q&A received more comments than usual. Maybe that's because I started out by listing the types of questions one might ask.  Perhaps this is what prompted to many of you to ask your own questions. Or maybe it was just a coincidence.

Questions answered last week included:
How do the psalms in Magnificat fit in with the Liturgy of the Hours?
Why the shift from calling the hours Lauds and Vespers to calling them Morning and Evening Prayer
How do we handle people who murmur when the length of the readings in their breviaries doesn't match that of the readings in other people's breviaries?
A question about the application of the word "breviary".
A question about praying two or more hours back to back.

So if any of these questions interest you, check it out.

One tangent that a few of us got off on was mentioning which hours were hard to do at the proper time of day, or to remember to do at all. Christopher, Melanie, and I agreed that Evening Prayer was particularly tough. That 4 to 7pm period is busy for any layman, I think. We're either planning/fixing/eating/cleaning up after dinner, and/or trying to get home from work. If one is home with children, those pre-dinner hours tend to see lots of juvenile crankiness, too. All in all, a tough time to pray. Christopher also mentioned difficulty with Night Prayer. It can be tempting to skip it when one is tired. A good reason for doing Night Prayer an hour before bed time instead of the last possible minute before collapsing into bed.

What about the rest of you? Is there an hour that you want to do, but tend to forget/put off/have difficulty praying with attention?

And of course, this is, once again,  weekly Q&A time. Like your teacher used to say, there are no dumb questions. Ask them in the comment box.

Welcome new blog followers Cathy and Shane. I hope Coffee&Canticle encourages you in joining into the great worldwide  symphony of praise known as the Divine Office.


  1. Okay, Daria and anyone else, bear with me. The Divine Office has truly opened my heart even more to God and I love how it comes into my day just as I am needing spiritual renewal. Because funds are short, my mom gave me one of two breviaries she happened to own. The One I have is Christian Prayer published by CBC and copyrighted in 1976. I noticed that for the Office of Reading for Ordinary time it doesn't match up with the iBreviary for the first reading. Last week, for example, when the readings were from Sirach, however, my Christian prayer has no readings from Sirach under Ordinary Time. According to the note on page 1924 it says, "(During this period any book of scripture is appropriate; see listings, p 2067)." I have been using iBreviary for the Office of Readings but am I missing something in my paper and ink Breviary? It's not a really big deal unless I am somewhere without internet access or WiFi.

    As for the most difficult hour, I would have to say when my husband is home, it is every hour. That sounds really terrible but my husband is not Catholic and was raised to believe that all prayer is intensely private. He will just walk up and start talking to me. We're working on it, I realize it is a foreign concept to him, so patience works in my best interest. Aside from that I believe like everyone else said, Evening Prayer is difficult because of how busy those hours tend to be.

    1. Hi Kristen, my husband I have have come up with a way to minimize interruptions while I'm praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I keep a plastic battery tealight in a candle holder next to where I pray and when the tealight is on, my husband knows I'm in the middle of praying and not to interrupt me (unless there's an emergency, of course!). It works great for us and it might work for others, too.

  2. Kristen, This is a very easy question to answer. Christian Prayer does not contain the full Office of Readings, but only a few selections. I believe it has the complete psalms for it, but very few of the readings. (Similarly, they only have two week's worth of daytime prayer rather than the entire four week cycle). The only way to get the complete, correct Office of Readings in hard copy is to buy the 4-volume breviary, which is pretty costly. I advise you to stick with ibreviary for the Office of Readings.

    As for your other problem--a long time ago I decided to see it as part of my vocation to accept interruptions when I was praying the Divine Office. Not only would the kids interrupt, but even my very devout husband would inadvertently start talking to me because he wasn't aware of what I was doing, especially when I use a mobile device. (for all he knows I"m checking email or reading an e-book.) Since I don't want to make him feel bad for interrupting me, and I didn't want the kids to see prayer as something that keeps me away from them, I always stop and answer their questions. If they want me to do something that involved more time, I'd then say, "I'll be with you in just a few minutes." Now that they are all teens or older, they don't deliberately interrupt. But if they do, (thinking I'm reading something rather than praying), I still look up and answer. Usually after a few seconds it occurs to them to notice the breviary in my lap and they'll let me finish!
    I know this approach does not work for everyone, since for many people, interruptions really throw them off such that its hard to get back into it in a prayerful way. And because they really feel the need for those few minutes of uninterrupted quiet. If that's the case with you, I'm sure you're aware of that wonderful Catholic custom of "offering it up"!
    Best wishes, and I'll add your husband's conversion to my rosary intentions today.

  3. I know I am a month too late for your Catholic Digest article deadline, but you may be asked again.


    If you want to help and feel inspired, please add a comment below, answering one of the following "interview" questions:

    -Why do you like the Liturgy of the Hours?

    God is the alpha and the omega. From our perspective alpha occurred some 13-15 billion years ago with the formation of the universe. As creation evolved it praised and thanked god, but, as psalm 19A says “no speech, no word, no voice is heard”. Then creation evolved its voice--humanity. It could, in fact, sing its songs of praise and thanks. These songs grew into a specific stream with a source spring over 3000 years ago in the development of the psalms. Over the centuries the stream of praise and thanks has grown and it will, I presume, carry on to the omega point (Teilhard de Chardin’s phrase). The LOTH allows me to dive in and become a living part of that stream. I am part of a voice offering praise and thanks to God, a stream and voice which he fashioned over the span of billions of years and I can be part of that stream now for eternity. How could I not pray the Liturgy of the Hours?

    -How has it improved your spiritual life?

    As you can see from what I said above it is the very core of my spiritual life. Without it I have no spiritual life, on it I build everything else.

    -What is your favorite liturgical hour and why?

    Matins/Lauds. The day is still crisp. The hour is yet quiet. And so, as psalm 57 says - with lyre and harp I can awake the dawn. “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. I will sing, I will sing your praise. Awake, my soul, awake, lyre and harp. I will awake the dawn.”
    The Liturgy of the Hours is my lyre and my harp.

    -What is your favorite element (psalms, antiphons, readings, etc.) and why?

    The psalms. They are forever giving surprise by way of another new insight (as in the quotation in the previous answer.).

    -How do you manage to fit the liturgical hours into your busy schedule?

    By giving it the priority it deserves.

    -Any special advice or tips to those who are just starting out with the Liturgy of the Hours.

    Start with Compline(Night Prayer) and let it grow as other elements of the LOTH attract you. Compline is the easiest place to start because it rubrics are so simple. The day hours are the next easiest, but I would probably move on to sample the morning prayer of major feasts and/or Sundays to get more of a feel for the LOTH. It will grow over time – a sprout that you will really have no desire to suppress.

    A $2.50 guide book with specific page numbers will be a real help.


    1. Thanks, Patrick. These are lovely remarks. And you're right--I'll probably have more articles to write in the future. I've got everyone's comments on file for just this purpose.

  4. Is there anything we can do in LOH for these pre-Lent Sundays (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sunday)?

    1. I'm not sure I understand the question.Nowadays these are the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays in Ordinary time.(which of course varies year to year depending on the start date of lent) What could we do in the LOH except what is in the breviary for those Sundays? But if you want to go with the Extraordinary Form way of doing things--and there are very good reasons for that--you might want to find an Extraordinary Form online breviary and read that office on the three Sundays in question.
      Although I am happy with the modern liturgical year, I really do like the idea of these three "pre-lent" Sundays, and wish this could have been retained in the new liturgy, both mass and the liturgical hours. But there's nothing to stop us from entering a little into the spirit of these Sundays, perhaps using some time on each of them to reflect on lent and prepare for it: making a careful choice of lenten spiritual reading, plan our penances and fasts, and pray for the strength to carry them out faithfully. I tend to leave these decisions until the day before Ash Wednesday, so I think I"ll try to take my own advice this year and be more mindful of the approach of lent.

    2. Christopher, check out

    3. Michael,
      There are several EF online breviaries. Are you familiar enough with the pros and cons of each one? I've been looking for someone to do a guest post discucssing the merits of each.

    4. Daria,
      I'm only familiar with this one as far as EF goes. I appreciate knowing about others. Thanks.

    5. Off topic but look at this:
      "The public reading of the Law recorded here, with a wooden pulpit built for the purpose, is often regarded as the historical beginnings of the Liturgy of the Word in Judaism and Christianity."
      -John Bergsma

  5. on my part i find it hard to have morning prayer. 5-7 o' clock in the morning is the busiest for me and the time where i'm in most hurry.

  6. Since there is more than one reason to pray the LOTH. I am including another from a more Christological perspective.

    The church is the people of God gathered to celebrate the Risen Christ. The church is, indeed, Christ in his mystical body. These two statements mean that individual members as well as the collective church praying the liturgy do more than use the same words which Jesus used, they are, in fact, Christ at prayer in their own particular place and time. Never have the words “I am not worthy of this honor.” been so correct. Our voice is his. As Luke says (6:15): Jesus “often retired to deserted places to pray.” and, that would include us. Again, how could I not pray the Liturgy of the Hours and, of course, the Eucharist?

    And an additional tip.

    Another possibility is to go the one of the digital LOTH sites, e.g., and, following their lead, locate the various parts of the prayer in your book. After a few times one will get the hang of it and the electronic version is always there as a check that you have figured it out.