Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Reading for Liturgy of the Hours Geeks

Tonight I was researching Church documents in order to answer a question someone had asked me. And once again I was moved by these words of Pope Paul VI in the decree promulgating the revised Divine Office. He calls it:
The hymn of praise (laudis canticum) 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 constand fidelity over many centuries, in a rich variety of forms.

Every time I read those words, my reaction is the same. Something along the lines of "Wow! Is that what's in this book I'm holding? How can I ever take it for granted? What  privilege to pray this way each day! But I've got to be more careful not to let it become mechnical--to pay attention and focus on the riches that are here--please grant it, dear Lord, today and always."

So I was thinking. Do you want to pray during Advent with greater fervor? With a mind and heart open to all the mysteries of the Incarnation that are there for us in the psalms and scriptures of the Liturgy of the Hours? Are morning and evening prayer becoming a little too routine and boring?

Then renew you love for the breviary by reading what Pope Paul VI and the second Vatican Council had to say about them. Read the Apostolic Constitution Promulgating the Divine Office. And read the General Instruction for the Liturgy of the Hours. If you own a four-volume breviary, both of these are found in their entirety in the beginning of volume I, which you've just started last night for Advent.
If you only have the single volume Christian Prayer, or only use a digital app, you will have to go elsewhere.  You can find the General Instruction by hitting the tab at the top of this page. But first read the Apostolic Constituion of Paul VI here.

There is so much in these two documents. You will learn some of the history of the Divine Office and the breviary. You will learn what the psalms mean in the life of the Church. You'll learn how and why the Liturgy of the Hours has been arranged the way it is. You will also learn lots of trivia about rubrics, praying in public vs. private celebrations, and what the precedence is for various solemnities, feasts, memorials, and whatnot. Admittedly, some of it may be a little dull and arcane. But most of it should really deepen your understanding and appreciation of what you are doing when you open up that breviary or app each morning and evening.  

Both documents total around 80 pages. You could read it straight through in an hour or two. Or just read a dozen or so of the numbered paragraphs each day throughout advent. Take my word for it--you will be very glad you did. In fact, once you've done this, let me know and I will designate you as an official Liturgy of the Hours Geek, whose answers to other commenters on this blog will have some actual oomph! behind them.  You could even sign your comments with some faux honorific. Let's see...maybe LhG, since that rhymes with PhD.

Now, dont write and tell me you've read these things years ago. You still have to refresh your knowledge by re-reading this year if you are to receive your LhG from Coffee&Canticle University. Okay?