The notion on my daily to-do list reads: “D.O. 5:30.” That means, Divine Office, 5:30 p.m.
Most days I say the Divine Office at 5:30. I chose this as my regular time to adhere to every day.
If I’m working at home, I shut down the computer and say the evening office (Vespers) sitting in the living room. If I spent the day in the office in New York, I read the Divine Office on the train on the way home. I have to say I haven’t gotten any weird looks, if anything, mild interest, but I am not concentrating on the reactions of people around me, but savoring each line I read.
The origin of the Divine Office goes back to the time of St. Peter, when religious Jews prayed at fixed times every day. “Seven times a day I have given praise to thee, for the judgements of thy justice.” Psalm 119:164.
The seven offices were orginally established by St. Benedict for his monks. Benedict was born in about 480 A.D. His Rule for Monasteries can to be the one which was most widely kept throughout Christendom for several centuries after his death in 547.
Like many people who pray–or try to pray–the Liturgy of the Hours, I get a little lost without a bunch of patient monks or nuns nearby to follow or learn from. I don’t get discouraged, I just do my best.
I have considered visisting the St. Thomas More House of Prayer to learn from people whose mission it is to promote the Liturgy of the Hours. I think it would also be wonderful to pray the Office with other people, and hope to do this at some point in the coming year.
Both on retreat and vacation in Tucson, Arizona I participated in the Vespers service at the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. It was always the highlight of my stay.
I know this way of prayer is for me. It calms me down, and helps me to be kinder to myself and to others. I don’t understand many things, and certainly don’t approve of all the sexist language, but as Benedict instructs, “Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” I try.
But, I still need help, because I can’t pick up the sequence correctly. I have tried various online sources, but they didn’t work for me.
This morning, though, I may have found the guide I need: The Divine Office for Dodos (Devout, Obedient Disciples of Our Savior): A Step-by-Step Guide to Praying the Liturgy of the Hours by Madeline Pecora Nugent.
A good background to the Divine Office can be found here.
Read about The Divine Office for Dodos here.