Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

The Prayer of the Church: Christian Prayer

Liturgy of the Hours

Ever thought of deepening your prayer life?  If you answer was “YES”, than have I got something for you!  Before you begin this tutorial, you’ll want to have your own copy of the Christian Prayer. You can find it at amazon.com or any catholic book store.

Christian Prayer: The Prayer of the Church

“Public and common prayer by the people of God is rightly considered to be among the primary duties of the Church.  From the very beginning those who were baptized ‘devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the community, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers’ (cf Acts 2:42)…

“The witness of the early Church teaches us that individual Christians devoted themselves to prayer at fixed times…then the custom soon grew of assigning special times to common prayer…

  • The prince of the apostles ‘went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour’ (Acts 10:9).
  • Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (Acts 3:1).
  • About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God (Acts 16:25).

“This kind of common prayer gradually took shape in the form of an ordered round of Hours.  This Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office, enriched by readings, is principally a prayer of praise and petition.  In fact, it is the PRAYER OF THE CHURCH with Christ and to Christ.” ~General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, chpt 1, excerpts – emphasis added.

What I will provide the reader with is a basic understanding to the use of Christian Prayer in a busy daily life that takes about 15 to 20 minutes at the BEGINNING of their day, and then again in the EVENING, finishing with NIGHT Prayer (only 10 minutes) before going to bed.

For those who wish to incorporate the daytime hours and further readings available for the FULL Liturgy of the Hours, you will want to purchase the St. Joseph’s Guide.

I have used the simplified form since October, 2010, after having returned from a retreat with a local community of Religious Sisters and having my prayer life significantly RENEWED.  I desired, in fact, to re-learn (for I already had some knowledge from back when I was briefly in a Religious Community), how to pray this very special and very important prayer.  So I did what St. Catherine of Sienna did, asked for Our Lord’s help to teach me how to pray.  So He did!


GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS (NOTE: all my references come from the ©1976 publication.  Later published copies might have different page numbers):

Are found in two locations:

  • Under General Principles, pp 34-37
  • Following the Invitatory Psalm 95, pp 689-698
  • Instructions for the Invitatory Psalm are on pp 686-687
    • this includes instructions for during the Liturgical Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.

These are the instructions of what to say before Morning and Evening Prayer (Night Prayer also uses the same formula), and what is proper for the season concerning the readings, the responsory, the Gospel Canticles for both Morning and Evening Prayers, suggested phrases before reciting the Our Father, and appropriate closings for each.

NOTE: when you order your own copy of the Christian Prayer, an insert comes with it that gives you both Gospel Canticles printed on it so that you don’t have to flip back and forth as well as other prayers for the extended version of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Also with each Christian prayer booklet you should receive a collection of 5 colored ribbons that fit nicely within the spine of your book.  These are very necessary to keeping your place within the Christian Prayer; as you will most often flip back and forth between large chunks of pages while you are praying.  I myself also purchased extra set of ribbons at a local Christian Book store to further aid my “keeping track”.

A FEW BASIC DEFINITIONS: as they appear in order

Invitatory – the Invitation to the one praying to enter more deeply into the Heart of God through prayer and is said only BEFORE Morning Prayer

Antiphon – a phrase or verse that emphasizes both the current Liturgical Season AND the context of the preceding psalm

Psalm – A prayer or reflection written by King David (Ps 1-41), King Solomon (Ps 42-72), defeat and exile of Israel (Ps 73-89), during Israel’s exile (Ps 90-106), Israel’s restoration before the coming Messiah (Ps 107-150)

Canticle – A reading From the OT or NT, and usually sung

Reading – taken from the Old Testament OR the New Testament bringing they who pray more fully into the Word of God

Responsory – a further prayer of healing, guidance, and song

Gospel Canticle Antiphon – said before the Gospel Canticle like an “introduction”

Gospel Canticle – The repeating of the words of Zachariah (Morning Prayer), and Mary, Mother of God (Evening Prayer), as both were inspired by the Holy Spirit and sang their praise to God!

Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful) – Prayers lifted up for the Church and the Body of Christ always including those who have died in the friendship of Christ (Evening Prayer)

Closing Prayer – said by all to complete the liturgical hour of prayer

A COUPLE OF EXTRA TERMS:

Ordinary Time: the season BEFORE Advent and Christmas, AFTER Epiphany and BEFORE Easter, and then AFTER Pentecost until Advent arrives again.

Liturgical Seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost.

  • I highly recommend having a Church Calendar on hand so that you can keep track of the Liturgical Seasons and Ordinary Time.
  • Often time these Calendars will color code them to further assist your understanding.

Now that we have the definitions of what is in the Liturgy of the Hours (as found in Morning, Evening, and Night Time Prayer) let us…

SET UP THOSE RIBBONS:

Starting with PURPLE : As you might have guessed, this color is reserved for special Liturgical Times of the year, specifically for Lent and Advent.  And since this writing is done during the Liturgical season of Lent, we’re going to set the purple ribbon on the current day within Lent.

To Find out where you are on the Liturgical Calendar, you’ll need to first – Look at your Church Calendar to find out which Sunday your week is in. Your calendar should say – like it would during this time – First, Second, Third, Fourth, etc… Sunday of Lent.  This gives us the idea of where to begin in the index.

Example: Today, March 24, 2011 – In Lent, the Second Week of Lent (specifically).  If you look in the index you’ll see the Lenten Season begins on pg 255 (©1976, later published copies might have different page numbers).  We are BEFORE Holy Week, pg 255.  When you turn to that page you’re greeted with the prayers for Ash Wednesday. Note the red writing that greets you.

HINT: all writing in red are your help guides within the Christian prayer, and your reference with where the readings and psalms are from.

From here you need to skip ahead until you reach the week of Lent that you are in.  Once there, make sure you go to the current DAY:

EXAMPLE: In this tutorial I’m in the SECOND WEEK of LENT, pg 296, and the current day is THURSDAY, pg 306, so I place my PURPLE ribbon here. You’ll repeat this pattern again when you find your correct Psalter.

Because we’re in a LITURGICAL SEASON outside of ORDINARY TIME, only the readings, responsory, canticle, and intercessions are listed.  The psalms you’ll pray will follow the Week Psalter, found in Red at the top of each Sunday listing.

FOR EXAMPLE: Second Sunday of Lent uses Psalter, Week II

As long as you remember to look at the red text, you’ll always know where to find your Psalms.

FOR EXAMPLE: We found our LITURGICAL page, placed the PURPLE ribbon, and then turned to the Psalter, Week II, and skip ahead (again) to the current day, THURSDAY.  It is here that I place my GREEN ribbon.  I use the GREEN ribbon not only to mark the Psalter week that I’m on, but I also have a SECOND GREEN ribbon used to mark the guides for ORDINARY TIME.  More on that later…

So we have placed PURPLE and GREEN…now on to YELLOW (an easy one)

NEXT RIBBON PLACEMENT:

In the mornings, before praying Morning Prayer, you have an option to pray the Invitatory Psalm 95, pp 688-89.  This is a great Psalm to pray as it reminds the reader to LISTEN to the Voice of God, and WHO God is, and WHY you should listen to HIM.  It is here that the YELLOW ribbon goes.  See? Easy!

NEXT RIBBON PLACEMENT:

During ORDINARY TIME and LITURGICAL SEASONS, there are always SOLEMNITIES that come up or feasts.  Those feasts/SOLEMNITIES are listed by months under PROPER OF THE SAINTS found in your index on pg6.  Find your month (as I write this page, I’m in the month of March), and move to your month’s page.  You see that the pages are ordered by DATE.  For March there are many feasts and a few Solemnities.  Place your RED ribbon on the Solemnity or feast that follows AFTER  your current date.

FOR EXAMPLE: This year the Solemnity of the Annunciation – when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she would become the Mother of God (cf Luke 1: 26-38), comes AFTER my current date, March 24th.  It is found on pg 1114, and began with the Evening Prayer Vigil-

Which means I’ll pray this at Evening Prayer in place of the regular Thursday prayer.

It is here that I placed my first RED ribbon (as I have two, indicated earlier).  For the Evening prayer all the Psalms are present, but for the Morning prayer I need to turn to a different page for my Psalms.  The page of the Feast or Solemnity will list the page number of the Psalms you will use.

Again, if you have a second set of ribbons, you can use the Second RED to mark which Psalms you will need to use – as feast and Solemnities usually have the Antiphons, readings, Canticle Antiphon, intercessions, and closing prayer only.

Now we have placed the RED, YELLOW, GREEN, and PURPLE ribbons.  How about the BLUE ribbon next…

NEXT RIBBON PLACEMENT:

I use the BLUE ribbon to mark Night Prayer, begins with Sunday Vigil (done Saturday Night), pg 1034.  This section will be repeated over and over as this is the ONLY LOCATION for Night Prayer.

Again, find you current day, and place your BLUE ribbon there.

FOR EXAMPLE: I’m on Thursday, so I place my BLUE ribbon on Thursday, Night Prayer, pg 1049.

Night Prayer contains all that you’ll need: your antiphon, your psalm, responsory and then has another Gospel Canticle – this time it is the words of Simeon, who greeted Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus when they brought Him to the Temple for the Presentation in fulfillment of the Law (Luke 2: 29-32).

The only things missing are the Prayers of the Faithful and it has a different ending.  But that’s another page!  The last thing you need to do is recite a closing Antiphon said in honor of the Mother of God, pp 1056 -57.  You have a choice of Latin or English, and it’s here that I place my Second Blue ribbon.

THE LAST RIBBON PLACEMENT:

WHITE:  I highly recommend placing your WHITE ribbon between pgs 706-707.  This is often the Psalm location for psalms prayed on Sundays, Easter, and during Solemnities and recognized Feasts of the Church.  Remember from earlier when I spoke about the Solemnity of the Annunciation ?  The Psalms they used for Morning Prayer began on pg 707…

IMPORTANT!  Most of your ribbons will move with you as you pray.  The ribbons that MOVE, are those in your Morning/Evening Prayer and in the Proper of Saints, and when your in a special Liturgical Season.  If they don’t move, when you return for evening prayer your ribbon will still be in Morning Prayer.

Ribbons that Don’t Move!  Never move the WHITE ribbon, or the YELLOW RIBBON.  These stay FIXED.

MY RULE OF THUMB:  The ribbon begins on the page with the Antiphon and stays there UNTIL I have finished praying that particular psalm.  When I finish with the Glory Be, I move the ribbon to the next Antiphon, keeping my place with my other hand so I can repeat the previous Antiphon (this will make more sense when you read Morning Prayer listed below).

  • When you are in a LITURGICAL SEASON, you must remember to move your ribbon to the next hour of prayer AFTER you have finished praying the Psalms (again, this will make more sense when you begin praying Morning and Evening Prayer)

Okay, your Ribbons are in Place (I hope), and you know where you are in the Liturgical Calendar (I hope), so now let’s walk through one Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Time Prayer!

MORNING PRAYER with or without INVITATORY PSALM

EVENING PRAYER

To Purchase a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours:

Amazon.com
Aquinas & More

To Purchase extra Ribbons for the Liturgy of the Hours:

Aquinas & More

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