A lesson in Liturgy of the Hours

January 12, 2009 | prayer

I have mentioned in this space before — perhaps so often that you are all sick of hearing about it — that I have an incredibly hard time praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Truth be told, I just can’t get it. I can handle the Magnificat version, which is extremely abbreviated and requires no flipping of pages, but the real deal, the version that you would pray if you lived in a monastery, well, that’s like a spiritual Rubik’s Cube as far as I’m concerned. I flip back and forth, try to find the right place in Ordinary Time, and get thrown off course by feast days for saints I know nothing about or, heaven forbid, special seasons, like Lent and Advent. Prayer, at least for me, simply cannot be that complicated, so what I’ve done in the past is simply close up my book of Christian Prayer, say something familiar, like an Our Father, and call it a day.

Until now. I had vowed to make 2009 the year I finally learned to pray LOH the right way and without fear. So my friend Bill, who is up visiting our family, sat down with me today and showed me how to run the gauntlet. Then we said Morning Prayer together. I’m not convinced that if I try to say Evening Prayer on my own later today I won’t just get frustrated and default to an old standard instead, but at least now I feel like I’ve got a fighting chance. It would be easy, I think, if I had an opportunity to pray LOH in a community for even one week, to figure it all out, but when you’re on your own and you’re trying to do all the Psalms and antiphons and canticles amid the chaos of family life, it can all get to be a little overwhelming.

So I feel pretty good. We’re only a couple of weeks into 2009 and already I’m chipping away at my plan to learn to pray the Prayer of the Church. Anyone else out there praying the Liturgy of the Hours regularly and at home? Please, tell me how you stay committed and make regular time for this. I can imagine Evening Prayer will be a bit tricky, what with it falling some time around kids finishing homework and me making dinner.



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