Monday, June 27, 2011
Mondays with Verbum Domini
The word of God and the Liturgy of the Hours
Among the forms of prayer which emphasize sacred Scripture, the Liturgy of the Hours has an undoubted place. The Synod Fathers called it “a privileged form of hearing the word of God, inasmuch as it brings the faithful into contact with Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church”. Above all, we should reflect on the profound theological and ecclesial dignity of this prayer. “In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church, exercising the priestly office of her Head, offers ‘incessantly’ (1 Th 5:17) to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name (cf. Heb 13:15). This prayer is ‘the voice of a bride speaking to her bridegroom, it is the very prayer that Christ himself, together with his Body, addressed to the Father’”. The Second Vatican Council stated in this regard that “all who take part in this prayer not only fulfil a duty of the Church, but also share in the high honour of the spouse of Christ; for by celebrating the praises of God, they stand before his throne in the name of the Church, their Mother”. The Liturgy of the Hours, as the public prayer of the Church, sets forth the Christian ideal of the sanctification of the entire day, marked by the rhythm of hearing the word of God and praying the Psalms; in this way every activity can find its point of reference in the praise offered to God.
Those who by virtue of their state in life are obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours should carry out this duty faithfully for the benefit of the whole Church. Bishops, priests and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, all of whom have been charged by the Church to celebrate this liturgy, are obliged to pray all the Hours daily. As for the obligation of celebrating this liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the prescriptions of their proper law are to be followed. I also encourage communities of consecrated life to be exemplary in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, and thus to become a point of reference and an inspiration for the spiritual and pastoral life of the whole Church.
The Synod asked that this prayer become more widespread among the People of God, particularly the recitation of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. This could only lead to greater familiarity with the word of God on the part of the faithful. Emphasis should also be placed on the value of the Liturgy of the Hours for the First Vespers of Sundays and Solemnities, particularly in the Eastern Catholic Churches. To this end I recommend that, wherever possible, parishes and religious communities promote this prayer with the participation of the lay faithful.
-Verbum Domini 62