One of the beautiful aspects of Holy Mass is that the entire Body of Christ is united as one. Not only are we united through Christ in the Eucharist, but no matter where you are in the world, the same prayers and readings are offered in each and every Catholic Church. We, as the Body of Christ, are united through the communal prayers of the Mass.
But did you know that the Holy Mass is not the only place where the Body of Christ can pray as one? The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is a set of prayers that mark the hours of the day, sanctifying the day with prayer. It is prayed by all priests and religious, but the laity are encouraged to pray it as well, as it is a prayer for the entire Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in Paragraph 1175:
The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God. In it Christ himself “continues his priestly work through his Church.” His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted to the pastoral ministry, because they are called to remain diligent in prayer and the service of the word; religious, by the charism of their consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible. … The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.
During a recent Catechetical Corner on Go Ask Your Father™, Monsignor Stuart Swetland encouraged all listeners to take up the Liturgy of the Hours, saying:
“The Liturgy of the Hours is for all. The laity are not required to pray the Office, but they are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. And when we pray this way we pray as Jesus prayed, because we are praying the Psalms of the Church, the way Jesus as a pious first-century Palestinian Jew would have prayed each and every day. So we are imitating Christ.
I especially encourage the laity to at least pray the Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, if they can. The Office of the Church is a great way of connecting to the Sanctoral Calendar and the Liturgical Calendar of our Church, and to pray along. It is the official prayer of the Church, and it is therefore very efficacious, as the entire community throughout the world prays these same prayers, these same Psalms, these same Canticles together. So I highly encourage it.”
Learn more about the Liturgy of the Hours here and listen to the full Catechetical Corner below: