I hope you had a good weekend. I look forward to coming together to pray as a parish on the weekend of March 17th-19th for forty hours of prayer and adoration before the Eucharist. I am continuing my previous posts in discussing the schedule and explaining some of the prayers that weekend.
Did you know that all ordained Catholic clergy are required to pray at least five times a day with specific psalms, readings, and prayers designated throughout the Church’s year? Every Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon who is ordained makes a promise to say these prayers daily. However, the laity are greatly encouraged to pray the same prayers. Many parishes have daily morning prayer or pray one of these hours together every day. We hear about a Muslim’s call to pray five times a day but we don’t always know that the Church is encouraged to do the same, and has been from her earliest days.
These prayers are part of the “Liturgy of the Hours” or “Divine Office”. The practice dates back to the earliest centuries in the Church and began in monasteries. The intention is to consecrate every hour of one’s day to the Lord in a very intentional way. Of course, we can do the same by saying our own prayers or doing our own devotions throughout the day, but the Liturgy of the Hours has prescribed psalms, readings, and prayers that every person who participates in the Liturgy of the Hours is praying throughout the world. The advantage of doing the Liturgy of the Hours instead of our own personal prayers is that it allows us to be part of the prayer of the universal Church. It also stretches us to say prayers that encompass the whole of human life and emotions, such as psalms of contrition, psalms of thanksgiving, psalms of joy, and psalms of sorrow. Finally, it allows us to be intentional about praying with the seasons of the Church, so that our reflections and prayers change in Lent compared to Advent compared to Christmas and more.
To learn more about the “Liturgy of the Hours” and about each hour of the day, you can click here.
We will be praying these hours together as a parish during these Forty Hours. The closing of the Forty Hours with the Archbishop is evening prayer. The psalms and texts and readings for that prayer come from the Liturgy of the Hours. We will be praying the same psalms that someone is praying in Europe or Africa or China or South America or beyond. As one example of our great unity as a Church and in prayer, we will likely be praying the same psalms and prayers that a priest or sister or lay person, who is imprisoned for their faith somewhere, might be praying.
Recognizing that these prayers and the general format of the Liturgy of the Hours will be new to almost all of you, we will have booklets for each tI’ve of prayer. You will simply need to follow along and read the text on the booklet provided. Traditionally, people alternate by sides as they pray the psalms. One side of the church will read the first stanza or paragraph, followed by the other side. This will all be explained.
On Friday night, then, we will have our first opportunity with night prayer of the Church at 10:00 PM. This is one of the shortest of the “hours” and will only take about five minutes, which will then be followed by quiet adoration. Perhaps you can challenge yourself to attend at least one of these “hours” of the Liturgy of the Hours, or, if you are available, you could even try to attend all of them during this weekend of prayer and adoration.
We will unveil the full schedule soon, but here is what we have discussed so far, with an accompanying link to describe each event.
Friday, March 17th
7:00 – Living Stations of the Cross by our school students. This is followed by a light reception downstairs hosted by our parish advisory council.
8:00 – Formal Opening of our Forty Hours with Msgr. Callaghan. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a brief presentation by Msgr. Callaghan and quiet adoration.
9:00 – Rosary
10:00 – Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours
Again, we will have the full schedule soon and it will be inserted in the bulletins this weekend.
I hope you have a great week ahead.