Never ending prayer

As you read this, I can guarantee that thousands of people across the world are praying for you, for the Church and for the world. They are following what we call “The Prayer of the Church”, also known as the “Divine Office”, or as the “Breviary”, from the book that contains it. So what is the Prayer of the Church?

God’s people must be a people of prayer, and there has always been a tradition of continuous prayer, going back to the Temple of Jerusalem. Our ancient welsh Celtic monasteries always had someone praying in their churches. The Prayer of the Church finds its roots more particularly in the prayer life of the monks and nuns in their monasteries, joining together at regular intervals during the day to pray as a community. This has always been in addition to the individual’s prayer time. Over the centuries this custom spread to all clergy and religions. When I was ordained it was one of our promises – to pray with and for the whole church according to the Divine Office. Since Vatican II the whole Church has been encouraged to join in this very special form of prayer. It is part of the official worship of the Church, and so, along with the Mass and the Sacraments, we call it part of our Catholic “liturgy”, and not just a devotion like the Way of the Cross or even the Rosary. In fact, yet another official name for it is the “Liturgy of the Hours”

The Prayer of the Church, in a four week cycle, is centred around the sequence of the psalms, plus hymns, readings and intercessions, and is uniform right across the whole Church. It is broken into five or seven parts throughout the day – the “hours” – with Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer being the main “hinges” as it were.

Morning and Evening Prayer has been prayed in Christ the King before the appropriate Masses for many years. From time to time I am asked if some of it could be prayed in St Brigid’s also. Therefore, on Monday 15th September I will give a short talk on the Prayer of the Church after morning Mass at St Brigid’s, i.e. at approximately 10.00am. It will be about 30-40 minutes and enable us to decide a way forward. Whichever of our 3 Churches you attend, you will be very welcome to join us.

Fr Matthew