Friday, September 3, 2010

Praying the Daily Office

Great words of advice when using the Daily Office to pray...
A word of warning. When starting to keep a Daily Office, it may be tempting to think a given office is too complicated or confusing. Let me encourage you to keep at it. It becomes easier over time, for you will learn what’s next as you go through it, and thus it will become a normal part of your life. The main trick is to learn what the structure of an office is. The maintenance of the spiritual life is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.

Finally, it is crucial to be faithful in praying the office. There will be times when you will feel you are not getting anything out of the practice of the Daily Office, or that you are not as focused as you should be. Don’t be too worried about that. There is more going on than meets the eye. Over time you will have found that you have absorbed more than you thought you were. Praying a Daily Office is bound to become routine and at times thoughtless. This is unavoidable. Remain faithful in the practice anyway. You’ll be thankful that you did.
— Br. Martin (from St. Gregory's Abbey)
Read his first article by downloading the #237 - Easter 2009 Abbey Letter.
A relatively new set of offices called The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle has become popular in recent years. This is a three volume set that follows the liturgical year by following the natural seasons (volume 1 is Summertime, volume 2 is Autumn and Winter, volume 3 is Springtime). This set of offices is designed to be used by busy people, and is set up so as to rarely require flipping around within each book. Four offices are provided: Morning Office, Midday Office, Vespers Office, and Compline. Compared to more traditional offices, these are relatively short in duration.

Part of what makes them short is that the complete Psalter is not used, but instead only a judicious and appropriate selection of verses from a given Psalm is used for the office in which it is appointed. Short scripture readings are also provided. The psalms are the Prayer Book psalms, and the lessons are usually from the New Jerusalem Bible.

These are very good books for anyone who is busy but desires to enrich one’s spiritual life by using a daily office. These books would also be a very good place to begin for those who may be interested in starting some form of structured daily prayer. They are user-friendly and nicely printed. Phyllis Tickle has done the Church a great service by making these books available and introducing the custom of praying a daily office to many individuals. —Br. Martin
You can read his latest article here. (pdf)

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