by Therese Ivers, JCL
Have you ever wondered what that prayer book priests carry around with them is? Or have you heard about the Liturgy of the Hours, sometimes called the Breviary? It is a 4 volume series containing the official prayer of the Catholic Church. Drawing from the custom of the centuries, it contains the psalms, readings, reflections, and other prayers meant to be prayed at various intervals during the day. There are seven sets of prayers for each day, Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer (mid morning, noon, and afternoon), Evening Prayer, & Night Prayer. Each prayer set runs from 10-25 minutes each if recited, and much longer if sung or chanted.
Although priests and religious are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours daily, the Church strongly recommends that the laity also recite it as much as they can given their circumstances. “The Office has been drawn up and arranged in such a way that not only clergy but also religious and indeed laity may participate in it, since it is the prayer of the whole people of God. People of different callings and circumstances, with their individual needs, were kept in mind, and a variety of ways of celebrating the office has been provided, by means of which the prayer can be adapted to suit the way of life and vocation of different groups using the Liturgy of the Hours” (Apostolic Constitution of Promulgation)
For those who would like to participate in this liturgical prayer of the Church, there are several options. First, you can buy the abbreviated one volume Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours. This has Morning and Evening Prayer for each day as well as Night Prayer. You can also buy the Liturgy of the Hours in its entire 4 volume edition (the year is divided into 4 books). Finally, you may purchase for less than $2.00 an iPhone app, which has been Vatican approved containing the Liturgy of the Hours. Please help to support this website, by purchasing one of these versions and/or guide listed in this post:
The Divine Office for Dodos: A Step-By-Step Guide to Praying the Liturgy of the Hourshelps people learn to pray all the Hours correctly. It has over 90 detailed lessons, according to the official blurb. While I actually learned how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours without a guidebook, this looks like it would be a very helpful tool for someone who wants to learn how to navigate through the different hours with all the ribbons and rubrics on their own without having someone tutor them.
Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (abbreviated edition) has Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer for the entire year.
The Liturgy of the Hours (full edition) comes in 4 volumes. You have a choice of leather or vinyl (each volume in the vinyl edition has its own color; for example, the Lent/Easter volume is red). There is a large print version for the vinyl edition for those prefer large print.
If you are interested in purchasing the Latin version of the Liturgy of the Hours, you may buy a leather or vinyl set at http://www.paxbook.com. They are fairly pricey.
iBreviary is the entire Liturgy of the Hours in English, Latin, and other languages. It is a Vatican approved app for iPhone and at the time of writing costs less than $2.00.