This book is fantasticans. The The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey is a clear, comprehensive and engaging introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office.
The Liturgy of the Hours is the official liturgical prayer of the Church. Priests and religious have to pray it but for the rest of us, it’s this kind of bizarre scary thing — at least it was for me! I was curious so I bought this book on a whim. I wanted to know what’s the whole deal with this Divine Office thingy? How does it actually work? Is it actually praying for a whole hour? And is it for the likes of immature, hyper-distracted me?
Daria answers these and so many more questions with grace and intelligence. Seriously, she nails the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is divided into three parts.
Part One is a basic overview of what the Liturgy of the Hours is, why you should pray it, and what you will need to pray it. (Can I just say praise God for smart phones! In the past, you would have needed to shell out hundreds of dollars to buy the beautifully bound four-set breviary. I mean you still can but now you can access the entire LOTH on your phone with apps like iBrevairy (FREE!), DivineOffice.org ($4-$6), and Universalis ($19.90). Woot!)
Part Two goes deeper into what makes up the Liturgy of the Hours. Our modern Divine Office has seven hours and is designed so that we, the laity, can get in there and pray it too. There is Lauds (Morning Prayer), Terce, Sext and None (which together make up Midday Prayer), Vespers (Evening Prayer), Compline (Night Prayer), and a random one called the Office of Reading which you can pray anytime.
Daria also explains how each “hour” has its own structure and character. She covers what the invitatory psalm is, how to pray the antiphons, and what to do with the intercessions, the psalm prayers, and responsoraries. She also looks at the Hours in the liturgical year and how beautifully linked the Mass of the day is to the Office of the day. (The Church is clever like that!)
Finally, Part Three gets to the heart of any difficulties we may have. By this stage, I was so keen to pray all the Hours every day without fail. (No, really, I was that excited!) Thankfully, Daria calmed me down and gave me tips on how to successfully integrate the Office into my life. (Tip #1: Start with one of the hours, like Compline, and then slowly add more.) She also has advice for really drawing nourishment from the psalms, and not just reciting them. The psalms are indeed a school of prayer — but like any other school, sometimes it takes time getting used to!
The Bible tells us to “sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19). The Liturgy of the Hours offers us a perfect way of doing us, uniting our prayers to the saints of ages past and the whole Church militant as we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Really, I can’t fault this book. Oh wait, I can! I wanted it too keep going!
It’s unusual for me to finish books or read them in their entirety. Once I’ve got the point, I tend to get bored. But Daria Sockey’s The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is one I just wanted to keep going. I felt like I was sitting down and having coffee with the David Attenborough of Prayer.
In short, I thoroughly recommend this book. (FYI, I’ve started praying Compline and I love it!)
Daria Sockey, The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, Franciscan Media, 2013, 131 pages. (Paperback: $12.60, Kindle: $9.35)
[divider] Other Books You Might Like [/divider]
- C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book) ($12.25)
- Michael Barber, Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God’s Kingdom ($10.85)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book Of The Bible ($8.55)