Liturgical Prayer: United with the Entire Church

Praying handsLast week, this article described the importance of prayer and recommended several types of prayer. This article and the next one will comment on four specific ways to deepen one’s prayer life: increased devotion to the Eucharist; the Liturgy of the Hours; the rosary; and lectio divina, which is a meditative reading of Scriptures.

The Eucharist is, as the Vatican II Council said in its Constitution on the Liturgy, “the source and summit of our faith,” for in the Eucharist is Jesus Himself, as much as He was with us when He walked the earth. And the Mass is the highest liturgy, where Jesus comes to us in that humble appearance of bread and wine.

Particularly during Lent, one could make a special effort to come to daily Mass in addition to Sunday Mass. If the regular 8:30 daily Mass is not feasible due to work, school or the like, one could still attend the Mass on Saturdays or holidays. One could also come early to Mass to be more in the presence of Jesus and read ahead of time the Scriptural readings and prayers for Mass. The readings for the Sunday Masses are available in our missals in church; and the readings and prayers for all Masses are available online at such sites as usccb.org (in the Worship
section), or in publications such as the Magnificatt.

Another liturgy that clergy pray each day is called the Liturgy of the Hours, an organized series of prayers that focus on the psalms and the other hymns and poems in the Bible. The term “hours” here does not mean a 60  minute time, but rather different times during the day that the prayers consecrate. The Liturgy of the Hours includes Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, and the Office of Readings, the latter of which involves longer readings from the Bible, the saints and Church councils. Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. And the Vatican II Council also encouraged the laity to pray this liturgy, which is available either in the full four volumes, with passages for each day, or a simplified
version in what is called The Book of Christian Prayer. It is also available online at such sites as divineoffice.org.

Next week’s article will describe two popular devotions that also enhance our appreciation for the Mother of God and the word of God.