The Liturgy of the Hours, part I

10388390_10152511232195962_1462370136_nIt is early in the morning.  The friars and an assembled mass of lay faithful are seated in the choir stalls.  Some look at their watches.  One of the friars flips through a battery of books and looks up at the number board.  He nods ever so slightly and sighs, looking towards the tabernacle.  No one says a word.   Expectation.  Silence.

The prior knocks on the stall twice.

The community rises, and faces the tabernacle.

One of the friars intones, “O Lord, open my lips.”

The community responds, while signing themselves, chanting, “And my mouth shall declare your praise.”



The first time I experienced the Divine Office in its fullness, I found my chin on the marble floor at our House of Studies, the Priory of Saint Albert the Great, in Oakland.  I was mesmerized.  I had never seen anything like it.  What is this and how come I have never seen this before? I thought.  It is a perfectly Catholic way to pray.  Fifty or so friars and a handful of lay faithful engaged in this liturgical ballet of chanting the psalms, reading from Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, reciting prayers of the faithful in an elegant, liturgical English.  But mostly, it was the chanting that had enchanted me.  It is the chanting, really, that still enchants me.

“Seven times a day I praise you…” the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119, and the Church continues to stop and pray throughout the day, also answering St Paul’s urge to pray constantly.


Main Chapel, Priory of St. Albert the Great, Oakland, CA

Over the next few weeks, we will have present a number of posts regarding the Divine Office, more commonly known as the Liturgy of the Hours.  What is the hidden liturgy that sits in the heart of the heart of the Church?  What is this open-secret that all religious and clerics have been sanctioned and blessed to engage with several times a day?  What is this ancient form of prayer in which any baptized member of the faithful may partake?

With joy in my heart, I hope to write several reflections on this part of our parish’s life.  The Liturgy of the Hours is a way of prayer that has sustained me since entering the Order, and will sustain me till my dying breath.  I am so happy to share this gift with you.

In case you would like to partake in Office as we go through these posts, you are welcome to refer to the “Liturgical and Devotional Schedule” tab on the home page.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!


The Liturgy of the Hours, part I — 4 Comments

  1. Fr Isaiah!

    Truly beautiful. I was blessed to “sit in” on the “Devine Office” in France, Germany, and Austria. It is a beautiful way not only to start the day but to begin the evening before sleep.



  2. Hello Fr Isaiah,
    I am a professed Secular Franciscan and one of the officers of the St Francis Fraternity in SF (also a long time St Dominic’s parishioner and liturgical minister). It’s common for Secular Franciscan fraternities , including ours, to pray the Divine Office each time we meet. We have recently been planning on having a presentation on the Liturgy of the Hours so that the members can learn more about it when I came across your Praedicare posting.
    Would you be interested in giving a talk on The Liturgy of the Hours at one of our monthly fraternity meetings? If so, we would be so honored to have you. I recently did a little research online (mostly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church) , but, it would be so much more enriching for the members to hear from someone like yourself who is far more knowledgeable than me, and who’s communal prayer life is centered on this beautiful tradition. The St Francis fraternity meets the first Sunday of every month at 1:30 PM at the Franciscan Room on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin. Blessings, Pat Dolan

  3. The Divinne Office was the first thing that attracted me to become a parishioner here at St Dominich church. My sister cautioned me that i would be addicted to it once I started it . It did!!Now i go almost every morning. I feel that my day would not complete if i missed. so, I would go to the evening prayers to complete it. At almost every time, it makes me feel like I am in heaven and closer to God especially if there is an organist. Thanks God for this church, the dominican friars , brothers and and fellow parishioners for this.

  4. Pingback: Holiness Throughout the Day – The Liturgy of the Hours |

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