60 – I pray the Divine Office every day. My prayer is Jewish, and I have the Eucharist

One of the significant truths that we learn at primary catechism is that God himself is the Author of Sacred Scripture; and that with the coming of Christ, Holy Mother Catholic Church became the sacred depository of this incomparable treasure. Thus, just as a pen in the hand of a writer, the concrete author of each one of the holy books – David, Moses or Luke, for example – are nothing other than mere instruments in the hand of the Divine writer, God, the only true Author of the Holy Bible. The Church uses portions from these divinely inspired books for the divine worship. This is particularly true of the Psalms, which constitute the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours, within whose inspired verses the Church recognizes the voice of God himself, guiding us in a prayer that pleases Him.

Francis

I pray the Divine Office every day with the Psalms of David. We do the 150 psalms in one week. My prayer is Jewish, and I have the Eucharist, which is Christian. (Interview with La Vanguardia, June 12, 2014English)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of Contents

I – Christ came to perfect the Old Law
II – May Sacred Scripture be interpreted differently than the Church interprets it?
III – The Psalms were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit
IV – The Catholic prayer par excellence
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I – Christ came to perfect the Old Law

Sacred Scripture
– Old things have passed away; new things have come
– Christ declared that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets
– The Lord sang the Psalms after the Last Supper

Saint Augustine
– Our unleavened bread does not contain the leaven of decay

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– The Old Law is like a pedagogue of children; the New Law is the law of perfection
– The New Law fulfils the Old by justifying men through the power of Christ’s Passion, thus giving what the Old Law promised

Saint Augustine
– Why don’t the Jews realize that they have remained stationary in useless antiquity? The spiritual meaning has dawned, the natural action has ceased
– The sacrifice of the Christians is being offered everywhere

Saint Melito of Sardis
– Those things which once had value are today without value: the type lost its significance by surrendering its image

II – May Sacred Scripture be interpreted differently than the Church interprets it?

 

Council of Trent
– The interpretation of Sacred Scripture should be ruled according to the one standard of the Church’s belief

Saint Francis de Sales
– Sacred Scripture is a rule of Christian faith

Pius XII
– The Church has kept Sacred Scripture with all care and defends it from every perverse interpretation

Saint Vincent of Lerins
– The right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Catholic interpretation
– A heretical tendency: to receive novelties of words contrary to the faith of the olden time
– The words of Scripture are appealed to by the devil and his disciples – one must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Opposition to the faith is also unbelief – it arises from the pride of not willing to subject to the sound interpretation of the Fathers

III – The Psalms were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit

John Paul II
– The Christian tradition is not limited to perpetuating Jewish practice – it innovated, using the Psalms in function of Christ’s paschal mystery
– Harmony between the Spirit present in the Scriptures and the Spirit dwelling in the baptized

Leo XIII
– To understand and explain the Psalms: the Holy Spirit’s presence is required

Synod of Bishops
– The Psalms illustrate the divine-human character of Sacred Scripture.

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
– Christ is present when the Church supplicates and sings the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours

IV – The Catholic prayer par excellence

Pius XII
– Pray with the same intention as the Redeemer
– The Divine Office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the hymn that the Divine Word introduced into this earthly exile

Saint Ambrose
– The Psalms are the voice of the Church

Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
– The Liturgy of the Hours: Christocentric and profoundly ecclesial prayer – the Psalms are interpreted by texts of the Fathers, Doctors and Councils

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
– The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of Christ, with his Body to the Father
– The Liturgy of the Hours: a prayer that belongs to the entire body of the Church
– The faith of all of those who participate is nourished, and minds are directed toward God
– In the Hours, the Church sings uniting with the hymn of praise that perpetually resounds in the celestial dwellings

John XXIII
– An atmosphere of Catholicism emanates from the Divine Office

Saint Alphonsus Liguori
– If the Office was recited as it should: the Church wouldn’t be reduced to the present miserable state; sinners would be delivered from slavery to the devil
– And how comes it that a priest offering up many prayers is yet never heard?

I – Christ came to perfect the Old Law

Sacred Scripture

  • Old things have passed away; new things have come

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. (2Cor 5:17)

  • Christ declared that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. (Mt 5:17)

  • The Lord sang the Psalms after the Last Supper

Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mk 14: 26)

Saint Augustine

  • Our unleavened bread does not contain the leaven of decay

First of all, however, this error of theirs must be refuted, that the Books of the Old Testament do not concern us at all, because we observe the new sacraments and no longer preserve the old. For they say to us: ‘What is the reading of the Law and the Prophets doing among you who do not want to follow the precepts contained in them?’ They base their complaint on the fact that we do not circumcise the foreskin of the male, and we eat the flesh of animals which the Law declares unclean, and we do not observe the Sabbath, new moons and their festival days in a purely human way, nor do we offer sacrifice to God with victims of cattle, nor do we celebrate the Pasch as they do with sheep and unleavened bread, nor do we revere the other ancient sacraments which the Apostle classifies under the general expression of shadows of things to come, since at their time they signified events to be revealed which we have accepted and recognized as already revealed, so that with the shadows removed we are enjoying their uncovered light. […] Christ is our Pasch; our unleavened bread is sincerity of truth without the leaven of decay. If there are any other events over which there is no need for delay at this time, events which have been represented by those ancient signs, they have come to an end in Him whose kingdom will be without end. It was necessary, indeed, that all things be fulfilled in Him, who came to fulfill, not to destroy, the Law or the Prophets. (Saint Augustine. Treatise against the Jews, ch.2, no.3)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • The Old Law is like a pedagogue of children; the New Law is the law of perfection

As stated above (q. 90, a. 2; q. 91, a. 4), every law ordains human conduct to some end. […] Accordingly then two laws may be distinguished from one another in two ways. First, through being altogether diverse, from the fact that they are ordained to diverse ends […]Secondly, two laws may be distinguished from one another, through one of them being more closely connected with the end, and the other more remotely […] We must therefore say that, according to the first way, the New Law is not distinct from the Old Law: because they both have the same end, namely, man’s subjection to God; and there is but one God of the New and of the Old Testament, according to Romans 3:30: ‘It is one God that justifieth circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.’ According to the second way, the New Law is distinct from the Old Law: because the Old Law is like a pedagogue of children, as the Apostle says (Gal 3:24), whereas the New Law is the law of perfection, since it is the law of charity, of which the Apostle says (Col 3:14) that it is ‘the bond of perfection.’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 107, a. 1)

  • The New Law fulfils the Old by justifying men through the power of Christ’s Passion, thus giving what the Old Law promised

Now everything perfect fulfils that which is lacking in the imperfect. And accordingly the New Law fulfils the Old by supplying that which was lacking in the Old Law. Now two things of every law is to make men righteous and virtuous, as was stated above (q. 92, q.1): and consequently the end of the Old Law was the justification of men. The Law, however, could not accomplish this: but foreshadowed it by certain ceremonial actions, and promised it in words. And in this respect, the New Law fulfils the Old by justifying men through the power of Christ’s Passion. This is what the Apostle says (Rom 8:3,4): ‘What the Law could not do . . . God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh . . . hath condemned sin in the flesh, that the justification of the Law might be fulfilled in us.’ And in this respect, the New Law gives what the Old Law promised, according to 2Cor. 1:20: ‘Whatever are the promises of God, in Him,’ i.e. in Christ, ‘they are ‘Yea’.’ Again, in this respect, it also fulfils what the Old Law foreshadowed. Hence it is written (Col 2:17) concerning the ceremonial precepts that they were ‘a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ’; in other words, the reality is found in Christ. Wherefore the New Law is called the law of reality; whereas the Old Law is called the law of shadow or of figure. Now Christ fulfilled the precepts of the Old Law both in His works and in His doctrine. […] His doctrine He fulfilled the precepts of the Law in three ways. First, by explaining the true sense of the Law. […] Secondly, Our Lord fulfilled the precepts of the Law by prescribing the safest way of complying with the statutes of the Old Law. […] Thirdly, Our Lord fulfilled the precepts of the Law, by adding some counsels of perfection […] (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 107, a.1)

Saint Augustine

  • Why don’t the Jews realize that they have remained stationary in useless antiquity? The spiritual meaning has dawned, the natural action has ceased

Psalm 79 is likewise entitled: ‘For the things that shall be changed.’ In this psalm among other things is written: ‘look down from heaven, and see, and visit this vineyard: And perfect what your right hand has planted: and upon the son of man whom you have confirmed for yourself. This is the vineyard of which is said: ‘you have brought a vineyard out of Egypt.’ Christ did not plant another; by His coming He changed that one into a better vineyard. Accordingly, we find in the Gospel: ‘He will utterly destroy those evil men, and will let out the vineyard to other vine-dressers.’ The Gospel does not say: ‘He will uproot, and will plant another,’ but, ‘this same vineyard He will let out to other vine-dressers.’ […] This change, certainly having been foretold, is not indicated through the titles of psalms for the understanding few; it is expressed in the unmistaken proclamation of the Prophet. Clearly, a new covenant is promised, not according to that covenant which was made with the people when they were led out of Egypt. Since, then, there are in the Old Testament precepts which we who belong to the New Testament are not compelled to observe, why do not the Jews realize that they have remained stationary in useless antiquity rather than hurl charges against us who hold fast to the new promises, because we do not observe the old? Just as it is written in the Canticle of Canticles: ‘The day has broken, let the shadows retire,’ the spiritual meaning has already dawned, the natural action has already ceased. (Saint Augustine. Treatise against the Jews, ch. 6, nos. 7-8)

  • The sacrifice of the Christians is being offered everywhere

Open your eyes at last, at any time, and see, from the rising of the sun even to its settingnot in one place as established with you, but everywherethe sacrifice of the Christians is being offered; not to any god at all, but to Him who foretold these events, to the God of Israel. (Saint Augustine. Treaty against the Jews, ch. 9, no. 13)

Saint Melito of Sardis

  • Those things which once had value are today without value: the type lost its significance by surrendering its image

For even the Lord’s salvation and his truth were prefigured in the people, and the teaching of the gospel was proclaimed in advance by the law. The people, therefore, became the model for the church, and the law a parabolic sketch. But the gospel became the explanation of the law and its fulfillment, while the church became the storehouse of truth. Therefore, the type had value prior to its realization, and the parable was wonderful prior to its interpretation. This is to say that the people had value before the church came on the scene, and the law was wonderful before the gospel was brought to light. But when the church came on the scene, and the gospel was set forth, the type lost its value by surrendering its significance to the truth, and the law was fulfilled by surrendering its significance to the gospel. Just as the type lost its significance by surrendering its image to that which is true by nature, and as the parable lost its significance by being illumined through the interpretation, So indeed also the law was fulfilled when the gospel was brought to light, and the people lost their significance when the church came on the scene, and the type was destroyed when the Lord appeared. Therefore, those things which once had value are today without value, because the things which have true value have appeared. (Saint Melito of Sardis. On the Passover, Relation Between Old Testament and New Testament, 39-45)

II – May Sacred Scripture be interpreted differently than the Church interprets it?

Council of Trent

  • The interpretation of Sacred Scripture should be ruled according to the one standard of the Church’s belief

We said above, that it has always been the custom of Catholics, and still is, to prove the true faith in these two ways; first by the authority of the Divine Canon, and next by the tradition of the Catholic Church. Not that the Canon alone does not of itself suffice for every question, but seeing that the more part, interpreting the divine words according to their own persuasion, take up various erroneous opinions, it is therefore necessary that the interpretation of divine Scripture should be ruled according to the one standard of the Church’s belief, especially in those articles on which the foundations of all Catholic doctrine rest. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1507. Council of Trent, Session IV, April 8, 1546)

Saint Francis de Sales

  • Sacred Scripture is the rule of Christian faith

Sacred Scripture is in such a way the rule of our Christian faith, that he who does not believe all that it contains, or believes something that in any way contradicts it, is considered an unbeliever. […] But I am wasting time; we are all in agreement about this, and if someone was so irrational as to contradict us, not knowing how to support his own contradiction other than with the Scripture itself, he contradicts himself, before contradicting the Scriptures, by using them at the same time as protesting that he does not wish to use them. (Saint Francis de Sales. Meditations on the Church, Part II, ch. 1, a. 1 (BAC, 1985, p. 171) – Spanish)

Pius XII

  • The Church has kept Sacred Scripture with all care and defends it from every perverse interpretation

Inspired by the Divine Spirit, the Sacred Writers composed those books, which God, in His paternal charity towards the human race, deigned to bestow on them in order ‘to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice: that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work’ (2Tim 3:16-17). This heaven-sent treasure Holy Church considers as the most precious source of doctrine on faith and morals. No wonder therefore that, as she received it intact from the hands of the Apostles, so she kept it with all care, defended it from every false and perverse interpretation and used it diligently as an instrument for securing the eternal salvation of souls, as almost countless documents in every age strikingly bear witness. (Pius XII. Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, no. 1, September 30, 1943)

Saint Vincent of Lerins

  • The right understanding of the prophets should be framed in accordance with the standard of Catholic interpretation

But here some one perhaps will ask: Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. […] Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense ‘Catholic,’ which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors. (Saint Vincent of Lerins. Commonitory, chapter 2, nos. 5-6)

  • A heretical tendency: to receive novelties of words contrary to the faith of the olden time

‘Profane novelties of words.’ What words are these? Such as have nothing sacred, nothing religious, words utterly remote from the inmost sanctuary of the Church which is the temple of God. Profane novelties of words, that is, of doctrines, subjects, opinions, such as are contrary to antiquity and the faith of the olden time. Which if they be received, it follows necessarily that the faith of the blessed fathers is violated either in whole, or at all events in great part; it follows necessarily that all the faithful of all ages, all the saints, the chaste, the continent, the virgins, all the clergy, Deacons and Priests, so many thousands of Confessors, so vast an army of martyrs, such multitudes of cities and of peoples, so many islands, provinces, kings, tribes, kingdoms, nations, in a word, almost the whole earth, incorporated in Christ the Head, through the Catholic faith, have been ignorant for so long a tract of time, have been mistaken, have blasphemed, have not known what to believe, what to confess. ‘Shun profane novelties of words,’ which to receive and follow was never the part of Catholics; of heretics always was. (Saint Vincent of Lerins. Commonitory, ch. 24, nos. 61-62)

  • The words of Scripture are appealed to by the devil and his disciples – one must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church

But it will be said, if the words, the sentiments, the promises of Scripture, are appealed to by the Devil and his disciples, of whom some are false apostles, some false prophets and false teachers, and all without exception heretics, what are Catholics and the sons of Mother Church to do? How are they to distinguish truth from falsehood in the sacred Scriptures? They must be very careful to pursue that course which, in the beginning of this Commonitory, we said that holy and learned men had commended to us, that is to say, they must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic doctrine, in which Catholic and Universal Church, moreover, they must follow universality, antiquity, consent. And if at any time a part opposes itself to the whole, novelty to antiquity, the dissent of one or a few who are in error to the consent of all or at all events of the great majority of Catholics, then they must prefer the soundness of the whole to the corruption of a part; in which same whole they must prefer the religion of antiquity to the profaneness of novelty; and in antiquity itself in like manner, to the temerity of one or of a very few they must prefer, first of all, the general decrees, if such there be, of a Universal Council, or if there be no such, then, what is next best, they must follow the consentient belief of many and great masters. Which rule having been faithfully, soberly, and scrupulously observed, we shall with little difficulty detect the noxious errors of heretics as they arise. (Saint Vincent of Lerins. Commonitory, ch. 27, no. 70)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Opposition to the faith is also unbelief – it arises from the pride of not willing to subject to the sound interpretation of the Fathers

Unbelief may be taken in two ways: first, by way of pure negation, so that a man be called an unbeliever, merely because he has not the faith. Secondly, unbelief may be taken by way of opposition to the faith; in which sense a man refuses to hear the faith, or despises it, according to Is 53:1 Who hath believed our report?’ It is this that completes the notion of unbelief, and it is in this sense that unbelief is a sin. […] Unbelief, in so far as it is a sin, arises from pride, through which man is unwilling to subject his intellect to the rules of faith, and to the sound interpretation of the Fathers. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 45) that ‘presumptuous innovations arise from vainglory.’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 10, a. 1)

III – The Psalms were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit

John Paul II

  • The Christian tradition is not limited to perpetuating Jewish practice – it innovated, using the Psalms in function of Christ’s paschal mystery

The Christian tradition is not limited to perpetuating Jewish practice but made certain innovations which end by giving a different character to the entire prayer experience lived by Jesus’ disciples. In fact, in addition to reciting the Our Father in the morning and evening, the Christians freely chose the Psalms with which to celebrate their daily prayer. Down through history, this process suggested the use of specific Psalms for certain particularly significant moments of faith. […] Christian prayer is born, nourished and develops around the event of faith par excellence: Christ’s paschal mystery. (John Paul II. General Audience, nos. 4-5, April 4, 2001)

  • Harmony between the Spirit present in Scripture and the Spirit dwelling in the baptized

Before beginning the commentary on the individual Psalms and Songs of Praise, let us complete today the introductory reflection which we began in the last catechesis. We will do so by starting with one aspect that is prized by our spiritual tradition: in singing the Psalms, the Christian feels a sort of harmony between the Spirit present in the Scriptures and the Spirit who dwells within him through the grace of Baptism. (John Paul II. General Audience, no. 1, April 4, 2001)

Leo XIII

  • To understand and explain the Psalms: the Holy Spirit’s presence is required

‘Take heed to thyself and to doctrine; be earnest in them. For in doing this thou shah both save thyself and them that hear thee’ (1Tim 4:16). For the saving and for the perfection of ourselves and of others there is at hand the very best of help in the Holy Scriptures, as the Book of Psalms, among others, so constantly insists; but those only will find it who bring to this divine reading not only docility and attention, but also piety and an innocent life. For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance, which in many instances are most difficult and obscure. To understand and explain such things there is always required the ‘coming’(S. Jer. in Mic. I, 10.) of the same Holy Spirit; that is to say, His light and His grace; and these, as the Royal Psalmist so frequently insists, are to be sought by humble prayer and guarded by holiness of life. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, no. 5, November 18, 1893)

Synod of Bishops

  • The Psalms illustrate the divine-human character of Sacred Scripture.

Though deeply important for the entire Church, the Liturgy of the Hours has particular significance in the consecrated life. The Liturgy of the Hours is particularly adapt in a formation to prayer, primarily because the Psalms best illustrate the divine-human character of Sacred Scripture. The Psalms are the school of prayer, where the person who sings or recites them learns to hear, interiorize and interpret the Word of God.
— In addition to receiving the Word of God in personal and communal prayer, all Christians have the unavoidable responsibility to receive it in liturgical prayer. This requires a new outlook towards Sacred Scripture. (Synod of Bishops. XII Ordinary General Assembly: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the ChurchInstrumentum laboris, ch. V, no. 34, May 11, 2008)

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

  • Christ is present when the Church supplicates and sings the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours

The work of the redemption of mankind and the perfect glorification of God is undertaken by Christ in the Holy Spirit through his Church, not only in the celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the Sacraments, but also with preference to other manners, when the Liturgy of the Hours unfolds. In it Christ is present within the congregated assembly, in the Word of God that is proclaimed and ‘when the Church supplicates and sings Psalms.’ (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office, ch. III, no. 13, November 1, 1970)

IV – The Catholic prayer par excellence

Pius XII

  • Pray with the same intention as the Redeemer

Consequently, the priest ought to pray [the Divine Office] with the same intention as the Redeemer. (Pius XII. Apostolic Exhortation Menti Nostrae, no. 41, September 23, 1950)

  • The Divine Office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the hymn that the Divine Word introduced into this earthly exile

The Divine Office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, offered to God in the name and on behalf of all Christians […] By assuming human nature, the Divine Word introduced into this earthly exile a hymn which is sung in heaven for all eternity. He unites to Himself the whole human race and with it sings this hymn to the praise of God. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, no. 142-144, November 20, 1947)

Saint Ambrose

  • The Psalms are the voice of the Church

What is more agreeable than the Psalms? […] In fact, the Psalms are a blessing of the people, a praise to God, a eulogy of the faithful, applause of the entire world, universal language, voice of the Church, harmonious profession of faith, expression of entire devotion, joy of liberty, clamor of overflowing happiness. [The Psalms] calm our anger, exclude our worries, and console us in our sadness. At night they are weapons; during the day, a teaching. (Saint Ambrose. Commentary on Psalm 1, no. 9 – ML 14, col. 968)

Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff

  • The Liturgy of the Hours: Christocentric and profoundly ecclesial prayer – the Psalms are interpreted by texts of the Fathers, Doctors and Councils

The Liturgy of the Hours, being essentially Christo-centric, is profoundly ecclesial. This implies that, in as much as public worship of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours is removed from the will of the individual and is regulated by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Moreover, it represents an ecclesial reading of Sacred Scripture, because the Psalms and the biblical readings are interpreted by texts of the Fathers, of the Doctors and of the Councils, as well as by the liturgical prayers composed by the Church herself (cf. CCC, 1177). […] Singing the praises of God, the earthly Church joins herself to the heavenly and prepares to reach her. (Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. When to Celebrate, no. 4: The Liturgy of the Hours)

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

  • The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of Christ, with his Body to the Father

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church, fulfilling the priestly function of Christ, her Head, offers to God, ‘without interruption’, the sacrifice of praise, that is to say, the first fruits of the lips that sing his name. This prayer is ‘the voice of the Spouse that speaks to the Spouse; moreover, it is the prayer of Christ, with his Body to the Father.’ ‘Therefore, all of those who exercise this function, on one hand fulfill the obligation of the Church and on the other, participate in the most high honor of the Spouse of Christ; since while God is praised, they are before his throne in the name of Mother Church.’ (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office, ch. III, no. 15. November 1, 1979)

  • The Liturgy of the Hours: a prayer that belongs to the entire body of the Church

The Liturgy of the Hours, just as other liturgical acts, is not a private action, but rather it belongs to the entire body of the Church, manifests it and influences it. Its ecclesial celebration reaches the greatest splendor – and for the same reason is recommendable to a high degree – when with the bishop, surrounded by priests and ministers, it is carried out within a particular Church, in which the Church of Christ – which is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – is truly present and labors. (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office, ch. III, no. 21. November 1, 1979)

  • The faith of all of those who participate is nourished, and minds are directed toward God

Not only when we read that it ‘was written for our instruction’ (Rom 15:4), but also when the Church prays and sings, the faith of all of those who participate in it is nourished, and minds are directed toward God, presenting him the spiritual offering and receiving from him his grace with greater abundance. (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office. ch. III, no. 14. November 1, 1979)

  • In the Hours, the Church sings uniting with the hymn of praise that perpetually resounds in the celestial dwellings

With the praise that God is offered in the Hours, the Church sings uniting with the hymn of praise that perpetually resounds in the celestial dwellings; already feeling the taste of that celestial praise that resounds continually before the throne of God and the Lamb, as John described in the Apocalypse. For the close union that occurs among us and the celestial Church, is accomplished when ‘we celebrate together, with fraternal happiness, the praise of the Divine Majesty, and all of the redeemed by the blood of Christ of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev 5: 9), congregated in the same Church, we glorify with the same song of praise, the Triune God.’ (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. ch. III, no. 16, November 1, 1970)

John XXIII

  • An atmosphere of Catholicism emanates from the Divine Office

It is a great happiness for every priest to feel, while reciting the Divine Office, pleasantly elevated by the atmosphere of Catholicism and universality that emanates from its pages, where all shines and all sings. For along with the Psalms – which are a true joy, a wise counsel and a suave rest for the spirit – other passages from the Old Testament are combined, as well as the fertile doctrine of the four Gospels, the incomparable sublimity of the Pauline letters and other writings of the New Testament. All of this is contained in the Breviary, inexhaustible and unlimited font of light and grace. (John XXIII. Apostolic Exhortation Sacrae Laudis, January 6, 1962)

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

  • If the Office was recited as it should: the Church wouldn’t be reduced to the present miserable state; sinners would be delivered from slavery to the devil

If priests and religious did all recite the Office as it ought to be recited, the Church would not behold herself in the miserable state to which she is reduced. How many sinners would be delivered from the slavery of the devil, and how many souls would love God with much greater fervor! And how would priests themselves not find themselves ever the same, imperfect, irritable, jealous, attached to their own interests, and led away by vanities! (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Complete Ascetical Works of Saint Alphonsus. Vol. XIII. ch. II, p. 448)

  • And how comes it that a priest offering up many prayers is yet never heard?

And how comes it that a priest offering up so many prayers in a day, were it only in the Office which he recites, is yet never heard? He is Always the same, as weak and prone as ever to fall not only into slight sins (to which he is habitated, and takes neither pains nor care to correct himself of them), but into grievous sins against charity justice, or chastity; hence when he recites the Office he pronounces sentence of condemnation against himself, in these words: They are cursed who decline from Thy commandments. And what is still worse, he feels little remorse, excusing himself as being of the same flesh and blood as other men, and not able to restrain himself. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Complete Ascetical Works of Saint Alphonsus, Vol. XIII. ch. II, p. 449)

4 thoughts on “60 – I pray the Divine Office every day. My prayer is Jewish, and I have the Eucharist

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