(5th reflection in a series on the Liturgy of the Hours)
The knowledge that God desires dialog with us, that Christ prayed, taught us to pray, and is participating with us in prayer is a very powerful incentive for our participation. But if left at that it sounds like we are playing a game of follow the leader. There is so much more to the Liturgy of the Hours. This evening let’s look at one aspect: Consecration of Time.
From Sacrosanctum Concilium: ‘By ancient Christian tradition what distinguishes the liturgy of the hours from other liturgical services is that it consecrates to God the whole cycle of the day and the night.’ The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours references this quote and goes on to reinforce it. It reminds us that Christ taught us that we ‘ought always to pray and not lose heart.’ And so in obedience to our Lord the General Instruction continues ‘The Church fulfills this precept not only by celebrating the eucharist but in other ways also, especially through the liturgy of the hours.’ And finishes the section with one final quote from Sancrosanctum Concilium: ‘that the day may be truly sanctified and the hours themselves recited with spiritual advantage, it is best that each of them be prayed at a time most closely corresponding to the true time of each canonical hour.’
As followers of Christ we are called to go out and continue His ministry of finding the lost and lead the fallen to the heights of sanctity. By our actions we can witness to the love that is God, and instill in those around us the urge to do the same – we are called to help sanctify where we are. But this is a daunting task – impossible with just our own talents and strength. Our minds wander, our will weakens, our attention tires. Through the Liturgy of the Hours, joining the continual prayer of Christ, Holy Mother Church gives us those moments of re-energizing and strengthening. We step from the daily routine and step into the dialog of God. It reminds us of who we are by praying to who created us. By our participation in the structured prayer of Christ’s Mystical Body, we enter the divine to offer God our efforts since the last Hour (of prayer) and pray for His companionship till the next Hour.
This, then, reinforces in us that in our ‘episodic’ life the Liturgy of the Hours makes us aware that life isn’t a journey through ‘compartments’; rather it is one long and joyful pilgrimage with Christ. This in turn places Christ at the center.
Brothers and sisters, God is the origin and the goal – He is the constant in our lives no matter how hectic and disjointed we find them. Christ’s continual prayer, and our participation with Him in the Liturgy of the Hours, assures us that He is the center of time; and we, in turn, live our lives as such. By constant prayer we offer the world and its issues as well as offering our victories and failures. We make them a sacrifice of sorts – we offer them as to have God sanctify them – which He does.
But it is as important to realize that moments of prayer are special, grace filled, sanctified moments; and the Liturgy of the Hours done throughout the world means that every moment of the day there is the sanctifying action of liturgical prayer going up to the Father. Day and night becomes a chorus of sanctifying praise. We, the Church Militant join with those in heaven who, as we in the Book of Revelation: ‘day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”’