In answer to the Psalmist who wrote “seven times a day do I praise you, Lord” (Ps 119 v. 164), Christians throughout history, especially monks and nuns, have practiced a communal form of prayer known as the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. Today, the monks of Holy Cross Abbey come together in prayer five times daily, starting at 3:30 in the morning (yes, 3:30 AM). Here’s the schedule, or Horarium, for our communal prayer:
- 3:30 am – Vigils
- 7:00 am – Lauds (with Mass, on weekdays)
- 2:00 pm – Midday prayer (weekdays)
- 5:30 pm – Vespers
- 7:30 pm – Compline
Sunday schedule changes:
- 10:00 am – Mass
- 12:15 pm – Midday Prayer
Every day for well over 1500 years, monks have used these liturgical hours to “pray without ceasing,” keeping watch and waiting in hope for the coming of Our Lord. (Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:36, 1 Thess 5:17)
The Divine Office draws directly from ancient Hebrew prayers, also composed largely of Psalms and Scriptures, which were said in Jewish synagogues and homes for centuries before Christ. In many ways, then, this form of prayer was used by the apostles and Our Lord himself.
This was the prayer of Israel, of Jesus and the apostles, it has been the unceasing prayer of the Church throughout history, and it remains the prayer of Holy Cross Abbey today. It can be your prayer as well.
We invite you to pray with us!
Wherever you find yourself today, you can pray with us. It can be as simple as pausing to pray the Lord’s Prayer at this very moment, or around the same time as the monks, or you could consider praying the full Liturgy of the Hours, embedded at the bottom of this page, on your own schedule.
Many have come to Our Lady of the Holy Cross on retreat or to mass or for one of our services. So many have said “I wish I could do this more often,” but time and our busy lives make that hard.
Yet the church calls all of us to this prayer. The Liturgy, especially the Mass and the Divine Office, is the life-blood of the mystical body of Christ. We encourage you to breathe with the psalms and let your heart beat as one with the church in the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Hours. In doing so, you can join the monks who stand daily in choir at Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey, as well as the millions of others who pray the Divine Office.
The four volumes of the Breviary are the official Catholic standard and therefore are sometimes referred to as the Liturgy of the Hours, but there is also an easier one-volume version called Christian Prayer, or even the Shorter Christian Prayer. You may decide you want to pick up one of these books.
There are also many helpful websites for praying the divine office, including Divineoffice.org, universalis.com, and ibreviary.org; the Episcopal Office is at dailyoffice.org. On these sites you can find all seven offices of the church, including the so-called ‘minor offices’ of Terce, Sext and None.
The web versions and mobile apps make it easy by eliminating the need for three or four ribbons and the initially daunting task of figuring out what page in the book you are supposed to be on.
Finally, while you’re here, we invite you to do two each things to get started. Let us know if there is anything you want us to pray for, under “Contact Us”, so we can remember your intentions as we pray. Then simply scroll down to the bottom of this page and find the Divine Office for today–or come back and use this page to pray with us daily. It’s that easy!
Make a habit of it, not a burden
Many lay people and most clergy make a point of praying the Liturgy of the Hours during the day. They don’t always get to do all seven offices, but many people start and end their day with this prayer.
We believe you will find praying with us a wonderful addition to your spiritual life. Each day you will settle in with us and join us in choir to praise God. And we promise, if you get into the habit of this prayer, you will find yourself missing it when you don’t do it. It becomes part of your life and something you can’t do without.
While we want you to enjoy the riches of this prayer, however, we know you have busy lives; it’s hard to find time to pray the Office everyday. Don’t worry about it! If the demands of your vocation prevent you from praying a full “hour” of the Office, perhaps you could stop for a moment and say the Lord’s Prayer as your Office. Bottom line is–don’t make it into a burden. If your goals for prayer are unrealistic, you may be tempted to cease praying altogether.
If you can pray with us from day to day, in any of these ways, you join your voice to our Abbey choir, the Church, and the choirs of angels. Together–and we, the brothers of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey, mean together–we will offer up a worthy prayer to our Lord. Joined to Christ and one another in the one mystical Body, we all offer immeasurably greater praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
All seven of the liturgical hours are listed at the top of the embedded webpage below.
Office of Readings (~Vigils) can be prayed at any time of day, as well as before dawn or before Lauds, first thing in the morning.
Morning Prayer (Lauds)
Evening Prayer (Vespers)
Night Prayer (Compline)