Psalmody to Love

Trivia question (answer at end): What would you have if Billie Holliday came back to life and prayed the Liturgy of the Hours?

I still vividly recall entering a religious community in the mid-1980s. A native of Los Angeles and a fairly recent law school graduate, I knew I was stepping into a very different environment. As I settled into this life, I realized that I was doing many of the same things I had been doing before entering this community. I had already become accustomed to daily Mass and Holy Hours. The studies (I was preparing for the priesthood) likewise came naturally to a “professional student” like me. And of course the meals and recreation times were very enjoyably spent with the great guys we had in the community.

The one thing that was markedly different for me was praying the Liturgy of the Hours (aka “Divine Office”) at set times each day with the other seminarians and religious. I had owned and used a breviary (a prayer book containing the Liturgy of the Hours) before entering seminary, but the regularity and fervor of this prayer of the Church was the most distinctive–and in many ways the most enriching–aspect of my seminary journey. This attraction to the Liturgy of the Hours has stayed with me ever since.

Today I want to direct our readers’ attention to a fine article  entitled “On the Psalmody of the Divine Office” from the Vultus Christi blog. Author Dom Mark Daniel Kirby (“Father Mark”), a Benedictine prior from Tulsa, is a sound, learned guide when it comes to the Liturgy of the Hours.

Father Mark makes some fascinating points throughout  the piece. I had never considered the connection between the choral recitation of the office and the evangelical counsels.  His treatment of the Thomistic concept of “tranquility of order” (tranquilitas ordinis) as it applies to liturgical discipline beautifully highlights the peaceful and contemplative qualities of the Divine Office. 

While everyone may participate in the Liturgy of the Hours, it’s part and parcel of the daily life of consecrated men and women. As such, Father concludes his article by affirming three fundamental principles regarding the Liturgy of the Hours for religious:

1. The choral celebration of the Divine Office is for all apostolic religious a path to contemplative prayer .

2. The choral celebration of the Divine Office is, according to the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, your primary service to the world.

3. The choral celebration of the Divine Office assures the supernatural fruitfulness of your apostolic works.

Okay, here’s the answer to the trivia question: Psalm Sung Blue (Yes, my wife didn’t laugh either.)

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