Every day, all around the world, the Divine Office is prayed continuously. When we pray the Divine Office, we add our voice to the prayer of the Church. A chorus of voices is created, praying and praising God together. To pray the office is to join all praying – even if one may be physically alone. For millennia this prayer has been the central prayer of the Church, monastics, and of Christian religious life. Each office (or prayer) follows a fixed structure made up of Psalms, scripture, and reflections from the depth of our shared Christian tradition.
This tradition began before Jesus as devout Jews desired to embody in their lives the psalmist proclamation “seven times a day I praise you” (Psalm 119:164). We see instances in the Gospels and Book of Acts where they pray at the appointed times. Fixed hour prayer is present in the earliest Christian traditions, and our practice today owes a debt of gratitude to those faithful before us. There are seven offices fixed throughout one’s day. Two offices are the major hours, one to start our day in praise [Morning/Lauds], and one to end with thanksgiving [Evening/Vespers].
There are a few names for these prayers, including:
- Divine Office (Opus Dei, or Officium Divinum)
- Liturgy of the Hours (Liturgia Horarum)
- Daily Prayer
- Common Prayer
To assist in praying the office there are books that assemble the needed texts more accessibly. These books are knows as a Breviary (or a Diurnal if it excludes the Office of Readings/Matins), or the Book of Common Prayer.
Urban Monastics is in the process of translating and creating our own Monastic Breviary. This is available online and with new translations and texts added regularly. You can learn more about the project if it interested you.
There is no specific version that an Urban Monastic must use to pray. However when we come together to pray the Divine Office we will use the Urban Monastic Breviary when available.