February 12, 2010

Going to Therapy

The other day I was in a discussion with a priest about the clerical obligation to the Liturgy of the Hours. His opinion was that the obligation should relaxed or reduced. To his credit, he did not come to this opinion through a desire for laxness, but out of a concern for the souls of priests; if they didn't have time for this "overwhelming volume" of prayers, why burden them under the penalty of sin?

But are we talking about an "overwhelming volume" of prayers? Wanting to be scientific about this, I did an experiment, and timed myself. How long does it take to pray the daily Office?

(Times are based on individual recitation, without rushing, with adequate pauses for meditation (according to my taste, I'll admit) The American English LoH was used, with hymns substituted from the Liber Hymnarius. )

Office of Readings: 18 minutes.
Morning and Evening Prayer: 12 minutes each.
Daytime and Night Prayer: 5 minutes each.

52 minutes all together. A 'therapeutic hour.' Not so much, actually.

That's a new way I'm going to think about the Liturgy of the Hours from now on, as a therapeutic hour I spend each day with the Divine Physician. I know well how much I need it, and I bet that He knows even better than me.


Hidden One said...

And to think that Abp. Sheen wanted every priest to spend an hour before Christ in the Eucharist every day.

That said, I have heard of one's breviary being compared to one's wife. Granted, the seminarian who said that was shortly thereafter forced to admit that he had left his wife in the trunk of his car.

Qualis Rex said...

Hidden, was that a joke? If not...wow.

Brother Charles said...

The version I learned went like this: "The breviary is like a friar's wife; you take it wherever you go and pay no attention to it."

To be offensive to both marriage and religious life in one gag is quite something, no?

owen said...

Wow, I am so much slower at that. I've never timed myself but I know I am slower. Well, jokes about my slowness aside, this is interesting.

P.S. A keystroke error probably nixed my previous attempt at commenting - do disregard it.

Julia said...

I tend to think of the Office as a kindness to priests. If priests were not required to put in that minimal sixty minutes of prayer a day, how many would take on increased pastoral responsibilities, wanting to help more and more people every day, and leave prayer behind almost completely? That would cause far greater damage to their own souls and (ironically) the souls of those under their pastoral care.

If you think there's trouble in the priesthood now, imagine what it would be like if prayer were reduced. A scary thought indeed.

Owen, I pray it a bit slower than that, as well. We can be slow pokes together. :)

lkfl said...

Have you tried praying the Latin Roman breviary you received? I'd be curious what the usual amount of time needed for a priest or religious to pray a typical day's traditional Office.

Matins: 9 psalms + 3 or 9 readings
Lauds and Vespers: 5 psalms each
Little hours and Compline: 3 psalms each

I usually just pray Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, though I've attempted everything on a few occasions. I didn't time it, though, as I had the luxury of time on those days.

Norah said...

I wonder if many priests in my little corner of Australia say the Liturgy of the Hours when they seem to be too busy to celebrate Holy Mass during the week. I discovered this when searching the Archdiosean website parish Mass times.

Mother Teresa said to a priest who told her that he was so busy he didn't have time to pray, "Father, if you're too busy to pray, you're too busy." Told by Fr Corapi.

Brother Charles said...


Though I often use the 1962 breviary for the daytime hour, I only once tried it for an entire day. It was the feast of St. Francis last year. It took at least twice as long, especially with the three nocturns at matins.

lkfl said...

Hmm, that's interesting. What are the rules for praying both the Roman Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours if you're canonically bound to do so? For instance, I know that Prime was suppressed after the reforms, so would it be legitimate to pray the the whole '62 Office except for Prime? Or do the original rubrics still stand? And can Matins be prayed interchangeably with the Office of Readings?

Brother Charles said...


That's a really good question. Summorum pontificum gives clerics the option of using the older form of the breviary, 9.3, I think. But does this mean you can mix and match? I'm not sure. Prime is a question, as you say, as is the 'parallel' between matins and the office of readings.

I would like an answer on this one myself.

Hidden One said...

@Qualis Rex

Don't be alarmed. The seminarian had merely left his breviary in the trunk of his car. I'm referring to an actual event involving two friends of mine.

@Brother Charles

And yet...

Regarding Prime:

Very interesting question. I wonder if someone has sent this one in to Rome for the answer.