At breakfast this morning I got into an interesting conversation on the broad variety of practice in the Order regarding the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in common. For example, in my province it's pretty standard to pray just the hinge hours, Morning and Evening Prayer, in common. Here in the Curia, however, we also pray Midday Prayer together. In the house where I stayed over last summer, we also often prayed the Office of Readings in common. I have to say I didn't really care for it, as accustomed as I am to pausing on interesting phrases and taking as much time as I want to reflect between the readings and responsories.
So for me the move to Rome has meant praying more of the Liturgy of the Hours in common. For the brother with whom I was talking, however, it had meant less; in his province it was normal to pray the entire cycle of the Hours in common each and every day.
Regarding the contrast, he had an interesting comment, which went something like this: 'If the brothers pray the minimum of the Hours in common, the danger is that they will never think of the other Hours, or because of doing the least allowed they will begin to see the liturgy as less of a value. On the other hand, if the brothers pray all the Hours in common, it can happen that they never learn to think of praying their breviary on their own, as if they had no individual responsibility for their prayer.'
A thoughtful comment, I thought. As much as I hate the term, is the answer 'balance'?