Divine Office

“From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.”  — Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Church’s most authoritative explanation of the Divine Office appears in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, § 83-101.

It is prayed in full each day by all men in Holy Orders: bishops, priests and deacons. Men and women in consecrated life who are not priests pray the Office according to the rule of their order. The lay faithful are free to pray it if they wish.

The Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, is the group of psalms, hymns, prayers, biblical and spiritual readings formulated by the Church for chant or recitation at stated times every day. Its origins go back to apostolic times, when it consisted almost entirely of Scripture readings and psalms. Every Catholic priest is required to pray the full daily office. Consecrated Religious who are not priests are obligated according to their rule of life.

Lay faithful are most cordially invited to pray the Divine Office. The Church does not make it obligatory for us, as it is for priests, but if we fully understood what it has to offer, we would make it obligatory upon ourselves.

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