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Question: How Does One Begin Praying the Breviary?

I received a question the other day, which I’ll post below with a few of my thoughts.

Question:

Kim, I am inspired by your daily recitation of the liturgy of the hours. What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray everyday? I had bought compline books and wanted our family to pray that every evening but that has not happened yet. Any suggestions for getting started?

First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question, which I’ll break into two.

Question #1: What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray every day?

Our family uses the Roman Breviary from Baronius Press. These books are excellent because they have Latin and English side-by-side.

But we didn’t begin our marriage praying this breviary. In the beginning we prayed the red Christian Prayer book, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. A few years ago, however, we made the switch to the Roman Breviary for various reasons. (Mostly, we wanted to pray what the Church had been praying since time immemorial, not just since 1976, and we wanted its fullness.)

The Roman Breviary has all the traditional hours in it, which is why it’s a three volume set. Now, if I actually prayed all those hours, I wouldn’t get my work done. Therefore, I only pray two: Lauds and Compline.

As you frequent readers of the blog will know, the older children join my husband and me in praying Lauds every morning, but just my husband and I pray Compline in the evening, after the family rosary. My husband, however, prays more. If he’s up early, he’ll do Matins, and then, in the late afternoon he prays Vespers on his work break. The other minor hours, like Terce or Sext, might get prayed during Adoration some time during the week, but sometimes not. It’s just nice that they’re there as an option.

Here’s where Wednesday Lauds begins…

Question #2: Where should one start?

So, let’s say you own a breviary or some Liturgy of the Hours book and are wondering, where to start? I’d suggest beginning with whichever hour makes the most sense for you and your schedule. Of course I think it’s best to begin and end each day with prayer, so perhaps Lauds and Compline might be good options, but anywhere is better than nowhere.

Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of making it a priority.

Lastly, Satan hates families that pray together. Therefore, you’ll be sorely tempted to not do it. Therefore, do it! This is especially important for those of you with children, for whether you know it or not, you’re modeling how a life of prayer is done. You’re children see you, and your actions matter. If they see Dad every morning, day in and day out, praying Lauds, chances are, they’ll pray Lauds, especially if you provide them with books and invite them in. On the contrary, if they see Dad hurriedly rushing out the door every morning, neglecting his prayers, they will understand that this is not important.

And finally, don’t be overwhelmed by the whole thing. The breviary can be a complicated book to navigate. If you feel drawn to it, just dive in and don’t worry about missing a feast day or some special commemoration. God sees your heart and will be pleased with your efforts.

If, however, you’re looking for more information on the Roman Breviary, I strongly recommend reading Pius Parsch’s book The Breviary Explained. My husband couldn’t put it down.

And Just For Fun…

The Eldest is learning how to play the organ.

Every Friday, during practice, her younger brother throws himself at her feet (literally) and watches those pedals move. Of course he begs to play too, and she willingly obliges from time-to-time.

Lovely view, no?

9 thoughts on “Question: How Does One Begin Praying the Breviary?”

  1. After looking locally for a few weeks I finally just ordered the Christian Prayer book, which was on backorder, so I still don’t have it yet. But I decided to get that one to get us started after reading about the breviary on your blog and than doing some research to find a good starter. I’m very excited to get it and it may be at least another week yet.

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    1. Good Morning, Molly!

      We pray it in English, but the goal is to move to Latin. (We’ve all been learning Latin over the last few years with the children.) It could be awhile, however, until that happens.

      And alas, no, we don’t chant it. A few years, however, when we were using Fr. Samuel Weber’s Compline book, we did chant it. That was beautiful. For those of you inclined to sing, Fr. Weber’s book is great. One can just YouTube for help learning the chants, if you can’t read chant notation.

      In the end, though, we moved away from Weber because it lacked the fullness of Compline. Meaning, prayers and psalms had been cut out.

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  2. For those that may be intimidated by the breviary, there are a couple of good apps that help navigate and keep you on track. For those more interested in the Latin Mass, iMass has the breviary, daily Masses, and lots and lots of Latin prayers. For those looking for the newer, English translation of the The Liturgy of the Hours , the app Divine Office, contains the same translation. An updated translation that will more literally translate the pre-1975 version is set to be published in 2022. Here’s a link about that and the reason for the changes: http://www.ncregister.com/features/amid-revision-liturgy-of-the-hours-remains-important-for-laity%3famp
    Keep on praying!!

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