As a parish employee, you likely know about the Liturgy of the Hours and maybe pray this universal prayer of the Catholic Church yourself. But is your parish a “school of prayer” where the Liturgy of the Hours is used regularly? Praying with the Universal Church should be a key part of parish life.
Saint John Paul II called for all parishes to become schools of prayer in his letter At the Dawn of the New Millennium. In this groundbreaking document, he requested that all parishes begin praying the Liturgy of the Hours together, particularly on Saturday evening, Sunday morning, and Sunday evening as a way to frame the Sunday Eucharist. Since the Liturgy of the Hours can be prayed aloud or sung in about 15 minutes, it’s perfect for your busy parishioners.
To begin, get a few dates on the calendar when you, your pastor, a deacon, or another parish staffer familiar with the Liturgy can teach others how to pray it. Then move to establishing just one “hour” of communal prayer – perhaps Sunday morning Lauds before the first Mass – and, as interest and participation levels grow, you can begin celebrating the other hours of Sunday.
In order to do this well, it’s best to use the one-volume book, Christian Prayer, which is easy to teach from and navigate. Eventually, your most interested parishioners will purchase their own copies, which means you’ll never need to expand beyond 10-15 books. But the practice of praying the universal prayer of the Catholic Church will grow, and your parish will be better for it! Praying with the Universal Church should be a key part of parish life – and you can make it happen.