Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why Pray the Breviary? Or, Why Not Pray the Breviary?

Recently I acquired Pius Parsch's book, The Breviary Explained, and within the introductory chapter of the book, "Why Pray the Breviary?", I was struck once again by a text which I shared with readers almost a year ago, but in a different translation. I wished to share part of it with you again, but in this particular translation:

The Breviary should be the ladder on which the soul mounts to heaven. As the seasons of the year have their effect on nature, giving the trees growth and blossom and fruit, so too the Church year with its course of feasts and seasons should affect the soul. Through contact and "exposure" to the Church year, our soul matures for heaven; no book offers more contact with the life of the Church's liturgical year than does the Breviary. With this prayer book, moreover, the Church accompanies us through the day, and for each hour of the day she gives us a sword and a shield to spread and defend the kingdom of God in our soul: all this accomplished by the marvelous arrangement of hourly prayers.

The Breviary is prayer on the hour. As the prayer that paces with the Church year, it is in a sublime sense our guardian angel, our guide through life.

-- Parsch, The Breviary Explained, p. 8

This inspiring passage sums up quite well one of the immense benefits of the praying of the Divine Office: it brings us into intimate contact with the liturgical year. Beyond this, it also brings us into intimate contact with the psalms. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that there is no hyperbole in what Parsch has to say about the merits, benefits and consolations of the Divine Office.

As we sit at the beginning of the new year, a time when people tend toward "New Year resolutions", why not consider taking up the resolution of trying to pray some part of the Divine Office each day?

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