Liturgy of the Hours
One pillar of Benedictine life is prayer in common, and that is
the Work of God. Throughout the day, Benedictines from around the
world stop their normal, daily activities to praise God and to pray
for the world. This gathering for communal prayer is known
collectively as Liturgy of the Hours.
Formally known as Lauds from its Latin
name, laus or laudare, "praise" or "to
praise," Morning Prayer is the initial prayer of the day for the
oblate. It should be offered as soon after rising as possible.
Sunrise has a special importance as one of the hinges of the
day; the light of the rising sun brings to life all that was quiet
in sleep. The dawn is a vivid image of the rising of the Sun of
Justice, Jesus Christ. And so we praise the new light, the new day,
Christ's coming again.
The second hinge of the day is sunset. The descent of darkness
hints at the coming of the evening star - Vespers. Vespers is the
term for Evening Prayer.
During the Evening Prayer, we give thanks for the day we have
just lived, and we look forward to welcome, even beyond the veil of
sleep and death, the morning's promised light - Jesus Christ - who
is the light no darkness can extinguish. Vespers should be prayed
before or after the evening meal.
This is the night prayer offered before retiring for bed. This
prayer brings the day to a close. It gives us an opportunity to
repent for our sins and failures and it renews our trust in the
victory of the light - Jesus Christ - over sin and death.
(Saint Meinrad's monastic community also celebrates Vigils
immediately preceding Lauds and Noon Prayer in the middle of the
Saint Meinrad has published a book, Liturgy of the
Hours for Benedictine Oblates, which is available from the
Oblate Office. It contains a four-week cycle of the Liturgy of the
Hours, adapted for the oblates from the monastic community's own
prayer. You can find
information here on purchasing the book.