25 October 2009

Question on Horarium and the Divine Office

[[Dear Sister, I see from your horarium that you do not pray the minor or little hours of the Office. Why is that? Aren't you obligated to say the whole Office?]]

Good questions. I pray (usually singing) four of the Hours of the Divine Office, Lauds, Vespers and Compline and Vigils. (Vigils may be done in the middle of the night or a little before Lauds.) Between those periods I either work, study, or pray in other ways (including Mass or Communion services, lectio divina, and contemplative prayer). I will also run errands, take meals, or rest during some of those times. For me personally, I find that pausing to do the little hours fragments the day rather than helping me to pray better or make a prayer of my life. I tend to work better (especially if I am writing (including journaling) or studying) if I have a couple to several hours of dedicated time. Except for the work I do on computer this all occurs in cell so it is done in the presence of the Eucharist. That presence becomes a touchstone at those times especially. For that reason too I don't feel the need to pause to do the little hours, and my horarium is divided into blocks of time which are punctuated by the four main hours of the the Office.

As to what I am obligated to, the short answer is no, I am not obligated to say the whole Office. My Rule of Life includes the four hours I mentioned above. However, if I am away from the hermitage for some time (errands, trips to the City, etc) I will sometimes pray the minor hours while on the train. (Sometimes I will simply use a small bracelet of prayer beads I wear and pray the Jesus prayer as I look briefly at each person on the train with me and pray for them.) At those times the little hours do indeed help me to maintain a sense of quiet and continuity with the hermitage cell, but again, I do it because it functions for me in this way, not because I am obligated to do so.

Hope this is helpful.