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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 activity to take time to praise God and to pray for the world. This gathering for communal prayer is known as the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Morning prayer was formally known as Lauds from its Latin name, laus or laudare, "praise" or "to praise." Lauds should be the initial prayer of the day for the oblate. It should be offered as soon after rising from sleep as possible. Sunrise has a special importance as one of the hinges of the day; this 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--Lauds.

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 used for evening prayer. We look back during the evening prayer and 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--evening prayer--should be prayed before or after the evening meal.

Compline is the night prayer offered before we retire to the bed. This prayer brings the day to a close. It gives us an opportunity to repent for our sins and failures and still it renews our trust in the victory of the light--Jesus Christ--over sin and death.

(The Saint Procopius monastic community also celebrates Noon Prayer at the middle of the day.)



Fr. David Turner, OSB Director of Oblates

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