LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The monastic life revolves around the Church's liturgy. What is the liturgy? It consists of the official acts of worship by the Church, most importantly the Mass and other celebrations of the sacraments. Yet another important part of the Church’s liturgy is the Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office and the “work of God” (opus Dei) by St. Benedict.
The Divine Office consists of set times of prayer (sometimes called offices or hours) throughout the day that help us to offer the whole day to God. This sanctifies the whole day, for it keeps us mindful of God, so that we may glorify Him, and it allows us to be sanctified (i.e., made holy) by God in the process. We see here accomplished the two aims of the Church's liturgy: namely, that God is glorified and human beings are sanctified.
Each set time for prayer (that is, each hour or office) consists of hymns, psalms, and scriptural readings. These times for prayer can be prayed privately, but monks pray them together as a community (with a few exceptions, when they are prayed privately). St. Benedict wants this to be at the heart of the monastic life and therefore he says that nothing is to be preferred to praying the "work of God" (chap. 43, v. 3).
There are different arrangements of the Divine Office in the Church. The most common arrangement is what is often called the Roman Breviary ("breviary," from the Latin word breve meaning "brief, short," refers to how the arrangement is compactly contained in just a few books). This is what people usually mean when they refer to the Liturgy of the Hours. This arrangement of the Divine Office is used by diocesan priests and most religious. It can be found now on the internet and through smartphone apps.
With regard to Benedictine monasteries, they are allowed to have different arrangements of the Divine Office, as long as they stay within certain parameters. Here at St. Procopius Abbey, the Divine Office is arranged as follows:
Lauds (or Morning Prayer) is prayed at 6:00 AM or 6:25 AM, depending on the day, and it lasts about 30 min.
Sext (or Noon Prayer) is prayed at 12:00 PM and it lasts about 15 min.
Mass is usually prayed at 4:50 PM during the weekdays, at 7:00 AM on Saturdays, and on 11:00 AM on Sundays.
Vespers (or Evening Prayer) is prayed at 7:00 PM during half the year and at 5:00 PM during the other half; it lasts about 30 min.
Compline (or Night Prayer) is prayed at 7:00 PM during half the year and privately during the other half; it lasts about 15 min.
We pray these hours of the Divine Office in our Lady Chapel and members of the public are welcome to join us.