Little Office of Our Lady

A friend of mine from Church prays the Divine Office everyday at those times during the day when he can, since he works. As some might have guessed, one thing I lack in my life is discipline and I have a copy of The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I don't know why but it keeps looking at me and making me feel guilty. It is there on a desk and it is not being prayed.

The friend kindly showed me the basics of how to pray it, it is in both Latin and English and I'd like to try but I'm a total beginner and I feel a little out of my depth even opening it up. I suppose anything alien to us is going to make us a little apprehensive.

If I were to pray it tonight, I would pray 'Compline' right? Maybe its like swimming in the sea and you've just got to jump in, otherwise going waist deep with your arms in the air is more painful.

How long does it take to pray one part of the day's office? For some reason it appeals to me because of the word 'little'.  I'd be interested in comments from people who already pray it especially those who believe it has helped them in their prayer. Is it like a replacement for the Rosary or do people pray both?


Mac McLernon said…
The Little Office used to be prayed by laypeople who couldn't manage the entire Divine Office as sung in monasteries etc.

Many people used to know it by heart.

Each of the "hours" as they're called are quite short - though longer than the corresponding Novus Ordo Office hours!

I used to pray the Little Office before switching to the Monastic Diurnal (which is closer to the Traditional Office, just without Matins)

Compline is the one you say just before bed.

The introduction is quite good, explaining when to pray the different hours. It does take a while to get used to it - there are prayers before and after each hour, as preparation for prayer, if you like, and it'll be rather slow at first, but I would definitely recommend it.

Start off by praying one or two hours a day (each "hour" is of a different length, but no more than 40 mins for Matins and 15 mins for Compline, with the others somewhere in between) - I'd recommend Lauds and Compline to start, or Prime and Compline. Then add Vespers, and take it from there, depending on your schedule!
Like Mac I tend to use the Monastic Diurnal but if I'm exhausted/travelling with lots of luggage/short on time I'll use this.

I never pray matins - too long.

In addition to Rosary (never drop the Rosary! lol)

I'd go with Mac and say pray Prime and Compline on rising and going to bed respectively. You could say Lauds but it's longer.

It's great to pray the Office, the psalms are jewels in the Church's crown.
Toby said…
There's good little CTS booklet on praying the Divine Office. It's helpful as a guide to how to do it and most of it will be relevant for the Little Office; it also explains some of the rationale which is very useful.

As Mac said the Introduction in the Little Office itself is also good.

Mike said…
You've got another airing of Soho Masses on Damian's Thompson's latest DT blog.
First page, in response to some gay guy that Damian responded to for some reason.
Check it out.
Tim said…
It will change your life. Just dive in anywhere, say as little or as much as your daily duty allows but keep going no matter what. A rhythm will soon develop and then it will carry you away. I started saying it 10 years ago when I reverted (having stared at an unused copy on my shelf for years) and now couldn't live without my triple whammy of daily Mass, the Rosary and the Hours - the Sun and the Moon and the Stars.
Tim said…
You're on The Catholic Herald's Daily Catholic Must Reads as well - you ubiquitous little blogger you.
Donald said…
I also have a copy I picked up at a yard sale a few years back. It seemed too intimidating to me but it's still there staring at me just like yours. You might have inspired me to pick it up but I've come to realise that my main sin is sloth.
The Bones said…
Mike says...

Hi Lawrence,
I read your piece about the Little Office. You have described my own experience exactly. Yes, I found it a little bewildering, especially at this time of the year - Christmas to Easter - with some parts having to be read from different parts of the book. For most of the year of course one just reads straight through. But this is only a little bewildering.
I found that quite a good routine was to recite Matins and Lauds (about half an hour) last thing at night, probably nearer to when one would recite it monastically - i.e., something quite merciless like 3 o/c in the morning! The following morning, recite the four 'little' hours (Prime, Terce, Sext and None), which will take you about 15 minutes. Then at some convenient time between lunchtime and teatime, Vespers and Compline will take you about 15 or 20 minutes. A brief period of self-satisfaction follows before you have to face 'the big one' again at bedtime!
I found that it is also quite instructive to read up on the Psalms. Eye-opening, and not just seeing the different versions of Latin text. For this purpose a priest recommended Boylan's commentaries to me. I append the necessary links for vol 1 and vol 2. Further to that, I've added my own notes on Ps. 94, which opens Matins.
See what you think about the commentaries on Pss 128 and 129. I think they highlight the importance of good translation, where I think my/our version falls down somewhat. I also think there too many Americanisms.
Hope this helps. Meanwhile we struggle on - or at least I do!
God bless from,
Mike Telford
P.s., publish this if you like.

Psalm 94
A processional hymn, which becomes a prophetic exhortation. It is ascribed to David in the Septuagint. David is thought to be speaking here in the person of Josias. It falls easily into three sections.

a. Verses 1 to 5. The community, advancing in solemn procession on one of the great feasts from the city to Sion chants a hymn unto the might and glory of the Lord. The greatness of Israel's God appears in the world which he has fashioned, and in his exaltation above the gods of the heathens.

b. Verses 6-7. When the procession reaches the Temple-entrance a choir of priests invites it to enter, reminding the people, that just as men do homage to earthly rulers, so they must bow down, cast themselves prostrate, and kneel before the Lord of the Temple.

c. Verse 8. The hymn passes over into a prophetic exhortation. One of the priests, speaking in the person of Yahweh, as Amos or Jeremias would have spoken to a festive assembly, reminds the multitude that the fruit of their festive gladness ought to be the conversion of their hearts to God cf. Jer. xxxiv; Amos iii, 1. They should by warned against unbelief and indifference by the fate of their forefathers in the wilderness, at Meribah/Strife and Massah/Trial

If they will now listen to the voice of God who speaks to them through the prophetic speaker they may be privileged to enter into the Rest which was denied to their rebellious and unbelieving fore-bears cf. Ps. lxxvii; Exod. xvii 7; Num. xiv 23, 26, 28-30; Deut. vi 6; xii. 9; xxxiii 8.

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