What is Liturgy of the Hours and Why do we do it?
The Liturgy of the Hours, also know as the Divine Office, is the extension of the Church's universal prayer beyond the Mass. The Catholic Church is often accused of being not scriptural or that she does not practice Biblical spirituality. The Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours prove otherwise. The Church has prayed the psalms from the very beginning, even Jesus Himself sung psalms with His disciples. In these poetic and prayerful texts, we run the whole gambit of the human experience, joy and suffering, sorrow and defeat, glory and triumph, sin and redemption. We especially hear the voice of Christ speaking to us and for us in these prayers. Other than the Mass, the Society's main form of communal prayer is the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Benedictine monks are probably the best known for praying the Liturgy of the Hours because, following the Rule of St. Benedict, they were the ones who gave shape and definition to a communal praying of the psalms which became the standard for any monastic community after them. St. Benedict's motto, Ora et Labora (prayer and work), is helpful in our day to figure out how to structure our whole day around Jesus Christ. On average each office takes 5-10 minutes. By dividing the day into equal parts and calling the community to lay down their work and to go to prayer at those times of the day, it helps sanctify that part of the day and re-orient the person and the community to the Lord as everyone goes back to work for the next few hours until the next time they're called to prayer.
The Liturgy of the Hours was opened gradually over the centuries to the laity to pray as well the religious and clerical communities. By observing the hours, we join in the Church's continuous praise of God, both the Church triumphant in heaven among the saints and angels, and the Church militant spread throughout the world fulfilling St. Paul's command to "pray without ceasing."
Liturgy of the Hours, a perk of SSP Membership
Fully initiated members receive a four volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours to pray in the Society, and on their own if they like. Nearly every SSP event involves praying one of the offices of the day, which requires a large number of books for people to read off of, since Society events include fully initiated member as well as initiates, those checking it out, and guests. We use the books rather than the iPhone app because they are a sacramental and the iPhone is not. It is like a cathedral to a strip mall church. A cathedral is dedicated in its entirety to the Lord as a church where the sacrifice of the the Mass will faithfully be offered every day, whereas a strip mall can be host to any number of businesses or start-up churches that will pay money to be there. The books are dedicated completely to the praise of God, the universal prayer of the Church.