A WESTERN RITE ORTHODOX MONASTIC LITURGY OF THE HOURS
HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
1703 Macomber St., Toledo, Ohio 43606
Phone: 419.2062190 / E-Mail: email@example.com
HISTORY OF THE BENEDICTINE MONASTIC DIURNAL
Our Lord assured his disciples that he had come, not to destroy, but to fulfill,
the Law. It is not surprising, therefore, to find the earliest Christians,
notably the Apostles, conforming to the traditional customs of worship of
the old Covenant: keeping the Passover, or going up to the Temple to pray
at the appointed "Hours of Prayer," or keeping those hours as times of private devotion.
Likewise, we find St. Paul, wherever he might be, seeking out the
local synagogue on the Sabbath, taking part in its worship and
availing himself of its opportunities for teaching. At the same time
we find Christians keeping strictly Christian observances, notably
the First Day of the Week, with its Eucharistic Breaking of Bread as
the distinctive act of worship. Even when the Church had overflowed
the bounds of Judaism and was overwhelmingly Gentile in its
membership, there was a survival of devotional practices of Jewish
origin. Chief among these was the observance of the "Hours of
Prayer," as services supplemental to the central Eucharistic Rite.
The term “Diurnal” means day time prayers. The Benedictine Monastic
Diurnal, arranged in the 6th Century by St. Benedict, is reflective of the
Devotional life of the early church.
Tertullian, among others, is witness that this survival was not
confined to the Christian communities of Palestine. The observance
of the Hours was at first a matter of private devotion in Gentile
communities, as it continued to be in Rome until a comparatively
late period. But with the rise of asceticism, we find outside of
Rome the practice of saying the Hours becoming customary in the
public assemblies for worship, where it met and coalesced with two
other Non-Eucharistic services, the Vigil preceding Sundays and
great festivals, and the daily “Lucernarium”, or lamp-lighting
service, held at night-fall. The material of these services was
drawn from the worship of the synagogue and the structure of the
Vigil modeled loosely after its pattern. There was psalmody, the
reading of other parts of Scripture, and prayer. It is in the union
of these two streams of common worship, the monastic, semi-private
services of the Hours, and the public Vigil and its prelude, the
Lucernarium, that we find the original form of what has long been
known in the Church as The Divine Office. The Liturgy proper, the
Mass, held its position of supremacy unchallenged and unrivalled.
But contemporary writers bear witness to the fact that in the East,
in the Fourth Century, the laity, secular and monastic, as well as
the clergy, attended these supplemental services in great numbers.
That there should be need of regulation was inevitable. By the time
such regulation appeared (in the Fourth Century) the fusion of the
secular and monastic elements of the Office had become general, and
perhaps we may attribute the enactment of legislation on the subject
to the cooling of the zeal of not only the secular laity, but of the
clergy as well, in the matter of regular and systematic attendance
at the offices. Thus we find in The Apostolic Constitutions
directions that clergy and laity shall "make prayers early in the
morning, and at the Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hour, at eventide, and
at cock-crow." There is an additional enactment that, if assembly
for service cannot take place in church (on account of persecution,
or similar grave cause), the Bishop shall assemble his flock in some
private house; but if this is impossible, each one shall discharge
this duty either alone, or with one or more of his brethren. (Apost.
Const. VIII, xxxiv. Patr. Graec. I, 1135.) In the same century,
the Council of Laodicea (A. D. 387) echoes these directions. The obligation
of praying at fixed hours is no longer binding on the faithful but remains an
obligation of all ordained to Holy Orders.
From the earliest days of the Church, there have existed two main forms
of liturgical Christian worship: the Holy Eucharist, and the daily round
of prayer known as the Monastic Diurnal, or often called the Daily Office.
From the earliest times, the Daily Office (grouping of Psalms,
Scripture Readings and inspired songs individually selected for each day)
echoed through the Benedictine Monasteries from the 6th Century to the present day.
Regular daily prayer appears to have both been inherited from the Jewish
Church and an outgrowth of the extended apostolic Eucharist. In
accordance with Psalm 118:164 -- "Seven times a day do I praise Thee" --
devout Jews would offer prayers and psalms periodically throughout the
day, and such services were a feature of synagogue worship in the days
of the Apostles.
The watch of prayer which preceded the post-apostolic Eucharist was
eventually organized into several hours, one of which remained as the preparatory
part of the Eucharist (the Proanaphora or Mass of the Catechumens).
Vespers for Saturday is called Vespers 1 of Sunday to show continuity of worship
with the Sabbath Day (Saturday). In the life of the early church for some 600 years
or so the faithful met for worship on the Sabbath (Remember, keep holy the Sabbath)
and also on Sunday, the Lord’s Day (the Apostles met on the first day of the week).
The chief end of the Monastic Diurnal of the Benedictine tradition is to render to God
Praise, Thanksgiving, and Adoration which is His due, and the sanctification of souls.
The Monastic Diurnal is an extension of the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass and draws its breath from the Mass of the day. The Benedictine Monastic Diurnal uses the Septuagint text of the Old Testament which is also true for Old Testament Readings in the Orthodox Mass. The Benedictine Monastic Diurnal is the official Divine Office of the Celtic Orthodox Benedictine Fathers.
The theme of a canonical hour is that special thought or motivation to prayer that arises from the needs of that time of day: it is the hour's prayer intention. The background from the story of salvation is the mystery or event which bears upon the hour and should enter into the prayer intention while the hour is being prayed; it should be an illustration for the text of the prayer, to channel and intensify the spirit of devotion (eg., Terce—descent of the Holy Ghost).
Lauds is a jubilant hour, fresh as the morning dew, perhaps the most beautiful of all the hours. Its symbolism deserves attention. It is night; nature and men are asleep. In the Far East the grey of dawn appears; then the ruddy hue of morning, the harbinger of a new day, spreads across the horizon, and the world of nature begins to stir. But all this natural beauty is only a symbol and reminder of a most wonderful event in the story of salvation. It was at this beautiful hour that our Savior burst the bonds of death. Resurrection—that is the background theme of Lauds. And the two pictures together, dawn and resurrection, remind us of a third arising from slumber, the spiritual awakening of the human soul.
There is, then, a threefold resurrection: nature awakens, the Savior rises from the dead, the human soul celebrates its spiritual resurrection. Such is the background to our prayer of Lauds. It is an explicit song of praise; praise is the hour's central theme. If we can get a feeling for these three pictures intermingling in our Lauds prayer, if we can enter into the spirit of this threefold resurrection, if we can enlist the forces of nature to pray and praise and exult along with us while reciting this hour reasonably early in the morning, perhaps even in the open air, then we are certain to be struck by the full impact of its meaning. Lauds is, actually, one of the most striking examples of what a proper observance of the characteristic thought of an hour and the background theme from the story of salvation can do for personal devotion. The psalms at Lauds are all specially chosen hymns of praise.
The climax of Lauds is the Gospel song, the “Benedictus”. It is a hymn in praise of man's redemption, a greeting to the dawning day of salvation which is destined to be one more step toward its completion. It is the Church who prays the Benedictus taking Zachary's place. Every day is a new coming of the Redeemer, and the Church greets her Savior as the "Day-Spring from on high". Sunday and feast-day Lauds are classically beautiful. First the praises of awakening nature before God the King upon his throne, the earth, decked with all the wonders of creation, Victor over the primeval chaos.
Prime is the Church's second Morning Prayer, quite different in tone from Lauds. Lauds is the ideal Morning Prayer, a "resurrection song" of all creation and of the Church. Prime is the morning prayer of a sinful human, a subjective prayer. The basic theme of Prime is dedication of and preparation for the day's labors and conflicts. This theme runs through the whole hour. There is no special reference to any chapter in the story of salvation. Thus, the theme of the canonical hour, preparing for the day, assumes the center of attention, and indeed to such an extent that even on feast days, themes proper to the feast are generally suppressed at Prime. The hymn at Prime enlists all our efforts and abilities in the service of the Lord and arms us against imminent dangers—perfectly in harmony with Prime's basic theme.
9 o'clock. The Church wants us to pause briefly during our day's activity and raise our hearts to God; that is the purpose underlying the little hours. They are a chance to catch our breath, an oasis in our desert wanderings. It is important that we do not pray them all at once, but whenever possible we should pray them at the corresponding hour of the day as a renewed consecration of the day's work. The little hours are short, because the day is for work. The story of salvation has a role to play in Terce: it was the third hour (9:00) when the Holy Ghost came down upon the young Christian community on Pentecost Sunday (Pentecost Terce begins with the hymn Veni Creator). Quite appropriately, the Church recalls this mystery in the hour of Terce: Terce is thus the "first Confirmation", a strengthening for the conflicts of the day. The hour's theme is invocation of the Holy Ghost. The hymns proper to the little hours are a further development of the theme proper to each, and to the corresponding time of day.
12:00 noon. Theme of the hour: The day's conflict is at its climax, the heat of passion is at its strongest, the powers of hell have greater influence over man, our lower nature seems to have gained mastery. Theme from the story of salvation: the Savior is hanging on the Cross (12:00 to 3:00); hell is bringing all its forces to bear against him. This scene from Good Friday is the background for Sext; foreground is the battle against sin in us and in the Church. "Lead us not into temptation" is the message of this hour.
3:00 to 6:00. This day of salvation is slowly beginning its decline. Our thoughts are taken up with the end of life. Looking to my future I ask: will I persevere? Perseverance is the hour's theme. There is no theme from the story of salvation. At the most there is eschatological shading—the last things.
Vespers, or Evensong, is the Church's evening prayer. It is very similar to Lauds, both in construction and in basic theme. The Church looks back on the day of salvation just passed with all its redeeming graces—and is fervently grateful. Vespers is a thanksgiving prayer. Thanksgiving is the principal theme: the “Magnificat” is the climax, the great thanksgiving song of the Church. The canonical-hour theme is this: thanks be to God for the day just passed, both in the soul and in the Church, thanks for all his saving graces. There is also a theme from the story of salvation to be found in Vespers—the Last Supper. At the very same time that Vespers is prayed, Christ was seated with his apostles in the upper room. This gives Vespers a special connection with the holy Eucharist, and as a matter of fact, a great number of the Vesper psalms are Eucharistic songs or at least can easily be referred to the Eucharist.
Compline is the Church's second evening prayer, and as opposed to Vespers, it is a subjective and individual prayer for the sinful soul who wants to make her peace with God. The hour is a masterpiece of construction, the work of St. Benedict; we might call it the ideal night prayer. Particularly beautiful is the symbolism of Compline. The hour begins uniquely without introduction, and at once halts for an examination of conscience and an act of contrition.
Please pray for me, a repentant sinner, worker in the Vineyard of Christ and an Unworthy Priest,
Bishop Brian Kennedy, O.S.B. firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR APOSTOLIC LINE OF SUCCESSION IS ACCEPTED BY WORLD ORTHODOXY.
REMEMBER AS YOU READ THESE LETTERS OF AFFIRMATION THE BISHOPS BEING ACCLAIMED AS PART OF WORLD ORTHODOXY WITH GRACE FILLED AND SPIRIT FILLED ORDERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO ANY OLD WORLD PATRIARCH, YET THE PATRIARCHS ACCEPT THEM AS EQUAL BISHOPS IN THE LARGER CHURCH WITH THE SAME APOSTOLIC MISSION.
LETTER OF RECOGNITION FROM THE O.C.A.
LETTER OF RECOGNITION FROM ALEXANDRIA
LETTER OF RECOGNITION FROM THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH
WE ARE SUCCESSORS TO THE APOSTLES, IN UNION WITH THE ORIGINAL 12 AND ALL THOSE WHO CAME AFTER THEM AND WITH ALL THOSE WHO WILL COME AFTER US.
HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
IS A NOT FOR PROFIT CHURCH CORPORATION
UNDER SECTION 501 ( c ) 3 OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE .