The Daily Offices. *
*Originally published in:
St James´ Anglican Church. (2020). Liturgy at Home [Brochure]. Vancouver, British Columbia: Author. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from https://files.constantcontact.com/50a19c1c001/287558ac-6a40-4aed-9924-3ad4e7f37f5d.pdf
Allport (1960) explains what a mature religious sentiment is. For Allport, sophisticated religion is not self-serving, but an intrinsic and genuine devotion of those who believe and love God and hence are interested in the betterment of themselves and their community.
I interpret the previous paragraph and understand that internalizing my belief in Christ and acting upon it makes me a better Christian and, consequently, someone who seeks God and procures the well-being of the communities I live in and the people in those communities. Thinking about it, the best two ways that I know to internalize my belief in God effectively is prayer and reading the Bible. And these two items are very well combined in the practice of the Daily Office.
Christians have prayed the Daily Office since the early church times, it being an obligatory requirement for the clergy since the fifth century. They are contemplative prayers that draw us into the presence of God, simply to be with him. When praying and meditating, we intend to be closer to the Almighty and hear his voice without distractions. The prayers are full of deep theological meaning and beauty, being biblical and straightforward in their execution.
The Divine Office originates in the ancient Liturgy of the Hours, and it was prayed initially in monastic communities. The day has seven liturgical hours — three major (Matins, Lauds and Vespers) and four minor (Terce, Sext, None and Compline) — a seven-fold to sanctify the day with prayer and to give it structure and purpose.
In the 1549 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer combined the medieval hours and organized them into a two-fold, Morning and Evening Prayer. In this theological work, Cranmer accommodated prayers among Psalms, canticles and readings of the Bible, all in elegant and understandable English, creating one of the most beautiful gems of the Anglican tradition, especially when they are sung, particularly in Cathedrals. According to Burns & Oates (1969), Cranmer "made them — the Daily Offices — a means of education by worship of which no Church, Catholic or Protestant, has the equivalent today".
The reason for me to write this brief commentary is that I find comfort, peace and a better structure and balance in my life when practising the Daily Offices regularly. For me praying the Offices have improved my well-being and my clarity of mind and thinking. I feel closer to God and feel the urge to better myself through prayer and contemplation as a person and as a Christian. I highly recommend this practice.
José Luis Aranda Moyano
Allport, G. W. (1960). The individual and his religion: A psychological interpretation: Gordon W. Allport. London: Macmillan.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. (n.d.). Retrieved July 03, 2020, from https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM
Kurian, G. T. (2011). Divine Office. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. doi:10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1529 Owen, H. P. (1970).
The Foundations of Belief. By Leslie Dewart. Burns and Oates, 1969. Pp. 526. 70s. Scottish Journal of Theology, 23(3), 354-355. doi:10.1017/s0036930600021682