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Praying the Liturgy of the Hours

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October 6, 2017

Every day at Saint John’s Abbey begins with this simple prayer. Members of the monastic community and other early risers convene in the choir stalls at 7:00 a.m. for Morning Prayer, one of three “hours” prayed communally each day in Collegeville. (Midday Prayer and Evening Prayer are the other two.)

The Liturgy of the Hours roots the prayer lives of Christians around the world—and has for centuries. A collection of hymns, psalms, sacred writings and prayers make up the hours, which are prayed at various times throughout the day and focus on themes of praise and thanksgiving. The community at St. John’s prays the liturgy at a slower pace than what’s common at most parishes. The deliberate pacing offers space for reflection. Moments of silence between prayers invite those gathered to listen to God “with the ear of your heart” as Saint Benedict says in his Rule. Monks—and students—find stability in this rhythm of praying, working and then returning to prayer. 

I got into the routine of joining the monks for prayer during my first year at the SOT. I’ve come to cherish the quiet time the liturgy carves out in my noisy life. I can put aside my papers and projects for a few minutes and just talk with God. The psalmists became friends as we prayed their words day after day. I also got to know many monks who would stop to chat after prayer as well as other SOT students when we walked to church together from Emmaus Hall. The liturgy built community.

Students are always welcome to join the monks of Saint John’s Abbey and the sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery for prayer. The full schedules can be found on the Abbey website and Monastery website, respectively. 

Written by Jessie Bazan '17