The Divine Office eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Divine Office.

4.  The lives of the saints furnish many examples and precepts of this union with Christ in our prayer.  To the examples of St. Gertrude and St. Bernard many others can be added.  Several such examples are quoted by Bacquez in his work on the Office.

5.  The remembrance of the sublime work of the Office should aid in its fervent recitation.  Priests should remember the words of St. Alphonsus:  “After the sacrifice of the Mass the Church possesses no treasure so great as the Divine Office.”  “It is God’s Church, the Spouse of Christ, who has done me the honour of choosing me for this great work—­me, in preference to a hundred others.  She puts into my hand her holy book of heavenly language, and asks me to read its words before God, to unite with the angels and saints in honouring God.”

6.  To propose some particular intention before the recitation of the Hours begins, and to renew it during the recitation is an excellent means of guarding against distractions and mechanical routine.  It sustains during the prayer the fervour with which it was begun.  St. Bonaventure said to priests “Give great attention to the signs (i.e., to the directions, about kneeling, standing, sign of cross, etc.), greater attention to the words, and the greatest attention to the (particular) intention.”

But what intention ought we to have?

We should have general intentions and particular intentions.  We must have the general intentions of the Church, whose ambassadors we are.  We must pray that God be known and adored, loved and thanked and praised.  We must pray that the Church have freedom, that she may be exalted, that the kingdom of Christ may spread and flourish, that the Pope and clergy of the world may be blessed and guided by God, that holy souls may be confirmed in virtue and that sinners may be converted.

We should have also some particular intentions in reading our Hours.  Thus, we may pray to obtain a more lively faith, a greater hope, a more ardent charity, greater meekness and humility, greater patience, detachment from the world, greater fraternal charity, help in keeping vows—­in a word, an increase of virtues, especially those in which we may have great wants.  Again, a priest may and should beg God to help him and guide him by his light and grace, in doubts, in trouble, in crosses, in his daily work as a priest, in his parish, in his schools, in his college.  Particularly and fervently should a priest pray for success in his religious instruction in school, in church, in the pulpit.  For St. Augustine tells us that success in this matter depends more on prayer than on preaching (De Doc.  Christ., Lib. 4, chap. 15).  And at every Hour a priest should pray for a happy death.

Before saying his Hours, a priest may form a special intention of praying for others, his superiors, his parents, his brothers and sisters, his benefactors, his friends, his enemies, for those who have asked for prayers, for some one in sorrow, for some one in sin, for a soul in purgatory.  Of course, these prayers benefit the priest who offers them, for as St. Gregory the Great said so well, “Plus enim pro se valere preces suas efficit qui has et pro aliis impendit” (Moral II. 25).

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The Divine Office from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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