I. A suitable place should be selected. The Psalmist sang “In omni loco dominationis ejus, benedic, anima mea, Domino” (Ps. 102, 22). Our Lord wishes us to pray always; St. Paul says (I. Tim. ii.) that we should pray in every place, and theologians teach that a priest may validly and licitly say his Hours walking in the fields, in his room, or in any suitable place. The most suitable place is the church. For it is a house of prayer (St. Matt. xxi. 43), and the Holy Ghost asks us to go there to pray, “in templo ejus omnes dicent gloriam” (Ps. 28, 9). The Apostles, going to the temple to pray at the sixth and at the ninth hour, show us how suitable is the place holier than the temple—the church. The practice of the saints impresses on us the suitability of the church for the Church’s official prayer. In the life of every modern saint we find recommended and practised the saying of the Hours at the altar. Perhaps, the example which is best known to missionary priests, is the example of the Cure d’Ars, who in the early days of his priestly life always said his Breviary kneeling in the sanctuary. His parishioners liked from time to time to slip into the church to watch him. “Often,” says an eye-witness, “he paused while praying, his looks fixed on the Tabernacle, with eyes in which were painted so lively a faith that one might suppose our Lord was visible to his gaze. Later, his church being continually filled with an attentive crowd following his least movements, he took pains to avoid everything that might excite their admiration. Yet still, he might be frequently found, after a long day passed in the sacred tribunal, reciting his Hours on his knees, either in the sacristy or in a corner of the choir, a few steps from the altar; so strong was the attraction that drew him to unite his prayer to that of our Lord, so great was the love and respect inspired by the presence and infinite majesty of his Divine Master” (Life of Cure d’Ars, by Monnin).
Every priest must feel that the church benches, or the sanctuary, with their silence, their every part awakening and reminding the soul that this is the house of God, this is the gate of Heaven, are places most suitable for prayer and are great aids to fervent prayer. The thought of the presence of Christ with His adoring angels, to whose songs of praise the priest should unite himself, should help wonderfully in the devout recitation of the Hours. St. Alphonsus recommends that priests saying the Breviary should say it before a crucifix or before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, so that gazing from time to time on these holy objects may foster or renew pious thoughts.