Cardinal Stafford calls for rediscovering the Liturgy of the Hours

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Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary, in December 2021. / Sandra Miley

Denver, Colorado, May 16, 2022 / 11:00 a.m. (CNA).

What does it mean to pray “without ceasing”?

For Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the answer to this question is the key to “indescribable joy”.

“We need to rediscover the fruits of the Holy Spirit. One of those fruits is joy,” Stafford said. “And that is the joy of being children of God.”

Stafford is set to give a free online lecture on the Liturgy of the Hours on May 21.

The liturgy of the hours, also called divine office or breviary, has been an integral part of Catholic prayer for centuries. Clerics and religious recite the complete liturgy of the hours every day, and Sacrosanctum Conciliumthe constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the liturgy, also encouraged the laity to recite it. Sacrosanctum Concilium also stated that pastors “should see to it that the principal hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the most solemn feasts”.

Stafford described the Liturgy of the Hours to CNA as “the prayer book of the Church,” saying praying it can help Catholics avoid making “idols” of daily chores and routines, and instead take time for God throughout the day.

How difficult it is, he told himself, “to depart from the idols of the hour and to adore the One who is worthy of us.” Stafford said that in his view a renewed understanding of the meaning of time is needed, so that “we don’t make idols what we do in time”.

“I’m so engaged over the course of a day in my day-to-day activities…not just engaged, but I’m engaged. I’m a bit overwhelmed. They almost became idols to me. In fact, they become idols,” Stafford said.

“So the Liturgy of the Hours is a call, for me at least, to prioritize numero uno – to God the Father through Jesus.”

Stafford noted that during the day, “we are asked sursum corda, to lift up our hearts” to God, repeatedly. He encouraged families, in particular, to learn how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and to do it together.

“The Liturgy of the Hours is central to the spiritual life of the family…for those already baptized, it engages them in the gift the Church gives them,” Stafford said.

You can RSVP for Stafford’s live lecture on the Liturgy of the Hours, presented by the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary of Denver and scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Mountain Time on May 21, here.

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