We have the duty and joy of sharing in this prayer whenever possible

Quote of the Day for Sunday, May 29th, 2011:

Taken from the website of an Anglican priest in New Zealand, Bosco Peters, on the proper place of the Liturgy of the Hours in the prayer life of the life of the Christian believer:

Many who pray the Daily Office have a personal Rule of Life, or even an expectation or vows that require that regular discipline. These can often end up feeling guilty when a particular Hour has not been prayed by them. Some, in fact, will then try to "catch up" what they have missed – even gluing a number of Hours together and praying them one after the other. This comes out of an individualistic interpretation of Christianity whereby individuals join the church for mutual support of individual spiritual growth. The Liturgy of the Hours seen as the Prayer of the Church, and the spirituality that goes with this approach, flips this on its head.

The Church as Christ’s Body, in that perspective, exists prior to individuals joining it, and individuals become Christians precisely through their incorporation into this community (primarily through baptism). The Liturgy of the Hours, as the Prayer of the Church, and essentially the prayer of Christ (the whole Christ – head and members) is ongoing, and we have the duty and joy of sharing in this prayer whenever possible. When we miss the prayer we can be conscious that the prayer goes on – we do not catch up with it, rather we pick it up again when we can.

Peters makes a great point about how the Liturgy of the Hours should act as a kind of school for understanding the ecclesiology of the Church’s life of prayer. I must admit that I have sometimes done the exact thing he speaks of here, worrying about “catching up” Offices I may have missed. Such an attitude completely misses the point of liturgical prayer. It is the Church who prays – even Christ as Head of the Church – and we believers are invited into that perfect faithfulness as participants in something that totally transcends our own feeble acts, whether pious or impious. Our modernistic mindset resists that wisdom, but the entire enterprise of Christianity is rooted in a self-renouncing, participatory salvation through Christ’s perfect worship of the Father. That is a truth at once humbling and exhilarating.