“Jesus Christ, High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven.” (On the Sacred Liturgy/Vatican II Document)
This quote sums up the greatness we share in when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office/Opus Dei). Coming together as God’s people we cry out with, in and through Christ, the praises of the Church and the world. United with the members of Christ’s body on earth, our voices are raised in adoration, thanksgiving and praise when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
This is the heart of the vocation of being a Benedictine Oblate. Making our voices the voice of the Church through the Liturgy of the Hours is the reason for our existence. Singing the praises of God is why Benedictines exist. Everything else is secondary. “Nothing is to be preferred to the work of God.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 69)
Taking up into ourselves the cries of the poor, the sick and suffering, we cry out to God in the Psalms on their behalf. Filled with joy and expectation, we sing His praises for those who know Him not. The Divine Office is not just the prayer of the Church but the prayer of the world and the cosmos itself. We unite our voices to that one great hymn of praise which is “sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven” through Jesus Christ our Savior in the flesh.
This prayer of the Church is not our own. We cannot claim the Divine Office to be our personal prayer. We speak with the voice of the Church on behalf of all.
There are days when the Psalms may not mean much to me personally. I may not be suffering or crying out to God in pain but I know that somewhere in the world someone is. Somewhere in the world others are suffering yet cannot find the words in their need. The poor, the hungry, the sick and the dying, we stand before God on their behalf and cry out to Him, knowing that He hears our prayer.
Each day we join our voices with the Church here on earth and in heaven to sing the praises of the Triune God, and we know that our prayer is heard because it is the prayer of Christ Himself to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.
The mystery of salvation history is made present in the Divine Office. We recall the things God has done for us and they are made present through the liturgy. They truly become present in a sacramental way because the Church brings forth that which she celebrates in Christs name.
What a great joy to be able to join our voices to the Church throughout time and history! What a great joy to know that the hymn of praise in heaven is taken up by us when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours. And what an honor it is to stand before God with, in and through Christ on behalf of those who’s voices are not heard.
May God in His goodness show us the great dignity we possess when we pray the Divine Office on behalf of all!