Liturgy of the hours


I am not sure what forum this should go under. Are the presbyters and the bishops required to do the liturgy of the hours daily? I would think they are quite busy anyway. Diocesan Priests especially.



Per the Code of Canon Law, 1983:

Can. 276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.

3º priests and deacons aspiring to the presbyterate are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily according to the proper and approved liturgical books; permanent deacons, however, are to carry out the same to the extent defined by the conference of bishops;

Yes, priests are quite busy, but if they’re so busy that they’re not stopping five or ten minutes at various points throughout the day (or longer–which would be better!) to pray their office, perhaps they are too busy and need to cut back. I can tell you as a seminarian that making time in the midst of a busy schedule for those few minutes of prayer at the different hours makes it easier to get through the busyness. Prayer ought to be our priority, and when we make it such, everything else seems to fit together.

Further information can be found here:



How can an ordained minister be too busy to pray and read the Scripture? That should be their first priority. Many, not just the clergy, pray the Divine office (Liturgy of the hours). Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sixth, Nones, Vespers and Compline,each consists of Scripture Readings and prayer.


I know they must pray and come up with the homily and so on. I just thought it was required of them to read the Liturgy of the hours. I know some lay people do, but I don’t believe it’s required.



Yes, priests are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours. A diocesan priest would typically be bound to the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, one Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. I would imagine bishops have a similar obligation.

Permanent deacons are bound according to the prescript of his bishop and/or the country’s episcopal conference. I understand Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are what are typically required of them.

Religious priests are bound by their Constitutions, and for those in the monastic life, they are bound not only to pray all Hours (including all three Daytime hours), but also to chant at least some of them in choir.

And although the phrase is no longer used, because the obligation binds upon them by law, having received a *mandate *from the Church when they were ordained, they are required to recite them under pain of sin, excused, as always, by a serious reason. To intentionally omit, without serious reason, the hinge hours of Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer can even be mortally sinful.


So would a serious reason be for example if they were doing something all day? Working with the Parish and then going to visit sick and maybe having a funeral Mass at one time. That would sure be a lot.



It can be. But it should also be exceptional. Merely using “busy” as an excuse may not cut it if it’s habitual. Because it’s a mandate, they have to plan their day around the Divine Office, not try to “fit” the Divine Office into their busy day. Of course, exceptional serious reasons would include a parishioner or patient in danger of death who needs the sacraments urgently. A funeral Mass may not necessarily cut it, because it’s almost always a planned event, which means he can say his Divine Office before or after.

If a priest fails in his duty to say the Office because he’s “busy”, most assuredly he will fail in his ministry.


I just found what I believe might be an online copy of the Liturgy of Hours. It’s at If a lay person wanted to pick out one part of this to say daily; what would you suggest would be best?



I would say that a good place to start is Night Prayer. Not only is it brief and does it incorporate the basic elements of each of the Hours, but it is a good devotion to close one’s day with prayer–especially since an examination of conscience and prayer for God’s forgiveness is included in the outline of it.



An older priest once told me that many of his classmates had left the priesthood. He said the first step in their fall was always neglect of their prayer life. He considered it the essential element to being a good priest.


Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer would be my suggestion as they are considered the “hinge” hours.


I would suggest start with Night Prayer and add Morning and Evening Prayer as you can. Ease your way into it; don’t make it a burden.

Remember that the objective is to pray, communicate with God. The technique is secondary. I find it too easy to slip into checking the boxes and forgetting to communicate. :o


The Office of Readings although I would suggest buying the 4 volume set and praying the entire Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis.


What you say makes a lot of sense. I direct most of my prayers to the Holy Spirit as much as possible. Not much is said in the Bible, I don’t know about the sacred tradition; concerning this personage. One unusual prayer I use is the opening prayer of Vatican II. It calls on the Holy Spirit to guide.



I know they must pray and come up with the homily and so on. I just thought it was required of them to read the Liturgy of the hours. I know some lay people do, but I don’t believe it’s required.


Yes, it is required, Don’t Protestant pastors pray and read the Scriptures in the protestant way?

BTW, if you want to start praying the Divine Office, I would start with night prayer (Compline) and morning prayer (Lauds).


You could get books. But as always these days, there’s an app for that:


Has anyone heard about the effectiveness of the Breviary as compared to the rosary? I am not going to do both. But one of the two. And I am looking seriously at the liturgy of the hours. It looks to me like it is something that would be said before a congregation.



The Rosary is a devotion, while the Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church. As such, it has a liturgical character, even if prayed alone. It is the second-highest form of prayer right after the Mass, and indeed, is considered an extension to the Mass. Because of that, I would prefer the Divine Office over the Rosary.

The ideal is for the Hours to be said in common, or even in choir. But they can just as easily be said alone. The rubrics account for both situations.


What are “canticles”? Is that part like a song? Brothers of religious orders like the Benedictines come to mind with the word “canticles”. And what are “rubrics”?



A canticle is a song. In the context of the Liturgy of the Hours, a Canticle is a Biblical song that is not a Psalm.

Rubrics are the instructions that govern the a liturgical celebration. They are printed in red (Latin rubre), hence the term “rubrics.”

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