Need help with understanding terminology


The Liturgy is the work of the people. That is the meaning of the Greek word which the English came from.
The Liturgy of the hours is sometimes refered to as the work of God. First we speak of Liturgy as the work of the people and then we call a specific kind of Liturgy the work of God.
What is going on?

Why is the Divine Office and not Mass refered to as the work of God?

How are these two terms different?
It seems to me that all good the work the people do is due to the fact that God is working. Dont you agree?


Can you give the text that you got this out of? Context might be good to refer back to , in answering.


Opus Dei or Work of God is found in the rule of St Benedict. I guess it is from monks that I have gotten the term.
The term Liturgy as meaning the work of the People seem to come from etymology which has been debunked by some people. They say it is simplistic etymology and not correct.
Then I have never heard the Mass refered to as Opus Dei.


I am going to tag @Crm_Brother

He is good with this type of thing


I’m not familiar with this, but I would venture a guess that this is supposed to be understood as “work of God” (as in gift) or “work for God”, whereas the common definition of liturgy, “work of the people” is interpreted as “action of/by” the people.


Hello all,

The Divine Office and the Mass, while both Liturgy, use the term in different ways. While Mass is Liturgy, it is not merely liturgy (public work), but purely divine gift. As such it is raised above the Divine Office. Let’s examine the two.

When we speak about the Divine Office, we are using the original Latin term of ‘Office’, which is a composite of ‘Opus’ and ‘Facere’, literally translated as ‘to do work’. Despite it’s similarities with ‘Liturgy’ it is always used within the context of a act motivated by a being’s own will. It is liturgy in the sense that it is a public work of the Church, but unlike sacramental liturgy like the Mass, it is solely the work of man (the Church) in response to God. It is a human working, but it’s ultimate aim is God. It find’s its source in God’s call and finds its end in closer union to God. Hence ‘Divine Office’. In this sense, it is not so much the work of God but rather man’s work concerning God. It is the highest form of Liturgy which we, as humans, can work upon our own power. Thus, it is our work of God.

The Mass is the ultimate form of the Liturgy. It is Liturgy, not in the sense that man is doing the public work, but rather that God is the one doing the action. In the Liturgy of the Word, the Father makes himself known through the Son, the Word, evident in the scriptures and the people receive that Word through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Father works transubstantiation through the Holy Spirit to make His Son physically present in the Eucharist: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Man cannot enact the Mass without God. Reading the Scriptures would just be words on a page. The Liturgy of the Eucharist would simply be repeating a formula and passing out bread and wine.

To sum up, the Divine Office is man’s work of God. The Mass is so much more.

Hope this helped.

God Bless,
Br. Ben, CRM


“… Originally a Greek term, leitourgia meant service done for the common good, whether of a political, religious, or pragmatic nature. Any service performed for the sake of others – serving in the army or caring for the destitute – would have been considered as “liturgy” …”

“… An expectation was that restoring the word “liturgy,” would also restore the concept that liturgy is not self-serving, but outwardly directed. When people go to public worship, they do it for the other people, to support them in faith. …”

From the entry on “Liturgy” by Julia Upton, RSM, in The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia (Edited by Michael Glazier and Monika Hellwig, published by The Liturgical Press in 1994, and in Australia by E.J. Dwyer, isbn 0855740620 ).


Let’s see if I understood you correctly:
The Divine Office includes psalms like nr 50 (51) which was composed (or actually improvised) by St David. Thus it is about man to God.

In the Mass we have Jesus being crucified for us. We have God to man.

Then the obvious question is: how is the improvised prayer of St David different from our improvised prayer?

We have the Mass, the Divine Office (in its fullness or simplified lay version), confession, adoration, the rosary and other private devotionals. And not to forget offering up your daily things like music playing and charitable works.

How can we see the similarities and differences between these ways of praying?

As a musician I see one important thing here: prayer is mostly about saying words with a meaning. Just improvising a melody is never called prayer inless it happened in a weird charismstic prayer group.
What do you make of this?

About the Greek: so Liturgy has never meant The work of the people? People who say this dont know Greek?
Did the Church ever say that Liturgy is the work of the people? Divine Office is divine work but Mass is never work?

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