Divine Office Forum: Lauds for laity
Lauds for laity QUESTION from Gerard Paul on October 17, 2002 I'm a married, working layman starting to pray the Divine Office. I've been at it for less than a week but I have to say it really enriches my prayer time.
Being a working man I have difficulty meeting the strict canonical morning hours, and as I write this, when I got around to saying the Lauds, it was already approaching 9am (strictly Terce already).
I'm committing myself only to the Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, and I use the Shorter Christian Prayer booklet as my guide. Was my 9am Lauds recitation already out of order? With it my intention was to consecrate my entire daylight hours until the Vespers.
And one more thing, I don't know the old hymns at in the guide. Can they be omitted or recited? I do my Office alone.
Thanks for your advice.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on October 20, 2002 Dear Mr. Paul:
I am happy to se that you are beginning this wonderful prayer of the Church. Yes, it is enriching and the great thing is that when we pray the Divine Office, we are not praying by ourselves but with the ENTIRE Church. What a powerful prayer!
As for Lauds being said at 9am, that is really pushing it. If you just got up I suppose your might squeek this in.
We must remember that this is NOT a personal prayer devotion, but a liturgy of the Church and thus we do not say the Divine Office personally (even if we are alone), we say it with the entire Church and more specifically as to time, we say it with other Catholics at the hours appropriate for our Time Zone.
As a nun said on EWTN one time, if you miss it, you miss it, you can't make it up.
If you are up before 9am but are just busy with getting the kids off to school and that sort of thing, I would suggest getting up about 15-20 earlier and doing the Office first thing.
Otherwise, if it was me, and this is me since because of my illness I am not up early enough for Lauds oftentimes, I just skip to Tierce because by the time 9-10am rolls around it is no longer morning even though I personally may just be getting up.
Below are the portions of the GILH are apply to this issue. I think the bottom line is to consider the thoughts I have expressed and the Instruction below and then follow your conscience. But I would certainly not go beyond 9am to begin Lauds in any event.
The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours states:
Consecration of Time 10. Christ taught us: You must pray at all times and not lose heart (Lk 18:1). The Church has been faithful in obeying this instruction; it never ceases to offer prayer and makes this exhortation its own: Through him (Jesus) let us offer to God an unceasing sacrifice of praise (Heb 15:15). The Church fulfills this precept not only by celebrating the eucharist but in other ways also, especially through the liturgy of the hours. By ancient Christian tradition what distinguishes the liturgy of the hours from other liturgical services is that it consecrates to God the whole cycle of the day and the night. 
11. The purpose of the liturgy of the hours is to sanctify the day and the whole range of human activity. Therefore its structure has been revised in such a way as to make each hour once more correspond as nearly as possible to natural time and to take account of the circumstances of life today. 
Hence, that the day may be truly sanctified and the hours themselves recited with spiritual advantage, it is best that each of them be prayed at a time most closely corresponding to the true time of each canonical hour. 
And about Lauds the Instruction states:
38. As is clear from many of the elements that make it up, morning prayer is intended and arranged to sanctify the morning. St. Basil the Great gives an excellent description of this character in these words: It is said in the morning in order that the first stirrings of our mind and will may be consecrated to God and that we may take nothing in hand until we have been gladdened by the thought of God, as it is written: 'I was mindful of God and was glad' (Ps 77:4 [Jerome's translation from Hebrew]), or set our bodies to any task before we do what has been said: 'I will pray to you, Lord, you will hear my voice in the morning; I will stand before you in the morning and gaze on you' (Ps 5:4-5).  Celebrated as it is as the light of a new day is dawning, this hour also recalls the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the true light enlightening all people (see Jn 1:9) and the sun of justice (Mal 4:2), rising from on high (Lk 1:78). Hence, we can well understand the advice of St. Cyprian: There should be prayer in the morning so that the resurrection of the Lord may thus be celebrated. 
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