20 July, 2008

Daily Office

I still remember my cousin Fabrizio giving me a pocket version of the Daily Office when I was 14 years of age. It was a birthday present that changed my prayer life forever.
As some of you know I went on a monastic retreat in Tuscany at the same age and maybe Fabrizio, inspired by my positive feedback of this experience, decided to introduce me to THE prayer of the Church with that little book.

The Office repeats itself every season and through the years. In this lays its main strength and proof of it was given to me by a student of Trinity College, Bristol. This young woman training for ordination gave a brief talk at the end of the open-day about the College’s attitude towards prayer. In her speech, drawn from personal experience, she highlighted how this rhythm of worship can change our lives. It was totally unexpected for me to find such a disciplined pattern of prayer, grounded on Common Worship, in such an ‘Evangelical’ college; perhaps she is one of a kind...

Back in Italy, and I suspect, anywhere on the Continent, the hours of the Office are observed almost exclusively by priests and religious orders. I believe that confining the duty of intercession only to a selected category of people has resulted in a great loss for the entire Body of Christ.
Here in England I have discovered Matins and Evensong, Morning and Evening prayers for to the community. This is a tradition that has survived centuries of transformations, the separation from Rome, the Puritans and their holy revolution and even some liturgical messing about of the last decades. One little testimony of this is the Book of Hours painted in the hands of lay people and clergy alike.

In the daily parish life the patter of the Office invites us all to worship God even when we don’t feel like doing it or to mourn when our hearts would burst with joy. Is this madness? No, not at all.
I believe that our prayers are joined by the whole, endless and greater Worship of the Church throughout the Earth hence it shouldn’t always relay on the feeling of a single individual.
Every liturgical hour is a chance for a community to dissipate disagreements and find quietness amidst the noise of life, as well as feel one with all believers. Our personal differences count to nought in the presence of God.

The tradition of the Church therefore, invites us to nurture our spiritual lives with the Office and the Eucharist. By both acts of worship we are strengthen in a sense of community, taught more deeply about the Scriptures and made more aware of the constant presence of Christ among us.

I have used different editions of the Daily office since I was fourteen. The one I have been using for the past five years is Celebrating Common Prayer (CCP) although I haven’t been recommended it by Fabrizio, who is probably still not impressed by Anglicanism. I got into it after using it at Morning Prayers in my parish at St Botolph's with-out-Aldgate.


eric said...

The Daily Office is wonderful. I try to at least pray Compline every night. It's nice to know there are others praying with me around the world, no matter the time of day.

Brinkley said...

Yeah, I know your feeling. I try at least to do Compline too or Evening Prayers.