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How Do You Start Your Day?

Up in the morning before day, I don’t like it no way, eat my breakfast too soon. hungry as heck by noon, here we go all the way, PT every day, one mile no sweat, two miles better yet, three miles getting there, four miles alright, five miles heck yeah, that’s the way we start our day.

How do you start your day!  The above military cadence is a common one that we would sing every day at Physical Training (PT) where soldiers would do their “daily dozen” exercises and run, run, run!  As General George S. Patton stated, “More sweat in peacetime means less blood in combat!” 

Roman Catholic priests and Permanent Deacons start their day with a requirement by canon law to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  Priests have the requirement to pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours while Permanent Deacons are required to pray only the morning and evening hours. 

Specifically, the Liturgy of the Hours also known as the Divine Office, is the daily prayers of the Church.  It is read/sung during certain hours each day where we are sanctifying and praising God throughout the world, 24/7 (twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week).  These Hours reflect the mystery of Christ, using Old and New Testament scripture along with prayers.   

The five Hours of the Divine Office are: Vigils at dawn (Officium lectionis); Morning Prayer (Lauds); Three Daytime Prayers (Terce or Midmorning Prayer before Noon; Sext or Midday Prayer; None or Afternoon or Midafternoon Prayer); Vespers (Evening Prayer); Compline (Night Prayer).  The Church provides a liturgical variation with appropriate hymns, readings, psalms, canticles, and antiphons, for use in marking specific celebrations during the Roman Catholic Calendar. These include selections in the ‘Proper of Seasons’, Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, and the ‘Proper of Saints’ for Saints’ feast days.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1177) states that the “The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expressing the symbolism of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. Moreover, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour (with the subsequent responses or troparia) and readings from the Fathers and spiritual masters at certain Hours, reveal more deeply the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, assist in understanding the psalms, and prepare for silent prayer.”

This Divine Office is the voice of the Universal Church.  They are the prayers said by all Catholic clergy from the Pope to monks, brothers, priests and deacons and even many laity pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well.  These prayers which Christ himself together with his Body, the Church, addresses to God – Our Father. 

The two most significant Hours are Morning (lauds) and Evening Prayer (vespers). These include a Gospel canticle (song).  The Canticle of Zechariah from Luke 1:68-79 for Morning Prayer (known as the Benedictus), and the Canticle of Mary from Luke 1:46-55 for Evening Prayer (known as the Magnificat).  Morning and Evening Prayer include intercessions that flow from the scriptural proclamation just as the Psalms prepare for it.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passion, that spreads and passes through the hours, minutes, and seconds of each day.  

And as soldiers around the world begin their day with Physical Training and their daily dozen with cadence songs, the faithful pray constantly through the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours.  The entire course of each day and night is made Holy by the faithful, clergy, religious, and lay people, exercising their prayers for the Glory of God.  Let us set the “Clock of Our Hearts” with prayer!  Blessings – Dcn Jim