Revised:  12-11-2001

    In the earliest of times, perhaps even back to the Garden of Eden, humanity has held an inherent feeling of need to communicate in some manner with that which brought about materiality -- that which described Self to Moses in Exodus 3:14  as "tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you."  The account of the earliest communications is a direct vocal exchange between God and the individual as in the exchange between God and Cain after the first recorded murder [Genesis 4:9] -- Then the Lord asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"  He answered, "I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?"  Later in history the vocal communication focuses on dialog between God and a prophet or leader.
    The early Christian body, guided by the Apostles, having experienced the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, entered Jerusalem and "went to the upper room where they were staying.  All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers."  That exercise undoubtedly included the customary hymns and prayers practiced by Jews, especially from the Book of Psalms.  Every faith tradition has it own primary methods of expressing their faith by liturgy, rites, songs and traditions.  The early Christian church continued to observe the Hours in Jerusalem and, after the destruction of the Temple [70 A.D.], they carried similar practices throughout the evangelized world.
    Monasticism propelled the concept of community recitation of the Hours which was a required daily exercise for all ordained deacons and priests.  The Second Vatican Council called for the restoration of the Liturgy of the Hours to the people in general and the format was revised to make it more available; including recitation in local language instead of the previous Latin and a monthly journey through the psalms rather than weekly.  A diagram of the present format is shown below.  It is interesting to note that the faith of Islam requires all its adherents to pray in a certain manner five times a day.
          Morning Prayer


         Daytime Prayer
        [select at least one]

Midmorning Prayer
Midday Prayer
Midafternoon Prayer
          Evening Prayer
       [Traditional "vespers"]


                                                Office of Readings

May be read at any time, including in concert with the celebration of the Mass.  If read as a night vigil, it is comparable with the traditional "matins" of monasticism.
Extractions from the Bible and subsequent Christian authors are read after appropriate psalms.