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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

During Advent, in order to help our spiritual preparation for Christmas, we will be saying Morning Prayer from The Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office) publicly each morning (except Wednesdays) in our Lady Chapel. Everyone is warmly invited to join in this prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours involves reciting or singing psalms and reading passages from the Bible at different times throughout the day. Morning Prayer (which we will say at 7:45 am on weekdays, 8:15 am at weekends) normally takes 15-20 minutes.

The full Divine Office consists of Morning Prayer (which we will be saying) as well as Prayer During the Day, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer and a longer Office of Readings which can be said at any time. These 'hours', as they are known, help us to consecrate the entire day to God. The tradition of singing the psalms and praying throughout the day and night is an ancient Jewish custom and in the Old Testament we read many accounts of people praying in this way. In the New Testament, we read that the Apostles went to pray in the Temple at Jerusalem at certain times during the day (cf. Acts 3:1) and St. Paul instructed the early Christians to 'pray constantly' (1 Thessalonians 5:17). By praying the Liturgy of the Hours the Church, as the Bride of Christ, fulfils this command.

Morning Prayer is an excellent way to start the day and helps us grow closer to God. It gives us an increased appreciation of Sacred Scripture (especially the Psalms) and reminds us that we should offer each day to God. In Advent, it also helps us to 'make a straight highway for our God' (cf. Isaiah 40:3), so Christ may enter our hearts more deeply at Christmas.

The Divine Office is the 'prayer of the Church' and always follows a form approved by the Church. All priests and members of religious orders everywhere in the world are required to pray it every day. The Second Vatican Council also urged lay people to join in this prayer wherever possible, so that it truly becomes the prayer of the entire people of God.

Perhaps you might be able to pop into our Church for some (or all!) of these mornings.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:38 pm