Secular Franciscans praise God and we do this everyday in prayer. At home using the Divine Office we start the day with praise, and end the day in thanks. We read the liturgy of The Church each morning as we wake and each night before we sleep. This is something Secular Franciscans do not because we have to, not just because our Rule asks us to, but because it is heart-felt and we are called by God’s Holy Spirit to pray. The Holy Spirit that dwells within us calls out to God, Our Father, and longs to be with Our Brother, Jesus Christ – and this is why we pray – because we love Him and He loves us.
Let us bless our Lord and God, living and true;
let us always return unto Him praise, glory, honour, blessing,
and all good things.
Let it be,
St Francis of Assisi – Said at the end of every Office.
The Divine Office is the Liturgy of the Hours. It is said at different hours to sanctify the day and combines The Psalms, prayers, readings and canticles. A “Book of Hours” is the name given to Medieval manuscripts of Church liturgy, these were wonderfully hand-scripted, beautifully decorated and illuminated with gold leaf. Books of Hours were normally written in Latin and created for monasteries and nobility but sadly rarely seen by the every-day person.
The Secular Franciscan Rule says this about liturgical prayer:
As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.
Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.
our rule says That We Should Pray by Imitating Mary
The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to his every word and call. She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.
As Catholics in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland we have several different options of Liturgical Prayer proposed by The Church
- Daily Prayer Book : Morning, Day, Evening and Night Prayer [from the Divine Office].
- Morning and Evening Prayer Book [from the Divine Office].
- The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- The Office of the Passion written by St Francis.
- The SFO Handbook contains a small selection of Offices for each day of the week.
- The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham [a Daily Prayer Book used by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham from The Divine Worship with Terce, Sext, None plus Daily and Evening Prayer].
- The Monastic Diurnal [Benedictine – used by monks, nuns and oblates].
- The Office of the twelve Our Fathers in one of its versions.
“The Morning and Evening Prayer Book” is the prayer book most used at home by Secular Franciscans. Its prayer structure fits nicely with the work, leisure and life-style of most people and is not too expensive.
The complete edition of The Divine Office is a collection of three books which includes prayers and readings for Lauds [6am], Terce [9am], Sext [12pm mid-day], None [3pm], Vespers [6pm], Compline [before sleep] and Matins [readings recited during the night].
As we celebrate The Divine Office we keep in mind we’re reading the Church’s prayer of the day and that we’re praying for all of God’s Creation, for all of humanity, for all of His children. We are offering praise to God for all of us.
Pray with us to the Lord and as our prayers, like incense rise before him, he will hear us and answer us, according to his promise.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church – explains Liturgical Prayer as:
- 1175 The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God. In it Christ himself “continues his priestly work through his Church.”His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted to the pastoral ministry, because they are called to remain diligent in prayer and the service of the word; religious, by the charism of their consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible: “Pastors of souls should see to it that the principal hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and on the more solemn feasts. The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.”
- 1176 The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper “understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms.”