This past week I attended the Catholic Marketing Network convention in Somerset, New Jersey. Two Servant authors signed books there: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle signed copies of The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions, and Daria Sockey signed The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. Below is a guest post from Lisa Mladinich; she’s written a great review of Daria’s book. Enjoy! —Claudia Volkman
It’s not often that I finish a book with the thought, “Where have you been all my life?” But The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey has been just such a revelation.
As a catechist and mother, I deeply appreciate encountering a gifted writer and teacher like this author, who manages to clear away the dust that has unjustly covered a great and winsome spiritual treasure, the Divine Office (a.k.a. the Liturgy of the Hours, a.ka. the Breviary) for far too long.
Before I read this book I didn’t understand the concept of “liturgical prayer.” But this dry-sounding term actually refers to a truly beautiful and exciting opportunity to grow closer to God and experience—through the psalms, canticles, epistles and other readings—refreshment and encouragement throughout our long, busy days.
Here’s a for instance. Did you know that the LOH is an extension of the Mass itself? I’d never heard that before I read Daria’s book. I thought it was something priests and nuns and a few hyper-pious laypeople practiced exclusively in private. I had no idea it was part of the public prayer of the Church and therefore a powerful participation in the liturgical prayers of Christians all over the world.
One of the best parts of the LOH for me is the poetry of its language, which has begun to seep into my consciousness throughout the day and elevate my spontaneous prayers. I’m acquiring a deeper, more Old-Testament flavor to my conversations with God, picturing myself at the foot of his “holy mountain,” and offering more readily a “sacrifice of praise” in the midst of suffering and struggle.
I had the opportunity to hear Daria speak, recently, and she quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who called the Psalms a “school of prayer.” As in her book, she summed up the psalmists’ recipe for honest dialogue with God with cheerful succinctness: “Complain. Trust. Repeat.”
The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is a delight; accessibly and warmly written, well-organized, and attractively designed, it includes step-by-step, nuts-and-bolts instructions for praying the LOH throughout the liturgical year, including comprehensive lists and descriptions of other great resources for learning to use the Breviary. (Mobile users can download the iBreviary (free) or DivineOffice app which will serve up the right readings on the right day at the right time with the touch of a button.)
Throughout her charming book, Daria takes excerpts from typical readings and breaks them open, showing us how they apply to our own lives, and making even the traditional terminology of the “hours” come to life. Here is an excerpt from page 79:
A Perfect End – Night Prayer
Compline means “completion.” Night Prayer completes our day. It is bedtime prayer. Its psalms and canticles speak of confidence in God’s love and protection for his sleeping children. The psalms and antiphons of Night Prayer are suitably brief for our tiredness. Night Prayer offers us comfort and reassurance:
I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4, Saturday night).
Into your hands I commend my spirit (Psalm 31, responsory, every night).
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace (antiphon for canticle of Simeon, every night).
You should read this book simply because you’ll enjoy it. Yes, you’ll also want to pray the Breviary, which is incredibly powerful, and it will change your spiritual life (and therefore the rest of your life) for the better. But to really appreciate the readings and what they mean, and how they can elevate your life, you need Daria’s book.
Lisa Mladinich is the founder of AmazingCatechists.com and the author of the Be an Amazing Catechist series from Our Sunday Visitor.