One pillar of Benedictine life is prayer in common, and that is the Work of God. Throughout the day, Benedictines from around the world stop their normal, daily activities to praise God and to pray for the world. This gathering for communal prayer is known collectively as Liturgy of the Hours.
Formally known as Lauds from its Latin name, laus or laudare, "praise" or "to praise," Morning Prayer is the initial prayer of the day for the oblate. It should be offered as soon after rising as possible.
Sunrise has a special importance as one of the hinges of the day; the light of the rising sun brings to life all that was quiet in sleep. The dawn is a vivid image of the rising of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. And so we praise the new light, the new day, Christ's coming again.
The second hinge of the day is sunset. The descent of darkness hints at the coming of the evening star - Vespers. Vespers is the term for Evening Prayer.
During the Evening Prayer, we give thanks for the day we have just lived, and we look forward to welcome, even beyond the veil of sleep and death, the morning's promised light - Jesus Christ - who is the light no darkness can extinguish. Vespers should be prayed before or after the evening meal.
This is the night prayer offered before retiring for bed. This prayer brings the day to a close. It gives us an opportunity to repent for our sins and failures and it renews our trust in the victory of the light - Jesus Christ - over sin and death.
(Saint Meinrad's monastic community also celebrates Vigils immediately preceding Lauds and Noon Prayer in the middle of the day.)
Saint Meinrad has published a book, Liturgy of the Hours for Benedictine Oblates, which is available from the Oblate Office. It contains a four-week cycle of the Liturgy of the Hours, adapted for the oblates from the monastic community's own prayer. You can find information here on purchasing the book.
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