(Notes taken from The Rock and the River, by Martin Thornton. New York: Morehouse-Barlow, 1965.)
What is the Divine Office?
(1) The Church’s daily offering of praise to God the Father through Christ; its fundamental emphases are corporate, objective, and self-effacing — the “pulse” of the organism.
- A specific, attentive response to God who is at the heart of life.
- An adult discipline.
(2) A doctrinal affirmation and grounding of insights gained through personal Devotion.
(3) A preparation, or ‘prologue’, to the Mass.
What is it not?
(1) Only an occasional act of worship, such as a Sunday service.
(2) A meditative practice or lectio divina.
(3) A variable liturgy, up to the whims of the moment.
What is the Divine Office for?
(1) Forming the basis of habitual recollection; a ‘tuning-in’ by the Church Militant to the perpetual adoration of God by the Church Triumphant: a ‘continuum of praise’.
(2) Providing solid food of maturity rather than affective sweetmeats of spiritual adolescence; it guards against subjectivism and sentimentality; provides support in periods of aridity.
(3) Giving practical expression of loving God: a practical, existential, concrete response to prevenient grace.
(4) Giving solid anchor amid a world of anxiety, terrifying change, mental and psychological disturbance — an aid to keeping sane.
(5) Giving ascetical emphasis to objective praise of God transcendent — the living affirmation of God’s ‘otherness’ or ‘incomprehensibility’.
(6) Expressing corporate togetherness; it is the Church’s prayer and the Church’s praise: true community, true corporate identity: an expression of being-with-others, a vicarious “praying-for” on behalf of all.
(7) Guarding against legalism, individualism, and self-centeredness.
How is the Divine Office to be used?
- As a group or parish assembled in a physical space (i.e., a parish church).
- Private recitation, or “secret discipline”: at home, in hotel room, at work, on a busor train or car: as “the beyond in the midst of life”.
(2) Means of articulation.
- Sung or chanted.
- Said or recited.