It seems surprising that as the sixth ministry Eugene puts the community prayer of the Breviary:

All the priests, oblates, and novices are bound to recite the Divine Office in common, according to the rite of the Holy Roman Church, at the hours prescribed by the schedule.

The surprising part is not that the Missionaries must pray regularly, but that this is seen as one of the MINISTRIES of the Missionaries. In other words, the time given to praying the Breviary is as important as any one of the other ministries.

Apart from the personal sanctification that Eugene never stops stressing (“be” in order to “do”), the community prayer is other-centered in that it is a ministry done for the good of the whole Congregation and its mission.

The Institute regards this exercise as the source of all the blessings which must pour out upon all the ministry of the whole Society.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter 3, §6 Divine Office

 Praying the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, is an act of the Church and for the good of the whole Church, of which the community of Missionaries is a cell.

Two clarifications on the text:

– One of the ends of the Missionaries was to make up for the disappearance of the Orders, whose foundation was built on singing the Divine Office at various moments of the day – hence this initial insistence. As the Oblates became geographically more widespread and their ministry more varied in small groups or individually – it was the spirit of this part of the Rule that had to be maintained in their individual prayer: praying the Breviary was a ministry for the welfare of the mission of the whole Congregation.

– Eugene used the word “oblates” to denote all those who had professed their first vows and were not yet priests (i.e. scholastics – seminarians). This was 8 years before the Congregation took the official name of “Oblates” for all its members.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church, the spouse of Christ. In it, we praise the Father for his wonderful works and invoke his blessing on our mission. Each community will ordinarily celebrate part of the Hours in common. Where possible, the faithful will be invited to join us in this public prayer of the Church.   CC&RR, Constitution 33


Every true prayer is a prayer of the Church; by means of that prayer the Church prays, since it is the Holy Spirit living in the Church, Who in every single soul ‘prays in us with unspeakable groanings’.    Edith Stein

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    I have been a way for the blog since Easter so seeing this blog “convicted” me.
    To be honest, the “breviary” is one of my lest favorite prayers. When “saying” it alone it is way to long and wordy. I also don’t appreciate the non inclusive language. And when saying it with others the pace is so fast I am just saying words.
    The only part of the prayer I do appreciate is that it is being said together with in the world community.
    So maybe it will always be a struggle (“canned prayer already digested seems so weak to me). I much prefer to sit meditation and then move gentle to Oraison.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My first reaction to this was a heartfelt ‘oh damn’ and then reading it very fast (like that will make it any easier!) Like Jack I struggle with saying the Office on a regular daily basis. My initial reaction is – it’s too long, I am not “comfortable” with the language and the hymns which are not my favorite, and last but not least – well it’s really for religious and not me so no big deal. I cannot believe how often I pull out that excuse! (But I must also admit that there is a certain ‘something’ when I am faithful to it – that part of praying it with others in spirit perhaps.)

    As a lay person I do not remember growing up and hearing about or learning about the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours or the Breviary. It was not until a couple of years ago that I learned it was the prayer for the Church (vs personal prayer). As I said it is not comfortable – it seems to demand perseverence and consistent effort. So it goes in spurts for me and I do it occassionally only.

    I wonder if “obedience” (I want to say holy obedience – not sure if it is to make me feel better or what), but I wonder if ‘obedience’ to praying the Office may just make it work for me. That the act of doing it will somehow enable me, my soul, to pray through it (I don’t always know why or what I pray for and so I just let it happen or be – knowing that it will be directed as necessary. I am hearing the word faith in there somewhere.)

    Edith Stein says: ” … since it is the Holy Spirit living in the Church, Who in every single soul ‘prays in us with unspeakable groanings’.” I respond somehow to that statement with an inward groan of my own and an “oh damn”. I continue on with one of my favorites of “well its only for religious” – that one that I seem to pull out every second or third day. Means I better relook at it all. This seems to be one of those “dragging my heels’ times – not one of my most attractive qualities for sure.

  3. Richard Chelin omi says:

    It seems surprising indeed to see that the breviary appears as a sixth ministry. That was indeed surprising. Yet the more i think about it, the more I remember that Eugene was a community minded person and saying the breviary together indeed encompasses one with a sense of togetherness. Personally, it does seem not to make sense at times: a bunch of guys reciting prayers which one may not be attentive to. Nevertheless it is the Church prayer and praying it means the whole community is at prayer. What i like the most in C33 is :’Where possible, the faithful will be invited to join us in this public prayer of the Church.’ Were this to happen in many communities would that not really give us a sense of the Church at prayer?

  4. John Mouck says:

    I certainly do not recite The Divine Office, however it seams to me that those of you that I know a bit about, are far enough along in your mystic journey, and already close enough to Jesus, that you have been given permission to “colour outside the lines.”
    So, if you choose to forgo that routine in favour of a more personal, meaningful method of communicating with our Father, that’s okay. There are many ways of feeling that connection with Community/Church.
    To me it is like praying the rosary – of course your mind (our minds) will wander. It is supposed to wander because it is the admission price to a God-produced live broadcast.
    The sacrament in the discipline, no matter what form it takes, comes from offering Him your undivided attention at a pre-determined time, for a specific amount of time, routinely.

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