During the early months of 1825 we find Eugene and the Oblates preoccupied with revising the Rule of Life that they had written seven years earlier. Their lived experience had led them to make some changes in the text that they wanted to have officially approved by the Church. We find some of this reflected in the letters of Eugene. Today he comments on how the Liturgy of the Hours should be prayed by the group together:

The Office must be said in a very recollected manner, without being sung or intoned, but composedly and with care to observe the pauses.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 10 February 1825, EO VI n.169

In the Rule this was expressed as:

Art. 2. The Office will be recited with great spiritual recollection in choir, without chanting or intoning, but without haste, with gravity, with exact observance of the pauses.

1825 Rule, Part One, Chapter Three, §6 Divine Office.

He always insisted upon the importance of recitation of the Office in common:

No one can forget the importance we in our Institute attach to the recitation of the Divine Office in common. Hence it is recommended that all our communities be so attached to the fulfillment of this duty in accordance with the spirit proper to us, that even if the greater number in a house happen to be absent and there are only two present in the community, they are to assemble in choir at the fixed time to recite the Office together.

Act of Visitation of Notre Dame de l’Osier, 16 July 1835,
in Selected Texts n. 269.


“Use vocal prayer…very slowly, trying to realize the meaning with which it is charged and remember that…you are only a unit in the Chorus of the Church, so that the others will make good the shortcomings you cannot help.”    Evelyn Underhill

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Not being a priest, a deacon or a member of a religious congregation I am not bound to say the Liturgy of the Hours. I have never heard it being promoted for use by lay persons except during a 2 week summer course at a university and so it is not something that is regularly spoken about. I do not know why it is mandatory, mandatory as in required by Canon Law but apparently it is. I am not a stranger to it but I have to admit that it is not a part of my regular daily prayer life. Sitting here this morning I find myself wanting to say it is long and tedious, but in all truth so is sitting here writing this sometimes. Today it is not a delight or joyful, the thoughts and words do not flow, it is not easy or comfortable. It is not just a matter of reading but entering into.

    Perhaps that is why Eugene stressed the importance of praying it in common with other members of the community. There is a rhythm sometimes that after a period of time becomes a part of who we are. It can (but does not have to be) easier to join in with others than to be on one’s own. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” – that certainly applies to me – I do not seem to be able to simply do it on my own. I love what Evelyn Underhill says about “others making good the shortcomings you cannot help”. That is family, that is community.

    Today this started out being all about the Liturgy of the Hours. But it has drawn me down another path, ending my reflection with thoughts and questions about community. They are no easier than the first I had about the Breviary. The invitation to pray together – powerful.

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