[I’ve been meaning to write this since February, but life keeps getting me muddled. Why are book reviews both the hardest and easiest blog posts to write? It’s a great mystery. Anyway, I had an inquiry about this book today and it prompted me to finally finish writing my review for crying out loud.]
The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey of Coffee and Canticles. I have to confess, I’m not the most unbiased of reviewers. I’ve been a fan of Daria’s for a long time. (I hope she doesn’t mind if I call her by her first name, but having read her blog for ages and having even met in person it just feels weird to call her anything else.) When I first found her blog back in 2011 I was so excited to see someone writing so clearly and insightfully about the Liturgy of the Hours. When I learned she was writing a book I was over the moon.
Daria’s book doesn’t disappoint, either. It’s a great primer for the Liturgy of the Hours, aka Divine Office, aka Breviary, aka Christian Prayer, aka Morning, Evening, Daytime,and Night Prayer, aka Lauds, Vespers, Terce, None, Sext, Vespers, and Compline (with a dash of the Office of Readings, aka Vigils). This is a book I’d definitely recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about this primary prayer of the Church. If you’ve been curious about the Liturgy of the Hours but didn’t know where to start; if you’ve never heard of the Liturgy of the Hours but are interested in learning about an ancient form of prayer that has existed from the earliest days of the Church; if you have a breviary gathering dust because you just can’t figure out how to use it; if you want to read more scripture but aren’t sure how to begin… really unless you are a Liturgy of the Hours pro, this book probably has something for you. And even for someone like me who has been praying it for a decade, I still found some great little nuggets and a lot of encouragement. Daria introduces the various hours and explains how they are prayed, dissecting them into the various parts. She explains all the technical vocabulary, reviews all the various versions out there, including electronic versions, as well as the various learning resources and guides. She tells you not only how to pray, but why to pray as well. She explains how the liturgy of the hours meshes with the liturgical year. She addresses common complaints and quibbles. She even dives into a bit of spiritual exegesis for beginners.
And the book is short enough not to be overwhelming: only 115 pages. All very easy to read in non-complicated layman’s language. All in all a very friendly little book. I’m thinking this, perhaps along with a volume of Christian Prayer, would be a great gift for confirmation. Treat yourself, treat a friend.