This weekend I discovered a new Liturgy of the Hours website. An exciting find.
So far I really like the way it is organized.
From the main page you can click on yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s prayers. Then there are tabs across the top that will take you to the Invitatory Psalm, the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer or Night Prayer. Each of these pages has a link you can click to listen to the podcast (it looks like they haven’t yet uploaded podcasts for Daytime Prayer but a note says they’re working on it.)
Beneath that are instructions for placing your ribbons in either the four volume set of Liturgy of the Hours or the one volume Christian Prayer. I’m especially thrilled with the ribbon placement notes becasue sometimes I can’t find the guidebook and I often do not get around to purchasing the new guidebook until some weeks (or this year months) after the beginning of the new year.
What text actually appears on each page seems inconsistent or maybe I’m not seeing the pattern. (Or maybe it’s just that the site is still under construction and things are going up in waves.) All the antiphons and responses appear and sometimes the text of the psalms. Today’s Morning Prayer, for example, has the full text of each of the psalms but not of the canticle. For the reading it has the line and verse numbers. What this means practically is that you can follow along with the podcast and have enough text to say the responses but you couldn’t pray the hours silently without the podcast just from the text on the site. You still need a book.
When I first listened to part of Morning Prayer yesterday I found the reader’s voices rather annoying, I must confess. (I tend to be very picky about audiobooks.) But I decided to give it another chance today and this morning I listened to the Office of Readings as I spooned yogurt into Sophie’s mouth and then swept the dining room floor and wiped down the table after breakfast. I had to pause it a couple of times to deal with transitions between breakfast and cleanup and Bella’s needing extra attention and conversation.
The music selection at the beginning was nice: �God of Love� by Cathedral of Madeleine Choir. The recording quality was good and the voices didn’t seem as unpleasant as they did yesterday.
I’d already prayed Morning Prayer (sort of) while Sophie nursed, finishing up as she played on the bed next to me. I can’t even remember the last time I was able to say both Morning Prayer and the Office, so the podcast definitely allowed me to expand my usual prayer time by letting me multitask, praying an extra bit of the Liturgy while I did some of the necessary work of mothering.
Now neither one of the two prayer times was ideal by a long stretch. I found that each method of prayer (book and podcast) had something the other lacked and I couldn’t say one was definitively better than the other. I was distracted during both by Isabella and Sophia and my own wandering attention and I zoned during at least half the psalms both in my recitation of Morning Prayer and my attempt to follow along on the podcast of the Office of Readings. Let’s face it, a mother of two small children under three doesn’t often have the luxury of quiet prayer time. Yet there were definitely some moments of grace and prayerful attention. Bella joined in on some of the antiphons during the Office, sitting on a dining room chair with folded hands for a little while and then wandering around the room. And I was able to reflect on the readings while I worked. I was even inspired to sing a few hymns after the podcast was over: Lift High the Cross, Holy God We Praise Thy Name, and Immaculate Mary while I washed the dishes and wiped down the counters and Sophie crawled around at my feet and tried to pull things out of the dishwasher.
I think the podcast is rather like the rosary on cd. Neither one is really a good substitute for quiet time to sit and pray meditatively by oneself or with a group. However, in recent years my life hasn’t afforded many of those quiet moments. When the girls are napping or in bed for the night I’m still tired or hungry or distracted and I’m as likely to nod off or even opt for a nap or socializing with Dom or my sister as I am to sit and pray. I like being able to pray while I work: doing dishes, folding laundry, tidying a room, driving a car are all tasks which lend themselves to following along with recorded prayer. I still find I am much more drawn to the divine office than to the rosary as a devotion and so I’m glad that now both are easily available to me in audio format from my laptop which I can bring with me wherever I am in the house.
I sent the weblink to my dad who has downloaded the podcast to his iPod. According to the website, one can download a week’s worth of prayers at a time. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Evidently there is an iPhone app too, which my mom is planning to check out in the coming week.
One other think I’ve liked about this site is that they are very interested in user feedback and comments. They’ve allowed people to vote on what to prioritize in rolling out new features. They seem to be very responsive to feedback and open to suggestions for improvements.