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Life is a Prayer


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Millions of Christians -- laity as well as the vowed and religious -- pray the Hours in one form or another. This may be a private practice but is not individualized. To keep the Hours is to enter with one’s fellows into that which has been, which is, and which evermore shall be.

This article appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health. Christianity, the faith within whose ample arms I have lived my life, received the core of its liturgy and the central form of its spirituality from the Judaism out of which it came. In the former case, the Passover meal became the Christian Eucharist; in the later, Jewish fixed-hour prayer became the Daily Offices. In both cases, the change from Jewish to Christian practice was so gradual that few of the observant even noticed that one was becoming two. Peter, for instance, had his famous vision of the lowered sheet while he was on Simon Tanner’s rooftop for noon prayers. Peter and John together healed the cripple as they were passing toward ninth-hour, or 3-o’clock, prayers in the Temple. While these acts of the apostles may still have been Jewish in the first century, by the sixth century they were not. By then, the keeping of the hours had so clearly become the living source of the Christian spirituality that St. Benedict could build his famous rule around it and the later Middle Ages could give rise to exquisite Books o …

Making Holy Hours, Wholly Ours

If you think it must be a challenge for Phyllis Tickle to pray the hours amid the demands of business and family, and the clamor of modern life, consider the plight of 11th-century monks. Before they could practice, they required a tall stack of books — a Psalter, a lectionary, a Bible, a hymnal, and so on. Religious communities solved the problem by creating breviaries, manuals of prayer with all the necessary verses.

Now, Tickle has done the same for modern seekers by compiling a contemporary Book of Hours from the classic texts. The Divine Hours; Prayers for Summertime (Doubleday, February 2000) is the first of three volumes designed as guides for those who wish to incorporate this profound spiritual practice into their daily lives. Besides recommending the book, which is beautifully constructed and as concise and helpful as it can be, we asked Phyllis Tickle what advice, after thirty years of experience, she might have for those who are at the beginning of the journey. — Editors

Phyllis Tickle has been reporting on religion for many years for Publishers Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. The author of more than two dozen books, including the recent God-Talk in America, she is a frequent commentator on religion in magazines and newspapers, and on television.

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