The Liturgy of the Hours

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There is a framed piece of art that hangs just inside my front door. Not a picture, and certainly not a poster–it was an ordination gift to Deacon Joe from a friend skilled in calligraphy.

“Though he was in the form of God,
he did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at….”

This writing of St. Paul to the Philippians is in my opinion one of the most beautiful readings in all of Scripture. Considered by most theologians to be a hymn of praise which St. Paul is quoting, it must also be considered of great importance by the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours, undoubtedly one of the most universal prayers of the Church (after the Mass, of course,) has its celebrants repeating this prayer every Saturday evening of the year. (The Liturgy of the Hours is a collection of psalms, prayers, and hymns recited daily by every ordained priest and deacon and many of the laity. Its prayers are said on a rotating basis every four weeks, but this canticle is read every week.)

The reading, in a few simple lines, but not so simple words, contains the basis of the Christian faith. God, creator of all, without losing His divinity, became man, fully and completely one of us. Then, as man, in perfect obedience to the Father, died the most humble, horrible, ignominious death possible–death on a cross.

And because of this supreme obedience, God exalted this Jesus/man and raised Him not just from physical death, but to radiant glory so that at His name every knee should bend in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (encompassing everything and everyone that was ever created) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. Jesus’ true and lasting obedience to the Father gave the Father His everlasting glory. Together they shall reign always and forever!

Yet, other than a glorious hymn of praise, does this have any application on our own lives? We, too, must humble ourselves to become one with Christ and live in obedience to the Father’s will. We know that sometimes living out the Father’s will is far from easy especially in our greedy, secular society. This hymn is one of encouragement for us…for if we just “hang on” to Christ, and trust in the Father as He did, we will not only weather our life’s storms, but we too, will one day be raised in glory with Him.

When Joe and I prayed these verses together we did it anti-phonically (i.e. alternating verses) as is recommended. But when it came to the end, without any discussion, we all but shouted out the last two lines together: “… Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”

On this Palm Sunday, let us all shout out the Glory of God as we look ahead to the jubilant feast of the Resurrection!

Linda Caminiti