Vatican website translation:
84. By tradition going back to early Christian times, the divine office is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God. Therefore, when this wonderful song of praise is rightly performed by priests and others who are deputed for this purpose by the Church’s ordinance, or by the faithful praying together with the priest in the approved form, then it is truly the voice of the bride addressed to her bridegroom; It is the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His body, addresses to the Father.
84. Divinum Officium ex antiqua traditione christiana ita est constitutum ut totus cursus diei ac noctis per laudem Dei consecretur. Cum vero mirabile illud laudis canticum rite peragunt sacerdotes aliique ad hanc rem Ecclesiae instituto deputati vel christifideles una cum sacerdote forma probata orantes, tunc vere vox est ipsius Sponsae, quae Sponsum alloquitur, immo etiam oratio Christi cum ipsius Corpore ad Patrem.
Slavishly literal translation:
84. The Divine Office from ancient Christian tradition is so constituted that the entire course of the day and night is consecrated through the praise of God. When in truth priests and those deputed to this task by the institution of the Church, or the faithful praying one with the priest with the approved form, perform that marvelous canticle of praise rightly, then it is truly the voice of the Bride herself which speaks with the Bridegroom, while also being the prayer of Christ with his Body to the Father.
Continuing the concise theological foundation for our understanding of the Liturgy of the Hours, art. 84 directly asserts that the purpose of the Divine Office is the “sanctification of time,” particularly as time unfolds during the day and night. The Liturgical Year (which will be treated in Chapter 5) also “sanctifies time” and will have an impact upon the Liturgy of the Hours, but the focus of the Liturgical Year is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery through the symbols of seasons and feasts while the focus of the Liturgy of the Hours is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery through the symbols of the alternation of light and darkness over the course of twenty-four hours.
Three groups are singled out as having special responsibility for the celebration of the Divine Office: 1) priests (including bishops, since they too bear the designation “sacerdos”); one should include deacons in this category; 2) those deputed by the Church to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours (this would include eremitical and coenobitic versions of monastic life, the life of friars and canons, as well as certain
”active” orders; and 3) laity who pray along with clerics in an “approved form.” This last may be a reference to the “little Offices” that developed alongside the official Breviary, but possibly prayed in the vernacular and with less variability. Here we perceive a trajectory that would claim the Liturgy of the Hours as the prayer of the Church, and not simply the obligation of the Breviary for clerics, or choral office in various religious communities.
The article concludes with two images that will constantly recur in later developments of the Liturgy of the Hours: the Office is the prayer of the Church-as-Bride to Christ as well as the prayer of Christ, Head and members of his Body, offering prayer to the Father almighty. This dual focus will have consequences for the way psalms, as Hebrew texts, are re-interpreted as Christian prayer.
Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss the elements of the keeping of time in our families, households, towns and countries that support celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours as well as challenges posed to this regular daily prayer by the surrounding cultures in which we live.