During his October 1979 Apostolic Journey to the United States, Blessed Pope John Paul II stressed the importance of the Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) in the life of the Church:

The value of the Liturgy of the Hours is enormous. Through it all the faithful, but especially the clergy and religious, fulfill a role of prime importance: Christ’s prayer goes on in the world … Through this prayer of Christ to which we give voice, our day is sanctified, our activities transformed, our actions made holy. We pray the same psalms that Jesus prayed, and come into personal contact with him — the person to whom all Scripture points, the goal to which all history is directed.

Stop the presses! Did you catch that Pope John Paul II called the Liturgy of the Hours’ value enormous, and praying them sanctifies our day. When we pray it, we are united to Christ who once prayed the same psalms? Talk about a recommendation!

As a lifelong Catholic, it’s hard to swallow that until a few years ago, I had little knowledge of what the Liturgy of the Hours even was, let alone know how to pray it. If the value of the Liturgy of the Hours is enormous, I conceded I needed to become more intimate with it and its daily practice. Gratefully we live in an era where technology makes this prayer accessible by a few clicks on our handheld devices. This post in Catholic Mom’s ongoing Tech Talk series focuses on praying the Liturgy of the Hours using the iBreviary app for Android.

Liturgy of the Hours – Defined 

All too often I make assumptions about what other Catholics already know, so let’s make sure we’re on the same page. In a nutshell, the Liturgy of the Hours (also referred to as the Divine Office) is the Church’s daily liturgical prayer, or the common prayer of the Church that sanctifies different parts of the day (morning, mid-day, evening, and night). It has a basic formal structure that relies heavily on the psalms, canticles, and readings from both the Old and New Testaments. It can be prayed communally in a formal setting or individually as you go about your day. The term breviary refers to the entire book of psalms and prayers making up the LOTH.

Is that a lot to take in? It was for me when I first started praying the Liturgy of the Hours. As a kinesthetic or tactile learner, I found shadowing others while they prayed the LOTH helped me become familiar and comfortable enough to pray it on my own. If your local parish doesn’t offer a communal prayer service, there are plenty of LOTH podcasts to help you along your journey.

The iBreviary App

Thanks to technological advances, several tools have been designed to make praying the LOTH portable. The iBreviary app is one such example. Along with including full texts of the Liturgy of the Hours, the app also provides daily Mass readings, many traditional Catholic prayers, and information on the saint of the day. Fr. Don Paolo Padrini, creator of iBreviary, says his goal was to “link technology with the faith and the human need to talk with God, to feel closer to Him through the prayer in any time of the day.”

My initial motivator for choosing iBreviary over other LOTH apps was its cost --- free! Given I have both an Android smartphone and iPad, I installed the app on both devices. The big difference between the two is the Android app is stripped down. It provides the minimum information necessary to be classified as a Liturgy of the Hours app with no extra bells and whistles. In this case, ignorance is bliss. Had I not known about the extra functions on the iPad, I probably would have been content with the Android offering. For example, one function available on the iPad but not Android is the ability to load up to 10 days of prayers to use off-line. It almost feels as if the Android app was an afterthought given nearly all the tech support language on iBreviary.com is focused toward the iPad or iPhone user.

Bottom line

Hard to complain too much about any aspect of the iBreviary app for Android given it’s free and provides everything you need to pray the daily LOTH. While the Android app doesn’t have all the extras that can be found on the iPad, it is a very friendly and convenient way to help foster a commitment to praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Conversation starters

Do you regularly pray the Liturgy of the Hours? What resources do you recommend? I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt