In the Presence of God

When considering a spirituality of the Liturgy of the Hours, it is important to include some words about our attitude in prayer. Saint Benedict devotes two chapters to this theme in his Rule, chapter 19, “The Discipline of Psalmody” and chapter 20, “Reverence in Prayer.” The first words of chapter 19 are “We believe that God is present everywhere.” Such an approach, and applicable to all who pray the Opus Dei, is one of faith in God’s presence. This seems the first and fundamental attitude in praying: a profound belief in the existence and presence of God always and everywhere. As the Book of Proverbs (15:3) puts it, quoted by Saint Benedict (RB 19.1): “The eyes of the Lord gaze everywhere on the good and bad.” Saint Benedict goes on to say “We should, though, be totally convinced that this is so when we are present at the Divine Office” (RB 19.2). Saint Benedict borrowed these thoughts and quote of the Book of Proverbs from an earlier source, Saint Cyprian, who says the same (in De oratione dominica, 4).

The presence of God in our prayer is a reminder that we too are present to God, and is an invitation to enter into dialogue with God when we pray. Dialogue is a word probably over-used after Vatican II, but its deepest meaning–a genuine meeting of two or more persons–is still a valid term when speaking about prayer. Such a dialogue, which can begin with the praying of the Opus Dei, should be extended to the rest of the day as well, though often carried out in silence, in the depths of the heart, in whatever work we are doing or place we may be.

The Liturgy of the Hours is not only a celebration done in the presence of God, important as that is. There are other aspects to keep in mind as well. The Opus Dei should be an experience of the presence of God, in which we realize God is present for us, at the same time that we are in God’s presence and living for him. This idea of being simultaneously present to each other–God to us and we to God–is the heart of our life of prayer. It follows then that the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours is, “a conversation between God and his people,” in the words of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, #33.

Since the Opus Dei has in its very essence a spiritual goal, specifically, communion with God, it is necessary that every participant in the Divine Office seeks with all his heart to enter into dialogue with God ever-present, and to arrive at the depths of communion with God, which is what our life in Christ is all about. In this way, the daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours should lead us to an experience of God’s presence, a memoria Dei (remembering God) and to a profound attitude of praise of God.