- Imitation Leather: 8160 pages
- Publisher: Catholic Book Publishing Corp; English Translation Prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy edition (July 1, 1975)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0899424090
- ISBN-13: 978-0899424095
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 7.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 147 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Liturgy of the Hours (4-Volume Set) English Translation Prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy Edition
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Anyone who has decided to purchase these books, has made a sizable investment and also made a strong personal commitment to advance their prayer life. They are intimidating. They look (and are) "official" and complicated. They are certainly not for light reading. They are not easy to use, nor is there an easy way to learn to use them. These are serious, life-long tools used to spiritually shape and grow the soul. With the shortest volume a bit over 1700 pages, and the longest almost 2400 pages, the Hours require attention, dedication, study and slow, steady easing into this rich resource.
It can't be said enough that you must gain some knowledge on how to use these books and have discipline in following the path of the prayer. It takes a while to be comfortable with the books as they are configured. The volumes are structured well for their purpose, so you can go from section to section with ease, as you learn the flow of the Office. Your prayer will unfold from the center of the book, outward to the prayers for that Office, to both front and back sections as needed, each section having content necessary to that Office. It will take some time to learn the method of prayer in conjunction with the Office recited. But the price you pay in the discipline required to learn to use this tool will be returned a hundredfold, with life-long (and further!) rewards. The books are big and have many sections that may be referenced during the Hours, and it takes some time to be comfortable with the back and forth between sections required at various times. Even changing sections, the book remains comfortable and usable for right or left hands.
The volumes themselves are a bit larger than a large paperback novel. The first thing you notice is how very well the book fits the hand. One of the reasons to use a book rather then an electronic version for prayer, is the intimate tactile connection. As you pray, the feel of book-in-hand and the act of turning the page links you to the words, pulls you into the prayer. Even changing to a different section of the book provides a moment's pause to reflect and carry on a thought, which can be lost in the electronic versions of the Office.
The paper is high quality and light weight, with a low-glare soft ivory color, enhancing the black print and the instructions printed in red, while not bleeding through the pages. Print size and type is easy on the eyes, and not hard to follow. The soft and pliable covers are colored for the seasons they represent, and hold comfortably in the hand while sitting or walking.
In actual practice, one universally recognized problem is that there is no single authoritative guide easily teaching how to properly "use" the books in prayer, and the "instructions" such as they are, are not really clear and may be confusing in explaining the steps in how to pray the various Offices, holy days and seasons. One valuable tool I highly recommend, is the short and very well-written book "The Everyday Catholic's Guide to The Liturgy of the Hours " by Daria Sockey, and a visit to her very helpful blog. Internet based sites with helpful guides are also very available.
All prayer requires effort, and more so here in this highly structured method of prayer . It's important to take your time to learn the set up of the book, the form of the Offices and the flow of the weekly and liturgical calendars. When beginning to pray with these resources, take it slow and easy, immersing yourself a little deeper into the discipline of prayer as you grow comfortable with each Office and what it holds. Do not do too much, or you will grow in frustration and work against progress in your prayer. This is a rich meal - take small bites and savor each one. One benefit as laity joining the raising of this prayer on behalf of the entire Church, is that we are not required to follow a certain form but we can adapt to our own circumstance and pray as we can, as little or as much as we will. This can help us to grow slowly and confidently in our prayer and method, expanding our reach as our need to grow closer to the Lord increases.
For decades, I've switched between the excellent one volume version of the Hours and a four volume set, as circumstances dictated. The single volume is a great starting point and tutor in how to follow the structure of the Offices. The four volume set is a treasury of riches from Tradition and the Living Word that will hold you close for a lifetime. May the Lord bless your efforts and your journey toward Him.
I ordered the four volume set in November, 2008. It arrived in a tailored to size box with each volume individually wrapped in paper. They are beautifully bound books with flexible black leather covers. Each volume is printed with gold lettering on the spine with "The Liturgy of the Hours" , the number of the volume, and what seasons of the year it covers, Advent, etc. One of the reasons I purchased the four volume set was to have the complete readings which "Christian Prayer" does not offer. The author of "The Divine Office for Dodos" says that the readings are her favorite part of the Liturgy. I recommend her book which can be seen here:
The Divine Office for Dodos: A Step-By-Step Guide to Praying the Liturgy of the Hours The liturgy is prayed in a special way with certain rituals and rules and this book explains them fully. It is comforting to know that people around the world are joining you in prayer.
The four volume set does not include the music for the hymns but has a good inventory of hymns. There are large type versions of the four volume set as well as Christian Prayer previously mention. However, I found the type size of this set to be perfectly readable.
I am very happy to have purchased this set. My goal is to read and pray each day's liturgy. I am not yet at that point. But morning prayer is a wonderful way to start the day and night prayer, with its suggestion for an examination of conscience, is a fine way to end it. I pray the readings when I get a chance during the day.