By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Even if you’re pressed for time, just take 1 percent of your day — 14 minutes — for prayer, suggests Father Bill Kneemiller. He recommends praying the official prayer of the Catholic Church — Liturgy of the Hours — as one form of prayer.
Fr. Kneemiller, chaplain at the Kahl Home in Davenport, is visiting parishes in the Davenport Diocese and encouraging parishioners to display the “Shorter Christian Prayer” book (an abbreviated version of Liturgy of the Hours) and “The Jewish Roots of the Liturgy of Hours” CD by Brant Pietre. Parishes can sell the items and parishioners can pray Liturgy of the Hours at home or start a group in their parish to pray together.
Bishop Martin Amos said, “In our church we have two liturgies — the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. We are all familiar with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I strongly encourage individuals and families to take the Liturgy of the Hours and pray with the church and Christ our head.”
Father Jason Crossen, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, was the first to sign up his parish for Fr. Kneemiller’s Liturgy of the Hours project. Fr. Crossen said that as seminarian at the North American College in Rome he and the other seminarians prayed Liturgy of the Hours. He knows the importance of the prayer.
While visiting parishes and working at the Kahl Home, Fr. Kneemiller said he always quizzes people about the official prayer of the Catholic Church. Answers tend to be the Our Father, the Creed or a number of other prayers. Not many realize the official prayer is Liturgy of the Hours.
Up until 1963, Liturgy of the Hours was prayed in Latin, so it was not accessible to people who didn’t know Latin. Furthermore, as Fr. Crossen pointed out, 150-200 years ago many people were illiterate. They wouldn’t have been able to read the Liturgy of the Hours in any language.
Today’s society is much better educated and with Liturgy of the Hours being available in English, it is much more accessible to people. “It can complement the rosary too,” Fr. Kneemiller noted.
Fr. Crossen pointed out that priests make three promises at ordination: celibacy, obedience to their bishop and to pray for the church (through Liturgy of the Hours).
The abbreviated version of the Liturgy of the Hours “Shorter Christian Prayer” is easier to carry, Fr. Kneemiller noted. When he was deployed overseas with the Army Reserves in Jordan last year, he carried it in his back pocket. “This book was close to me, so also were the Scriptures of the Psalms and Gospel canticles in the Morning, Evening and Night Prayer. The Scriptures became alive and also breathed life into my activities and connected with my travels and work. The Scriptures are the ‘Living Word of God’ and need to be integrated into daily activities.”
Even with a busy family life, Liturgy of the Hours can fit into schedules. Recite one psalm in Morning Prayer, one from Evening Prayer or pray a five-minute Night Prayer as a family, he said.
“Shorter Christian Prayer” is available for purchase at several parishes in the diocese, through Religious Supply Center in Davenport and the Mustard Seed in Iowa City, Fr. Kneemiller said. “Support your parish priest today by praying the official prayer of the church.”