Students pray the divine office individually and in common

The Liturgy of the Hours has been prayed throughout the history of the Church. “Rightly considered to be among the primary duties of the Church” by its General Instruction, the Liturgy of the Hours draws Catholics both on campus and worldwide into “the prayer of the Church with Christ and to Christ.” 

“The Liturgy of the Hours is exactly what it says: it’s sanctifying the hours of the day … Because after all, Christ exhorts us to pray always. So, at heart, the Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church,” explained Fr. Henry Stephan, O.P., a Dominican priest and doctoral student in the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame. 

“In a certain sense, it’s the extension of the Mass through the day, and it’s the offering of the heart and mind to God particularly by praying the Psalms, reading from Scripture, and offering prayers for the whole world.” 

“Currently, the Liturgy of the Hours is made up of an Office of Readings, which is kind of the holdover from the monastic vigil. There’s Lauds, or Morning Prayer; Midday Prayer, which includes options for Mid-Morning and Mid-Afternoon; Vespers, or Evening Prayer; and Compline, or Night Prayer.” Each of these hours is built around a set of three psalms, with opening verses, hymns, readings, canticles, and other communal prayers changing for each hour,” Fr. Henry continued.

Traditionally, the Liturgy of the Hours was associated with priests, clerics, and those in consecrated religious life. Even now, only people in consecrated life or clerics are obliged to pray the Office.

Clerics and religious pray the Liturgy of the Hours so that “even when other people don’t have the time or the inclination to pray, the Church is praying for them,” Fr. Henry said. Regardless, “other people are encouraged to pray the office.”

Thus, the Liturgy of the Hours is a significant part of prayer life on campus not just for those who have bound themselves to pray it, but also for lay students.

Old College freshman Joshua Weimer recounted how he started praying the Liturgy of the Hours, saying: “I got introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours back in the 10th grade of high school and kind of prayed off and on since then, but really started using it and praying it in the past year.”

“It’s been really great to pray in a community,” Joshua noted, speaking of his experience praying Lauds, Vespers, and Compline with other Old Collegians.

Senior biology major Jacob San Nicolas emphasized how he approached the Liturgy of the Hours. “I first discovered the Liturgy of the Hours … when I became close with my aunt who is a Carmelite nun,” Jacob explained. “Because of her I was enrolled in the brown scapular and one of the old obligations for the Sabbatine privilege associated with it is the Liturgy of the Hours. So through all of that, I was introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours.”

Jacob also noted how, whenever he is able to, he sings Evening Prayer with the Catholic Graduate Community. Multiple members of this community of graduate students noted the importance of ending their workdays in communal prayer. Jacob Zoromski, a doctoral student in mathematics, emphasized the importance of chanting the Psalms in order to slow down and let the words “speak out more.”

A variety of options for praying the Liturgy of the Hours in common exists on campus. 

In the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Solemn Vespers is sung on Sundays at 7:15 pm. Also on Sunday, Traditional Compline is sung by the Children of Mary at 8:30 pm in the Lady Chapel. 

In the Malloy Hall Chapel, Vespers is sung by the Catholic Graduate Community on Mondays through Thursdays at 6:15 pm

Lucernarium, a candlelight form of Compline, is celebrated at Moreau Seminary on Thursdays at 9:00 pm. A service by the same name is also celebrated in Lewis Hall on Mondays at 10:00 pm.

Resources for praying the Liturgy of the Hours are available in various digital formats for both the current and traditional forms. Hallow, the #1 prayer app in the nation that provides free premium access to all Notre Dame faculty and students, offers audio recordings of Compline. Subscription print resources include Magnificat and The Liturgy of the Hours.

Joshua Velasquez is a freshman civil engineering major from Edinburg, Texas who will probably switch into the School of Architecture in the coming semester. If you have questions about the Liturgy of the Hours, recommendations for Catholic sci-fi novels, or would just like to have a quick conversation, feel free to email him at

Photo Credit: Paul Howard