Welcome to The Society of Saint John the Evangelist

18. The Daily Office

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Read by Br. James Koester

Read by Br. James Koester

Each eucharistic meal empowers us to approach God afresh in worship, united with Christ; Father Benson teaches us that “Just as in Holy Communion we receive His substance into our bodies, so in the saying of our offices we bring forth the power of that substance, so that it may rise up to God.”  The Daily Office is a sustained act of union with Christ by which we participate in his unceasing offering of love to the Father.  In reciting the psalms, singing canticles and hymns, pro­claiming the divine word in Scripture or lifting our voices in prayer, we are to enter more and more into the mind, heart and will of Christ, and be borne up by the Spirit in him to the Father.

Our praying of the psalter, which is the heart of the Daily Office, takes us ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation; the psalms give voice to the whole range of human experience which Christ has embraced and redeemed as the Savior of the world.  Although nothing essential is lacking when the office is said, we continue the tradition of our Society by singing whenever there are sufficient voices.  As we sing and chant deep levels of our being are involved; our hearts are lifted up in greater exultation.  And music enhances our worship with riches inherited from many ages.

This fellowship in praise at the heart of the Church continually deepens our integration as a community, making us one in Christ.  Our desire to experience this deepening communion will find expression in the care we give to the disciplines of choral prayer.  Among these disciplines are practice and preparation; the custom of taking our place in good time; stillness of posture; attentive­ness to the readings; sensitivity and responsiveness to one another so that we can sing and recite together.

The office will also nourish the inner life of each brother.  It is the means by which our hearts are constantly impregnated with the riches of the word of God in Scripture so that they bear fruit in our prayer and life.  When a brother’s heart is full of heaviness, praying the office can sustain him.  But for the office to be truly a means of our transfiguration we must cooperate by continually re­newing our inner attentiveness, laying aside again and again the preoccupations and daydreams that confuse and tie us down.  This effort to keep our hearts open to Christ will be needed all our lives; it is a hidden dying to self day by day.

The Daily Office offered by the Society shall be drawn from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church or of its equivalent in the Anglican Church of Canada:  Morning Prayer, the Order of Service for Noonday, Evening Prayer and Compline.  Each house will establish a pattern in the recitation of the offices and the celebration of the Eucharist that best suits the local setting.

Each brother shall take part in every office unless he is permitted to be absent for reasons of infirmity or is prevented by some necessary work.  We shall recite Morning and Evening Prayer by ourselves if we are unable to join the community in choir and when we are away from the house.   In this way the community remains united in the common offering of praise even when we are separated.

1 Comment

  1. Polly Henninger on March 15, 2009 at 00:26

    Chanting the daily office with the Brothers is an honor and a holy affirmation. I am grateful for their generosity and commitment in offering this opportunity daily. I feel blessed to be able to participate. This is so important to me that I have retained my condominium in Cambridge in order to come each summer to worship at the monastery. Each year as I anticipate looking for new tenants, meeting my obligations at home and the costs and travails of travel, I strongly consider selling my condo. Then I go, worship chorally and communally, and once again I choose to continue.

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