CHAPTER XVI. How the Work of God is to be done in the day-time
19 Feb. 20 June. 20 Oct.
As the prophet saith: “Seven times in the day have I given praise to Thee.” And we shall observe this sacred number of seven if, at the times of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, we fulfil the duties of our service. For it was of these hours of the day that he said: “Seven times in the day have I given praise to Thee”; just as the same prophet saith of the night watches: “At midnight I arose to give Thee praise.” At these times, therefore, let us sing the praises of our Creator for the judgments of His justice: that is, at Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline; and at night let us arise to praise Him.
The mystic number of seven signifies the fulness that overflows into eternity. The duties of our service, nostrae servitutis officia, are but a foretaste of heaven where our adoration and our praise will never cease. The vocation to perpetual adoration is a vocation to heaven on earth. Rightly did the Venerable Mother Caterina Lavizzari repeat, Gesù–Ostia è il nostro Paradiso in terra. This is the phrase that appears on the mementos printed after her death on Christmas day 1931.
Our obligation to the full Divine Office, by day and by night, though it be demanding of our time, of our best energies, and of our sustained attention, is the sweet duty of love. While all the community may not be present for every Hour of the Divine Office, when even a representative nucleus of the community assemble for the praise of God, they do so in communion of mind and heart with the absent brethren. The labours of the absent brethren, or their infirmity, or the duties that under obedience oblige them to be elsewhere, do not break the “charity that is the bond which makes us complete.” (Colossians 3:14). In the Epistle to the Colossians, the Apostles gives us the context of the Opus Dei. He says:
Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:12–17)
The praise of God is a costly sacrifice. We do not go to choir only when we are in the mood for it after the manner of a dilettante. We go to choir in response to a divine invitation. We go to choir in response to the voices from heaven that summon us to join in their worship. We go to choir in response to the pleas of the Holy Souls who, no longer able to leave earthly affairs to devote themselves to the One Thing Necessary, ask us to do for them what, for us, there is still time to do. Does not Saint Benedict say in the Prologue. “And if we would arrive at eternal life, escaping the pains of hell, then—while there is yet time, while we are still in the flesh, and are able to fulfil all these things by the light which is given us —we must hasten to do now what will profit us for all eternity.”