Saturday, July 4, 2009

Catechesis and Daily Office of Prayer




“Luther’s catechism does not want its situation in life to be limited to isolated events in school, much less in catechism class, but to be in daily lives together at home. The primary confessor is the Christian father, since the house (familia, oeconomia) is the point where the secular and spiritual kingdoms coincide…Instruction is framed by daily Matins and Vespers, which the students, as successors to the monks take upon themselves. Here they daily sing three psalms each service (in German or Latin); the antiphons; the hymns, as well as the responsories; the canticles (Magnificat, Te Deum, Benedictus, Quicumque) or the prayers, as well as German hymns. They also take care of the Scripture and catechism lessons and listen to the interpretations on Wednesday and on Friday. All this is done so that ‘the youth remains in Scripture.’ By means of this ‘daily exercise in the church,’ the children are schooled also to take upon themselves the prayer life at home” (Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Ten Commandments, Albrecht Peters, p. 28.)



Praying the Daily Office, and familiarization particularly with Matins and Vespers is especially beneficial in catechetical instruction. These prayer offices provide a discipline and structure for prayer and speak the catechism, along with psalms, office hymn, scripture readings, canticles, Lord’s Prayer, kyrie, collects, and other petitions. The Treasury of Daily Prayer Concordia Publishing House is an excellent Lutheran Breviary with all 150 psalms, canticles, prayer offices, small catechism, and rite for confession and absolution, among many other things. Selected writings from church fathers, reformers, theologians of the church, and of course Martin Luther. This resource is an excellent resource to celebrate the Lutheran tradition of biblical study, hymnody, and prayer grounded in Christ's Gospel.


The texts of the catechism, along with the Daily Office points continually to the Divine Service. Luther writes “For Matins with its three lessons, the [minor] hours, Vespers, and Compline de tempore consist – with the exception of the propers for the Saints’ days – of nothing but divine words of Scripture. And it is seemly, nay necessary, that the boys should get accustomed to reading and hearing the Psalms and lessons from the Holy Scripture.”[1]


I have written more about the Daily Office here. Please post any thoughts regarding use of Daily Office with catechetical instruction.


[1] Luther’s Works, vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns, p. 38.

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