Evening Prayer is also called Vespers, and is part of the Liturgy of the Hours. “The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office…is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer. It is a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer. At times the dialogue is between the Church or individual and God; at times it is a dialogue among the members of the Church; and at times it is even between the Church and the world.” (CCC 1177) Through the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church fulfills Jesus’ command to “pray always.” The most important times for this prayer are considered to be in the morning and the evening.
Those who are ordained or living a consecrated life in the Catholic Church pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day, keeping God at the center of their lives. The laity are also encouraged to join in this prayer, particularly Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. While it may be prayed individually, many parishes in the United States include communal Morning Prayer and/or Evening Prayer as part of their liturgical life, either occasionally, as we do here at Saint Mary Catholic Community, or throughout the year.
In Evening Prayer the primary focus is on giving thanks to God for the day and making an “evening sacrifice of praise” to God. (See Psalm 141:1.) We pray for mercy and forgiveness, and we pray for peace. Typically, there is a hymn that acknowledges the light of Christ in our lives, psalmody, scripture, intercessions and praying together the Lord’s Prayer. Another important element of Vespers is the Gospel Canticle, which is the Canticle of Mary, also known as the Magnificat. It is the words of Mary, prophet, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, coming from Luke 1:26-55. It is prayed (recited or sung) with the reverence due the Gospel.
Here at Saint Mary Catholic Community, we have a rich tradition of a member of our community giving a reflection as part of Evening Prayer. The talks this Lent will reflect on the scripture readings and the theme of mercy.
Evening Prayer is a beautiful liturgy, a special time to come together to reflect, rejoice and refresh ourselves in Christ’s mercy and peace in the company of brothers and sisters in the Lord. Parishioners of all ages are encouraged to attend as a prayerful way to mark together the seasons of Advent and Lent and continuously renew our focus of our life in Christ.
Lenten Evening Prayer: Reflecting on God’s grace in the Year of Mercy
Each Friday of Lent at 5:30 in the church,
come and experience communal prayer for
peace, forgiveness, hope and mercy.