The Horarium

And he waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.

I enjoy studying how individuals and groups apply rules and systems to the passage of time. This rule of hourly time I join with others and call an horarium (horaria, pl.).

I was first introduced to this idea of the horarium when I spent time at a Trappist monastery, Holy Cross Abbey, in northern Virginia (more on a future post). The time throughout the day was structured around the recitation of the Divine Office. The following is their Sunday horarium:

Vigils 3:30 AM
Lauds 7:00 AM
Terce 9:50 AM
Mass 10:00 AM
Sext 12:20 PM
None (in private) 2:00 PM
Vespers with Benediction 5:30 PM
Compline 7:30 PM

Horarium (or sometimes horary) is, of course, also a useful word to describe the ordering of daily time into hours of prayer, which is why the Church now calls the Divine Office the Liturgy of the Hours.

This system — of rising early with the monks, praying with them throughout the day on a set schedule, in between which, the monks attended to their labor — was deeply influential on my thinking of how the Christian life was meant to be lived.

The time at Holy Cross Abbey was rich and well ordered, which I, as a twenty-year-old college student, desperately needed. Now, as a husband, father of three young children, and a Catholic schoolteacher, I still need a system — for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly order.

This horarium of reciting the Office for most monks and other religious rarely changes daily but can differ weekly and seasonally, in accordance with the Church’s liturgical practices. I am interested in these systems of liturgical time as well. Therefore, a focus of this online space will be given over to my reflections on how time is rightly ordered.