Sunday begins the Church’s new liturgical year, marked by its feasts and seasons, leading with Advent. As the days grow shorter and so many concerns vie for our attention at this time, the Church invites us to start anew.

Relationships are founded on communication; the better it is, the stronger the relationship is likely to be. Our spanine communication is prayer. This week the Catholic Standard & Times invites readers to renew their faith in God by exploring with this newspaper an ancient if little understood rite of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours.

If you have ever seen a priest, deacon or religious reading a book that looks like a small Bible and assumed that is what they were reading and meditating upon, chances are it was a breviary, or the book of the Liturgy of the Hours. Since the Second Vatican Council’s reform of the liturgy, recitation of it by lay people has become increasingly popular.

In each of the four weeks of Advent, we’ll examine an aspect of the liturgy. At the same time Catholic spirituality columnist Michelle Francl-Donnay will reflect on what it means to “pray without ceasing,” offering one’s whole day and life as a prayer to God through this liturgy.

Learn how to pray it for your own intentions and spiritual growth. Even more, understand that members of the Church throughout the world, somewhere and at all hours, are offering their prayers in the same liturgy.

You may find it helpful to have the “tool of the trade,” a copy of the breviary for yourself. A one-volume “Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours” neatly brings together the traditional four-volume set of the Liturgy. They’re available at most Catholic religious goods stores, book stores such as Pauline Books and Media (visit the store on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia or online at or even online booksellers (search with the keywords “Liturgy of the Hours”).

Along with this vision of newness at Advent we also keep a view toward the end. As much as the Church prepares us to celebrate the coming of Jesus in history, we also prepare for the Lord’s coming at the end of time.

Whenever that may come – and only the Father knows the day or the hour – the Church hopes the Lord finds her waiting with the lamp of prayer burning bright. Rekindle the light of prayer in your life this Advent through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.