Tag Archives: prayer times




You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.


If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.


When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends in the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.


Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.

A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ (15th century)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



QUESTION: “I know that we should pray every day, but I often find a great reluctance to pray and wonder if I am doing something wrong.

ANSWER: Prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God, or simply ‘conversation with Christ’. We are called to be friends with Christ: such friendship cannot flourish if we put everything else before the Lord. We can drift into an attitude where we effectively say: ‘Lord, I am not available for you to enter under my roof at the moment, but only say the word and I’ll see if I can find a window over the next few weeks.’ Nevertheless, we cannot see God, and prayer can be difficult. In ‘Evangelii Gaudium’, Pope Francis recommended popular devotions because they are ‘incarnate’. He went on to say: ‘For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints. These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism’ (n 90).

We need to have a regular time of prayer that we stick to. For priests and religious, this will usually be first thing in the morning, but for people with families, that can be difficult because the morning is hectic with getting children down to breakfast and off to school. Some people find that the ‘evening sacrifice’ can be skipping a television programme and spending some time with the Lord quietly in the bedroom. Of course, family prayers together are also of immense value.

Whatever practical means we take to spend time with the Lord, we are likely to find that sometimes (or often) it seems fruitless and distracted. But if we remain faithful and humbly try to converse simply with Christ, either in our own words or using traditional prayers, He will lead us to Himself. When we look back over a period of faithfulness to Him, we will see that He has blessed us with His presence and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, even though it did not seem like it at the time.”
– This article by Fr Tim Finigan was published as part of the feature ‘Catholic Dilemmas’ in “The Catholic Herald” issue June 6 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


Tags: ,



“The office of Tenebrae is much less of a special function than many laymen imagine. It is only Matins and Lauds [the first two morning prayer times] for the next day, with certain peculiarities suitable for those days. But there are now almost the only occasion when lay people (unless they live near a monastery) have an opportunity of attending one of the oldest of all church offices. All the more reason for doing so when they can.

The name ‘Tenebrae,’ used specifically for Matins and Lauds of the last three days of Holy Week, is obviously derived from the gradual extinction of the lights, leaving the church at last in total darkness.


It may seem odd that we should say Matins and Lauds rather late in the afternoon of the day before. But this is the invariable tendency of church functions, to be pushed back and kept earlier. The morning office of Holy Saturday is a conspicuous example of the same thing. Originally Matins was said during the night, its three Nocturns at intervals, and Lauds at cock-crow. Then people found it hard to get up in the middle of the night; so instead of saying Matins later, they said it before going to bed. So now a priest is allowed to say his Matins and Lauds at any time from the latter part of the afternoon before.


Comparing Tenebrae with the normal Matins and Lauds, we notice the following differences. First, naturally, the psalms and lessons are all appropriate to these days; but this is not an exception; appropriate psalms and lessons are chosen for every feast. Then Tenebrae lacks all the later additions to the Divine Office. It has no hymns, no Invitatorium psalm, no blessings. (Nor, of course, the Te Deum which ends Matins only on feasts and joyful Sundays.) It is reduced to the bare essentials; that is, at Matins three Nocturns, each consisting of three psalms and as many lessons; at Lauds five psalms and the ‘Benedictus’. To this only the versicles in each Nocturn and at Lauds, the silent Pater noster, and the characteristic ending of every part of the Divine office on these days (the verse ‘Christus factus est,’ etc., the ‘Miserere,’ and last prayer) are added.

What is the reason of this simplicity? It cannot be the idea ofmourning, which might exclude additional ornament, because much the same is the case on Easter Day; at Easter, too, the office has no hymns nor many of the later additions. The reason is the greater solemnity of the days, and the fact that people were long accustomed to this older form of the office. When later additions were made they were not applied to these greatest days, partly no doubt from the idea of reverence in not touching their services; partly, too, because the people would neither understand nor like changes in the services they knew so well. This is a common tendency, that very great days, with whose offices the people have specially sacred associations, keep a more archaic form. To a great extent this more archaic form is the only important feature of Tenebrae.


The outer ceremonies, which strangers notice first, are less important. The lessons of the first Nocturn are always taken from Scripture. In Holy Week they are, most suitably, from the Lamentations of Jeremias [Jeremiah]. There is no great mystery about the Hebrew words sung at the beginning of each clause of these Lamentations. The original text, like that of many psalms, is an acrostic, each sentence beginning with one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in order. The acrostic is not preserved in the Latin version, but we name the Hebrew letters with which the original begins. The extraordinarily beautiful chant of the Lamentations is a special one, not merely the usual tone adorned.


At Tenebrae fifteen candles are lighted on a triangle called the hearse. They are of unbleached wax. This is a common sign of mourning, dating from the time when bleached wax was considered a rather sumptuous ornament. These candles are put out gradually, one after each psalm of the office. Now it represents to us the idea of darkness and mourning.

It is a question how it first began. According to the usual reason for all Roman ceremonies one is tempted to see in this, originally, merely a practical expedient. If Matins were sung in the night and Lauds at cock-crow, the church would be getting gradually lighter, so the candles would be no longer wanted. Father Thurston, however, while not entirely rejecting this, suggests another ingenious explanation. He explains that it was the tradition at Rome to celebrate Tenebrae in the dark, as a sign of mourning; that in the North they wanted to imitate this custom, but could not read their books in the dark, so they had to light some candles. Then, towards the end, since the psalms of Lauds are so much better known, they found it possible to do exactly as Rome did, to finish quite in the dark, singing by heart.(Thurston, pp. 262-263) The hiding of the last candle and its restoration to the hearse at the end may have begun so that while the end of Tenebrae is quite dark, nevertheless there should be a light by which to see one’s way out. Or perhaps, as all this ceremony is not originally Roman, there may be here deliberate symbolism of Christ’s death and resurrection.

The knocking at the end was undoubtedly merely a sign that all should rise and depart. Since the bells are silent these days, it was given with a clapper or by knocking a book. This is a most typical example of the way a ceremony is evolved, and acquires later symbolic meaning.”
– Adrian Fortescue, from “The Holy Week Book”, Burns Oates & Washbourne, London, 1913


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Brompton Road, London SW7
[not far from Harrods department store]


• Thursday 19th December
7.30pm Carol Service and Solemn Benediction

• Tuesday 24th December
6.00pm Vigil Mass of Christmas
11.30pm Christmas Carols and Music
with Choir and Orchestra
Midnight: Solemn Latin Mass

• Christmas Day – Wednesday 25th December
Mass 8.00am, 9.00am (Latin, Extraordinary Form),
11.00am Solemn Mass (Latin)
Mass 12.30pm & 4.30pm
4.00pm Solemn Benediction
– The above was published in “The Catholic Herald” newspaper. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


Tags: , , , , ,


42 Francis Street, London SW1P 1QW


The Cathedral Choir sings at services marked with an asterisk*

• Sunday, 22nd December – 4th Sunday of Advent
Mass (Sat 18.00pm), 8.00am, 9.00am, 10.30am (Solemn)*,
12.00pm (Sung), 17.00pm (Sung), 19.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am;
Vespers and Benediction* 15.30pm

• Monday, 23rd December
Mass 7.00am, 10.30am (Latin),
12.30pm, 13.05pm, 17.30pm (Solemn)*
Morning Prayer 7.40am;
Vespers* 17.00pm

• Tuesday, 24th December – Christmas Eve
Mass 7.00am, 8.00am, 10.30am (Latin), 12.30pm,
13.05pm; First Mass of Christmas 18.00pm;
Morning Prayer 7.40am;
First Vespers of Christmas 16.00pm;
Office of Readings 23.15pm;
Midnight Mass 23.55pm

• Wednesday, 25th December – Christmas Day
Mass 8.00am, 9.00am, 10.30am (Solemn)*,
12.00pm; Morning Prayer 10.00am;
Vespers and Benediction* 15.30pm

• Thursday 26th – Friday 27th December
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 17.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am

• Saturday 28th December
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 18.00pm (Vigil of Sunday)
Morning Prayer 10.00am; Evening Prayer 17.30pm

• Sunday 29th December – The Holy Family
Mass 8.00am, 9.00am, 10.30am (Sung),
12.00pm (Sung), 17.30pm (Sung), 19.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am;
Evening Prayer and Benediction 15.30pm

• Monday, 30th December
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 17.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am

• Tuesday 31st December
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 17.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am

• Wednesday 1st January
Mass 10.30am, 12.30pm, 17.00pm;
Morning Prayer 10.00am

For full and further details go to (external link)
– This notice was published in “The Catholic Herald” newspaper ( [external link]) and was – for The Catholic Herald – kindly sponsored by a member of The Friends of Westminster Cathedral.


Tags: , , , , ,


“Traditionally the divine praises have been sung at regular intervals throughout the day, thereby leavening the passing hours with sustained praise and thanksgiving to God, our Creator and Redeemer. They embody a continued ratification of the Sacrifice of Praise offered daily on our altars. Each of these is complete in itself and is called an ‘Hour’.


From time immemorial the divine office has been composed of eight Hours, namely, Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Matins was said shortly after midnight; Lauds at dawn; Prime at six o’clock in the morning; Terce at nine o’clock; Sext at noon; None at about three o’clock in the afternoon; Vespers at sundown and Compline immediately before retiring… The two principal Hours on which the office for each day hinges are Lauds and Vespers; the official morning and evening prayers of the Church.”
– Liturgical Publications, St Columba’s Abbey, 1970


Tags: ,


Pray the Angelus in the morning, noon, evening, to remind of the and thank God for the wonderful Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh (Jn 1:1-5). The Angelus contains the relevant Bible passages (Jn 1:14; Lk 1:28; Lk 1:38 etc.) In many places, already for far over 1000 years, the Angelus bell is rung from the Churches at 6, 12, 6 o’clock, to remind all the faithful to stop what they are doing and to prayerfully remember the Incarnation of our beloved Redeemer.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your word.

Hail Mary, etc.

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, etc.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord, Your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Your Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Tags: , , , , , , ,