Living in the (Prayer) Moment

This Lent I decided to give up a prayer app. I’d been using the Divine Office app to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for several years, and I saw someone post on Twitter about using only the breviary books during the season.

I made an exception for a few days while I was traveling for work, but otherwise I went the whole season with the books I’d barely opened since I found the app all those years ago.

The person who originally posted the idea (I can’t remember whose idea it was just now) said he wanted to combat laziness. I’m plenty lazy, which originally attracted me to try this practice during Lent, but I discovered something else this season that I need to combat even more.

I don’t live in the moment.

During my twice-daily Lenten ribbon-flipping with the big breviary, I found myself looking ahead to the next time I’d be using the book – and setting the ribbon in the right place before I moved on. I’m not meditating on the psalms during Lauds if I’m flipping two pages ahead to mark the ones for Vespers.

Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS. All rights reserved.

But that’s what I’m doing. It’s not even like I’m saving any time or doing something I can’t do at the start of prayers the next time.

It’s a way I can indulge my tendency to always worry about what comes next. Whether it’s meals or clothing or having gas in the car, I want to be prepared for whatever’s coming – and that comes at the cost of savoring the here and now.

While this tendency is definitely an asset in my editorial work (it’s April, and I’m currently collecting magazine articles for the fall issue and assigning articles for winter), it’s not necessarily a good thing in other areas of my life.

During the second half of Lent, I actively concentrated on not moving those ribbons to the next section during (or even immediately after) prayer. It just about drove me nuts, but I managed it.

Switching from app to book didn’t turn out to be too penitential, but leaving those ribbons alone definitely was.

Will I go back to the app, starting tonight? I don’t think so. I like using the book, actually. And it’s good for me to have the twice-daily reminder that I don’t always need to be looking ahead.

Except the part where I’m looking ahead for the sake of my eternal soul.

Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Prayer Should be Free

Yesterday my friend, Liturgy of the Hours expert Daria Sockey gave me a heads-up that my favorite Liturgy of the Hours app was being removed from the App Store and Google Play Store because of copyright issues with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

We have been a ministry dedicated to bringing the Liturgy of the Hours to everyone everywhere for many years. We grew out of an RCIA Committee to become facilitators of thousands of people who pray together. I have dedicated more than 10 years in God’s service to this work. In that zeal to serve and naivety we acquired some permissions, but we are missing some key ones. —Dane Falkner, producer of Divine Office

Daria kindly gave me permission to share her article on the subject at, encouraging readers to purchase the app at a discounted price before it would be removed from the stores today.

And then, overnight, the app was pulled from the stores early; it appears that pressure was brought to bear by the USCCB.

I’m all for giving credit where credit is due and for obtaining permission before using text or images that belong to other people.

But the USCCB’s policy of requiring complicated permissions on their translation of Biblical texts is absolutely ridiculous and counterproductive. Divine Office’s app and website are there to help people pray.

This is not the first time this has happened; see Matthew Warner’s comments on Daria Sockey’s original post on this subject.

The USCCB and LEV need a serious wakeup call when it comes to this stuff. They are literally requiring you to pay them money in order for you to share the bible, catechism and other liturgical texts with people FOR FREE. It’s insane and the definition of scandal. They are literally SELLING CHURCH TEACHING. This is not like selling a book or some material (where clearly the physical item and those who produce, market and distribute deserve just compensation). But even if I want to take the most basic and essential church teachings, do ALL of the work myself to share it with somebody, give it to people FOR FREE…the USCCB and LEV STILL demand somebody pay them huge amounts of money (royalties), all for helping them do the work of the Church! It’s insane and we should be ashamed. Bishops should be outraged the the organization that represents them is going around threatening to sue the good guys and implementing policies that don’t stop the bad guys. —Matthew Warner

What can you do to help save

Daria has some good ideas. I’ve summarized them here, but go to her blog for full information.

  • register as a user on their website (it’s FREE) while you still can
  • respectfully write to your Bishop and to Bishop Serratelli (of the Paterson, NJ diocese)
  • donate to to help with the legal expenses they will undoubtedly incur as they fight to keep their site open and their app available

And please spread the word. I’ve seen hashtags #prayershouldbefree and #freetheword and #savedivineoffice — and the USCCB is on Twitter @USCCB. Find Divine Office on Twitter @DivineOffice.

Divine Office for FI prayer should be free

Breviary Notes 3/18

Breviary NotesThe Reading for today’s Morning Prayer was Deuteronomy 7: 6, 8-9.

It includes the phrase, “…faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant…”


God’s covenant is merciful.

Of course it is–what else would it be? But I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before! God wants what’s good for us, because He loves us. And that’s what mercy is all about: wanting the good for others.

Today, may we be a sign of mercy in the world in which God has placed us.