Liturgical Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours

Next Session: Jan 06, 2025

Course Description

Created by Dr. Katharine E. Harmon, this course explores the theology, history, and practice of a traditional pattern of public Christian prayer, the “Liturgy of the Hours,” or the “Divine Office.”  The Liturgy of the Hours invites the body of the faithful, the Church, to respond to the Scriptural invitation to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) by praying at regular intervals throughout the day and night.  In this course, students will become familiar with the basic structure and content of the Liturgy of the Hours, discuss significant theological themes which shape the Hours, consider key moments in the historical development of the Liturgy of the Hours, and evaluate the challenges and catechetical potential afforded by the Liturgy of the Hours.  Doing so will afford opportunity for students to discuss the practical dimensions of adopting the Liturgy of the Hours in pastoral settings, to develop a theology of liturgical prayer, and to build a framework for teaching and implementing liturgical prayer patterned on the Liturgy of the Hours.

Course Content

Unit 1: Liturgical Prayer: Prayer of Christ, Prayer with the Church

  • Introduction to the course
  • Prayer in Christ, prayer of the Church
  • Focus on Liturgy of the Hours

Unit 2: Memory, Time, and Sanctification

  • Jewish ways of praying and development of Christian prayer
  • The sanctification of time
  • The meaning of each “hour” of the Office

Unit 3: Two Ways of Praying: Interior Piety and Communal Worship

  • 2nd and 3rd century sources for the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Imperial Christianity: cathedral and monastic traditions of liturgical prayer
  • Combining and contrasting cathedral and monastic styles

Unit 4: Ritual Patterns and Ritual Meaning

  • Parts of the whole: structure of liturgical prayer
  • Ritual patterns in Morning and Evening Prayer

Unit 5: Catechesis, Adaption and Implementation

  • Implementation of the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Adoption and adaptation of the Liturgy of the Hours

Course Format

  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lectures delivered by streaming video.
  • All lecture text available online in text format.
  • Supplemental readings provided online.
  • Written assignments (200-250 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated Zoom sessions with participants in course.

Required Texts

Participants need to have a copy of Two Ways of Praying (Paul. F. Bradshaw; OSL Publications, 2008) to use during the course. All other readings will be available online in the course space.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Respond to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled Zoom sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.


Dr. Katharine E. Harmon

Dr. Katharine E. Harmon

Dr. Harmon teaches at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana, conducting courses in theology, liturgy, and liturgical music.  She specializes in modern Roman Catholic liturgical history in the United States and has enjoyed teaching and lecturing about liturgy and liturgical renewal in a number of venues, including The Catholic University of America, the Monastic Institute at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and Saint Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her articles and essays have appeared in WorshipStudia LiturgicaAmerican Catholic Studies, the blog, Praytell, and the edited volume, Empowering the People of God (Fordham, 2013). Her history of lay women in the United States’ liturgical movement, There Were Also Many Women There, was published by the Liturgical Press in 2013. She is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the College Theology Society, and the Catholic Theological Society of America, and serves as a music minister at St. Mark the Evangelist Roman Catholic Parish in Indianapolis, Indiana.

B.A., Church Music and English, Valparaiso University, 2004

M.T.S., Liturgical Studies, University of Notre Dame, 2006

Ph.D., Liturgical Studies, University of Notre Dame, 2011