I left this comment this morning on the Divine Office website:
A few posts ago someone was asking whether this website was intended for individual or communal prayer. I just wanted to tell you that although I had been raised as a Catholic, I left the Church at age 17, and became a Baptist for 27 years before reverting almost five years ago. I was raised very nominally Catholic and had never heard of the Divine Office before going to a silent retreat about four years ago. There we prayed the Office at every opportunity for a whole weekend. Shortly after this, I discovered this website and made the Morning prayer part of my daily routine.
Since reverting back to the Church, I understand fully the Communion of Saints, but it was more of a mental assent to the fact. I would pray to the saints but after so long believing that it was not possible to do so, it was hard to make this transition.
Until two nights ago at my parish. After our last fish fry for the Lenten season I went into the sanctuary to wait for time to do the Stations of the Cross. I was about 45 minutes early, so I brought my Kindle and decided that was was going to do the Evening reading silently. But I wasn't the only one who had that idea. There were a couple of other small groups there praying the Rosary in different areas.
I went over to where we have a kneeler before a beautiful painting of St. Philomena, next to a statue of St. John Vianney, our parish patron. Never have I had a so much of a sense of the presence of the saints. For so long I had been taught to never prayer to the dead. But THEY ARE NOT DEAD! I prayed the Office aloud asking St. John Vianney and St. Philomena to pray with me. Even though human eyes would have seen only me, I knew that I was not alone but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses all praising our God together. And coupled with the other two groups praying the Rosary, it truly was a house of prayer.
After the Reading I sang, quietly (not silently) “Per crucem”, the version that is sung by Melinda Kirigin-Voss that is often posted here for Morning Readings. When I finished it was nearly time to start stations. The other two groups were also just finishing with the Rosary. The priest came into the sanctuary, not quite ready yet as he didn't have his robes on.
Our parish has been going through a very trying time lately with a former employee who had to be terminated and turned over to the police for embezzling a large amount of cash. It has been hard on everyone involved.
When Father came into the sanctuary and saw three different groups of people all in prayer all on their own, you could see how uplifted he became. With the eyes of faith he could see all the incense from all of our individual prayers coalescing into one and rising up to the Throne.
Praise God! This is a very long way of saying, “yes” this is a communal prayer. Even if prayed individually, the Saints in heaven are praying with you, and there are saints on earth praying with you too, even if you never meet them before we all meet together in eternity.
Let us worship together!