In Roman Catholicism there exists a daily pattern of prayer, where specific prayers are linked to particular times of the day, a practice which dates from Medieval times. This cycle of prayer is typically undertaken by those in a monastic order. Some adherents believe that this Divine Office, as it is also called, reflects not just the passage of a single day, but also mirrors the life stages of a person. Here is one interpretation of these correspondences:

Lauds (Dawn Prayer) – (about 5 am) – Infancy – when we rose from night into day into the protection of our mothers.

Prime (Early Morning Prayer) – (about 6 am) – Childhood – when we (e.g. monks and nuns) began to memorize sacred texts and reflect on our service to God

Terce (Mid-Morning Prayer) (about 9 am) – Adolescence – when we received orders (e.g. entered a monastic order)

Sext (Midday Prayer) (around 12 noon) – Youth (e.g. Early to Mid-Adulthood) – when we were chosen as leaders and teachers of the people (i.e. elevated to the position of deacons and priests)

None (Mid-Afternoon Prayer) (approximately 3 pm) – Old Age – when most clergy take on ecclesiastical offices (e.g. bishop, major superior, parish priest, diocesan director of Catholic education etc.)

Vespers (Evening Prayer) (about 6 pm) – Decrepitude (e.g. Dying) – when most clergy will move on to a better place

Compline (Night Prayer) (about 7 pm) – Death – when we reflect upon the end of our lives and hope to be saved by confession and penance.

To learn more about different cultural traditions that relate to the stages of life, see Thomas Armstrong, The Human Odyssey:  Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life. 

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