Sister, I have a question for you. I am looking to deepen my commitment to the faith by reciting the Divine Office. But I don't know where to begin—literally. Or for that matter, how to get
Oh, I feel your pain. Explaining the Divine Office and the Liturgy of the Hours reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mother would help me with my math. I couldn't understand any of it and it just sounded like....she may as well have been speaking Greek or Lithuanian or some sort of gibberish made by mixing them together. Eventually, I would cry. I couldn't help myself. It was all so hopeless.
I don't mean to imply that the Divine Office is gibberish. But I agree that explanations I have read are nearly indecipherable. I tell you this to assure you that you are not alone in feeling lost and overwhelmed.
So, I did a little research for you, figuring the internet tubes are the best way to find a simple explanation, or a set of guidelines that anyone could understand. And here's what you're up against:
What is the Divine Office?
It starts out pleasantly enough, but ultimately makes me want to cry. There was a point where my eyes glazed over, kept working, but shut off any information from traveling from my eyeballs to my brain.
So I tried that vast store of information for the informationally challenged, Wikipedia. And lo and behold! It actually has a fairly succinct and understandable explanation. Because even though I actually pray the Liturgy of the Hours, I could never have laid it all out and explained it like that without reducing you to a crying little girl at the kitchen table trying to comb through long division while hobbled with the new method of teaching math known as "new math".
But it does bog down a bit when it starts to explain what to do. I got worried that if you have four books of what to do and can't figure that out, Wikipedia isn't going to iron that out for you.
Let's stop for one moment and say, please don't become obsessed with doing it "right". Of course, it would be lovely for you to pray the way you're "supposed to", because the Church has gone through great pains over centuries to formulate the Liturgy of the Hours and the prayers and when you say them and what you read and sing and therefore think about.
But in the end you're praying. Period. It's very difficult to do that wrong. You'd have to really work at that. Praying is talking to God. You only do it wrong when it becomes rote and/or thoughtless. And to that end, you might do just as well to just pray during the appointed hours, rather than to mumble out a bunch of stuff you don't understand while you quietly worry about that new weird sound your car is making.
The real thrust of the Liturgy of the Hours, is that the whole Church (or as much of it as we can muster) is praying together around the clock and the power and grace that may produce for the world.
But I persevered. The internet, with all its problems, misinformation and sinful imagery, is also a wonderful place full of useful information, explanations, understandable charts and the like.
That should help you. You won't have to juggle four books and you clearly know how to use the internet. Voila (as the French say).
Let us know if this works for you!