The "Little Hours"
These hours punctuate the day between the hinge hours of Lauds (sunrise) and Vespers (sunset), calling the monk to pray unceasingly, offering all of his day – his entire life – to God. The little hours bear only slight resemblance to the others, and have always had a subordinate place in the liturgy. Though Prime is now suppressed in the Roman Office, that does not effect monastic prayer; some monasteries retain the hour.
The Roman Office expects that one of the three “little hours” will be prayed, depending on the time of day a person offers it. When just one of the hours is chosen in monasteries, as is typical, the office of Sext is the one elected, falling in the middle of the day. At the height of the day, the themes of work and family are strong at Sext, when the monk leaves his work and runs with his brothers to the oratory. There Sext is prayed while the sun gives us the most heat, and at the time when we remember Our Lord put on the cross. Hell unleashes its might, and we battle a fallen nature.