Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Hours of Ash Wednesday

If you have taken up the Divine Office for lent,God bless you!  It's a little bit harder to figure out the breviary during one of the Church's liturgical seasons  than during ordinary time.

Ash Wednesday is unusual in that there are two choices. The default is Wednesday of Week IV, but a suggested alternate is Friday of Week III. The alternate makes sense, since this is a great day to recite  the penitential  psalm 51 ("a clean heart create for me O God, put a steadfast spirit within me") I am going to stick with Wednesday week IV this year, because of its opening psalm which begins, "My heart is ready, O God." This will be my thought for the day.  I figure if I keep telling myself my heart is ready to fast on food and (worst of all) shopping, then maybe the flesh will follow the spirit.

So--do the psalmody of Wednesday Week IV, but STOP before the reading. Turn to the front part of the book, the Proper of Seasons. My edition of the one-volume breviary puts Ash Wednesday at p.255. Continue to the end of Morning Prayer. When Evening Prayer comes around, it's the same thing. Wednesday Evening of the Psalter, then turn back to the proper for the reading thru the conclusion.

Potential problems: trying to find the Canticl of Zachariah and the Magnificat. They're in the ordinary between pages 691and 696. The best thing to do is make copies of these and paste them inside the front and back covers. Much easier to find that way.

If you are not sure you've found the right places, you can always go to http://www.divineoffice.org/ . And feel free to ask me any questions at all.