Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Liturgy vs. Devotion vs. Magnificat psalms

Over the last year and a bit that Coffee&Canticles has been around, there's been periodic questions about the value of the Liturgy of the Hours as compared to popular devotions from people who want to pray but have intense work schedules. And many readers mention that they pray their daily morning and evening prayer from the Magnificat monthly devotional.   I've tried to explain to the first group that the difference between liturgy and devotions places the Divine Office in a category way above any other  devotion. I've also told the second group that although Magnificat does a wonderful thing in introducing people to using the psalms in their daily prayer, these daily selections are NOT the equivalent of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Today I read this detailed and insightful post on these same subjects by a blogger who is a more dedicated student of liturgy that I.  Here's an excerpt:

 Lest I be misunderstood, I am a huge fan of this publication.  I think it is a great resource as a daily Missal, for spiritual edification (the articles, artwork, and chant music are second to none in these sorts of publications), and even for a form of morning prayer and evening prayer.  However, and through no fault of the publishers, the magazine is being touted by many as “Liturgy of the Hours without all the page flipping” or “a scaled down version of Liturgy of the Hours” or even “an introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours.”
The problem is this: It is not the Liturgy of the Hours, and as such, it is not liturgy.  Take “Morning Prayer” for example. Magnificat has not only altered the form (taking the Psalmody down to a single Psalm), but it has actually chosen a different Psalm than any from the selection of the actual Liturgy of the Hours.  I know numerous people, who, upon finding this out, felt “duped.”  They felt duped because they thought they were praying the Liturgy of the Hours, only to find out that they were praying a private devotion.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me emphasize that there is nothing wrong with private devotion.  But for people who are looking to participate in the “foretaste of that heavenly liturgy,” the morning and evening prayers in Magnificat do not fit the bill.  Liturgy, qua liturgy, has no substitute.  Praying the structure of Magnificat can certainly be edifying and spiritually beneficial, but it is emphaticallynot the Liturgy of the Hours.