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.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this, and for linking to the article (which I will go and read in its entirety). I, too, thought that the Magnificat (which I love to have at Holy Mass!) had a "shorter" version of morning and evening prayer in it. I did, that is, until I began praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I am still a newby, but I feel that I am getting so much out of the universal prayer of the Church. I love the continuity and I love when I do catch those bits of the readings of the day that bring it all together. Thank you so much for your blog! God bless, Michele F.

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  2. Sadly, the post to which you linked no longer exists or, at least, not by that link. :) Thanks for your post and the excerpt you included.

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  3. One has to ask...WHY does Magnifcat Magazine do this? Why don't they just use the morning and evening prayers from the LOTH??? Or at the very least use the Pslams? Why use totally different prayers and Psalms? Of what benefit is this? Is it a copyright issue?

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    1. I really don't know what their reasoning is, but now that you mention it, copyright may be an issue. But I'm not going to question Magnificat, since they have introduced people to praying the psalms daily, and many readers do "graduate" from it to the real LOTH.

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  4. Ms. Sockey,
    Do you think there is any long-term benefit to a person if they simply stick with Magnificat their entire lives and not 'graudate' to LOTH?

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    1. or long-term negative effects of sticking with Magnificat one's entire life?

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    2. It's never a negative to pray, whatever form that takes, and especially praying with the psalms, the prayers that God has given us in his Word. But I would say there's an advantage to moving up from Magnificat to the LOTH. The LOTH is the official liturgical prayer for each day. Participating in the LOTH joins you in prayer with the universal church. The LOTH is the same category of prayer as the Mass. Using The random psalms chosen by Magnificat each day is in the category of private devotion (like saying the rosary). So yes, using the LOTH is, objectively a greater thing. But if someone finds the LOTH too complicated, or too big a committment, then sticking with Magnificat is still a really good thing.

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