Friday, May 30, 2014

Question on Breviary Unity

A reader from Pennsylvania writes:

  I am about 2/3 of the way through your book, and have been praying morning and night prayer for about a month.  Since you mention that there will be a revision of the breviary in the next few years, I searched that topic on the web, and came upon some posts that talked about the 1961 Roman Breviary from Baronius Press.
     I am currently homeschooling my 2 youngest children and they study Latin.  I have been to an EF Mass, but normally attend a Novus Ordo Mass.  Are the liturgical calendars between these 2 forms completely different?  I was wondering (and will pray about) whether I should get this 1961 breviary because it has the Latin, which will help me learn it, and it won't change in the future (I assume).  But I am confused about how we can be "united to the Church universal"  if we are praying different forms of the breviary.
     If you have any thoughts/suggestions about this, I would really appreciate it!  Thanks!!

Happy to answer the several questions you bring up. I'm publishing your letter as a post since some of my readers are more knowledgeable than I about the 1961 (EF) Breviary than I am, and I want them to have the chance to chime in. What I love about Coffee&Canticles readers is that they are able to discuss features of Ordinary Form vs. Extraordinary form in a way that sheds light (knowledge) without generating heat (in the form of acrimonious debates about which form is superior and whether Vatican II liturgical change was a huge mistake or a needed reform, etc.)

The revision I referred to in The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours is a new translation of the existing Ordinary Form breviary. Just as we received a new translation of the mass a couple years ago, the same thing is being done with the breviary, and mostly for the same reasons to conform more accurately to the official Latin texts. Also, this new breviary will include a more accurate translation of the psalms, and will eliminate the psalm prayers since these do not appear in the body of the psalter in the official Latin breviary nor in those of other countries. You can read more about it here.  

The Baronius Press breviary is a new (beautiful but pricey) edition of the 1961, EF breviary. A cheaper alternative would be to find old pre-Vatican II breviaries on ebay. Or, to use one of several online versions, which I hope an alert reader or two will post in comments. Probably it would be a good idea to try praying the traditional, EF breviary online for a while to see how you like it before making the investment in a new breviary. 

Are the two calendars "completely" different? I wouldn't say that. Both observe the same liturgical seasons. The spaces in between the seasons that the OF now calls "ordinary time" have different names in the EF, for example, "The xth Sunday after Pentecost" rather than "xth Sunday of ordinary time."  The big difference is with the feastdays of saints throughout the year. Both EF and OF match up on some of them, but not all. Plus, the EF includes many more saints in the general calendar as obligatory commemorations than the OF does. 

If the majority of masses (Sunday and/or daily) that you attend are EF, it would make sense to use the EF breviary, because I think you'd want to commemorate the same saint during lauds and vespers that you did at mass that day. For the same reason, I stick with the OF. 

One exception--the Office of Readings. Many of my traditional friends use the EF breviary for most of the hours, but do the Office of Readings from the EF, because they prefer the Office of Readings to its EF equivalent. 

Now--how can we be united to the prayer of the Universal Church if there are two different breviaries? Actually, there are more than two. The eastern rites have something different than us western rite folks, and many monastic orders use a monastic breviary that differs from the one that we lay people and parish priests use.   Also, the new Anglican ordinariate (for Catholics who have converted from the Anglican/Episcopal churches) have a breviary that retains elements of the Book of Common Prayer. And each religious order has its own "ordo" wherein on any given day, its members are commemorating one of their own saints or blesseds, and thus even though they use the OF breviary, might be using a different common, prayer, or reading than the one you and I are using that day. 

So how is there unity?  In the same way that we are  all united as we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, despite a number of varying rites (Latin, Greek, Ruthenian, Ambrosian, etc.) and forms (ordinary Latin, extraordinary Latin).  It's the same sacrifice of Jesus, made once on calvary and renewed in every mass. So every variety of the Liturgy of the Hours (so long as the texts are approved by the church as liturgical prayer) is the public
 sacrifice of praise that Jesus offers eternally to his father, and we, as members of his body, get to offer through, with and in him. 

So, no, you don't have word for word unity across all Catholics every day.   That being said, there are many common elements across the OF and EF breviary. For example, today (Friday)  everyone is praying Psalm 51, which is the penitential psalm par excellence. The daily Invitatory of Psalm 95 is the same in both forms. Night Prayer for Saturday night is the same one that the EF uses every night of the week. There are probably other points of intersection as well. 

Realize that priests who use the EF breviary are required to pray it in Latin. The English text is there for study purposes, but they must say the Latin for it to "count" as their daily obligation. Not sure whether this would apply to laity who want to pray liturgically rather than as devotion. 

One more thing. You can pray the modern,  OF  breviary in Latin by using the ibreviary app. There's a place in the settings where you can select various languages an Latin is among them.

As a homeschooler, you might be interested in an excellent new book about praying the LOTH as a family.  It's called The Llittle Oratory.  The authors discuss different breviaries and all kinds of tips for introducing the rest of your family to liturgical prayer. 

I hope this helps, and maybe a few readers will have some more ideas for you once this post has been online for a few hours.