Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Found My Place in the Psalter Using this One Weird Trick

This post has been re-run several times, so old timers, there's nothing to see here. But lately several readers have mentioned their dependence on the St. Joseph's guide. Another one, who just obtained a used  Pauline one-volume breviary, asks me if there is a guide available for that. (Answer: there is a pamphlet which tells you what week you need for the four week psalter. It does not give page numbers,not does it tell you what page you need for the various feasts, holy days, and memorials, so is less comprehensive than the St. Joseph guide.)

Now, you could always hop on the computer or smart phone to see what or is doing each day, and then arrange your ribbons accordingly. (I assume you use the book because you find it a nicer aesthetic and/or spiritual experience to do so, otherwise you'd just  use a breviary app all the time.)

But the best way is to learn the system yourself. Since we are in ordinary time, the main thing to do is find your place in the psalter. Here is my old post about that:

Okay, so your three year old was playing with the ribbons in your breviary again, and now they're all pulled out and you don't remember what week in the Psalter you should be using.

Or you got out of the habit of praying the hours for a couple weeks, and want to start up again, but don't know what week it is.

So here's what you do.  Look at your parish calendar. The one that hangs on the fridge or on the cellar door. See what Sunday in ordinary time it was this week. Concentrate on that number.
Is it a multiple of 4?  (4,8,12,etc.) Then you will use week IV of the psalter.
Is it a multiple of 4, plus 1? (5,9,13,etc) Then you will use week I of the psalter.
Is it a multiple of 4, plus 2? (6,10,14,etc) Then you will use week II of the psalter.
4, plus 3? (Or alternately, 4 minus 1: 3,7,11,etc) Then you will use week III of the psalter.

The weeks of the holy seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter Always begin with week I, proceed through week IV, and then start over as needed.

Now, print this off and paste in your breviary, and you will always be able to find your place in the psalter.

Well, that's fine, you may say, but what about memorials and solemnities and feasts? What about today, the Exaltation of the Cross? How do I figure that out without my dear little St. Joseph guide?
I'll tell you that in the next post.


  1. There's a guide for the Pauline edition of Christian Prayer:

    1. Whaddaya know? I'll correct the post to mention that. Of course, all this pamphlet does is tell you what week of the psalter to use. It won't help with feasts.

    2. And I had hoped to find a copy of a little guide to the Daughters of St Paul (Pauline) Christian Prayer that I used to get every year from our Pauline Books and Music here in Chicago. It was a small booklet printed in landscape/oblong mode with an attractive beige cover and color art on it. Wish I could remember the precise title and who published was a small organization dedicated to the Liturgy of the Hours. I'll keep looking. I don't think it was the Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate, but something like that. Anyway, it had a page for each week, with a detailed rundown of each day's page numbers. I wished the St Joseph guide could have been that tidy and useful.