Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bungling Through the Breviary?

?Man Confused Sad Clip Art

Lurching throught Lauds? A little Vague on Vespers?

As promised, this is your weekly forum for asking any questions you have about the Divine Office. Maybe you haven't even started because you aren't sure which breviary you should buy. Maybe your bouncing back and forth among online breviaries and don't understand the differences among them.Perhaps you know you can't do the entire Liturgy each day, but want advice deciding which hours you should pray.

Maybe you are a seasoned  pro at this breviary business, but want to compare notes on the finer points of praying the hours. Or you want to start praying it with someone else and do all the correct gestures and postures for community recitation.

I don't promise to be the final word on every single question, but what I have for you is 30- some year's experience saying the Office alone and with groups. Also, and more important, I have the complete General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours with me,  and will be happy to look things up when magisterial backup is needed.

So please, ask anything you want in the comment box. And anyone out there who knows what he's doing may comment on the comments if you have anything to offer. E.g. multiple readers can give their experience of the pros and cons of various breviaries. 


  1. Questions? Yeah....where do I start? :)

    I have the one volume Christian prayer book. I know we are in the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time and then I 'try' to follow this site....


    But how do you know what psalmody to read if you just use the book?
    What I usually end up doing is downloading the audio and listening.

  2. Great Question. You can always find which week you are in the psalter if you know what Sunday or week it is in ordinary time. If that number is a multiple of 4, then you use week IV in the psalter. If it's a multiple of 4, plus 1, then you use week I of the psalter. Multiple of 4, plus 2 use week II in the psalter. And so forth. As you point out, this is the 26th week. 26 is 2 more than 24, so we are in week II.

    Listening to divineoffice.org is good on commutes to and from work. I prefer ibreviary because the only mobile device I carry is an Amazon Kinddle, and for some reason Ibreviary is easier to use on Kindle than divineoffice.org. But ibreviary is only for reading; they don't have podcasts.

    It's good to know how to use the book because you never know when you won't have computer access, the websites are down, or you just want to pray unplugged.

    I hope this makes sense. Ask again if there's anything else you need.

  3. After Night prayer, which is the next easiest hour to say (i.e. shortest and least varying.) I like Night Prayer because it repeats every week so it's easy to figure out the page flipping after a week of doing it.

  4. One of my most popular old posts was titled "Good Night, Moon for Grownups". It was all about how beautiful and restful the psalms of night prayer are. I also recommend all beginners to start out just doing Night Prayer for week or so before going on to the others.

  5. I made the *mistake* of learning to use my Christian prayer book by saying Lauds and Vespers daily as a Lenten commitment.

    Let's just say there are easier times of the year to learn than Lent! Once I got back to ordinary time, I realized what a mistake I had made, but then again, I understood how to get around quite well by then.

    First I check if the day is a feast. Sometimes the antiphons, readings, prayers are different.

    Then I turn to the proper of seasons (in Ordinary time, this is only a sunday entry, but this will tell you which Week (I-IV) you are on) as well.

    Otherwise, the rest comes from the Commons.

    Learning what to bookmark was a challenge to me. I keep a marker on the Propers (today it is on pg.632). I keep another on pg 691. This whole section is key to explaining how the hours are recited. I keep it here so I can easily flip back to Psalm 95 on pg 688 for Invitatory, use the Gospel Canticle on 691 for Lauds and 696 for Vespers (although I know them nearly by heart by now). I keep a third in the current day/week in the four-week psalter (today it is on pg 830). I keep another in the Poper of Saints (currently pg 1270) and the last in the Office of Readings (currently 1819) in case I want to read from there. I move another marker through the daytime prayer on pg 1016. Oddly enough, I haven't jumped into night prayer yet!

  6. Sounds like you have a good system. I often forget to check for feasts, which is where ibreviary is invaluable.

    When I first started using the breviary, someone told me to make photocopies of the morning and evening gospel canticles, and glue them to the inside front and back covers. That freed up a ribbon, and/or was easier than having to stop and think which ribbon marked that ordinary section. Of course, if you're lucky enough to have an old Daughters of St. Paul breviary, the gospel canticles are printed on every single day of the psalter, so there is no flipping required. But as you say, these get learned by heart after a while.

  7. Daria....thank you for that bit of insider info! lol...So the Nun's were right after all....I will need to know math!

  8. Yes, but at least you don't need algebra.

  9. So today I was able to find Monday morning prayer in the Christian Prayer book. I still followed along with the Divine Office website and have a question about the Canticle of Zechariah. In the book it reads Canticle of Zechariah in red...then Antiphon.... Blessed be the Lord our God. Then it goes to Intercessions. However on the website after the Antiphon it calls for a reading...Luke 1:68 - 79. Is the Canticle the reading or is the Canticle a separate prayer that I need to ribbon in the book? Hope that makes sense and thank you.

  10. Yes, Luke 1:68-79 is just telling you where you can find the Canticle in your actual Bible. There is no additional reading.