Saturday, December 3, 2011

They pray the Divine Office in Heaven

It's right there in the Bible.  Which I noticed this morning because the breviary points this out in the subheading beneath the Old Testament canticle from Exodus. (Which begins, I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea...)

This is the song of Moses, Miriam, and the Israelites who had just successfully crossed the Red Sea and witnessed the destruction of the pursuing Egyptians. The breviary usually helps us, with a brief line, to apply the psalms and canticles to some truth of the New Covenant. So today, just ahead of the canticle, we find this line from the book of Reveleation: Those who had conquered the beast were singing the song of Moses, God's servant (see Revelation 15:2-3)

I looked this up, and found not only the verse, but also this helpful footnote (this is the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible): "John sees and hears the martyrs of heaven standing beside the glassy sea and singing praises to God. They sing an adapatation of the Song of Moses from Ex. 15: the saints celebrate a new Exodus from the sin and slavery of the world....In the end, the Lord will lead [the Church] out of this world into his own inheritance, which was not conferred by Moses, the servant of God, but by Jesus the Son of God..."

Although the title of this post exaggerated a bit to get your attention, this snippet of Revelation does show us:
  • The saints in heaven pray the songs of Sacred Scripture
  • They, like us as we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, apply the words of scripture to their own situation, to the Church, and to Jesus in the oneness of the Mystical Body.
And when you are praying the hours today, reflect that when you do so, you are joining with the whole Church, not just world wide, but eternity wide.


  1. An off-topic question:
    Why are Psalms 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) and 133 (O How good and pleasant it is when brethren...) not used in the Divine Office? They don't appear in the index to psalms at the back of my book. Also omitted from that index are the more vigorous of the "cursing" psalms, which I kind of get, but are these two popular psalms out because the Church uses them elsewhere in the liturgy, or what is up?

    I am enjoying re-connecting with you through your blog, Daria.

    your old friend,
    Kathy Ferrier

  2. So basically, we're practicing for later when we pray the Divine Office :) I like that!

  3. @ Kathy: So delightful to hear from you, here especially. Psalms 23 and 13 are very much in the Divine Office, but not in the one-volume edition which you must be using. They are both in daytime prayer. 133 is said on Friday of week IV, and 23 comes up on Sunday week II. Your 1-volume breviary only has a sort of "sampler" for the midday hours. If you're doing daytime prayer regularly you should look into either buying the four volume, buying the separate self-contained "daytime prayer" book, or just going online the daytime if the aethetics of doing so are not repulsive to you.

    As to the cursing psalms plus a couple of violent verses in a generally non-cursing psalm--the General Instruction on the LOH says:"In this new [post vatican II] arrangement of the psalms some few of the psalms and verses which are somewhat harsh in tone have been omitted, especially because of the difficulties that were foreseen from their use in vernacular celebration." My redaction of the above: now that the LOTH was being made more accessible to the laity (both in its brevity and in the encouragement of the vernacular), we don't want to put them off by asking them to make a prayer out of praising the bashing of babylonian babies' heads, etc. Yes, there are metaphorical interpretations, but at times these can be a bit of a stretch. Furthermore, although one can get away with it in Latin, the idea of the sweet voices of nuns chanting before the Blessed Sacrament about bathing ones feet in the blood of one's enemies is, well, not quite the effect one might desire.
    So actuallly, the full Divine Office only has us saying 147 psalms per month, minus the baby-bashing verse from Ps. 137. As you might imagine this is hugely objectionable to some Traditionalists. Personally I think the Church hit a home run with the revised breviary, even though, as with the mass for so many years, we English-speakers are stuck with an inferior translation.

  4. Also,Kathy, we'll have to have a nice chat about things other than psalms sometime!