Saturday, March 10, 2012

Breviary on the Doctor's Desk

Medical Matins is a lovely blog by a Catholic medical student, who writes about her vocation and studies in the light of faith. By necessity she keeps it anonymous, given the privacy protections for all the people she comes in contact with in her field training. This blogger prays the Divine Office. Here is a recent post where she shares an essay that she was assigned for one of her classes. It's just one of the million stories that are out there. Stories of ordinary people, living with the ups and downs or the lives we have chosen (or maybe the lives we have not chosen but are required to live just the same), and pausing a few times each day to put the world on hold while we sing at the doors of heaven.

 We were each asked to choose an object we would keep in our future office which would stand as a symbol of our spiritual life.

I chose the Divine Office, which all priests, all consecrated people, and some laypeople (like me) pray each day.

My breviary (on top of an old medical text) with our Lady.
The Office reflects the spiritual life very well. It is both regular (prayed according to rules) and personalized (because the psalms the Church chooses often seem hand-picked for my circumstances). Its times and seasons reflect the winding road of human life: it is partly sung and partly recited; it has seasons of fasting and seasons of feasting; it has times for standing and times for sitting. Also like the spiritual life, it is both communal and private—the Office is said by the Church as a whole and in each soul who prays it.

But this particular copy has separate significance and symbolism. In many ways, it symbolizes my Faith. It used to belong to my mother, and she gave
it to me, just as my parents gave me the Faith. It has weight, reminding me that my Faith is a charge laid on me, but a light burden and even pleasant and comforting. It is red, a color of complete love; this reflects the love of a beloved wife, or the love of a martyr. This is the love which I have for Christ and which draws me to prayer.

Wouldn't you love to have a doctor who kept a breviary on her desk? Check out Medical Matins and leave a note to encourage this lovely young woman in her vocation.

If any of you have a story to tell about the Divine Office in your life, send it to thesockeys"at" gmail"dot" com. The words in quotes are to protect me from spam. You know the correct way to write it.


  1. Dear Mrs. Sockey,

    This is a nice blog. However, there are many of us out there who use the older form, the Roman Breviary. I have been using it almost exclusively, except for some shot periods of the LOTH, since September 1986. Presently, I use the three volume Latin-English Divine Office by the Liturgical Press of 1963-1964, and I am looking forward to the arrival of my copy of the new Baronius Press printing of this set. I respectfully suggest you look the review of this set up on the New Liturgical Movement Website and Father Z.

    The old hours are not as bad as many people make then out to be, and there is nothing to compare with the office of Prime, which consecrates your workday. Lauds does not do that,it's purpose is different. The commentary is from the great and holy Pius Parsch who wrote the wonderful set The Church's Year of Grace., from which the commentary is extrapolated.

    The pre-Vatican II Liturgical Movement made quite an effort to get the laity to pray the Breviary, with books such as The Short Breviary (English, 3 editions 1940, 1954, and 1962), the Little Breviary (English) of 1957, the four volume Benziger Roman Breviary all in English of 1950, the En Calcat Abbey Book of Hours (Latin-English) of 1956, the Divine Office (English) of 1958, The En Calcat Office of Our Lady (Latin - English) of 1962, and the Benziger one volume all English Roman Breviary of 1964. Yes, I am a breviary freak, I have all of these.

    Truth be told I gave away my four volume set of the LOTH because I prefer the older cursus of hours. I have a copy of the rare one volume Office of Readings that I keep on hand for use as needed.

    James Ignatius McAuley

  2. Dear Mr. McAuley,
    You might like this site:
    -Mike Demers

    1. Thank you. However, I am like the doctor referenced in this article -- I keep my breviary on my desk and I am an attorney. Most clients assume it is a bible. Sometimes, it is great to refer to. For clients who are sorrowing or angry, it is good to have the psalms available for them.

    2. God bless you!
      -Mike Demers

  3. Daria, I only just saw this post. Thank you for your encouraging words and for all you do here at Coffee and Canticles. God bless you.