Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weekly Q&A, Joann and David edition

Welcome to new followers JoAnn and David. Glad to have you. This is the place where you may ask questions about the Liturgy of the Hours. Just stick them in the comments section, and I'll get back to you within a day or so.

Other than a quick post earlier today about a fabulous Office of Readings selection, I haven't been posting as frequently as usual. I've been conquering a pile of paperwork ("it compassed me about like bees, it blazed like a fire among thorns, in the Lord's name I crushed it!") and sorting through a mess of old records, books, and assorted junk in the barn (haven't crushed that yet, but it's getting better). I've also been learning more than I ever cared to know about the Book of Revelation thanks to brilliant and scholarly readers who gave me lots of Catholic study resources in last week's q&a post. And trying to get one of our two non-functioning tractor mowers repaired (husband is away on business and the grass on our 4 acres ain't getting any shorter!)

So, keeping busy. This weekend I'll have the privilege of conducting an an capella choir at a special mass where a lovely friend of mine will be taking vows in front of our bishop as a consecrated virgin and as a hermit. We'll be doing some traditional hymns, some Gregorian chant, and chanting the responsorial psalm using a tone from the Mundelein Psalter. Pray that I don't so something wrong, like cue my singers to launch into some part of the mass before it's the right time. I hate when that happens.


  1. Soo.. How does the Office for the Dead work? There's very little in the liturgical documents, other than it being the proper office for All Soul's.

    I've read it should be prayed on first hearing of a death, on the day of burial, and on 'significant dates' thereafter. What a 'significant date' is is never actually laid out. Can you follow a regular schedule to pray the Office of the Dead for deceased loved ones, and how do you do it?

    Also, does it replace that day's office, or follow it? I've seen it described both ways, but don't know how it would work if it follows the daily office. Do you go all the way through the collect at the end, omit the closing and start at the psalm of the Office for the Dead?

    Who can the Office be prayed for anyway? Is it restricted to the baptized, like Church funerals used to be? Can you substitute in the most appropriate collects (say, for example, a collect from the funeral of an infant who died before baptism) from the Missal?

    1. Well, all I know is what the General Instruction says about votive offices, which is this:

      245. For a public cause or out of devotion, except on solemnities, the Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, the octave of Easter, and 2 November, a votive office may be celebrated, in whole or in part: for example, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, a local feast, or the external solemnity of a saint.

      The OOD is a votive office. The above implies that so long as you are not using the days mentioned above, there is not need to pray both the office of the day and the OOD. (and of course, on All Soul's, the OOD is precisely what you do use. :))

      So I guess you could do the OOD for any or all of your departed loved ones on a regular weekday, as per what is quoted above in the general instruction.

      Since you can have mass offered for a departed non-catholic, I see no problem with praying the OOD for one as well.

      As for using the collect: there are actually norms for priests who want to combine the day's mass with morning prayer, so there is some mix and match permitted, but I really couldn't say how that would work with the OOD and using a collect from a funeral liturgy.

      That's about the best I can do with the admittedly scanty info about the OOD in the General Instruction.

    2. James I. McAuleyMay 12, 2012 at 10:16 AM


      The Office of the Dead is one of the most under utilized features of the Breviary by us laity. How often, when one reads a book on devotion to the Holy Souls, for example, do we here of praying the Office of the Dead? When was the last time any of us heard of the laity publicly reciting, or singing the Office of the Dead in Church/ Probably, never. Yet, it is one of the greatest tools in our spiritual arsenal, and one that needs more attention. The medieval laity often prayed this office publicly in Church during the later middle ages, when a family member, friend, guild associate, or fellow parishoner died. This is well documented in Eamon Duffy's Books, "The Stripping of the Altars" and "Marking the Hours." I recall at some funerals in the 1970s and 1980s the priest leading family's and friends in a prayer service that was the Vespers part of the Office of the Dead - and that is how it is set up Philip Weller's 1964 translation of the Roman Ritual.

      I often say the Office for a departed client, family member or friend. But, it would be nice if the Office was printed up in Booklet form and parish Community members came together to say it for departed fellow parishoners.

      In the 1961 Office it states:"The Office is said in choir on the day of burial and on other days when the occasion is suitable or when the custom of the particular church calls for it . . ."

    3. Thanks for mentioning Eamon Duffy, with whom I wasn't familiar. Just ordered Marking the Hours on Amazon.

    4. James I. McAuleyMay 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      Daria -- happy Mother's day! you will love the book by Duffy, it is wonderfully illustrated -- It is amazing but the Little Office of Our Lady published by Baronius is almost the same as used by our medieval ancestors!

      By the way, the rubric from the 1961 office is also found in the Diurnal: The Day Hours of the Roman Breviary in Latin and English published by Desclee in 1956.

  2. James I. McAuleyMay 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM


    I finally have some time to comment in regards to your request regarding the book of the Apocalypse of St. John. There is the series Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Volume XII edited by William C. Weinrich that provides what the Apostolic and Church Fathers said about the book.

    The Baronius Breviary is beautiful. It is the most finely crafted breviary I have ever seen. I use it almost every day. It still has the wonderful introduction by Pius Parsch, as well as Pius Parsch's commentary on the psalms that were found in the Liturgical Press Breviary. One thing nice is that you have other Patristic readings not found in the LOTH, and they provide a good complement.

    I intend to have my LOTH supplement bound up with my Franciscan Propers of the LOTH supplement. The propers of various orders often contain all of these other wonderful readings that we never get to see. Bummer!

  3. James I. McAuleyMay 10, 2012 at 1:29 PM


    Here is a little gift for you and your readers:

    This is the Office of Readings for Saint Damien De Vuester whose feast is today.


    1. Thanks, James. I just put that into a post.

    2. James, could you contact me at my email: www"dot"thesockeys"at" gmail"dot"com. I have a question for you.