Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post: Single-volume Pauline African Breviary

 From time to time I refer to the Pauline Editions breviary from Kenya that I often use. I have reviewed the four-volume version here, and also described the process for purchasing it.  Another blog follower recently bought the Kenyan single-volume breviary--the equivalent of Christian Prayer. Jonny wrote a lengthy review, which appears below. If you have any follow up questions for Jonny about this book, post them in comments, and I'm sure he'll be happy to reply.

The Prayer of the Church”: A Review of the African One-Volume Liturgy of the Hours Book
Greetings to those who love praying the Liturgy of the Hours; my name is Jonny. I am a recent follower and fan of this blog. This blog is actually the place I discovered the African version of what we know in the United States as “Christian Prayer.” The African edition is not quite the same as “Christian Prayer.” It is lacking the abridged Office of Readings and the hymnal at the back, but it has many strong points that have made it my favorite prayer book by far! What follows are my observations from praying with “The Prayer of the Church” for almost a week now.
I actually had to order this book from Africa. It is published by Pauline Publications Africa, which is a division of the Daughters of St. Paul. I placed my order on August 26th online, and it shipped out September 3rd. It made it to a sorting facility in New York by Sept. 5th, where it stayed for about 2 weeks. I finally received my book in Indiana on September 16th, so the whole process took exactly 3 weeks. I actually ordered 2 copies, one for me and one for my wife. They were 25 dollars apiece and with shipping I paid a total of $69.50. Probably the best $69.50 I ever spent!
The books arrived wrapped in several layers of brown paper taped tightly shut, with one side covered in colorful Kenyan stamps.Jonnys Camera 190.JPG I was pleased by the appearance of the books as soon as I opened the package. For those familiar with the Christian Prayer book, you know that the cover is basically cardstock covered with a faux-leather kind of contact paper. The Prayer of the Church also has a paperback cover but it is glued to a thick, soft piece of blue vinyl. Although the two books are exactly the same size, in my opinion the African edition is much more attractive and comfortable to hold.Jonnys Camera 192.JPG I also noticed that the ribbons are softer and attached in the binding, rather than attached to a plastic tab as in Christian Prayer. The African edition does not have ribbons that can be seared, but I put a knot in the end of each to stay from fraying.Jonnys Camera 193.JPG The binding is composed of sewn signatures, and looks as sturdy as the American edition, if not more so… only time will tell.
All aesthetic qualities aside, the actual contents of the African edition exceed my old edition by a mile. First of all, it uses the Revised Grail Psalms. They are the new translation approved by the Vatican for all liturgical books, and will eventually replace the Psalms sung in mass, in the NABRE, and in the LOTH. The gears of change are moving slowly, as the entire NAB Bible and LOTH are being revamped, but suffice it to say, Africa is a step ahead. What is so great about the Revised Grail Psalms? They are a more accurate translation from the Hebrew, in conformity with the guidelines set forth in the document Liturgiam Authenticam to make them faithful to traditional Catholic renderings. I would have switched to the African version for this reason alone, but lo, there are many other great features!
Daytime Prayer is more accessible in the African version, and more complete. Instead of having just Week I isolated in a separate section, it has the four week cycle built into the Psalter! There are also options for Daytime Prayer in the Proper of Seasons, and of course there is the complementary Psalmody for those who pray more than one hour of Daytime Prayer. Jonnys Camera 196.JPG The antiphons for all the psalms are at the beginning and end of each Psalm, so one does not have to flip pages back and forth. Also, when the Intercessions are split onto the next page, the response is reprinted on the next page as well. The Sunday Canticles have 3 antiphons, for liturgical years A, B, and C, and these correspond to the Gospel reading. This is one of the major differences, as the Psalm prayers, intercessions, and closing prayers are the same. The Morning, Evening, and Night Gospel Canticles are way different. They are new editions included with the Revised Grail Psalms. I can’t say I like them better yet, being so used to the old ones, but I will say I am overjoyed to be praying the traditional “Glory Be!” The Scripture readings are taken from the more accurate 1991 NAB instead of the 1970 NAB. I did find it interesting that the canticles included within the four-week Psalter are still taken from the 1970 NAB, but I predict that will change in future editions. So far the African edition is the only one that is translated from the current Latin Typical Edition, Liturgia Horarum, Editio Typica Altera. The major difference is the Sunday Antiphons mentioned above and an expanded liturgical calendar. For instance, the African edition contains Jan 3rd: The Most Holy Name of Jesus, May 13th: Our Lady of Fatima, May 21st--St. Christohpher Magallanes, 22--St. Rita,24th-Our Lady Help of Christians, July, 24th: St. Sharbel Makhuf, August 9th: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, 14th:  St. Maximilian Kolbe, Sept. 12th: The Most Holy Name of Mary, Sept. 20: Korean Martyrs, 23rd (Padre Pio). There are, of course, a handful of USA saints you will not get in the African version, and vice versa.
The absence of a hymnal with music might be disappointing to some. On the bright side, it is one less time to have to flip pages! I have recognized and sung about half the hymns I have encountered so far, and the other half recited as a wonderful piece of holy poetry. As in the American edition, I am not always pleased with the translation of the hymns. I have no problem with the absence of the “Thee” and “Thou” language, but not when it alters a well known hymn or defeats the rhyme. I will soon remedy the whole situation by creating a song list for the hours using the Adoremus and St. Michael Hymnals. For those who do not sing the hymn, this may not be an issue in the first place.

I hope my review has been helpful! I know it sounds manic but I wanted to compress a lot of details for your benefit! I would highly recommend praying with this book until the updated American 4-volume edition is released. Until then, our “Christian Prayer” books sit ready for an occasional Office of Readings selection.