Saturday, June 7, 2014

Post-Pentecost breviary explained, plus Q&A

We haven't done a Q&A post on a long time. So here is one. Ask any question at all in the comments and an answer will be forthcoming.

Here is a revised form of my annual post-Pentecost post, wherein I explain how to figure out where you are in the breviary.  If this is still too confusing, just use a breviary app or website until July 6th.

Wishing you all a blessed Pentecost.

Once the grand finale of the Easter season, namely Pentecost, has passed us by this weekend, one might tend to think that things go "back to normal" in the liturgy. After all, we do call it "Ordinary Time", right?

But no, not exactly. For one thing, the term "ordinary" in  "Ordinary Time"  does not quite correspond to the,um ordinary definition: routine, normal, business-as-usual. It mostly refers to the fact that the Sundays and weeks are numbered, or "ordered". (Although we certainly can feel the contrast between the solemn events of the previous holy seasons as compared to ordinary time, so we're not entirely wrong to feel that Ordinary time is somewhat ordinary in the popular English sense of the word.)
For another thing, for those who use mostly  hard copy breviaries, rather than rely on breviary websites to do their work for them, the next week or so can be among the most confusing of the entire year. Although we enter Ordinary time as of Monday, there are no Sundays of Ordinary Time until July!  All this makes for plenty of head scratching as we flip here and there trying to figure things out.
So just keep an eye on your parish calendar if you forget what week we're in. Or print  this post and keep it in your book.

Monday starts the 10th week of ordinary time, using week II of the Psalter. But there is no 10th Sunday because of Pentecost.
Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday. (with its own special liturgy in the proper of Seasons. DON'T use the 11th Sunday. Do continue on Monday with the 11th week (Psalter week III) on Monday.
The Sunday after (6/22) that is Corpus Christi (with its own special liturgy), so DON"T use the 12th Sunday of Ordinary time. Continue on Monday with the 12th week and week IV of the Psalter.
The next Sunday, June 29th, happens to be the Solemnity of St. Peter&Paul, one of those rare saint's days whose liturgy supersedes that of Sunday.  Use week I of the Psalter the following week (13th in Ordinary Time)
Then we shall be back to nothing but Sundays in Ordinary time starting on July 6th, clear through until Christ the King in November.
Hope this is helpful.

PS. There was a great little bit in the Office of Readings today where a sixth century anonymous African answers the question, "Why don't Christians still have the gift of tongues nowadays is the Holy Spirit is still  with them?" I won't spoil it for you. Look it up in your book, or on ibreviary.


  1. I believe 10th week uses Week 2 and so on.

    1. OOPS! Thanks for catching that, Mike. This is an old post and I thought I"d moved all the numbers up for 2014, but this is what comes of writing when I'm tired. I think it's fixed now.

    2. I learned from you a while ago on how to tell which week of the psalter to use.

    3. I have a question about a reading. For the feast of the Visitation midmorning reading is taken from Judith 14:7b "Blessed are you in every tent of Judah; and in every foreign nation, all who hear of you will be struck with terror" Why terror? All who hear of you? I may be way off base but would not a better reading from Judith be 13:18 "O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth ...Your hope will never depart from the hearts of men, as they remember the power of God."

    4. The RSV translation is perhaps better understood, instead of 'terror' the word 'alarmed' is used.
      One of the problems with the English language is the use of terms like that. For instance, we are supposed to have a 'fear' of the Lord. If you use the common definition of 'fear' you will miss the true meaning of that expression.

  2. I have a question about the responsorial psalms we sing at Mass. Are the responses antiphons that the Church have invented and the verses the actual psalm? When I was learning more about psalms I realized that they aren't in response form in the Bible, so I wondered how they came to be in the form that we use them at Mass, and also if the Antiphons that we use in LOH are also created by the Church to put them in that format.... is the word "antiphon" interchangeable with "response" ?

    1. Hi Catherine! Both the antiphons in the LOH and the responsorial psalm at mass are derived from various sources. Sometimes they actually are a phrase from the psalm itself. Sometimes they are a phrase from another place in the Bible, and sometimes they were simply composed by various people throughout the history of the Church. The method of repeating the response during the psalm at mass is only one option, although the one most frequently used in the English speaking world. The psalm may also be chanted in its entirety by a choir, with the response or antiphon only repeated at the beginnng and end, just as we do with the LOH, and there may be other ways of doing this as well. Also, there is an option of repeating an antiphon several times throughout the psalm when we pray the LOH in a group,which is especially recommended on Sundays, when a more solemn recitation is preferred. Yes, I would say the antiphon and the response are the same thing. A while ago I wrote a post titled "What R Antiphons Phor?" which you might enjoy:

    2. Thank you!!! You answered my question way better than I asked it ;). I finished reading your book last week, and I liked it so much. Your writing style makes LOH seem accessible, and gives me hope that I can do it even if I mess up the first few (or million) times.