Wednesday, September 17, 2014

St. Augustine Makes Bishops Squirm

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If I were a bishop or even a priest,  I might want to use the Office of Readings for every saint's memorial that occurs between September 16th and 28th. It would mean avoiding nine out of twelve days of reading "99 Ways a Bishop is Likely to End up in Hell.", otherwise known as St. Augustine's sermon on Pastors.

As a layperson reading this, I have come to a few conclusions:

1. I'm really glad I'm not a bishop.
2. I can't imagine anyone wanting such a responsibility.
3. Since Augustine's warnings apply, to a lesser degree, to priests as well, it reminds us what an awesome (as in awe-full, or awful) responsibility they have as well, and how we laity have a very serious responsibility to pray for them as well as our bishops. A lot.
4.  I'll bet this yearly dose of Augustine on Pastors, thought not pleasant, does good bishops and priests a lot of good. A yearly reminder to pray hard, work hard, be humble, and daily throw themselves on Christ's mercy.
5. Don't even want to think about not so good bishops and priests who read this and ignore it, or pat themselves on the back imagining that they are in no danger of the faults Augustine describes.
6. Even back in the early centuries, the clergy and hierarchy must have been an extremely mixed bag if this is what St.Augustine felt he had to tell them.
7.St. Augustine gave really long sermons.

this post originally appeared in 2012


  1. I get the feeling that after the 3rd or 4th day people tune out. I understand why this sermon is included with Ezekiel, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better if the sermon were spread out more during the year? They are revising the LotH after all. <;-)>

    1. I see what you mean, Brian. I guess it's here this many days for the benefit of the clergy more than the rest of us. If you go to this link:
      You will find the whole second yearly cycle of readings that has been approved by the Church but has not thus far been available to us in the English speaking world. (or were you the one who gave me this link in the first place? If so, forgive me. It was someone who follows this blog)

    2. No, the link's not from me. I had heard somewhere of this 2 year cycle. It sounds like it would mean an 8 volume Divine Office! If I understand the above article correctly, the 2 year English cycle is for OSB monasteries; it's not the CDW version, correct?

      Two questions then. What are the guidelines for using a version that was not written for the whole Church (OSB not CDW)? Will the revision of the Liturgy of the Hours include the 2 year cycle? Thanks.

    3. Well,I don't actually know the answer to your question. I'm trying to learn more about this 2nd year cycle, and wish above all that the CDW project had not been shelved. We are obliged--if we want to pray liturgically as opposed to devotionally--to use an approved version. And if it has only been approved so far for OSB monasteries, does that mean that us non-Benedictines may not use it? Or does approval for specific religious mean that unaffiliated laity can use it too? I'm not certain. I wish I could see the printed version of this that is currently used in monasteries, because it might have some explanation about who is authorized to use it. I don't see how adding a second cycle would add more than one volume to the breviary. The psalter would remain the same after all. We would only need a set of one year's worth of scripture and patristic readings.

    4. Thanks for your honest answer. The question of who may use what breviary gets complicated! I mentioned 8 volumes because that's what the article indcated:

      "In the English-speaking world there was an attempt to produce a two-year patristic lectionary led by Henry Ashworth which became the eight volume series of books ‘A Word in Season’..."

      It seems that if there was a one volume supplement, one would need *two* books to pray the office when using the second year! (I think that's why A Word in Season was 8 vols.) Or did I miss something?

    5. The Daughters of St. Paul used to publish a stand alone Office of Readings. It was single, large print volume. Since existing 4-volume breviaries already contain the first year cycle, It seems that a single volume supplement should be enough for an entire year of additional first and second readings. I get the impression that the Word in Season was something that started out to be a simple second cycle, but ballooned into 8 volumes as the editors decided to give far more options than necessary--including the more contemporary readings that were discarded by the compilers of this new OSB cycle. I mean, the average OOR readings take up 3 pages per day in the breviary. Multiply that by 365 days a year, and you get 1095 pages. Add maybe 500 more pages for proper of saints, and you still have less than 2000 pages. That's like a single breviary volume.

  2. Daria,

    Kudos on the upcoming release of your book. Can't wait--I just pre-ordered a copy frm Amazon.

    Regarding the 2 year cycle of readings. Back in the 70's and early 80's Catholic Books published a series of supplemental readings under the title Christian Readings. These were great and being the guy I am gave them to a priest friend. Unfortunately I have missed them all these years and the series is out of print and I've had no luck in replacing them. Also in the mid-80's Augustinian Press published a 2 year cycle under the title Word in Season. I purchased he first edition and again passed them on to a young Camoldolese monastery strating up in NH. They were i dire need of materials so I felt they could make use of them. They still use them to this day--unfortunately the monastery never could support itself in NH so they returned to their mother house in Big Sur, Ca.
    I have no idea why both editions ( Christian Readings and Word in Season) went out of print. I have written to Catholic Book on several occassions asking for possible reprint but o luck.
    I sure hope with the revision they plan to release the 2 year supplement it would make for a nice library of patristic readings.

    Lenny V

    1. I used to own one or two volumes of Christian Readings back when I was just learning about the Office of Readings, and trying to get my hands on it without buying a 4-volume breviary. I recall that some of the readings were from 20th century theologians,e.g. Teilhard de Chardin, and that made me doubt that these readings actually had the Church's approval for general use as part of the liturgy. Then I discovered the Daughters of St. Paul stand alone Office of Readings, and used that until I acquired a 4-volume breviary in 2003. It's possible they went out of print because they were of unofficial status. I just wish Rome+ICEL+the USCCB would get their act together and give us English speaking Catholics what we need.

    2. That Daughters of St Paul one-volume Office of Readings is yet another item that should be back in print somehow, maybe as a paperback or on-demand hardcover (, for example). I was fortunate to find a reasonably priced used copy formerly used by a priest and reinforced with electrical and duct tape. :) Still quite usable. I like the idea of having that fat volume (and potentially a second one for a second year) for the OOR and their handy-sized Christian Prayer (I found a bargain-priced but beautiful leatherbound copy in a local shop) for the rest of the day.

    3. Of course, you realize that the Daughters' one-volume OOR plus the one-volume Christian prayer still leaves you with an incomplete Daytime Hour. Christian Prayer only gives an odd two week sample of Daytime prayer.