Thursday, November 27, 2014

New! Black Friday Special!


Are you a fan of the mobile app?

Are you NOT a fan of the mobile app?

Either way, you will want to read this exciting news about Divine Office 2, the new version of's award winning mobile brevary.

The new version has quite a few features that will improve the experience of those who already like it, and may even attract those who are less than totally on board with the current version.

First, there will be some newer voices reciting the psalms along with the best of the old. An effort has been made to cut down on recitations that were thought by many to be bit too dramatic, and thus, a distraction from prayer.

Second, there is now a feature to skip forwards and backwards--very handy for those who, for instance, do not use the psalm prayers. There are also several faster playback speeds,(similar to Audible books) so you can customize the liturgical hour to fit a short commute or other  limited space of time available for prayer.

Third--and this is my favorite--you can download up to 21 days' worth of audio  at a time! I live in a rural area with only a fair to middlin' wi-fi signal.  Often as not, my DivineOffice audio files just won't load in the morning.  But if the new version lives up to its' promise, I can go to the McDonald's in town every few weeks(where the signal is better) and get 21 days'' worth. Yay!

Check out the entire article for information related to pricing and dates available for various formats.
And many thanks to Dane Falkner and the crew for the hard work that went into this new app.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Breviary Sighting in hands of Curt Jester!

Well, actually it's an iPad with the Universalis app.

In this ongoing series, "How I Pray" , Thomas McDonald interviews fellow bloggers about their spiritual habits. In this installment, he speaks with Jeff Miller, a.k.a. The Curt Jester. If you visit Jeff's blog, make sure to click the wacky Rome Depot tab.

But first, Read the interview. Not only will you  feel affirmed in your Divine Offishness by this account of a celebrity blogger who does Office of Readings, Lauds, and Vespers every day, but you will also enjoy (and maybe, like me, identify with) his remarks on distraction in prayer, such as:

"Sometimes I think I should just try to set aside some time to be distracted and then prayer will intrude."

and, on Rosary: 
"Fifteen to twenty minutes of distracted prayer sometimes punctuated with actual meditation."

 Please use today's post for Q&A time--any questions you have about using the breviary, breviary app, choosing the day's prayers, rubics, or whatnot. Fire away.

Welcome, new Coffee&Canticles follower Thomas! I hope our little community here supports, and encourages your love for the Liturgy of the Hours.

Wishing all readers in the USA  a Happy Thanksgiving (and safe driving).  To the rest of you, a pleasant week and a heart ready to begin the holy season of Advent this weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Letter from St. Paul

This is a chapter of my upcoming book, But There's More! Catholic Stories to Amaze You. Naturally,  many Coffee&Canticles readers will guess the "punch line" ahead of time. 

“I, Paul, a prisoner for the sake of Christ....

When St. Paul wrote this epistle, so many years ago, he probably had no idea what an impact it would have. Naturally, he hoped it would console Christians, young in their faith, who were dismayed and frightened at Paul's arrest, imprisonment, and anticipated martyrdom. But did he have even an inkling that it would be treasured, read and re-read by generations and right up to the present day? Did he have any idea that his words from prison would have a more lasting impact on the Church than any of  his oral  preaching?

Short of a secret revelation from on high, probably not.

But what a letter! Full of praise for the mercy of God, Paul reassured his readers that God was his strength and solace in captivity. He spoke of how ardently he longed to be with the Lord. Still, ever humble, he asked for his disciples' prayers, that he might not falter before finishing his race. And he reminded them that persecution and martyrdom is a blessed share in the sufferings of Christ, the head of his mystical  body. As you probably know, Paul was eventually beheaded by his captors. Reading his letter while meditating on what he was facing inspires modern Christians to face their own sufferings with courage as surely as it helped Paul's contemporaries in times long past.

But there's more.
Perhaps you would like to re-read this Pauline epistle for yourself, now that I've whetted your appetite. So, you may wonder which one is it? Ephesians? Colossians?
Well, you won't find this one in the Bible. This letter of St. Paul didn't make it into the canon of scripture.

Apocryphal? Oh no, St. Paul wrote it all right.

In 1843.

From a prison in Vietnam.

St. Paul Le Bao Tinh. By the time this St. Paul was born in 1793, Christianity had already been around in Vietnam for 200 years, due to the activity of Portuguese, French and Spanish missionaries. As in other Asian countries, brutal persecutions against Christians waxed and waned depending on the political climate. Paul grew up in one of the relatively peaceful interludes. He entered the seminary,but seems to have left after a while to pursue the life of a hermit.

In 1841, new persecution broke out. Paul was arrested and spent seven years in a Hanoi prison before he was granted amnesty. He returned to the seminary, finished his studies, and was ordained. He ministered in the hill country of Laos for several years, but was arrested once more, and summarily executed, in 1855. His letter, written to the seminarians of Ke-Vihn, appears in the Church's liturgy for the memorial of St. Andrew Dung Lac and companion, November 24th. It is found in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours. Here is a small excerpt:
In the midst of these torments, which usually bend and break others, by the grace of God I am full of joy and happiness, because I am not alone, but Christ is with me. He, my teacher, sustains the whole weight of the cross, burdening me but with a little and ultimate part: He himself does battle for me, not just as a spectator of my struggles; He the victor and perfecter of every battle. On his head is the splendid crown of victory, in which the members of his body also share.”  
The 117 martyrs remembered on this day actually died over a period spanning more than a century. St. Paul Le Bao Tihn's death came about in the middle of this era. But his prison letter represents well the faith and courage of these men and women.
The Vietnamese martyrs were  canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

St. Athanasius on the Psalms

So then, my son, let whoever reads this Book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired; and let each select from it, as from the fruits of a garden, those things of which he sees himself in need. For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in man. For no matter what you seek, whether it be repentance and confession, or help in trouble and temptation or under persecution, whether you have been set free from plots and snares or, on the contrary, are sad for any reason, or whether, seeing yourself progressing and your enemy cast down, you want to praise and thank and bless the Lord, each of these things the Divine Psalms show you how to do, and in every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.

-from his letter to Marcellinus, On the Interpretation of the Psalms

The rest of which (it's long) you can read here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

He Showers Down Snow White as Wool

Boy, I'll say.

Since this was the view of my backyard this morning,  it gave me a chuckle to read that verse in Morning Prayer today:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Meaning of Time and the Liturgy of the Hours

One of the main purposes of the Divine Office, with its prayers at fixed periods of the day, is the sanctification of Time, that priceless, ever fleeting commodity that we never seem to have enough of, but regularly waste much of what is given to us.

Stretch your mental muscles a bit and read this lecture on "The Sanctification of Time and the Liturgy of the Hours" by Father Hildebrand Garceau, O.Prem., who is a chaplain at Thomas  Aquinas College in California.

My daughter is currently a sophmore at TAC, and I'm happy that this is one of the fine priests that is (hopefully) having an influence on her spiritual and intellectual formation.

Father begins his lecture by discussing that nature of time. What is it, exactly?  How is it related to memory? What is meant by the term "hour" as in "My hour has not yet come." (Jn. 2:4) This is not a short or easy read, but it is worthwhile AND it gets easier as you go along. Part II connects Time to Liturgy, and from that point you will be on more familiar ground as he talks about the prayer that we experience each day.

Give it a try and you will sure learn something.

Feel free to comment below on this lecture, or make any other comment or question about the Liturgy of the Hours.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Anyone Staying Home Tomorrow?

update: It looks like there was voting at the Bishops' meeting  yesterday, and the items related to the Liturgy of the Hours were already voted on. Changes to the Revised Grail Psalms were approved, as was the supplement to the LOTH for all the new saints' offices. 

I'm sorry I missed the discussion of the Revised Grail Psalter yesterday. Did anyone catch any of it?

But now I can go on my bike ride without worrying. 

I wasn't home most of today and so did not tune into the US Bishops' meeting coverage on EWTN, although I gather that there wasn't any voting today.   This means that the agenda items regarding the Liturgy of the Hours will probably be discussed tomorrow.

I'm kind of torn: the weather forecast for tomorrow promises what is likely the last sunny and mild day for a long, long time. I'd like to use it for one last  ride on  the Allegheny River bike trail, from about 10am til 1:30pm.

So, if any of you are watching EWTN at that time, and catch the bishops discussing the revisions to the Revised Grail Psalms and/or the new  prayers for recently canonized saints' offices, please take notes and tell me what happened in the comments section below. Most religious news reporters barely even know what the Liturgy of the Hours is, so they would not pay much attention to this issue.

But if any of you  Coffee&Canticles readers are tuned in, you will know exactly what is going on, right? I'd love to have a full report should I miss the televised discussion.

Many thanks in advance. 

The Liturgy of the Hours in this Man's Life

Yet another great post by a blogger that I somehow missed when it came out in August, even though this writer's blog is on my Feedly list.

Will Duquette is a lay Dominican who writes about, oh, all sorts of things on his Patheos blog. Here he describes the place the Divine Office has in his life, and the common problem many of us have of procrastinating over getting to one or more of the hours, even thought we still enjoy it immensely once we get past the obstacle of our (choose one or more: lazy, distracted, worldly, selfish) tendencies:

"Some days recently I’ve found doing my daily prayer to be quite difficult. I just don’t want to sit down and do it—there’s so much else calling for my attention that I’d rather do. Evening prayer only takes a few minutes, and yet I grudge those few minutes: in the time before I sit down to do it, it looms over me like a giant monolith, seemingly impassable.

And that’s where mortification comes in. I’d been telling myself that I really needed to sit down and pray, I’d promised to do it, and spending time with God is good for me, and like that. But it’s simpler than that, really; when I am in that mood, sitting down to pray is a kind of mortification. I am giving over my own will, and seeking God’s will. The benefit I receive in sitting down to pray comes largely, when I am in this mood, from the simple act of choosing to sit down and pray."

Here's the rest.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Basilica Bewilderment Part II: a Clue

In yesterday's post I wondered aloud why the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica will take precedence this Sunday over the 32nd Sunday in ordinary time.   I'd noted that this was not a solemnity, but a feast.  All the relevant Church documents I checked only allowed for feasts of Our Lord (Transfiguration, Triumph of the Cross, etc.) to take the place of the regular Sunday liturgy.

Late last night, I checked the index of celebrations to find all the feasts of Our Lord, and guess what was listed under that category?

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica!!!

That's weird. How is that  feast of Our Lord?

Then, this morning I saw this from alert reader M.J. Chait:

"The Archbasilica was dedicated to "the most holy Savior" (Sanctissimi Salvatoris) by Pope Clement XII. By extension, therefore, the feast of its dedication is a feast of the Lord."

So there we are.  Thank you, M.J. Chait and also to Mike Demers who pondered along with me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Basilica Bewilderment

Okay. I just perused the General Instruction of the  Liturgy of the  Hours. I even got out my book just in case I knew something back when I wrote it that I'd since forgotten. I haven't found a thing.

So I'm willing to be vulnerable here! :) To show you that  I'm not quite the expert on the Liturgy of the Hours that people think I am. Here goes:

By what logic or church regulation does the feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica (November 9th) take precedence over the 32nd Sunday in ordinary time???

It's a feast, not a solemnity.

The General Instruction does say that feasts of Our Lord (e.g. Transfiguration, Exaltation  of the Cross) falling on Sunday do take precedence over ordinary Sundays. But by what stretch can you say that the dedication of the Lateran basilica is a feast of Our Lord?

The Lateran is the Pope's diocesan cathedral,and just about the oldest church in  western  Christendom. Maybe that rates it a feast that usurps an ordinary Sunday. I just want to see where that is officially stated.

Maybe the writers of the General Instruction just plain forgot to say that the  Lateran feast also rated precedence over Sunday?

Lots of the readers here are very well informed about all things liturgical and historical. So if any of you have some light to shed on this, shed away!

A Monastery in your Kitchen

There are a couple of blogs by lay people in third orders who blog about what it's like to integrate the spirit of Carmel, or St. Benedict, or St. Francis, or St. Dominic into lives that include grocery runs, office jobs, small children, and whatnot.

It will be a future project for me to gather a list of these and publish the list here.  Most of third orders impose part of the Liturgy of the Hours on their members, these bloggers are people who  appreciate us Divine Office junkies, since they are of that happy crowd too.

In fact, a few of them follow this blog.  So, all you third order guys (yes, I know Benedictines call themselves "oblates" rather than "third order") , if each of you will remind me of your blog address in the comments section, it will jumpstart my list. I have some of them already in my own blog reader, but don't want to miss anyone.

Anyway, I enjoyed Nancy's personal account of what the Liturgy of the Hours means in her life.

.... the Liturgy of the Hours helps my prayer stay on track. In it, scripture is right before me; thus I have 'grillwork' for my day.  I am praying with the whole Church, right along with Father O'Neill and the monks in Sydney and the Toledo nuns. And, if I'm tempted to bypass prayer, I get help to carry me past my (laziness, in my case).

...In my haphazard life (and my very nature is 'haphazard'), I definitely need some of that structure I once dreaded.  Otherwise, I wind up wasting entire days.

...Does my mind wander while I pray in this way?  My mind wanders no matter how I pray.  The Divine Office helps call the drifting mind back.

Does the Liturgy of the Hours lead me to the dry, lifeless prayer I feared?  No.  Sometimes I feel dry and lifeless, yes, but again:  that would happen no matter how I pray.  The printed words help me stay focused.

In some key ways, the Liturgy of the hours is a lens that helps me zoom right in on the presence and reality of God. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Recent Divine Office News + Q&A

I've been going through a long list of bookmarked articles dating back to August, and feeling bad it took me this long. So I'll be sharing a piece of news, information, or inspiration every day for the next few days.  

And do consider every one of these to also be a Q&A post, just in case there is something confusing  you about the Liturgy of the Hours.

Welcome recently new blog followers Glen and Brian, and anyone else who has added Coffee and Canticles to their readers.

"Compassion is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create." ~St. Martin of Porres
And I can't let November 3rd go by without mentioning St. Martin de Porres. He had such a humble,loving  heart, and he liked small rodents such as rats.   I happen to share one of these characteristics with him, and pray to him to obtain for me the other.
Now for some of those bookmarked articles. The Liturgy of the Hours and its upcoming revised translation will be on the agenda at the upcoming US Bishops meeting next week. The particular action items are two. The supplement with new prayers for saints canonized since 1984 will be considered and, I imagine, voted on.  Also, the Revised Grail Psalms (which we've often talked about here before) might be revised a teeny bit more before they are approved for the American breivary. The article I'm referencing says that under discussion will be:
 Modifications to the Revised Grail Psalms, originally approved in 2010 by the Vatican. The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship recommended improving the translation and its “sprung rhythm” to make proclamation and singing easier.
I would give a substantial bribe-- in the form of mass and rosary intentions for the provider-- to see the draft text of the proposed improvements. Does anyone out there have access?