Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saints memorials during Lent

  I was travelling yesterday and so unable to mark the Solemnity of the Annunciation with a post, but I hope this lovely psalms and prayers of this feast were in your heart and on your lips yesterday.  I was able to do all the hours in my car, thanks to my ipod and the the podcasts from, a real godsend for commuters.

It's funny--and a tad embarrassing--that after all these years of praying the LOTH, and having read through the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours numerous times, and having written a book that  purports to show lay people how to pray it in accordance with the instructions--I just learned that I'd been doing something wrong all this time.

Worse yet, if I'd only paid attention to the helpful notes at the beginning of the day's prayers at, instead of skipping to the psalmody in the smug confidence that I knew what I was doing, I could have learned about this a while ago.

Saints memorials during weekdays of lent are always optional memorials(also known as commemorations) This I knew. And indeed, unless it was a saint I was especially interested in, I often made the use of the option to pay them no heed and just go on with the office of the lenten weekday. So far so good.

But should I have wanted to commemorate ,a saint on a lenten weekday, I'd do what I always did for saints during ordinary time: said the office of the day, but substituting whatever saint-specific elements appear for that saint in the Common of Saints. This is often no more than the antiphon for the gospel canticle and the concluding prayer.

But during lent, that's wrong! No saintly substitutions allowed!

Here's what you are supposed to do. 1. Pray the entire office of the lenten weekday, using the psalter and the proper of seasons, right up to the first half of the concluding prayer. 2. STOP the concluding prayer just before "We ask this through Our Lord....etc." 3. Proceed to the common of saints. Read the gospel canticle antiphon (which is NOT used for the gospel canticle during lent) and then read the entire concluding prayer for the saint, right through to the end.

I know. That sounds strange if you haven't been doing it. But there is it. Here's the relevant part from the general instruction:

237. On Sundays, solemnities, and feasts, on Ash Wednesday, during Holy Week, and during the octave of Easter, memorials that happen to fall on these days are disregarded.
238. On the weekdays from 17 to 24 December, during the octave of Christmas, and on the weekdays of Lent, no obligatory memorials are celebrated, even in particular calendars. When any happen to fall during Lent in a given year, they are treated as optional memorials.
239. During privileged seasons, if it is desired to celebrate the office of a saint on a day assigned to his or her memorial:
a. in the office of readings, after the patristic reading (with its responsory) from the Proper of Seasons, a proper reading about the saint (with its responsory) may follow, with the concluding prayer of the saint;
b. at morning prayer and evening prayer, the ending of the concluding prayer may be omitted and the saint's antiphon (from the proper or common) and prayer may be added.

Now, there are exceptions to this. If a saint is the patron of your church, your diocese, the religious order or organization you belong to, or I think, by logical extension, a personal patron for you, you may on a lenten weekday celebrate his or her day as a feast, using the proper of saints and even the relevant common for the office. 

So there we are.