Sunday, August 30, 2015

Liturgical Prayer Out Loud or Silently?

The question comes up periodically: must  I pray the Liturgy of the Hour out loud, or at least in a whisper, or at least moving my lips in order for it to be "valid" as liturgical prayer?

Nothing in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours spells this one out. And we get varying answers when we consult different priests. (and the variations I have gotten have nothing to do with said priests' personal orthodoxy, by the way. Priests of all persuasions have told me various things, although none have ever quoted me anything "official" as a source for their opinions.)

Some time ago a reader of this blog (a priest, in fact) showed me an official answer to this question. It appeared in a comment to a blog post, but I don't know that I ever put it in the body of a post. So here it is.

Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship Note Liturgiae Horarum Interpretationes (Not 9 (1973) 150)
Query: When a person recites the liturgy of the hours do the readings have to be pronounced or simply read?
Reply: It is enough to simply read them. The conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy says nothing about an obligation to oral recitation when a person says the office alone, although there was a difference of opinion on this among the conciliar Fathers. They decreed a reform of the breviary not for the purpose of shortening the time of prayer but of giving all who celebrate the liturgy of the hours a better time for prayer…Sometimes a surer guarantee for this objective of the liturgy of the hours in individual recitation may be to omit the oral recitation of each word, especially in the case of the readings.
Found on page 1098 of Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979. Conciliar, Papal and Curial Texts. The Liturgical Press, 1982

I will add here that the priest who so nicely informed me of this also stated his understanding that if you are using the EF breviary (1961) said that if you are following the older discipline, that you do have to move your lips--that the old rules are still in force for the old breviary. If someone out there knows a lot about the EF breviary and its rubrics, and would like to elaborate on that, feel free to do so. 

Plus, any other questions about the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome. Ryan Ellis, maybe?

Friday, August 21, 2015

St. PIus X: The Psalms Rock!

Image result for ST. Pius X wikimedia

The commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours two or three or more times per day is, well a commitment. And as with any commitment to order our day or our lives in a certain way, our will to keep going can sometimes flag a bit. We need something to spur us on, to renew our original desire, to rekindle the spark.   

Pope St. Pius X gives us just that today in the Office of Readings. For those of you who don't do this particular liturgical hour, here is the reading: 

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions.Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Liturgy of the Hours:What it is, Why You Want It.

A while ago the remarkable Tami Kiser invited me to be part of an online Catholic women's conference.    My contribution was a basic motivational introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours.

I want to share that talk with you. If you already  pray and love the LOTH, most of what I say here will not be new to you. However, you might find it a handy way to explain things to friends who wonder at your enthusiasm for that fat, be-ribboned prayerbook you're always carrying around. It's about 20 minutes long.

In addition, if anyone out there might be interested in me as a speaker, it will give you an idea of what I'm like. I'm available to speak at parishes and other venues, doing a stand alone talk on a given topic, or an all day workshop.

Here's a link to the talk at Vimeo. I'll try to embed it on this post another day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prayer Request and Q&A Opp

My father in law, Eli William Sockey, Jr. passed away a few days ago at the age of 95. It was a holy death, surrounded by family and by prayer.   He was a Catholic patriarch, with 8 children, 39 grandchildren, and I'm not sure how many great grandchildren.

I'd appreciate a few prayers for the repose of his soul.

I haven't done a formal Q&A post for a while, so this will be one.

Are there any breviary beginners out there who are confused about something?  Or breviary veterans who have an advanced question about the correct celebration for an optional memorial, perhaps?

Just let me know.

Tomorrow--don't forget the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. You will see an Evening Prayer I for this in your breviary, but this is only used when August 6 falls on a Sunday. This year, start the feast with Office of Readings.  Note the special New Testament canticle for evening Prayer II tomorrow. We only get this one twice a year. (Do you know what the other occasion is?)
Ever alert and helpful reader of this blog, Sid Cundiff, found this lengthy list of available online daily office apps for all ecclesiastical bodies that use them.  The reviews give lots of details and so are extremely helpful. You will see that although the post was written this past February, the author keeps adding updates in the comments section at the bottom

Since he is Anglican/Episcopalian, he lists apps for that denomination first. Catholic entries start about half way down, begining with some for the traditional (pre-Vatican II and in some cases pre-Pius X) breviaries.   Then eastern rites, whether Catholic, Orthodox or non-chalcedonian.

It's all very fascinating, just as an exercising in learning a bit of liturgical history. So thank you, author Dale Rye and the Covenant blog. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Switching Breviaries and the woes of St. Paul


The problem with using a digital breviary for a long stretch is that, when you get the urge to switch to that nice, restful, aesthetically pleasing print breviary, you've lost your place. On Monday I decided to to just that, and after scrambling around for several minutes,  and settling into the Office of Readings, I found myself thinking, "All St. Paul does these days is complain. I mean, hasn't he already said this bit about people who talk behind his back and whatnot?"

Then I realized that I had read it before. A week ago. It was now time to be in volume IV. So I dashed up to my room to put away Volume III and get Volume IV off the shelf. My first thought: only 16 weeks until Advent starts. We're in the last quarter stretch of liturgical year 2015.

Before retiring Volume III I skimmed over those readings from St. Paul once more.  Those Corinthians were a nasty bunch. So much for the great holiness of the "early Christians".  These guys were just like us, apparently. It made me very sympathetic to pastors who get called out by disgruntled parishioners, written about to the bishop, etc., NOT because of  heresy, but because of differences in personal style, approach, length of homilies, and decisions about repairs to the church and grounds. It reminded me not to sit back critiquing priests for things that are, in the end, matters of taste.

St. Jean Marie Vianney's feast is today. A number of his parishioners became disgruntled with him and had a petition campaign to the bishop going. I love the way he responded, which you can read about here.