Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Post Visitation Thoughts

Another day to be grateful for the Liturgy of the Hours, since I was unable to get to mass. But the office of the day kept this lovely event present throughout my day of work.

This is the day for the slothful to ask Our Lady for help with their besetting sin. At least, so says Dante. In the Purgatorio, souls who are being purified of this sin are made to run. And run. And run.

A lot.

And the scripture verse given to them as a motto is from the Visitation, "And Mary went with haste."

In other words, don't hesitate or procrastinate when it's time to do what is right. Just do it, and do it wholeheartedly. As Our Lady did.

The gem of the day (for me) was this bit from the Office of Readings, where St. Bede states that it is "an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary's hymn at the time of evening prayer."  A great reminder that the Divine Office connects us not  only to all the faithful who pray it today, but to those who prayed these same psalms and canticles centuries ago.  And, I guess, to the heavenly choir that sings them throughout eternity. Together we form one big symphony of praise.

It's been a while since we've had a Q&A post. Any and all questions or comments about the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome. 


  1. Nice post. I like the part about how now is the time, not to procrastinate. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Hi Daria,

    I was wondering what the red asterisks and crosses mean that appear in the text of the prayers. There are the small crosses (like a plus sign) for the sign of the cross, but there is a larger cross also.

    I have recently started praying Morning and Night Night Prayer, and have found your blog very useful.


    1. Great questions, Menina. This has been asked once or twice before but not in the last year at least. The asterisks and daggers in the psalms and canticles are there to help people who are either reciting or singing the verses back and forth, taking turns as it were, in two "choirs" . The asterisk helps people chanting the psalms with a particular "tone" or melody know when it is time to sing a different note of music. The dagger is used in the three-line verses. It gives the person a heads up that he has three rather than two lines to say or sing before it's the other sides' turn, and helps him --if he's singing it--to know that it's not yet time to use the note he would be singing if that line ended with an asterisk. (I hope that makes sense.) The true (plus sign) cross at the beginning (God come to my assistance) and at the start of the gospel canticle tells you to actually make the sign of the cross as you say those words.

    2. Thanks, Daria! Makes perfect sense. I thought the asterisks might have to do with group recitation, but I would have never figured out the dagger!

      Best wishes!

  3. Hi Daria, in case you missed it...

    Friday June 03, 2016

    DivineOffice.org to be closed off on Monday

    Dear Community,

    The Divine Office website will be closed off to new members on Monday, June 6th

    1. Thanks, Norman. I just wrote a post about this.

  4. It's always on Saturday (right?) so why does the Proper of Saints have a Magnificat Antiphon for the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Won't it always be superseded by Sunday Evening Prayer I?

    1. My husband and I were wondering the same thing today. Perhaps there are circumstances in which this feast would be celebrated as a solemnity, for example, when it is the patronal feast for an Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, or a religious order that is named for her.

    2. Ah, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for the reply!

  5. Hello Daria

    Thanks for your Visitation thoughts. I prayed the Office of Readings just before Vespers on the 31st so the Venerable Bede's commentary was a perfect introduction to Mary's canticle.

    As for questions, I've been storing up a few:

    (1) The Ordinary section provides that we can skip the invitatory psalm if Lauds is the first office of the day. In this instance, do we start with 'Lord, open my lips...etc', the hymn and then the psalmody? I ask because the rubric seems to good to be true and I've never seen this method of opening the office as an option in any guide.

    (2) In private recitation, what's your view on using another authorised translation of the psalms such the Alba House version, NIV version and the New Catholic Version psalms?

    (3) In accord with rubrics in the GILH I often join Lauds with Terce, Vespers with Compline and preface the Office of Readings before Lauds or Vespers. Should this be a common practice or should I pray more of the hours as stand alone offices?

    (4) The GILH indicates that antiphons for psalms and canticles can be said once before a psalm or canticle and omitted afterwards. Does this apply to the three Gospel canticles?

    Thanks for your guidance.

    1. Sorry for the delay: I've been on vacation and had spotty wi-fi. The answer to question #1 is yes, you may skip the Invitatory psalm and do what you described. Skipping ahead for the moment to #3--the spirit of the GILH is to sanctify the various phases fo the day, yet also to be able to adapt the Divine Office to one's situaton in life. So yet, many monastic congretations (and also individuals) will combine the hours you spoke of. Another popular combination is Office of Readings with Lauds. (Now, it would be contrary to the spirit and intent of the Church to regularly do the entire days' offices all together at one time.) #4 - I don't know, and have not thought about is since I always repeat the antiphon, which I believe it the more traditional way to do it. Now, your questions #2 is the tricky one. Yes, you can do anything your want when in private, by way of a devotional recitation of the prayers of the day. But if you are concerned that your praying the Liturgy of the Hours is actually a liturgical act, I believe it is important to use a text that has been authorized for liturgical use. Maybe that sounds too picky, but as a parallel example, I can't think of any priest who would (in the USA) read from anything other than the lectionary (New American Bible) for mass, even priests who have told me they think that other translations are superior. So my feeling on this is "better safe than sorry."I could always go to other bible translations afterward for the sake of study and better understanding the psalm. But when actually praying the office, I stick with an officially approved psalter because I want to be sure I'm participating in the public prayer of the Church.