Thursday, September 15, 2016

Navigating Memorials and the Blessed Page 37 of Christian Prayer

This is Part III in a series designed to make you independent on the yearly St. Joseph guide so that you can correctly choose the prayers for each day's Divine Office with nothing other than your the Catholic calendar your parish gives away each year.

Of if you don't have a calendar, just go to and hit today's date on the little calendar on the top right.

So, today is a memorial. These are the most confusing types of holy days because unlike feasts and solemnities, they have several varieties and several options.

 Our Lady of Sorrows. It is among a handful of memorials that is celebrated more or less like a feast.   (You will have to look at the mass to see the differences: feasts get three readings and the recitation of the Gloria, while memorials do not.) So actually, finding it's prayers is a very straighforward thing. It's all there under September 15th in the Proper of Saints, with complete instructions and page numbers for where you need to go in the psalter and the Common of the Blessed Virgin.

Tomorrow, however, is one of those more run-of-the-mill memorials, St. Cornelius.  This is an obligatory memorial, which you know because the word "Memorial" is there in red letters under the saint's name. The next day, St. Robert Bellarmine, has nothing beneath his name, (at least in the CBC edition of Christian Prayer--other editions might say "commememoration") so his day is an optional memorial.

Okay, back to St. Cornelius. Here is where your breviary is confusing. Under the little bio-sketch of Cornelius, it says in red, "From the Common of several martyrs, page 1402,or of pastors, page 1426.
This leads the typical earnest layman who wants to Do Everything Right to turn to p. 1402 and do the entire common from start to finish, remembering, of course, to turn back to Sept. 16 in the Proper of Saints for the gospel canticle antiphon and the concluding prayer.

No. No. No. No!!!!!!!

This is why I really hope future breviaries will put instructions in a place where it's easier to find, and/or make clearer notations on each day in the Proper of Saints. In the meantime, take a look at page 37 in your Christian Prayer breviary. Under "Memorials" it clearly states that:
"a. Psalms and their antiphons [are taken] FROM THE CURRENT WEEKDAY. (emphasis mine)

Then, and only then, may you proceed (if you want to) with whatever they give you in the "Common of X", and always using any elements given in the Proper of Saints for the "generic" items in the common. Often this is only the concluding prayer, but it can include the short reading, the gospel canticle antiphon and, as we see for Our Lady of Sorrow, quite a bit more on rare occasions.

The other option, also mentioned on page 37,(section 1.b. under Memrorials) is to use in its entirety the weekday psalter (no common of martyrs, holy men, etc.) with the sole exception of those elements that are in the Proper of Saints for that day.

That page 37 in Christian Prayer is a valuable page. You might want to make a photo copy of is and paste is inside the front cover of your breviary for easy reference. If you commit it's principles to memory, you will not need the yearly St. Joseph guide. (Which, by the way, has occasional typos or errors and thus can mislead you anyway.)

Oh. I forgot about optional memorials. For optional memorials, you follow the exact same procedures listed for memorials with this single exception: YOU DON'T HAVE TO.  If you have no particular interest in St.Bratislava of the Holy Angels (I just made that up) you can just do the regular weekday with whatever week you are in with your psalter.

Okay. I think that is everything. I didn't mention the Office of Readings, and did not mention the extra tweaks to this system that come during the holy seasons, especially during Lent. Remind me and we will take these up when the time comes.

Please feel free to ask questions below if there is something I did not cover or did not explain clearly enough.