Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dominica XVI post Pentecosten

Tua nos, quaesimus Domine, gratia semper et praeveniat et sequatur: ac bonis operibus jugiter praestet esse intentos.
Per Dominum...

O Lord hear my prayer
Let us pray
Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ...

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam,

in medio templi tui.

Secundum nomen tuum, Deus,
sic et laus tua in fines terrae:
isutitia plena est dextera tua.

- Psalmus 47, Feria quarta ad Matutinum

(Photo: Catholic priest and Marines, Ash Wednesday 2008, Camp Lejeune, NC)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Prayer of the Church

The breviary is above all the prayer of the Church, the prayer said in the name of the Church. It is helpful to understand the difference between private prayer and liturgical prayer. In private prayer I pray, mostly, for myself and my own affairs. It is the isolated person who stands in the centre of the action, and the prayer is more or less individualized. But in liturgical prayer, and therefore in the breviary, it is not primarily I who am praying, but the Church, the bride of Christ. The object of her prayer is broader, too: all the needs of God's kingdom here on earth. In liturgical prayer, I feel more like a member of a great community, like a little leaf on the great living tree of the Church. I share her life and her problems. The Church is praying through my mouth, I offer her my tongue to pray with her for all the great objectives of redemption, and for God's honour and glory.

We weep, too, or rather the Church weeps through our tears, together with those who weep, rejoices through our joys together with those who rejoice, does penance with the repentant. All the sentiments of Holy Mother Church find their echo in our heart. This gives a deeper content to our prayer; we spread out far beyond our own selves.

This basic element of our prayer with the Church gives the key to understanding and appreciating many of the psalms. For there is not room enough within the narrower confines of our own personal experience to sound all the rich variety of sentiments and moods and affections that these hymn-prayers contain. It is through the breviary that we participate in the official ministry and care of souls. The objectives of the Church, the objectives of Christ's redemption, become our own personal interests and objectives. We have become pastors in our own living room, from early morning until late at night.

So important, so essential, is this basic understanding of liturgical prayer that we should write it on the opening pages of our breviary and read it over at the beginning of each liturgical Hour: Now the Church is praising God through my mouth; now the Church is struggling after souls with my hands! Proper liturgical prayer is a most efficient tool in the ministry and salvation of souls.

-from "A Commentary on the Breviary"

(Photo: Canonization of Saint Maria Goretti)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

S. Barthalomaei Apostoli

Duplex II classis ex Commune Apostolorum


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui hujus diei venerandam sanctamque laetitiam in beati Apostoli tui Bartholomaei festivitate tribuisti: da Ecclesiae te, quaesumus; et amare quod credidit, et praedicare quod docuit.
Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum : qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.


O Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast given unto us this day to be a day worshipful, and holy, and joyful, because of the Feast of Thy blessed Apostle Bartholomew, grant, we beseech Thee, unto Thy Church both to love that which he believed, and to preach that which he taught.
Through Jesus Christ your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

(Thanks to Rubricarius of St Lawrence Press blogspot:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dominica XV post Pentecosten

Commemoratio: Vigilia S. Barthalomei Apostoli

Ecclesiam tuam Domine miseratio continuata mundet et muniat: et quia sine te non potest salva consistere, tuo semper munere gubernetur.
Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum : qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

O LORD, we beseech Thee, let Thy continual pity cleanse and defend Thy Church, and because it cannot continue in safety without Thy succour, preserve it evermore by Thy help and goodness.
Through Jesus Christ your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

(Photo: Church at Naim.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Excellence of the Breviary

The chief claim for the pre-eminence of the Canonical Hours over all other forms of prayer is that the Breviary contains the official, liturgical prayer of the Church. Whether the Office be recited publicly in choir or privately by an individual, it is not a private prayer, but the daily service of public praise, rendered to God, as prescribed by the Church. Those who recite the Divine Office do so in the name of all the faithful and for the benefit of all the members of the mystical body of Christ. The laity have had little opportunity to make the acquaintance of the treasury of prayer represented by the Breviary. Formerly, Vespers, often unfortunately in a rather truncated version, used to be a regular Sunday service in parish churches, but this practice has become almost obsolete. In some places, the faithful have become somewhat familiar with Matins and Lauds of the last three days of Holy Week, the "Tenebræ" Office in most cathedrals and in some other important churches. This present English translation of the Divine Office will make available to the laity, not well conversant with Latin, the opportunity to participate, day by day, in the liturgical prayer of the Church. Nor will this version, it is hoped, be without use to the clergy and others who are bound to the recitation of the Breviary. The English text should prove convenient for comparison with the Latin original to throw light on passages of difficult interpretation.

The words which are pronounced in the recitation of the Divine Office are chiefly from the inspired writings of the Bible. Most of the prayers are venerable compositions, centuries old. The Readings from the works of the Fathers express the traditional thought of the Church. The hymns are examples of lofty, spiritual poetry. NO other prayer is endowed with such special grace. No other can equal its rank as the authorized, official prayer of the Universal Church. Moreover, through the consistent use of the Missal and the Breviary we are enabled to live again the mysteries of Christ as they are presented to us in the seasons of the ecclesiastical year. Mass and Divine Office are liturgically interrelated. The latter furnishes the setting for the Mass, as the gold of the ring is the setting for the precious jewel of its stone. When the Office is chanted in common the Mass of the day is inserted during the course of the Canonical hours, usually after Terce The daily Mass and the daily Office form the liturgical mirror which reflects, day after day, year after year, the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ as the Church unfolds them, feast by feast and season by season. All the interior formation of man is effected by the better knowledge of Our Lord, His life and His works and His words The daily thoughtful reading of the Breviary cannot fail to bring one into better acquaintance with "The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations but is now manifested to his Saints" (Col. 1, 26). In the Divine Office, we sing to God a twelve-month hymn of praise in lasting memory of the life of Christ on earth and constant recognition of His life in heaven as we commemorate His life and His death, His resurrection and ascension, His life in glory in heaven and His eucharistic continuance in life on earth.

Associated with the annual cycle of the liturgical commemoration of the mysteries of Jesus Christ is the yearly cycle of the feasts of His Saints. In the celebration of the Saint's days, we worship God indirectly as "wonderful in His Saints" and we seek the intercession of those whose lives were models for our imitation in their devoted service of God, "the crown of all Saints." The recitation of the Divine Office, both as the direct cult of God and the indirect worship of Him paid through the honor shown His Saints will, in the words of the present Holy Father's great encyclical letter, "Mediator Dei," give us a part in that sacred liturgy on earth which is a preparation for the heavenly liturgy, in which along with Mary, the glorious Mother of God, and all the Saints, we confidently hope to sing eternally "to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, blessing and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength forever and ever" (Apoc. V, 13).

Taken from the "Roman Breviary In English"
published by Benziger Brothers, Inc. in 1950.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Praying the Psalms

The psalms are what make the breviary so beautiful and at the same time so difficult. Knowing how to pray them properly is essential for benefitting fully from the Divine Office. First of all, they are prayers, songs from ancient times, compositions based on Jewish patterns of thought. Moreover, we have to read them in translation. Granted that the psalms are inspired poetry, how are we to make them the expression of our own prayer life? A food that cannot be assimilated will never be a source of nourishment. How can we learn to assimilate the nourishment provided by the psalms?

There is no point in denying that the question is a hard one to answer. Nor is it possible to deny the fact that many a person who is obliged to pray the breviary has long since found that the unaccustomed fare of the psalms has (excuse the expression) quite turned his stomach, that he is unable to derive any spiritual nourishment from them. Still I maintain that it is possible to overcome these difficulties. It is obvious enough that some of the psalms are easy to assimilate into our spiritual life, while others are much more difficult. None of them, however, are impossible with proper effort. The psalter is and will remain the many-stringed harp upon which we can sound all the chords of our prayer life and from which we can draw out all the deep notes of our heart. But first we must learn how to play the harp; that requires time and attention.

It is hardly necessary to speak at any great length about the aesthetic value of the psalms. The psalter contains songs that deserve a place of special honour in the literature of the world. Nor need it be pointed out that the psalms ought to be especially dear to a Christian for having been prayed by our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles, for being the first prayers used in Christian liturgy.

—Fr. Pius Parsch (from Der Wochenpsalter des Römischen Breviers)

(Photo: Late 15th-century breviary of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, as preserved in the Russian National Library of Saint Petersburg. Inscriptions by her hand may be seen on the margins.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dominica XIV post Pentecosten

"Look at the flowers in the fields how they grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his wealth was clothed like one of these." Matthew 6: 28-29.


Custodi Domine, quaesumus, Ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas, tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxiis, et ad salutaria dirigatur.

Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum : qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

Let us pray

Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy Church with Thy perpetual mercy, and because the frailty of man without Thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by Thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation.

Through Jesus Christ your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Art: The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon, Two Riddles of The Queen of Sheba, ca. 1490-1500. Upper Rhenish; Made in Strasbourg. Linen warp; wool, linen and metallic wefts; 31 1/2 x 40 in. (80 x 101.6 cm). The Cloisters Collection, 1971 (1971.43)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dominica XIII post Pentecosten


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei, et caritatis augmentum:
et ut mereamur assequi quod promittis, fac nos amare quod praecipis.

Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum : qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.


Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity,
and that we may worthily obtain that which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen. (

Chant settings for the Mass of Dominica XIII post Pentecosten from St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo, Brazil, courtesy of

In Officio sanctae Mariae in sabbato


Concede nos famulos tuos, quaesumus, Domine Deus,
perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere:
et gloriosa beatae Mariae semper Virginis intercessione,
a praesenti liberari tristitia,
et aeterna perfrui laetitia.
Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum filium tuum,
qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus,
per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(Photo by author: Our Lady's altar, Church of Saint Mary of the Mills, Laurel, Maryland.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Prayer before Office

It is considered praiseworthy to say the following prayer, kneeling, in preparation for the Office. By local custom, it may be said either privately, or in unison by the whole Choir, but in a low tone of voice.

Ante Divinum Officium
Aperi, Dómine, os meum ad benedicéndum nomen sanctum tuum: munda quoque cor meum ab ómnibus vanis, pervérsis et aliénis cogitatiónibus; intelléctum illúmina, afféctum inflámma, ut digne, atténte ac devóte hoc Offícium recitáre váleam, et exaudíri mérear ante conspéctum divínæ Majestátis tuæ. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Dómine, in unióne illíus divínæ intentiónis, qua ipse in terris laudes Deo persolvísti, has tibi Horas (vel hanc tibi Horam) persólvo.

Prayer before Office
Open, O Lord, my mouth to bless thy holy Name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding and kindle my affections; that I may worthily, attentively, and devoutly say this Office, and so be meet to be heard before the presence of thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention wherewith thou, whilst here on earth, didst render praises unto God, I desire to offer this my Office of prayer unto thee.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dominica XII post Pentecosten

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, de cuius munere venit,
ut tibi a fidelibus tuis digne et laudabiliter se viatur:
tribue, quaesumus, nobis;
ut ad promissiones tuas sine offensione curramus.
Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum filium tuum qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sanctis Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Almighty and merciful God, from whose gift it comes that You be served by the faithful worthily and laudably, grant us, we beseech You, that we may run toward Your promises without stumbling. Per Dominum...
Amen. (

Chant settings for the Mass of Dominica XII post Pentecosten from St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo, Brazil, courtesy of

(Photo: Community of Saint Benedict's Monastery, Sao Paulo, Brazil.)