Saturday, October 24, 2020

Thoughts Just Short of Two Years Reciting the Old Office


    Seeing this picture of someone's chart the other day both pleased me for the close correspondence of the Hours to my daily schedule of official prayer and got me thinking about how I and the Old Breviary are getting along nearly two years into this "marriage". 
    In terms of my times, I have pretty well settled for praying Matins whenever I awake from midnight on, which sometimes, if I have gotten to bed late, may be closer to 3 or 4 am. Lauds followed by Prime precede daily Mass. Terce comes right after breakfast, Sext just before lunch and None right after lunch. Vespers and Compline come together after supper, usually about 8:00 pm and then it's a day. The times in the above table are classic and stand alone for each of the hours, but my schedule here in Bern would make them hard to keep. I can pray all but Matins in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. Matins works best for me standing up, because even kneeling at 2am I tend to doze off.
    I wish to share my musings with friends in the hopes of attracting one or another Bishop or Priest to give the traditional full office a try. Needless to say I am ready to encourage the laity disposed to take up this sweet burden, but my first thought is for priests. If this commitment has taught me anything, it would be the paucity of the Novus Ordo office. Reciting the Psalter over four weeks instead of just one is spreading the psalmody too thin. What the more intense encounter with the Psalter has taught me is much. These days in particular certain verses from the psalms come repeatedly to confirm for me just how shot through with the experience of adversity our life in the footsteps of the Crucified One must be.
    Let me just stay with that statement for a moment and clarify that I am not claiming the one week Psalter as a font of fortitude but a clearer, more sober, world view, which might not necessarily strengthen me under hardship, but certainly challenges me to be about Christ's business, where He was raised up and drew all to Himself.
    According to the ancient form of the Roman Rite, it is almost time for me to celebrate First Vespers of the Feast of Christ the King, which falls on the last Sunday of October. Fair or not, I would say that this way the feast hits me as more existential and less apocalyptic, even though the Collect prayed on either is about the same. Forgive me, but in terms of living out my Catholic Faith in these troubled times, I feel more of a need for the old feast and see it as a call to gird up my loins so to speak and stand with Christ my King there before Pontius Pilate.
    The Old Breviary is indeed a sweet burden. For all the more demanding it might be in time required for recitation, it gives over and over again, filling and focusing a priest's life to where it should be. It is not the monastic breviary, but with a certain austerity, deprived as it is of song, it can help carry the priest to where he ought to be and make him more at every hour of the day what he is called to be for Christ and His Church by his consecration through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.