Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monastic Diurnal

I just got my paws on the Monastic Diurnal from Saint Michael's Abbey Press (the same press that has Adrian Fortescue's book "The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described" updated for the 1962 Missal. I ordered it for my birthday (EDIT - with the B-Day money sent from Mom and Dad. Thanks!), and it just arrived today (2 days "late" isn't bad when it came by cheapest shipping from the United Kingdom).

This is the traditional Benedictine Divine Office. It has all the hours of the Office except for Matins (and I have a set of Breviarum Monaticum if I ever do want to say Matins). It basically has everything that the old Antiphonale Monasticum has except for the chant music. This was the Divine Office we prayed when I was a novice at the monastery in Norcia. I have an old Antiphonale Monasticum, but since I'll just be reciting this privately as I am able, I really don't need the chant. The other nice thing is that the Monastic Diurnal has the Latin and a good translation of it into English. It's also nice that the rubrics are in English, which makes figuring out what I have forgotten a bit easier.

Why am I starting to try and say the traditional Benedictine Office? Well, from what I have read, the traditional Benedictine Divine Office is probably one of the best preserved examples of the Divine Office of the old Roman Rite. The old Benedictine Office is practially the same as the way Saint Benedict laid out the structure in his Rule for monks. And he based much of it on the structure of the Roman Office of his day.

In Laszlo Dobszay's "The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform," one of the things he looks at is the reform of the Divine Office, which after Vatican II was given a major overhaul and turned into the Liturgy of the Hours. Yet, interestingly enough, he notes that some of the changes of saying the Office more "efficiently" (which could be negatively translated as "not having to spend as much time praying the Office) had been made to the Roman Office with the reforms of Pope Pius X. And not only has the Liturgy of the Hours been watered down (you can say an entire day's required hours within 60 minutes), but the English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours is just annoying. I really don't like the Grail Psalter. It is a bit better than the NAB Psalms we have at Mass [cringe], but I just feel like I am missing so much with the Grail Psalter.

Unfortunately, with the reform of the Roman Office (from about 3 hours of prayer a day to less than one hour), many monastic communities abandoned the traditional Benedictine Office for either the Roman Liturgy of the Hours or some "homemade" office, which more often than not doesn't follow Saint Benedict's insistance that all 150 Psalms be recited by the monks in one week. This includes Cistercians and Trappists since their Offices were based on Saint Benedict's.

Plus, it's hard to understand the idea that the new Liturgy of the Hours frees a priest to do more. I would think that extra two or three hours praying to God could bear much more fruit than a priest "busying" himself with pastoral things.

Anyway, if I'm going to continue on to become a lay Benedictine Oblate, this Diurnal is a good way to be a bit more united with the monastery prayer-wise.

The quality of the book is nice (yes, it's nice to have most everything in one volume too), and the layout is pretty easy to figure out. I'm looking forward to using this.



Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Wow..that looks impressive! BTW my boys want to be sacristans , not Priests!

Pilgrim said...

Have you ever considered a retreat to Our Lady of the Anunciation Monastery at Clearcreek in OK?

Roman Sacristan said...

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ,
No, usually sacristan is a bottom feeder position. The running joke at my parish is that the sacristan is almost as low on the totem pole as the deacon! Sacristan is an interesting job. It can be tough at times though, especially if you're at a place with many priests or, even worse, many visiting priests. Sadly, you never know what antics a priest will do at Mass.

Yes, I visited Clear Creek twice. It's a good place. I recommend them for anyone looking at monasticism. A bit too "French" for me though (when looking at a vocation there). Which is ironic since I later visited Le Barroux in France and felt much more at home there. I wish Le Barroux would make a foundation in the States.

Bosco said...

God bless your journey towards oblature

I run a spirituality & liturgy website:
it has a monastic flavour
increasing material on the Liturgy of the Hours
even a virtual chapel

stephen said...

a bit of a latecomer to this thread - but i bought this book too. It's lovely, but not sure as a layman I agree it's easy to find your way around. Could anyone point me to a simple 'how to' guide anywhere on using the diurnal?

Terry said...

I just bought this as well, and am waiting for it to arrive. I picked up an Anglican Breviary as well, since it apparently preserves the 1955 version of the Divine Office. We'll see which one I like best! I'm looking forward to using both.

On a side note, I too wouldn't mind a beginners guide to the M.D.

monkglenn said...

I was a sacristan for three years in my teens in a minor seminary. It followed my being an Altar Boy in elementary school and being "a church mouse" kind of kid...always hanging around the church since I lived across the street and it was cool in summer. I adopted the sacristan job there for a few years. So, let's say I have six or seven years of sacristan sawdust in my veins...and I'll say: THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO SERVE! Of course, like in all "ritual" environments, the tenors think they own the wine! A sacristan is a holy person, that is, if they avoid promotion and high office, where pride and sloth lay in wait!