Wednesday, November 07, 2007
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.