Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Meaning of Vespers will Blow Your Mind


I don't know about you, but I sometimes tend to rush thru Vespers. I'm a housewife, after all, and from 4pm thru 630 pm I'm going thru this cycle:
worrying that I don't have a recipe in mind yet for dinner
figuring out what I'm going to fix for dinner--searching my recipe file, cookbooks, online sites
running meat thru the defrost cycle in the microwave
fixing dinner
serving/eating dinner
cleaning up after dinner.

If I squeeze vespers in anywhere during this period, the upcoing phase in my dinner cycle will be a mental distraction. If I wait til after dinner, I am still usually "sandwiching" it in just before the next activity of the evening.   If I put it off until 9pm, I feel like I've missed the proper window and ought to just skip ahead to Compline.

Yeah, I know. First world Catholic problems.

But today a friend alerted me to a wonderful article by a young theology student all about Vespers. Now that I've read it, I can't wait until its time to do Vespers, and I know I am going to make time for it, use my print breviary to slow me down, find a quiet spot in the house to pray. And I'll light a candle in my prayer spot.

Briefly, the article traces the history of vespers: it's links to Old Testament sacrificial offerings, to the early Christian agape feast, and as a non-sacramental commemoration of the sacrificial death of Jesus. But my short summary does no justice at all to the actual article so please go and read it.  Make sure to listen to the video/audio clip of the Phos Hilaron, the traditional vespers hymn in the Byzantine rite.

Do this, and I promise your next recitation of vespers will be transformed, as you pray with the awareness that you are not just reciting psalms, but offering a sacrifice. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

DivineOffice.org Gone from Appstores

image by FranciscanMom.com


Contrary to what I'd written yeserday, the DivineOffice mobile app will not be available for purchase these next two or three days.

As of several hours ago, DivineOffice.org is not longer available from any app store.

If you want a good explanation of the probable cause of this sad state of affairs, scroll down in the comments on my previous post.and read what Matt Warner had to say. He also links to a longer article on this topic.

Is there anything we can do to help save DivineOffice.org?  Yes. First of all, be aware the the free DivineOffice.org website is also under the same threat. The copyright holders for the New American Bible and other breviary texts are allowing the website to serve existing members only. This means if you want to maintain access to the Divineoffice.org website you must make sure that your are a registered member. So go there and register! It just means giving your email and making up a password for the site.  If you don't do this, you will be shut out when DivineOffice.org becomes a closed community.  I was told that this would happen in two weeks, but then, since the "three days" left to buy the app turned out to be only 10 hours, I think people had better not wait very long at all. Register, and you can still be part of this particular community of believers who want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer that belongs to the whole Body of Christ, and should not be confined to print media.   It might help the DivineOffice.org people to make their case to the USCCB that there is a large, stable group that benefit from this ministry.

The website works pretty well on a mobile device, by the way.

Even if you don't normally use DivineOffice to say your prayers, it can come in  handy when you are mixed up about which pages to use for any given day in your breviary: they always list them for you right at the begining of the prayers, both for the single volume and the four volume breviary.

How else can you help?
Go to DivineOffice.org and make a small (or large) donation. This licensing process will cost money, you can be sure of that.  If by chance you have some legal expertise in negotiating such things, you might offer your services to CEO Dane Falkner. Contact me privately about this if you are interested. thesockeys"at" gmail "dot" com.

Please don't just say "Well, too bad.  I'll just have to  switch to iBreviary or Universalis. Because you know what? Maybe iBreviary or Universalis will be the next apps to be threatened and shut down by archaic rules that have nothing to do with the mission of the Church to evangelize and draw us into a prayerful relationship with the Triune God.

How else can you help?
You might want to write a calm and respectful letter to your bishop, and to Bishop Serratelli, chairman of the USCCB Divine Worship Committee. I'll look for and post the addresses later. (It's well past my bedtime as I write this.) Let them know how you benefit from having the Liturgy of the Hours app or website. Let them know whether you "graduated" from using DivineOffice.org to buying and using a print breviary, something you might never have done if you did not have this simple gateway to liturgical prayer.  Let them know that DivineOffice.org has truly "gone to the peripheries" and brought the beautiful prayer of the Psalter to thousands who would not otherwise have tried it.   Beg them to, in this year of Mercy, to do what they can  to lay aside the legal structures that keep God's saving word from going out to the highways and biways of the digital world.

You get the idea. I'll get back to you with those addresses tomorrow. Good night.

Update: Good morning. The easy way to do this is to use the usccb.org's "Contact Us" form. Where is says Help Us Direct Your Question, go first to Select Office and choose "Divine Worship".  You might also begin your comments with "To the Most Reverend  Arthus J. Serratelli  and members of the Committee on Divine Worship", but realize that Bishop Serratelli is not likely to receive this email: he is bishop of Paterson, New Jersey and does not work at the USCCB offices. It will be  read by a staff person who may or may not forward the emails. The bishops won't even be in Washington DC until there next meeting in the fall. Therefore, if you want to take another step,  you may email Bishop Serratelli at this address:  shepherd "at" patersondiocese"dot" org.

Another good Bishop to write might by Archbishop Aymond who is also on the Worship Committee. I could not find a specific email for him but here is the general contact page for the diocese.

Another good idea: contact your own bishop in the same way. A bishops conference is an artificial construct in the Church. The normal channel from us to the episcopacy  is our own bishop. Find your "Diocese of X" website and hunt around. Hopefully there will be a personal email for your bishop, and if not there should be some kind of contact form.

If you want to go the extra mile and write a Real Letter made of actual paper, just go to the various websites I've already linked and you will find the addresses. Right now I have to get someone up for school so I'm done here. Remember, these bishops probably have no idea what is going on at this point. Be respectful. They are also extrememly busy. Be concise.

One more thing. Spread the word. This blog is small.  Post this link on Facebook with your own note of explanation. If you think hashtags are a big deal (I don't get this myself) then use #freetheword or maybe #savethedivineoffice or #prayershouldbefree.

Another one more thing. I don't do Twitter, but if you are Twitter savvy (Twitter-pated as the Owl in Bambi would say) then there are things you could do there too. My fellow writer and DivineOffice fan Barb Syskiewiecz talks about that at the end of her post on this subject, which just came out this morning.

Oh! And how about a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots?

One more thing. This is the last, I promise. Send messages of support to support@divineoffice.org I'm sure the folks there will be glad to hear from you. If you have any special legal expertise, write directly to Dane at  dfalkner@divineoffice.org