Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. Pius X on the Divine Office

I don't have to write a blog post today because Pope St. Pius X has already done it for me.

In today's Office of Readings he tells us about the psalms, their place of pride in the liturgy (mass and office), and why the psalms form us in the mind and heart of Christ. I know you can get it online, but just to make it easy for those of you who don't regularly do the Office of Readings, here it is:

From the apostolic constitution Divino afflatuof Saint Pius X, pope
(AAS 3 [1911], 633-635)

The song of the Church


The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already  established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says,the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him  fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions.Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

How's that for inspiration to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with renewed commitment and enthusiasm?

And now, if you have any questions, please submit them in the comments. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quick Question for Brits, Canadians, Aussies...

...and other assorted users of the Harper Collins breviary, three volume edition.
When I wrote my book two years ago, I stated that the Harper Collins breviary takes its scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible. That was my memory from using the HC single-volume edition for a while back in the early 80s.

Since the book came out, I've seen it noted in several places that in fact, the HC reaadings come from a  variety of Bible translations: some from the Jerusalem, some from the RSV, and even some from the "Good News" bible of the 1970s.

Can anyone here who uses HC clarify this for me, and also give an estimate on the ratios of the various translations used? E.g., does any one translation predominate, or is it a three way split?

I ask because one American reader wants to purchase the HC based on my saying it used the Jerusalem Bible. I don't want to have him lead astray. HC breviaries are pretty expensive when purchased here in the states, so we have to make sure it's worth his while to do so.