Sunday, August 30, 2015

Liturgical Prayer Out Loud or Silently?

The question comes up periodically: must  I pray the Liturgy of the Hour out loud, or at least in a whisper, or at least moving my lips in order for it to be "valid" as liturgical prayer?

Nothing in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours spells this one out. And we get varying answers when we consult different priests. (and the variations I have gotten have nothing to do with said priests' personal orthodoxy, by the way. Priests of all persuasions have told me various things, although none have ever quoted me anything "official" as a source for their opinions.)

Some time ago a reader of this blog (a priest, in fact) showed me an official answer to this question. It appeared in a comment to a blog post, but I don't know that I ever put it in the body of a post. So here it is.

Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship Note Liturgiae Horarum Interpretationes (Not 9 (1973) 150)
Query: When a person recites the liturgy of the hours do the readings have to be pronounced or simply read?
Reply: It is enough to simply read them. The conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy says nothing about an obligation to oral recitation when a person says the office alone, although there was a difference of opinion on this among the conciliar Fathers. They decreed a reform of the breviary not for the purpose of shortening the time of prayer but of giving all who celebrate the liturgy of the hours a better time for prayer…Sometimes a surer guarantee for this objective of the liturgy of the hours in individual recitation may be to omit the oral recitation of each word, especially in the case of the readings.
Found on page 1098 of Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979. Conciliar, Papal and Curial Texts. The Liturgical Press, 1982

I will add here that the priest who so nicely informed me of this also stated his understanding that if you are using the EF breviary (1961) said that if you are following the older discipline, that you do have to move your lips--that the old rules are still in force for the old breviary. If someone out there knows a lot about the EF breviary and its rubrics, and would like to elaborate on that, feel free to do so. 

Plus, any other questions about the Liturgy of the Hours are welcome. Ryan Ellis, maybe?

Friday, August 21, 2015

St. PIus X: The Psalms Rock!

Image result for ST. Pius X wikimedia

The commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours two or three or more times per day is, well a commitment. And as with any commitment to order our day or our lives in a certain way, our will to keep going can sometimes flag a bit. We need something to spur us on, to renew our original desire, to rekindle the spark.   

Pope St. Pius X gives us just that today in the Office of Readings. For those of you who don't do this particular liturgical hour, here is the reading: 

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.