In the comments which followed on from a recent post – the post mainly about temptation, the comments rather more about the Divine Office – the splendid Mac happened to mention that she used the Monastic Diurnal published (and very beautifully, too) by Farnborough Abbey . . . which led my mind to wander through the ‘official’ habits of various friends.
Clergy must, obviously, use the standard books : which essentially means either the Latin or Vernacular Liturgy of the Hours (Ordinary Form) or the appropriate Breviary (Extraordinary Form). For the rest . . . which as Mac quite rightly points out includes all lay people, even if they take vows to say some or all of an Office . . . there is no particular obligation. One other friend and blogger, for instance, uses the English translation of the 1962 Breviary which was published by the Liturgical Press of S. John’s, Collegeville; and indeed I used to use it myself in days gone by.
I did wonder, though, whether there wasn’t an argument for us all adhering as closely as we could to the ‘clergy’ line ?
There is, after all, always the possibility – which Mac herself adopts, at least at times, with the full knowledge and consent of her Spiritual Director – of not saying all of the Office; and indeed there are single-volume versions available in both forms which exclude the Office of Readings / Matins, thus making it all much more practical and portable.
Let me make it clear : I’m not in any way criticising the use of other versions of the Office – I’m merely pondering the question of whether it might, in the context of the still greater unity of those saying the Office, be better for us all to focus on the smallest possible number of options.
As I mentioned, I used to use the Collegeville Breviary, simply for reasons of practicality : but when ‘The Divine Office’ came out whilst I was at University, I obtained a set, and used it thereafter – in other words, whilst an Anglican. This wasn’t primarily because I preferred it, but because – which may seem an odd remark from one who was Anglican – it seemed to keep me as close as I then could to the norms of the Catholic faith and life.
Much more recently, but still before I became a Catholic, I stepped back one more pace, so to speak, from the use of the vernacular version of the Ordinary Form to the use of the editio typica . . . and therefore, I suppose, at least conceptually, to the definitive Office of the Church.
That’s me, and I’m not suggesting that anyone else ought to feel obliged – or even, necessarily, persuaded – to do the same : I’m just pondering the general question of whether there is any such line of reasoning which applies to those of us who choose to say Office; and if so what it is.
I’ll be very glad to hear your thoughts.