Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Follow Up on "Losing the Apostles"

There was much discussion on '62ville: Losing the Apostles on commemorations, the precedence of feasts, and related matters regarding the 20th century incarnations of the Roman liturgy. I thought the most astute comment came from this thread on fisheaters.com:

Going back to the Office, I have often brought up what Antonius mentioned - secular priests should not be required to pray monastic hours. I don't think the Office should have been changed - it should have kept its historic form, and the number of hours the parish priest were required to say daily should have been reduced. The 20th century saw multiple attempts to shorten the Office to make the obligation to pray the whole cursus easier. There was already the permission to say Matins/Lauds in afternoon of the previous day; this was followed by a new psalter, reduced commemorations, removal of feasts from the calendar, shortened Matins, elimination of semidoubles, reduction in rank of many feasts, the removal of many choral elements from the Office, and finally a completely new Office and calendar altogether. All of this to help priests meet an entirely artificial obligation that could be changed (without touching any doctrine) with a stroke of the papal pen. Instead, the invented obligation was made sacrosanct, and the Office received from antiquity was mutilated to fulfill that obligation.

This fellow gets it. Indeed, much of what became viewed as obligatory (daily Masses, private sacerdotal recitation of the Office, folkish hymns and cultural traditions) remained while the integrity of worship was reduced to accommodate it.


  1. Indeed. Eastern Catholic clerics I've met have informed me that they do not have an absolute "obligation" to say the office, just a recommendation.
    I find that trying to say the entire thing in whichever form (Roman, Byzantine, Syriac, other Western, and especially Coptic) gets rather tiring for laymen and makes it all too tempting to give up entirely. Trying to say one of the hours in the day is good enough for a start.

  2. Read the Lessons at Matins and pray Lauds/Vespers/Compline. I have found that this works the best for most days.

  3. I agree totally, having heard this idea from a good friend more than twenty years ago now. Let the secular clergy read Lauds and Vespers, perhaps with the Lessons from Matins, and don't touch the office.

  4. But it is too sensible a suggestion. Much better, to the Roman Curial mind, to knock down the venerable edifice and replace it with a 'one size fits all' but you must do it solution.