Saturday, February 13, 2016

Turn Back the Liturgical Clock

According to my ordo recitandi from the St. Lawrence Press today I must turn back my liturgical clock, if only a few hours.

Lectio libri S. Laurentii
The Angelus and Sunday Vespers continue at the normal time, but ferial Vespers are said by noon and typically Mattins and Lauds are anticipated the prior evening, which we recognize in the rites of the un-reformed Triduum and Paschal Mattins on Saturday evening. Before I tried this schedule I easily conceded that it was an accommodation to monks who wanted to cheat their fast and have their meal after Vespers. After having prayed the old way for four years now I see the value of the inversion in the reversed times; the Resurrection restores order and puts things the way they should be.

A "private Mass"?
The X in the right column for Monday indicates a votive Mass of the Dead may be sung this day. Votive Masses are prohibited during Lent and generally during Advent but the Roman Church did permit one Requiem Mass for deceased friends and benefactors to be celebrated on the first ferial day of the week with the accompanying Officium Defunctorum. The St. Lawrence ordo's abbreviation key indicates that the X signifies a "private Mass", however before 1960(2?) "private Mass" did not mean a low Mass celebrated in a sequestered environment, just a Mass other than the one canonically required for the day. A parish priest is only required to celebrate Mass on Sundays and Holy Days; religious orders are required to celebrate the full liturgy every day. A "private Mass" is a permitted special addition in either of those settings according to the old scheme of things. It really is a misnomer, given that a cardinal archbishop could celebrate a pontifical high Mass with full polyphony and it would be "private".

Has not the older liturgy a richness to it that encourages more effort on the part of the faithful?

Look for our usual Officium Defunctorum page in the near future. We will be praying the Office of the Dead on the first ferial day of each Lenten week for your intentions.

Also, buy a St. Lawrence Press ordo!


  1. You know, it is ironic in that while the reforms of Pius X were radical in some respects, it kept the rankings of the feasts far better than the Monastic Office, which while it kept the structure of the Psalter, radically changed the rankings (anticipating some of the 1960 reforms):

    -No Simples (just commemorations) and no Semidoubles, except Days within Octaves
    -in the Septuagesima season, the Feria is commemorated (scrapped in 1963)
    -in Lent, even Major Doubles are merely commemorated!
    -the Chair of St. Peter at Rome on Jan. 18 was already removed as well, meaning this year the Chair of St. Peter on Feb. 22 will be merely commemorated as with the 1960 reforms in the Roman Office!

    1. Just to make it clear, I was talking about the Pius X reforms to the Monastic Breviary.

  2. BTW, my father's death is on March 15. He died 4 years ago on that date. Please keep him in your prayers.

  3. I think that inversion of times is silly.
    That's one thing i'll never understand, no matter the mystical interpretations.
    It just doesn't make sense to me.

    I know i just said the same thing 3 times, but hey.

    1. That's the point. It's not making sense, since the Fall made things go haywire. So in addition to breaking the Fast, it came to be understood that Vespers in the morning for Lent (and other penitential days in the East) was deliberately done to not make sense with the normal hours. But if that explanation doesn't appease you, to each one his own. Still, I found it helpful myself.

    2. "I know i just said the same thing 3 times, but hey."

      That either means you're insane or going to the Byzantine liturgy ;-)

      Your point is well taken with regard to Vespers, but reciting Mattins & Lauds the previous night is actually a very well grounded tradition. Since it was initially a vigil service that would run through the night and end with the Mass at dawn, in the first millennium they sang Mattins and Lauds in the evening so they would end in darkness, a contrast to the norm throughout the rest of the year; Batiffol recounts the Tenebrae candle ceremony already in the 8/9th century.

      Again, I see your point with regard to Vespers though.

    3. @Paul, then the washing of the feet as per Pian reforms, makes sense because it doesn't make sense that it comes before the Communion, contrary to the Gospel, where washing of the feet comes after Communion. Yeah, as you suspected, the explanation doesn't appease me, because with it, you can justify anything in the liturgy.

      The Fall - therefore modern liturgical reform. Many things don't make sense, but hey - there's the Fall so all will make sense in novissimo die.

      @TRT. Yeah i've been attending Byzantine liturgy nearby. Very poorly attended. The priest, his son as an altar boy sometimes, a singer (to which i provide basso continuo - i stand next to him. the priest made a joke that i will replace the singer since i know the chants by heart already :D ), and a few people. I've found myself very at home there.

      About Matins. Yeah - Carthusians start with matins at 23 or 23:30 - depends on the charterhouse. In older monastic breviaries matins aren't called matins but vigils, and lauds are called matins. So yeah. But vespers - yeah makes no sense.

      I know that the word noon, comes from latin "none", since english monks had a tendecy to say the designated hours a bit earlier (even 3 hours earlier) so they sung none at noon and not at 3pm. but vespers in the morning. i mean wth.

    4. Still, the changes made in the 20th century were all made to rational ideology, not on the basis of the Fall. Everything needed to be compartmentalized, clean, etc. I argue that the inversion of time symbolism cannot fit into the mindset of the reformers of the 20th century, even though they probably would have used it, if their scholarship were half-way decent.

    5. BTW, it would be very ironic if the liturgical reforms were made deliberately "to make no sense whatsoever." But I think it close to nil, if not 0. I doubt that any reformer had that idea! As it is, I understand your point, Marko; still, all the misguided reforms were made in the name of making sense, not nonsense.

  4. Martinucci notes the option of having Vespers, Mattins & Lauds of the Dead on the morning of a funeral.

    One of the first things, if not the very first thing, I found out about the traditional Roman liturgy was the practice of the early Vespers on ferial days in Lent. I must say I found it so extraordinary that I warmed to the idea instantly. I think it is rather akin to the issues raised in the recent post about the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified. If we follow too rational an agenda something rather precious is lost.