Vespers for Sept 30

Wow, this was kind of a fun Office, tonight, on this feast of the curmudgeonly St. Jerome – the psalms really spoke to the day, even down to the prayer for our legislators in the final intercessions.

The podcast is here, and it contains all the page directives for the Breviary. As usual I’m using the breviary shown below; I love the translations, and this is the most commonly used of the breviaries for the Liturgy of the Hours.

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, another Doctor of the Church, and since she is one of my favorite intercessory friends, I’ll be doing both Morning Prayer and Vespers.

I must say, I find the psalmody and the Divine Office puts an entirely different cast on to the whole day, and the news. You might say it helps break things down and clear away the detritus of a day, and assists in holding the long view of things. There is nothing like reading a 3,000 year old psalm and having it fit a day perfectly to make you realize that the human condition is what it is, broken, needy and forever in search of wholeness.

Note: I keep getting emails from people telling me that my voice surprises them. Most of them say that they mean it in a “good” way, but that I sound much younger than 50. I assure you, I really am 50! Which can only mean that my writing voice is very different. Immature? :-)

While we’re offering up prayers, consider whispering one for the mighty PJ O’ Rourke, who is dealing with a cancer that sounds survivable, but I’m sure is scary.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • DWiss

    Anchoress, I bought the Breviary, and it came with the little guidebook, but I’ll be doggoned if I can figure out how to use the thing. Clear as mud. I’m not stupid (check that with my wife), but I’m really scratching my head. Can you help or maybe suggest a link? Thanks!

    1) Make sure your guidebook is for 2008.

    2) Go to page 686 in your breviary (the “ordinary”) that will give you step-by-step instructions on praying the office – if you don’t intend to do the earliest part of morning prayer (which should be prayed before you say a word in the morning, and so I never pray it) that’s what is instructed first. If you’re not going to use it, don’t bother reading it.

    3) Go to page 689 – that’s the instructions on Morning Prayer. Your breviary should have come with a few additional pages with the canticles and the te deum on them. I keep them in the back of my breviary, along with my guidebook and yes, after all these years I still hustle the sheets out for the canticles. but the ordinary also prints the canticles, so you can just put page markers there if you like. The ordinary continues up to page 698, with all instructions for the various prayers.

    3) The GUIDEBOOK: don’t be intimidated by it.

    Turn to the date you need, say for tomorrow, October 1.

    It says: Wed. st. Theresa of the Child Jesus, V & D (Virgin and Doctor, so you can use either of those offices)

    (Mem) 1276 means you’ll find her memorial page on 1276, which will contain a brief bio, the antiphons for the morning and evening canticles and the closing prayer said for both morning and evening prayer.

    MP (Morning Prayer) 1441 (if you want to use that office) (Ant) 812 That means you’ll find the antiphons and the reading for that office, to be used with the psalms on page 812;

    DP (Day Prayer) 1008 – basically the psalms and antiphons for the middle of the day, followed by the short readings and responsories for WHEN you say those psalms, usually if I am doing DP, it’s midafternoon, so I’d use that reading.

    EP (Evening Prayer) (1444) (Ant) 818: that’s just like the morning, you jump from the psalms on 818 to the antiphons OR… you can simply forget page 818 and go to page 1444 and use THOSE psalms and antiphons, readings, and etc.

    4) NP 1046 (Night Prayer). That’s just compline and each night’s compline is beautifully simplified and linear.

    5) [OOR 1816, Rd 1924f & 2048f:Pr 1276]
    That’s the “Office of Readings” which in this book replaces Matins – the long Office of the Night – although you can pray it at any time or not at all. Matins was/is 12 psalms and various lessons and readings. OOR is less weighty. In this example, you’d go to page 1816, pray the psalms/antiphons, etc, then you have a choice. You may go to page 1924 and forward (that’s the “f”) to read the biblical readings for Ordinary Time (since that is what we’re in) or go to page 2048 and forward for the non-biblical readings for Ordinary Time, which are usually letters or homilies from the Church Fathers, and you’d finish off with the prayer on page 1276, as with the other hours. You see why I said the guidebook was essential?

    Suggestion: If you’re doing this on your own, and you’re just getting started – and you don’t have a podcast to help, KEEP IT SIMPLE until you’re more used to it. Don’t worry about the feast days, memorials and various offices…just stick to the basic stuff they give you, day-by-day. In other words, just do the antiphons and psalms and prayers laid out in the basic psalter for the week. For Oct 1, for example, that would be MP 812: DP 1008; EP 818, 1046 – etc. That is PERFECTLY fine to do. For a long time, when I started the LOTH, I just prayed it the simplest way, and worked my way up to moving about the book.

    And the other thing? It would be heroic if we lay people could do all the offices every day, but we’re not monastics and we can’t. So be at peace with yourself and consider it “well done” if you manage one of the “hours” of prayer, morning, evening or compline. If you’re doing two of them, you’re doing very well indeed for a lay person. If you’re doing three, I’m jealous.

    6) Just dive in; If you make a mistake, it’s not a sin. :-)

    It’s not that confusing once you get used to it…but TAKE YOUR TIME. You WILL get used to it. Also, with the Office of Readings, you don’t HAVE to read any of those suggestions. You can make other spiritual reading you are doing, or scripture or whatever, that portion of your Office. Those suggestions are simply meant to enhance the season we’re in.

    The whole point is about SANCTIFYING TIME – keeping Christ in your awareness throughout the day, being pulled back into what is eternal, in the midst of all the madness and distractions of the day. It should never make you stress out – it should help you step OUT of the crazy and into the light for a little while.

  • Dante Explorer

    One thing that always messed me up when i didn’t pray the Office regularly was figuring out which week (1,2,3,4) it was. Somebody told me all you have to do is look at the Sunday of the week. So if you know it was the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time, it will tell you what week in the Psalter you’re in. Ok, I’m slow.

    [I must be slow too, I don't get it. We're in the 26th Sunday of Ordinary time...and we're in week 2 on the psalter - admin]

  • Dante Explorer

    If you check the 26th Sunday in Ordinary time in the Proper of the Seasons (page 631 in my edition of Christian Prayer), Psalter, Week II is written in red on the right. Of course if I don’t keep my bulletin from Sunday I’m trouble!

    [Thanks, I never realized that! - admin]