Sacrosanctum Concilium 101

We conclude Vatican II’s reform-minded ideas regarding the Liturgy of the Hours, otherwise known as the Divine Office. While it may seem outside the common experience of most parishes, Sacrosanctum Concilium did devote nineteen sections to the daily prayer of the Church. And regardless of how poorly its implementation has been received where it’s been attempted, it remains one of the more significant liturgical failures of the post-conciliar period.

Some people, even those who lack Sunday Vesper celebrations in their parishes or their spiritual lives, will latch on to the use of Latin:

1. In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.

But let’s remember that Latin was the presumed usage of the time. The real liberalization was the possibility of using the vernacular. This had real promise, especially in developing the lay use of the Office.

2. The competent superior has the power to grant the use of the vernacular in the celebration of the divine office, even in choir, to nuns and to members of institutes dedicated to acquiring perfection, both men who are not clerics and women. The version, however, must be one that is approved.

All vernacular translations must be approved. We knew that.

3. Any cleric bound to the divine office fulfills his obligation if he prays the office in the vernacular together with a group of the faithful or with those mentioned in 52 above provided that the text of the translation is approved.

Your parish priest can pray with you. And “it counts.”

Among the developments I’d like to see to resuscitate the Liturgy of the Hours:

- A flexible cathedral office for parishes that pray Lauds or Vespers weekly.

- More formal Vigils for major feasts.

- Several age-appropriate adaptations of Lauds for use with children of various ages, or for special events like VBS or other camp experiences.

- The official encouragement to offer Vespers weekly, or minimally, seasonally, with the talent and experience of the pastor and music director behind the effort.

Any others?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 101

  1. Liam says:

    As I mentioned in an earlier LOH post, I would strongly encourage the development of more votive/ritual offices that might engage the PIPs more. Like offices relating to sacraments and certain devotions, as well as offices relating to the various votive Mass themes.

  2. I guess weekly is ok, things have to start somewhere, but why not daily? Maybe I’m spoiled, my parish (which _is_ the cathedral) celebrates Morning Prayer every day but Sunday. Folk come to daily Mass early to recite the rosary together, or the mercy chaplet, which are private devotionals made public; so why not to pray Morning Prayer, which actually _is_ the prayer of the whole Church together?

  3. Liam says:

    Karen

    Because reciting the rosary probably has way more associations with liminal moments in their lives than Morning Prayer. Hence, my suggestion earlier….

  4. I love the Breviary. However, one dissapointment for me after becoming a Catholic was the poor English translations in the current American editions (I’ve heard there are slightly different British editions). As far as the vernacular is concerned, I find the pre-Vatican II Breviary language superior still. What do you think?

  5. Liam says:

    I don’t have a preconciliar breviary to compare, but I agree that the US translations are very underwhelming and that has itself been an obstacle to their widespread enjoyable use.

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