Monday, 30 May 2011

Praying the 1962 Latin Divine Office

Since it is a bank holiday today, and there was no point in going anywhere (Monday is usually my day off) because everywhere is busy with mothers and children (Pizza Hut especially!) I decided to try my hand at the 1962 Latin Office - not that I have the books (I doubt that I could afford them). I am using the itouch app. It is very good. However the Office is VERY long - I was amazed at just how much more involved it is than the modern Prayer of the Church. Because I only began it today, I had to say Matins fairly early, but had to break off to get the altar ready for Mass. I finished it before Mass but it took me well over an hour (my Latin is not so good and
I wanted to pray the Office not just say it). I prayed Lauds after Mass. That took me another 40 minutes. I have been struggling through it all day but am determined to persevere to the point of anticipating Matins for tomorrow. I suppose it will get easier as I go along. Maybe some wealthy person will help me with the books when they are printed (Baronius Press Latin/English Breviary).

Why am I even bothering? Well, I wanted to try it out, but in spite of the time it has taken (and will take in the future) I have found it very prayerful, and I have been surprised at what was removed when the Breviary was renewed. I am not saying the 1962 version is perfect - far from it; it needs revision, but I am thinking that the normal Office as we have it now - as it was renewed in the 70s, is not good enough. There are some important prayers missing, and saying the 1962 version has made me a little bit more conscious of my priestly duty to pray for others (I mean as an official pray-er of the Church).


  1. I say the new breviary because I found it unsettling living in two calendars. But one doesn't have the same familiarity with the psalms when praying a monthly psalter, as when praying a weekly one. I've thought of buying a monastic psalter and sort of wedging the psalm scheme into the breviary scheme (two psalms under one antiphon or something) :)

  2. As a non-Catholic who reads your blog because it seems sympathetic to ecumenism I am puzzled why it is that, having performed your priestly role worthily and received the apprecation of your parishioners, you feel the need to change.
    I cannot follow your quest without wondering how you feel this brings you any closer to Christ and His Church than you already clearly are.
    A sincere question.

  3. Mike, I am not sure I understand your question. Both the ordinary breviary and the 1962 version are part of the Catholic Church's treasury and we are free to use whichever we like. I am merely trying out the 1962 version and sharing my experience of it (which may change). I cannot see any problem with that.

  4. Good morning Father,
    I have both Ofice books, the 1962 version and the Modern One.I use both. I do morning/daytime Offices from the new book and Compline from the Old.One day last year I decided to do the entire old set of offices, and it was amazing how much it dominated my day
    which was really a good thing as it kept me on the straight and narrow. Doing work in between I felt very monastic, but I could not keep up to such a schedule.In the same way I love to read from the Book of Common Prayer, which has been lost to many Anglicans.I use my original prayer book at Mass,The Garden of the Soul, 1961. There is enough left in the modern day mass to allow it to still be useable.Some religious orders still seem to use the old formats for the daily offices. I did try to see how the two office books, old and new , compare in format but from the bit of work I did they did not seem to tally up.Ampleforth does Vespes in Latin which is wonderful to listen to and follow in your mind ( unless you have someone in the visitors sections sitting near you trying to join in which rather spoils the monks Gregorian chant which they are trained for!)

    Did you know they do Compline on U tube--I will post a link,


  5. Thank you Barbara,

    Yes, my day - yesterday - was certainly dominated by the Office. I am trying to keep it up today to see how I get on. It has had an effect on me already - for the good I think, however, I do not think I will be able to keep it going in the future - I simply have too much to do in the Parish and with other things, so I will have to return to the English Office. However, if I am still alive when retirement looms I will seriously consider taking up the Latin 1962 Office.
    It has been an interesting experiment.

  6. Thank you Father--sorry to sound mysteriously anonymous again!I can make both books work for me, though I was most upset when I found out the old one had "gone for a burton" as we say round here. All those sacred hours! Admitteldy it is difficult to get on with your day if you have an active life (I was a district nurse) but thankfully at Ampleforth the monastic rhythm is kept I am sure, much in the tradition!

    Just as a slight diversion, and possibly I am getting "in above my head" I read the Michael Davies book on Vat 11 as you know and now am floundering through Xavier Rynne--who everyone knows was Francis X Murphy. I am bewildered.! I do wish there was somewhere( nearby) we could talk about all the wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful history of the Catholic Church. Frankly I feel very isolated.



  7. This is why I like your blog Father. You give us little glimpses into the church as it was and the beautiful treasures we have sadly lost.

  8. A Cradle Catholic31 May 2011 at 12:00

    Seeing as a few people seem to be seeking your advice can I add my query which was ignored on another blog by a priest of the traditionalist mould.
    "The Tridentine Mass interests only 5 per cent or perhaps 1 per cent of the people in the pews. There are young fogeys who like it but they are just chasing something esoteric. Their interest mystifies and saddens most priests. These people talk of the old Mass, but every Mass is new, fresh and unique." www

    From my perspective this appears to be the case so what is the attraction of the TLM which seems to have a vocal blog following not reflected in the pews.

  9. "Their interest mystifies and saddens most priests"

    Well, you obviously know more priests than I do, for a start. I have not seen any "young fogeys" here when I say the 1962 Mass, so they must go somewhere else. However, let me try to answer your question.

    I would say that some Catholics have gradually become fed up with certain things such as talking in church, priests who seem to be more interested in themselves and their own bright ideas rather than the Gospel, hymns that are banal and prayers that are poorly written (as the 4th Eucharistic prayer for example). I'm sure there are other things. In short what some people want is more reverence, more silence, more chance to pray and better music. I think I can say that because that is what people tell me.

    There is quite a lot I can say on my own behalf as a priest, but I will only do that if it is necessary.
    Personally I do not believe that the 1962 Rite is the answer to all our problems - and neither does the Pope. I disagree strongly with those who say it is. However, we need to greatly improve our liturgy all round and the Latin MAY help us. It has certainly helped me.

  10. Father, today I received a booklet entitled Alexandrina the Agony and the Glory. I have yet to read it. I am passing on Teresa Higginson to a friend from Halifax, while we try to find that old book I read a few years ago. I apologise that this is not to do with the topic---it would be nice to have somewhere to answer our questions, but perhaps it would be mad for you to put yourself in that position. If I might digress even further, in 1961 I think it was that year, when absconding from All Souls across the way--now demolished-- to Holy Spirit----I met a lovely lady who took me under her wing.She was disappointed in me because I did not become a Catholic, as I went away nursing and got drawn into the "swinging sixties".

    Now, thankfully, I am back where I started,


  11. Alexandrina is a fascinating person. She is often connected with the message of Fatima - partly. I suppose, because she is from Portugal. I have been to her house and the church nearby where the miracle of the cross appeared.

  12. What miracle of the cross?

    There seems to be an interest in mysticism on the new Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. SEE latest post on Margaret Mary Alacoque.
    Have you considered submitting an article there on the subject, its history etc.
    Male and female non-members seem invited to send posts, nothing too controversial but interesting.
    You would not need to commit to it long term and you do have a substantial number of female readers.

  13. "Archbishop Conti tells clergy: do not promote the Extraordinary Form of the Mass – there is 'no call for it'"


  14. Colin. Archbishop Conti is clearly off his rocker. Summorum Pontificum and the recent instruction make clear that the extraordinary form is to be held wherever there are people who want it and priests who can say it. Although the letter of what he says perhaps does not directly contradict the will of the Pope (and good sense) the fact that he felt compelled to release a such a letter when he did and its tone is certainly insolent and foolish.

    As I see it the primary problem with allowing the Extraordinary form WAS that it was inaccessible to the laity who were often deprived of the ability to participate in it. This was because of its being in Latin and because much of it is said in a whisper. (To my mind, especially at low Mass, the people should be able to hear the Latin). Also, allowing it along with the Novus Ordo would perhaps have made the new Missal harder to sell. The deal is, none of these problems really has any teeth any more: the people who want to attend the tridentine Mass, for the most part, are able to understand it because they have bothered to learn about it. Also, there is no going back now.