TITLE VIII.—OFFICE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN FOR SATURDAY.
“In omnibus Sabbatis per annum entra Adventum et Quadragesimam, ac nisi Quatuor Tempora aut Vigiliae ocurrant,” etc. In all Saturdays throughout the year, except on the Saturdays of Advent, Lent, Ember Days or occurring Vigils, or unless a feast of nine lessons has to be said on the Saturday, then it is laid down in the rubrics that the Office of the Blessed Virgin should always be said with the rite of a simple office. The rubrics of the New Psalter (Title I., sec. 6) direct, “In officio Sanctae Mariae in Sabbato et in festis simplicibus sic officium persolvendum est; ad matutinum, Invitatorium et hymnus dicuntur de eodem officio vel de iisdem Festis; Psalmi cum suis antiphonis et versu de Feria occurente I. et II. Lectis de Feria cum Responsoriis Propriis vel de Communi. III. vero lectio de officio vel Festo duabus lectionibus in unum junctis si quando duae pro Festo habeatur, ad reliquas autem Horas omnia dicuntur, prouti supra num. 5 in Festis Duplicibus expositum est.” In the Office of the Blessed Virgin for Saturdays (Decree S.C.R., 26th January. 1916) the antiphons and Psalms at Matins, Lauds and small Hours are to be said from the Saturday and from the capitulum onwards all is to be taken from the office of the Blessed Virgin.
This office is not to be confounded with the officium parvum Beatae Mariae. The office de Sabbato is obligatory throughout the Church. The officium parvum was only for choir use, an addition to the office of the day. Saturday, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, is of great antiquity, as the mention of it in the works of St. Peter Damien, St. Bernard and Pope Benedict XIII. shows, but as to the time of its origin or a history of its growth, little seems to be known. At first the cult consisted in various and voluntary prayers and practices. About the middle of the fourteenth century an office was composed for recital on Saturdays as dedicated to the Mother of God. The office in our Breviaries was composed by St. Pius V, (1566-1572).
The rules laid down in the general rubrics of the Breviary for commemorations were never very simple, and when we read the changes brought about in De ratione Divini officii recitandi juxta novum Psalteri ordinem, Titles II., III., IV., V., VI., with’ the decrees of the Congregation (January, 1912), and subsequently (Abhinc duos Annos) everyone must fear to tread the maze with certainty and must often fall back gratefully on the labours of the compilers of the Ordo which he follows. Or, perhaps, doubts may be dispelled by The New Psalter (Burton and Myers) published in 1912. The chapter on the Calendar in that book is worth study, but needs now additions and corrections, owing to the issue of more recent decrees.