The Divine Office eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Divine Office.


Where should the Divine Office be recited?  The Divine Office should be recited in the place intended and set apart by the Church for that purpose—­viz., in the choir or in the Church (Con.  Trid., sess. 24).  Canons and religious are bound to recite their office in choir; of course, this refers to Canons in residence at a cathedral for daily service, and to religious in the strict application of the term.  The Divine Office may be recited by priests anywhere, in the church, in a dwelling-house, walking, in the fields, etc.

In reciting the office a priest should observe an attitude in harmony with the great work in which he is engaged, prayer to God.  Hence, his attitude should be becoming, on his knees, standing, sitting, walking, but not sprawling or lying.  The rubrics which prescribe kneeling, sitting, standing, apply to choir recitation only.  But writers recommend that in private recitation these directions should not be altogether omitted, and they say that the practice of these rubrics of kneeling, bowing, standing, etc., is laudable and an aid to devout recital.


What kind of pronunciation is to be attended to in the recitation of the Divine Office?  The pronunciation should be vocal—­that is, there should be some sound, aliquis sonitus verborum, as St. Alphonsus writes (n. 162).  Hence, to read the Breviary merely mentally or with the eyes only, does not satisfy the obligation.[A] Although the reader may not hear the sound produced, he must be careful to form with his lips every syllable.  This must be done, not necessarily in a throaty way.  The formation of the words clearly with the lips suffices.  But writers on this point emphasise the importance of audible recitation as a preventive of slurred, mutilated Latinity, which often leads to careless, or even invalid recitation.  They note, too, that the reading with the eye merely, is a habit which readers bring from the reading of other books to their reading of the Breviary.  German authors dwell at length on the fact that many priests, very early in their career, contract the habit of faulty vocalisation of liturgy, and that they never seem to notice their fault, or at least never seem to attempt an amendment.  These authors attribute the defect to sub-voce recitation and recommend audible recitation, long and frequent audible recitation, to all priests reading their hours.

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The Divine Office from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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