Clerics troubled about attention are helped and comforted by their confessor repeating to them what they well know themselves, about voluntary and involuntary distractions, and the telling of the anxious ones that this very anxiety and anguish show that their fear of losing attention in their prayer is a true and real sign of its existence. In dealing with scruples about vocal and integral pronunciation a confessor should advise that no stopping should be made in the saying of the psalms, etc., but that the recitation should be continued quietly, without restraining the voice, without impatience, and without scrutiny of the pronunciation of the part said, “God is a father, full of goodness, not an exacting taskmaster, and He is more honoured by moderate care than by a disturbing solicitude.” Above all things, a confessor should remember that it is important to forbid scrupulous persons to repeat the whole or even the part of an Hour. An effort should be made by him to tranquilise the troubled soul with the principle that the precepts of the Church do not bind him to repeat the Hours with such inconvenience as leads to bodily and mental illness. The Church is our mother and does not wish her children to be troubled and solicitous, but to pray in peace.
SOME RULES OF ASCETIC THEOLOGY FOR THE PIOUS RECITATION OF THE BREVIARY.
There are many reasons why we should recite the Divine Office devoutly, for (1) the words which we read are holy; (2) He to Whom we speak is God; (3) we speak in the name of Holy Church; (4) we are the associates of thousands on earth and in heaven who sing God’s praises; (5) the purpose of our prayer is sublime; (6) it gives glory to God and draws down His grace and mercy on His Church; (7) and, finally, the recitation of the Office brings help and strength to those who repeat it fervently.
And, firstly, let us see what are the words of the Office. They are the words of God or of His Church. In the psalms, scripture lessons, gospel extracts, responses and antiphons, we have God’s inspired word. In the prayers, sermons, homilies, hymns, and often in the responses and antiphons, as the Church is guided and assisted by the Holy Ghost, it may be, in a sense, true to say that these her words are divine. For what is more worthy of respect than the word of God? St. Augustine says that it is no less worthy of respect than the body of Jesus Christ. Non minus est verbum Dei quam corpus Christi (Sermon 300). How very careful should we be to treat the word of God with respect, worthily, attentively, and devoutly (digne, attente ac devote).