VIII. To remember the presence of God, of our angel guardian, and of the demons, is a practice recommended by writers on recitation of the Office in or out of choir. This thought of the presence of God was one of the aids recommended by St. Benedict to his religious, to aid their devout fulfilment of the great work of reciting their Hours worthily, attentively, and devoutly. Centuries after St. Benedict’s death we find St. Bonaventure repeating this advice to his novices. Blessed Peter Faber, S.J., to make his Breviary prayer more fervent, used to picture to himself the presence of his guardian angel at his side recording his pious and holy thoughts, and the demon recording his distractions. “Dearly beloved priest,” wrote St. Alphonsus, “when you take the Breviary in your hand, imagine that an angel stands on one side to register your merits in the Book of Life if you say the Office with devotion, and on the other a devil who, if you recite it with distraction, writes your faults in the book of death. With this thought excite yourself to say the Office with the greatest possible devotion. Endeavour, then, not only at the beginning of the Office, but also at the beginning of each psalm, to renew your attention, that you may be able to excite in your heart all the sentiments that you shall read” (Selva).
1. Give God thanks for His goodness in permitting us to join in the great work, for hearing our prayer, and for His helps and graces during its duration.
2. Ask God’s pardon for faults committed in the course of this prayer of His Church.
3. Devoutly recite the “Sacro-sanctae et Individuae Trinitati ... Amen. V. Beata viscera....R. Et beata ubera....” This prayer, which is generally printed in Breviaries immediately before the Psalter, is to be said kneeling, where this is physically possible. This is necessary in order to gain the indulgence granted by Pope Pius X. to all persons obliged to recite the Divine Office. It is not of obligation and its omission is not sinful. It forms no part of the obligatory Office. “It must be said kneeling, but at the request of Cardinal Asquini, Prefect of the Congregation of Indulgences, Pope Pius IX. was pleased to make one exception (July 12, 1865) in favour of persons who were not able to say it kneeling—infirmitatis tantum causa. Hence, travellers or persons on a journey are not exempted, for they can say it kneeling at the end of the journey. It is sufficient to say the ‘Sacro-sanctae’ once only, that is, at the end of Compline, with the intention of obtaining pardon of all the defects a person may have been guilty of in saying the entire Office. Yet it may be repeated after each Hour, e.g., after Matins, and Lauds, after the small Hours and after Compline; in each case one would thereby get forgiveness for the faults committed during the