Sunday, 8 February 2009
No, Bill Gates hasn't been at it again... (well, maybe he has, but that's not what I'm on about!)
A short while back, I mentioned that I was considering switching from the Novus Ordo Divine Office to the old Breviary, partly because of the differences in calendars between the two, and I asked for advice, because Baronius seem to be no nearer publication of their new Latin-English version, and I don't have enough Latin to cope with the full Breviary without a translation.
Several people mentioned the Monastic Diurnal, produced by the St. Michael's Abbey Press. The only problem with it was the fact that it didn't include Matins. Now, I do enjoy the Office of Readings, (the Novus Ordo version of Matins) unless the second reading is by St. Augustine of Hippo or is an excerpt from Gaudium et Spes or Lumen Gentium, so I was a little reluctant to ditch this Hour. However, the ICEL psalms were beginning to grate on my nerves more than a little, and greater familiarity with the snippets of Scripture used in the Mass Propers (I've been typing the Rossini Propers out for our choir) encouraged me to look into it further.
I'm not obliged, as a laywoman, to pray the Office, but it is part of the Rule of Life I adopted when I took my vows. So I feel under obligation - and I certainly notice the detrimental effects in my spiritual life on the occasions when I omit to pray the Office.
My SD told me that Matins was actually part of the Night Office, and he didn't seem to think that, in my case, the lack of that Hour would be a problem. I also reflected that the Hour of Prime would be added, and I'd be praying Terce, Sext and Nones instead of a single "Hour During the Day." I decided to go ahead and order the Diurnal; if the worst came to the worst, I figured I could sell it on Ebay, and go back to the Novus Ordo Office.
It arrived the other day. The book definitely feels better than the Novus Ordo one: it's much smaller and more flexible, the binding is of much better quality, and so is the paper. Although the paper is still thin, at least I cannot actually read what is printed on the other side of the page. The language (of the English translation, obviously) strikes a chord: I have prayed the Office for the last fifteen years, so the psalms and canticles are familiar, but the language in the Diurnal is so much richer and more nuanced.
Take this example from Compline: "the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." The Novus Ordo has: "the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat." There's not a lot in it, if you just look at the bald meaning of the words, but somehow "looking for someone to eat" is less punchy than "seeking whom he may devour." I get the distinct impression that the second lion is going to be allowed to devour several somebodies, while the first is merely hopeful of getting a nibble at one. Also, "roaring" lions don't prowl. Prowling implies stealth and silence. Definitely not roaring.
The only problem with the Diurnal is the lack of clear rubrics. Presumably, the majority of users have spent some time in a Benedictine monastery or convent, and have been shown what to do and say. I am having to flick back and forth to check what the versicles are when only a word or two is given, and I spent ages trying to work out why, at Lauds, I only had five antiphons, but I had six psalms and a canticle (yeah, yeah... I eventually twigged that three psalms were said together and so only have the one antiphon... but it wasn't in the rubrics!) Also, two of the psalms of Sunday Lauds are replaced by two others at certain times of the year... only the rubric telling you this is on the page after the first two psalms, so bad luck if you didn't happen to check ahead...
I can certainly see why the Novus Ordo Divine Office is, in comparison, sometimes referred to as the "Little Office of Vatican II."
In the meantime, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and say Compline...