Do you want to really feel and understand the sacred rhythm behind the Liturgical Year?
Like me, have you spent years sitting in the pews thinking, “Why do we even bother?” Because the only differences you can perceive in most parishes between, say, Ordinary Time and the Easter Season are different felt banners and different sacro-pop songs strummed during Communion. As a child, I wondered why we had the Litrugical Year at all!
Obviously, we shouldn’t have these thoughts and questions–the Liturgical Year is essential to the Christian life. Those felt banners must go. They are very cheap substitutes for the real and profound liturgical differences between each season, and each feast–differences that can shape our lives and help us toward greater holiness. Generations of Catholics have grown up like I did, but the great thing is, it’s never too late to fix this problem.
The best way to fix this massive ignorance about the Liturgical Year is for each Catholic to start praying the Divine Office, (now called The Liturgy of the Hours). While the consecrated religious orders and priests pray the full Office, this is often incredibly difficult for laymen. But this problem has already been solved, more than 1,000 years ago! In the Age of Faith they had “Little Offices,” such as The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Here are some instructions on how to pray it.) As you pray the Little Office, you will experience a beautiful transfusion of the prayer of the Church into your own daily life. You will feel the ebb and flow of the seasons, prayerfully observe the feasts and fasts, connect with sacred time and use it to make your own days sacred. You will certainly come closer to Our Lady through this gorgeous prayer!
If you buy a print copy of the Divine Office or a Little Office, make sure you find the most beautiful, traditional version you can. My mother wanted to pray the Divine Office, and she spent a LOT of money on a modern (current, vernacular) edition–but she found the translations so weak and watery, and the intercessory prayers so wishy-washy that she was driven to give it up! She doesn’t know Latin, though, so she didn’t want to use a traditional Breviary and not understand a word of it. After she finally found the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary she was very happy! It was just the thing: sacred and reverent, beautiful, and connected to centuries of tradition. (Baronius Press publishes one with readings and psalms from the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, which is just beautiful.)
If you want to know when to kneel, stand, sit, etc., and how to properly pray it with other people, you can find the Rubrics and Ceremonial for the Little Office of the B.V.M. on these pages of the 1915 Benzinger Bros. edition.
And that isn’t the only one! Here are some more Little Offices that I found on the web:
- Little Office of St. Joseph (suggested for use on Wednesdays)
- Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (suggested for use on Fridays)
- Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- Little Office of the Immaculate Conception
- Little Office of St. Dominic (used by Lay Dominicans)
I’m sure there are many more, as the incredible fruitfulness of hearts in love with God and His Church for the last 2,000 years has provided us with more glorious devotions than one human can ever use in a lifetime! Hopefully you will find something here that will renew and vivify your prayer life, and your love of the Liturgical Year!
UPDATE: Singing the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Mrs. Veronica Brandt. Links to all her YouTube how-to’s at the bottom of this CCWatershed.org post!