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Feasts & Memorials QUESTION from Sharon Dever April 25, 2000 I'm a laywoman praying Christian Prayer, having recently moved up from a book called Morning and Evening Prayer (blue cover, not quite the same as Shorter Christian Prayer, though similar). On feasts, memorials, and commemorations, my book will say (e.g.) from the common of one martyr or of pastors. Is this optional? Do I need on each feast day to turn to the various commons, or may I just use the antiphons and prayer for that day with the psalms from the four-week psalter?
Also, every other week I pray vespers with a dear Protestant friend who has this year discovered the beauty of the LOTH. Is there any problem with ignoring the feast days at these times -- not because she has any objections to them, but for the sake of simplicity (she is still struggling with the organization of the LOTH, as liturgical prayer is completely foreign to her Christian background)?
Thank you for your assistance. May God bless you in your work.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on May 2, 2000 Dear Mrs. Dever:
Thank you for your question and congratulations are graduating up to the regular Divine Office.
There are four types of feasts celebrated in Liturgy:
Solemnities
Feasts
Obligatory Memorials
Optional Memorials
We are obliged to recite the Office for the particular Feast day, except for Optional Memorials. The Optional Memorials are optional.
Neither the Catholic Books Publishing edition or the Daughters of St. Paul edition of the One Volume Christian Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) seems to indicate this option.
But you can look at any liturgical calendar to see which Feast Days are Optional Memorials.
The Guide for the four volume edition does offer a choice on Optional Memorials.
As to ignoring the Feast days when you pray the LOH with your Protestant friend, how is she ever going to know how to do it, if you don't recite the Office properly? Nearly all Catholics make the same struggle. Her struggle is not unique to her because she comes from a non-liturgical background. She is in good company with most Catholics.
If she is falling in love with the Office, she needs to learn the OFFICE. Avoiding complicated feast days does her a disservice since she will not experience the true beauty of the intent of the Office -- to sanctify the hours of the day and to commemorate the saints.
In addition, if you leave out the proper elements on a Feast Day then you have ceased praying the Divine Office. The Divine Office is a liturgy. As a liturgy is use is regulated by the Church and no one can change the rubrics of how it is to be said. To manipulate subtract elements of the Office is to downgrade the prayer to a mere personal devotion.
The Divine Office is the second highest prayer of the Church, behind only the Mass. It is the official prayer of the Church. And when said with the intent of saying the Divine Office (which means it must be said properly) then we are not just praying by ourselves or with a small group (like we do when praying a rosary), we are actually praying the the ENTIRE CHURCH. What a powerful prayer! As powerful as two or three or four people coming together in prayer might be, think of how powerful it is to bring the ENTIRE CHURCH into prayer together. That is what the Divine Office does.
The Daughters of St. Paul One Volume Edition is the easiest to use. I would recommend using that edition, but never to leave something out for the sake of simplicity.
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