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Divine Office Forum: Psalms and Office of Readings

by Catherine Frakas 18 Apr 2002

Psalms and Office of Readings QUESTION from Jeffrey Allan March 13, 2001 I have two questions. First, if I pray the Office of Readings the previous night after Evening Prayer, does the Invitatory precede the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer? Secondly, I have adopted Carthusian Spirituality as much as can possibly be done by a layman. Would it be proper or improper to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, replacing the prescribed Psalms with the Psalter schema used by the Carthusians so that all 150 Psalms can be prayed in a week?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on April 11, 2001 Dear Mr. Allan:
The Invitatory is to be said at the beginning of your liturgical day, whenever that is.
If the Readings are said at the same time as Lauds, just preceding Lauds, or when Lauds is the first office of the day said by itself, the the Invitatory psalm with its antiphon may be admitted.
The GILH is not real clear on this. No 58 talks about retaining the traditional time for Readings as at night or very early in the morning. However night may refer to 2 or 3 am which is the time for Vigils (another name for the Office of Readings), and early in the morning may refer to 4-5 am. If that is the case then the Office of Readings said at either of these times would be the beginning of the liturgical day..
No 59 of the GILH states that despite the regulations of No 58 the Office of Readings may be said at any time of the day, even at the night hours of the previous day. This language gives a clue that the night of the previous day is not the beginning of the liturgical day. If that is the case, then the Invitatory is not said previous to the Office of Readings recited the night of the previous day.
I would have to defer to a monastic community who might actually practice this particular schedule. At. St. Michael House Vigils (Office of Readings) is said immediately before the Lauds rather than at a separate time.
As to your second question, the Liturgy of the Hours must be said as prescribed. It cannot be altered, modified or changed. If you are under the jurisdiction of a Carthusian Monastery as a Tertiary you may be given permission to follow their mode of recitation of the Liturgy.
The following is a note to the general public who are reading this, and not to your personally Mr. Allan.
However, remember, the full Divine Office is such that most laymen could not recite it. If one is a married person, then his or her first vocation is as husband and father, or wife and mother -- one cannot play monk. If one is a single person living in the world, again such a person is not a monk but has secular responsibilities.
It would be very difficult for secular people to recite the entire Office -- which is said approximately every three hours if all Offices are recited -- which is why the Church encourages laymen to not say the whole thing, but perhaps recite only Lauds and Vespers, and maybe Compline.
If a layman can do more, without neglecting family and domestic responsibilities, then great, go for it.
Two other notes: the Rosary came about as a result remembering and reciting all 150 psalms as too difficult to do considering their state in life.
Also, the revision of the Divine Office in 1970 was a result to make it easier for laymen to recite at least some portion of the Office.
I make this cautionary note because I have seen laymen so devoted to the Divine Office and other devotions such as the Rosary, etc, that they neglected their families. This is not proper. It is possible to participate in so many devotions that one sins. Sin comes from neglecting the responsibilities of one's state in life.
Again, I don't write this to you personally, Mr. Allan, since I do not know your state in life and life circumstances. I write this for all those who read this, to be sure that all understand that those living in the world cannot be expected to pray as monks do, and if they try they may get in trouble by neglecting their responsibilities as a result.
but the Church does encourage all of the Faithful to pray the OFFICIAL prayer of the Church at least in some portion.
God Bless
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