Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Monastic Diurnal: Review


Last week I had the opportunity to purchase the Monastic Diurnal published by St. Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, UK. As I had posted on here before, the Liturgy of the Hours has become a part of my life through the well known Christian Prayer single volume.

If you are familiar with Baronius Press' leatherbound Missals and Bibles and are happy with them (as you should be) then you will also be happy with the Diurnal. The quality is exactly the same. In fact, I'm pretty sure they were printed at the same place because the binding looks identical. Baronius' Missal and Bible were both published in India, just like the Diurnal.

Since I have been comparing them to the Baronius books I will continue in that vain. Let's look at the size. It will be a great travel companion thats for sure. This will give you an idea:


As you can see, it is the smallest of the black leather-bound Catholic book family. It has become quickly apparent that nearly any Catholic book worth having for life is worth buying in a flexible leather cover. (Will someone get working on the Liber Usualis please?) But oh, what about the print of the book? Certainly something so small with such a vast amount of text would be difficult to read because the font would be so small right? Not so fast...


The text is clear as day. Everything is English/Latin parallel. Very readable and easy on the eyes. Once you are used to the Psalter set up (still getting the hang of it, but its coming...) it gets even easier. I'm even able to read along in low light because the font-weight is relatively heavy.

The English translation is not Douay-Rheims but a special translation it seems for this Diurnal. I have been able to compare the DR with the Diurnal English texts and I have to say the difference is negligible. For instance the Douay-Rheims Psalms will translate "iniquitatis" as "iniquities" where the Diurnal text will translate is as "sin". No matter to me, in fact I find it easier in some ways.


The monks of Farnborough Abbey have obviously created/provided this book out of a work of love for God and the laity. I think one of the best gifts they have given us is the Psalter as arranged by St. Benedict. And the Hymns, oh the Hymns! They are magnificent. I read a comment somewhere that many of these hymns are ancient and the original Latin has been retained. Imagine, by using this Diurnal we can unite ourselves to past Christians going back 1500 years. The same prayers, the same order. That is a great thought.

I'll leave this review with the message from the monks found on the final page of the Diurnal:


p.s. I am also looking forward to Baronius' Breviary.

12 comments:

Moonshadow said...

Very attractive book.

I took the code to display "Recent Posts" at Catholic Converts for my blog sidebar. I think it's a good idea and a nice feature.

I hope you don't mind ... and I hope I can get it to work!

Mason said...

I ordered this last week and they dropped it in the mail last Monday. I've found myself hanging around the window waiting for the mailman like a dog in anticipation, but alas, it hasn't come yet. How long did you have to wait for it to come?

Matt said...

It depends on where you ordered it from. I got mine from allcatholicbooks.com. It actually came within a week I believe. I think it is worth the wait. Its been since January now and I love using it daily.

Once you get it you should immediately log on to yahoo and join the Benedictine monastic diurnal group. The resources and people there will shorten your learning Circe greatly.

Btw, the google group for the MD is for the ANGLICAN one, not the catholic ms you ordered. So yahoo, not google.

Matt said...

that should say "learnng curve". Dumb iPod touch ...

John said...

I began my life as a Benedictine oblate using the book, “Benedictine Daily Prayer,” and always hoped that I would eventually get the MD too. I purchased the MD earlier this year from the Catholic Truth Society. The MD is wonderful and I am slowly learning how to use it. I still use the BDP for Vigils and its Readings, but for me the Biblical text used in the MD is a joy to read and the MD hymns alone are worth the price of the book. The MD hymns are a light to every monastic spirit.

Great review thanks.

Drew said...

One thing I really want to know is: (1) Does the Monastic Diurnal contain the Athanasian Creed for Prime?

Also, (2) does it contain the private prayers (Pater, Ave, Credo, etc.) for before and after the Office?

Matt said...

Hi Drew,

This diurnal doesn't. The Lancelot Andrewes edition, all in English, does. The LA Press one is an Anglican translation from the Latin 1935(?) edition.

Drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Matthew Headley said...

I would like to let everyone know that I recently order a copy of the Monastic Diurnal from St. Michael's Abbey and was a bit disappointed to find that my binding is completely different to that discussed and pictured here, and on their website. It is quite thick, due to the fact that the pages are not the 'bible pages' typically found in 1000+ page prayer books. I believe it is still a fantastic resource, but I am not impressed with the quality of the current printing.

Matt said...

Ryan, can you send me photos? ossian1898 at gmail.com

Thanks!

Rich said...

Actually, I re-ordered a MD after selling my older copy, and I am thrilled with the current binding over my older MD. The older one was tiny on the face of it, so the thinner spine made for a very awkward feel in the hand. This thicker version is much easier for me to cradle even though the face of it is the same size as the older version.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton