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.