In my last post for St. Jerome, I mentioned the Office of Readings. Yes, I am talking about the modern Liturgy of the Hours. So, after all my posting about the traditional Benedictine Breviary Matins and Diurnal, just what is going on here?
I think its important to note that I am not abandoning the traditional Hours, but rather trying something new out in order to make the experience of using the Breviary more beneficial to my prayer life. I appreciate the idea and the fullness of the Monastic Matins but for a layman the task of praying it daily is a feat of saintly heroism.
I have stated on the blog previous that it takes 1 full hour on a feast day to pray Matins. During the "liturgical summer", the office is shortened by cutting out the III Nocturn. That is about 15 minutes shorter than normal. In total there are 16 of the most grueling Psalms for each day of the calendar. They are nice but after a while you begin to slip into the "are we there yet?" mentality. In a monastery, I'm sure its a fine experience. But for a layman this is a bit much.
But time isn't the only issue. The book itself, published by Lancelot Andrewes Press, while an overall nice book with beautiful binding, is a lesson in penance. Probably about a quarter of that hour during Matins is spent making sure I am on the correct page or scrounging around to find the correct response after a reading which is on one of many supplements in the back perhaps. I'm sure if I was able to devote every day to the Matins book I would pick it up in no time. But when you factor in the time it takes to say that particular office I just cannot afford to learn it.
And so...in an effort to gain a fuller experience with the Divine Office I have decided to try something new. While not abandoning the really quite superb Monastic Diurnal, last week I ordered from eBay a new/barely used copy of the Vol. IV Liturgy of the Hours at significant discount. All I wanted was the Office of Readings but it is impossible to find just a copy of that.
So I'll see how this goes and let everyone know. For now I'm on the standard modern Office of Readings and then all other hours from the Diurnal from St. Michael's Abbey Press.
And so far so good, honestly. It breaks down like this:
Office of Readings: 20 Minutes
Lauds: 20 Minutes
Prime, Terce, Sext, & None: 5 - 7 minutes a peice.
Vespers: 10 Minutes
Compline: 5 - 7 minutes.