Friday, June 12, 2009

On Ordos!

I gather there are a few people searching around for an Ordo to use with the Office, and some confusion about which Ordo is what. So I thought I'd just try and summarise the key differences between the various Ordos I know of, or have been told about, as a bit of an aid to those searching.

This is also a chance for those who are using the Ordo I produce each week to let me know what additional details they would like me to include (no guarantees on delivery though!).

What is an Ordo?

An Ordo is essentially a calendar for use in conjunction with the Mass and/or Office that tells you which feasts are celebrated on a particular date so that you can ensure you use the appropriate texts for the day. At a minimum, it simply lists the feast of the day and tells you the level of it (as in the summary in the sidebar to the right on this blog page). But it often provides a few more details of the particulars of the day (see for example the more detailed weekly notes on this site).

An Ordo is pretty essential - some feast days (such as Easter) change their date every year, and everything else flows from that. And there are inevitably clashes between possible feasts on particular dates, so you need to know what the rules determine should be celebrated on a particular date, and an Ordo should do that.

Some Ordos are extremely detailed - but this is the exception not the norm! In general, unless you live in a monastery where someone else is working it all out for you, you will need to become sufficiently familiar with the structure of the Office to be able to work out that if it is a third class feast, the things that change are....

The choices

The most commonly referred to Ordos are as follows:

  • the Novus Ordo calendar used by the Catholic Church post 1970 - you can find a version of it here. This is the calendar most people will see used at Mass, and works well with the Liturgy of the Hours. It talks about feasts being solemnities or memorials. It is pretty hard to use it, however, in conjunction with one of the traditional forms of the Office (see below);
  • the 1962 Roman Calendar, which you can find here, used for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and fits easily with the Roman Breviary. It talks about feasts being Class I, II or III, memorials or commemorations;
  • the 1962-3 Benedictine Calendar, which is what I am providing on this site, is very similar to the 1962 Roman Calendar, differing only in terms of a few saints' feasts in the main. It can readily be used (or adapted) by anyone attending the EF mass, and using any of the traditional forms of the Benedictine Office (ie 1962 or earlier);
  • a pre-1962 Benedictine or Roman calendar, used I gather in the Anglican Breviary and older forms of the Breviary - if your calendar talks about 'doubles' or 'duplexes' and such like terms then it is using one of these calendar variants. If your breviary uses this terminology it is actually pretty easy to superimpose the 1962 calendar onto it (it means dropping a few octaves and other changes though);
  • Anglican or Anglican Use Ordos - Anglican Ordos will not include all feasts used in the Catholic Church, and may include some additional saints' feasts. Anglican Use ordos will presumably be something of a hybrid;
  • the Western Rite Orthodox Ordo - uses the Orthodox calendar which dates Easter differently to the Western Church;
  • Ordos for other religious orders such as the Dominicans, Carmelites, etc. These may come in either Novus Ordo, 1962 or pre-1962 forms.

Note also that most individual Benedictine monasteries (such as Le Barroux) produce their own Ordos for internal use, and by their Oblates, which are likely to differ in some respects from the Universal calendar.

Choosing and Ordo to use

Most people will instinctively want to use the Ordo that goes with whichever form of the Office they have purchased in the interests of simplicity. Fair enough, especially when you are just starting off and struggling to learn the Office.

My own view though is that as far as possible you should work up to using the calendar that aligns most closely with the Mass you attend (particularly if you are a daily mass goer), but admitting of variants to reflect a particular spirituality, such as Benedictine or Dominican, to which you may be attached. So if you attend an EF Mass, by all means use the variants provided by the Benedictine Ordo, it will fit well enough.

The reason is simple: the Office takes the Mass as its starting point, and expands out from it. So on a Sunday, for example, the Gospel at Mass will often provide the antiphon for the Benedictus and Magnificat. At Matins, the Patristic readings will relate to that Gospel. And so forth.

Using the Mass as your starting point of course is harder than it sounds if you want to use one of the traditional forms of the Office, whether Roman, Monastic or some other in conjunction with the OF Mass. Essentially, if you attend a Novus Ordo Mass, you might be able to line up saints' feast days, but the normal passage of liturgical seasons is harder to make work (though technically possible if your Latin is good enough, at least in relation to the Benedictine Office - you need to purchase the new Antiphonale Monasticum from the Monastery of Solesmes).

You should also be aware that whatever Ordo you use, there are local feasts that you will need to add to it - feasts particular to your country, diocese and parish.

My Ordo notes

This site is primarily dedicated to the Benedictine Use. If you are using any of the breviaries or diurnals that are based around the monastic form of the Office (modelled on the provisions set out in the Rule of St Benedict), you should be able to use the Ordo and notes I provide here.

I normally provide page references to the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal, but if there is sufficient demand, I would be happy to either provide references to the 1962 Monastic Breviary as well. From some of the queries I'm receiving, I think I perhaps need to provide a few more details of the texts to be used in any case, and it may be that this would assist those using other editions of the Diurnal (such as the Lancelot Andrews Press version). I'd certainly be happy to add in Ordo notes for Matins if that would be of assistance to anyone (presumably references to the English of the Office would be preferred?). So let me know what information would be useful - no guarantees, but I'll see what I can do!

Further reading

To learn a bit more about Ordos and the issues associated with them, take a look at my series on learning the Office in the sidebar - parts II, III and XII are relevant.