Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are we praying liturgically? ***updated

A topic that regularly comes up is, are we - and religious - praying liturgically when we say the Divine Office?

A degree of confusion arises on this, I suspect, because of some uncritical reading of pre-Vaticna II liturgical textbooks that don't take into account either Pius XII's Mediator Dei or the subsequent developments on this front reflected in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Yes, we are praying liturgically!

In my view it is absolutely clear cut that nuns, lay brothers and sisters pray the Office liturgically and always have.  It is also clear, in my view, that laypeople can indeed perform liturgy, whether leading approved services in the absence of a priest, when baptising or when saying the Office.

After all, when we 'assist at mass' (ie attend) we are indeed participating liturgically within our proper sphere of action.

By virtue of our baptism, all Christians can pray liturgically in principle.  As the Catechism of Trent says:
...all the faithful are said to be priests, once they have been washed in the saving waters of baptism. (On Holy Orders)
However, the degree and way we in which we participate in any particular form of the liturgy differs depending on our 'rank, office, and actual participation' (Sacrosanctum Concilium 26).

In the Mass, for example, while the people genuinely participate in the sacrifice by joining their intentions to those of the ministerial priest, they offer it differently to the priest at the altar standing in persona Christi, without whom the true sacrifice of the Mass is not possible.

In some cases, such as the Mass, ordination as a priest is a requirement to lead the liturgy.  In other cases though, the Church can make decisions about who can lead and play active liturgical roles, and these decisions can change over time for pastoral reasons.

In the case of the Divine Office, between the Council of Trent and Vatican II, the laity were not able to participate in the Divine Office unless they attended it when said by a religious or cleric.  The delegation to say the Office was restricted in order to protect the integrity of the liturgy from the danger of heresy.

This changed, however, with Vatican II, and the current Code of Canon Law explicitly extends the previous provisions delegating clerics and religious to say the Office to the laity, but on the basis that it is optional for them, not an obligation.

The Catechism

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“1174 The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, “the divine office.” This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to “pray constantly,” is “so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God.” In this “public prayer of the Church,” the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in “the form approved” by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours “is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father.

1175 The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God. In it Christ himself “continues his priestly work through his Church.” His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted to the pastoral ministry, because they are called to remain diligent in prayer and the service of the word; religious, by the charism of their consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible: “Pastors of souls should see to it that the principal hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and on the more solemn feasts. The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.”

It is worth though, looking briefly at what lies behind the Catechism's statements.

What is liturgy

Anyone wishing to understand what is and isn't liturgy, and just why the Church regulates it, should go immediately and read Pius XII's Mediator Dei.

Most of the time of course it is crystal clear what is liturgy and what isn't - because it takes place in a Church, led by a priest, following set forms approved by the Church.

But there are cases where the distinction is not always clear, and the Office in particular has been a somewhat blurred line from the time that private recitation of the Office was permitted for priests in the middle ages.  A wide variety of Offices have sprung up with varying degrees of formal approval.  And the situation is further complicated by the fact that just who the Church has formally delegated to say the Office has changed over history.

Let me make a few key points to help clarify the situation.

Church law on liturgy
The Code of Canon Law (cl 834.1) defines liturgy as "the exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ" which brings a complete worship "offered to God by the head and members of the mystical body of Christ." Canon 835 sets out the hierarchy of the sanctifying office of the Church, carried out in a special way through the liturgy, starting with bishops, then covering priests, deacons, and "the other members of Christs faithful...each in his or her own way actively sharing in liturgical celebrations..."

The inclusion of the "members of the mystical body" makes it clear that we are talking here about the priesthood of all the faithful, not just the ordained priesthood.  This is confirmed by Canon 835&6, which explains that Christian worship is exercised by the common priesthood of the faithful.

The sub-paragraph 2 of cl 834 makes it even clearer: "This worship takes place when it is offered in the name of the Church, by persons lawfully deputed and through actions approved by ecclesiastical authority."

That laypeople can be so deputed (subject of course to other theological constraints such as on sacraments requiring ordained clergy to confect them) is confirmed by Cl 230.3 ("Where the needs of the Church require and ministers are not available, lay people can...preside over liturgical prayers...").

So what makes liturgy liturgy is not who says it, but whether or not the Church has deputed them to say it, and whether or not they follow the forms approved by the Church.

So who is deputed by the Church to say the Office?

With the Council of Trent a distinction arose between saying the Office liturgically and devotionally (that hadn't previously been articulated and) that stayed in place until Vatican II.  Between Trent and Vatican II it is reasonably clear that the Church delegated the saying of the Office liturgically to religious (including communities of women alone) and priests.  The laity participated when they attended an official celebration of the Office, but were only saying the Office 'devotionally' if they said it privately, whether alone or in a group.

Vatican II changed that.  In the documents of the Council itself (see for example SC 83-100), and more particularly in a series of subsequent liturgical laws, it effectively abolished the idea of liturgical/devotional distinction based on who was saying the Office by delegating all of Christ's faithful to say it.

The ideal situation of course is to attend the Office at a monastery or Church under the leadership of clerics or religious.

But where this is not possible or practical, as the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours points out, "Lay groups gathering for prayer, apostolic work, or any other reason are encouraged to fulfill the Church’s duty, by celebrating part of the liturgy of the hours." 

Canon 1174 says much the same thing more plainly.  First it reaffirms the primary delegation, which is based on who is obliged to say the Office (viz religious and priests), not clerical status.

But in the next sub-paragraph it invites all of Christ's faithful to take part in the liturgy of the hours.  The various standard commentaries on the Code all confirm that this means that the faithful are now duly delegated to say the Office even when praying alone.  Beal, Corrigen and Green, A New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, 2000, for example says:
The liturgy of the hours is the prayer of the whole Church, and all the faithful are deputed to celebrate this liturgy. (pg 1406)
Similarly, Caparros and Thorn's Code of Canon Law Annotated (2004) says:
Paragraph 2 [of Canon 1174] is addressed to the rest of the faithful and invites them to take part in the liturgy of the hours, since it is an action of the Church as a whole and of each faithful according to their participation in the priesthood of Christ (cf SC 95-100).
In short there is no requirement that a priest or deacon be present in order to make something 'liturgy'.

And the laity are indeed duly deputed to say the Office as part of the official prayer of the Church.

Approved actions

There is however a second necessary component to something being liturgy, viz whether the forms used are approved by the Church.

There are many people who opt for a devotional Office either in order to say an older version of the Office or in order to adopt their own personal preferences as to which parts of it they like.  The former practice, though in my view undesirable, I think can be justified on the basis that what was once approved is unlikely to be dangerous.  I have severe doubts about the latter approach though, in view of Pope Pius XII's warnings on this subject:

"The Church has further used her right of control over liturgical observance to protect the purity of divine worship against abuse from dangerous and imprudent innovations introduced by private individuals and particular churches. Thus it came about -- during the 16th century, when usages and customs of this sort had become increasingly prevalent and exaggerated, and when private initiative in matters liturgical threatened to compromise the integrity of faith and devotion, to the great advantage of heretics and further spread of their errors -- that in the year 1588, Our predecessor Sixtus V of immortal memory established the Sacred Congregation of Rites, charged with the defense of the legitimate rites of the Church and with the prohibition of any spurious innovation.[48]"

The Benedictine Office according to the 1962 rubrics clearly has been approved for liturgical use, at least in Latin, as confirmed by the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae.

By contrast, a number of modern Offices, such as the Benedictine Daily Prayer, are explicitly devotional, not liturgical.

Does it really matter whether or not it is liturgical prayer?

Mediator Dei says yes: "Unquestionably, liturgical prayer, being the public supplication of the illustrious Spouse of Jesus Christ, is superior in excellence to private prayers."

Pope Pius XII goes on to say however that "But this superior worth does not at all imply contrast or incompatibility between these two kinds of prayer. For both merge harmoniously in the single spirit which animates them, "Christ is all and in all."[38] Both tend to the same objective: until Christ be formed in us.[39]"

You may also be interested in reading my related post on the liturgical status of the 1962 Office.

Last updated 3.11.17


benedict said...

Very many thanks for this very informative post.

I hope you do not mind if I copy the article so I have it to hand should this question ever crop up in future.

Kate Edwards said...

Glad if it was helpful.

Kate Edwards said...

Note that I've updated this today with a few extra references.

Anonymous said...


Out of curiosity, what makes the 1963 monastic breviary still liturgicaly approved? It is because it has not been superseded yet?
Or does it have the same status as the 1961 Breviarium Romanum?


Kate Edwards said...

TIA - Well a bit of both really (though I'd rely more on the latter point than the former).

1. The 1963 calendar and rubrics for the monastic breviary are the equivalent of the Roman breviary used by traditionalist priests, and covered by explicit Ecclesia Dei permissions, and, as for other religious orders liturgies, approved by implication by Summorum Pontificum.

2. The Benedictine Confederations liturgical options approved in 1977 (Thesaurus Liturgiae) provided the option of retaining the traditional ordering of the psalms set out in the Benedictine Rule. The expectation was that this would be in the context of the new calendar, but liturgical books to match this expectation have only become available in the last few years. So while several monasteries have attempted to use (with lesser and greater degrees of awkwardness and loose leaf pages) the older books and rubrics with the newer calendar, others just kept using the older books in full pending the new ones coming out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Daria Sockey said...

I hope it's okay to comment on an old post. I keep this one bookmarked because it has all the references I need when the question, "can laity pray the LOTH liturgically?" comes up on my own blog, Coffee&Canticles.I have a new question that I have yet to receive a definitive answer for:when one is alone, does the LOTH/DO have to be prayed vocally (out loud or at least whipering) in order for it to be a valid liturgical act? I have hear many people express their opinion on this question, but have never seen any evidence from church documents or other authoritative source. Any thoughts?

Kate Edwards said...

Thanks Daria, yes comments on old posts always welcome!

The idea derives I think from the fact that the Office was originally always sung. When permission was given for it to be said privately, the requirement became to at least mouth the words (form your lips into the shape), and lots of pre-Vatican II discussions of the Office mention that.

But I haven't found any rubric to that effect, and it certainly isn't contained in the instructions on the LOTH so I don't think it is formally required.

Daria Sockey said...

That was my understanding, but yesterday, my husband--away on business--called me to say that a priest in the Buffalo, New York, diocese told him that their bishop had said that priests are required to at least mouth the words, just as they would be when saying mass privately. This really startled me, since I've been going on merrily for years praying the office interiorly except on the days I feel moved to chant it, or when my husband is home, in which case we do it out loud. I mean, see the logic of it, but since the GILH says nothing on this topic, I'm wondering if a bishop can make such a rule just for his diocese. OR maybe the GILH says nothing about it because it is assumed everyone (clerical and religious) knows this already. I'm in the middle of writing a book called The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the LOTH, so I really have to get to the bottom of this, cuz' if its true, I ought to mention it in the book. I'll probably have to start asking more priests and religious about this.

Tradne4163 said...

If the day happens to be a feria, would it still be considered liturgical if I were to replace the feria office with a common to honor a saint from the Martyrology for that day (similar to a priest offering a votive Mass for a Saint)?

Kate Edwards said...

No - sadly there is no such thing as a votive Office. But can certainly be done as a devotion.

david said...

Thank you for this article. I honestly was not aware of the difference between liturgical and devotional participation in the LOTH. I'm a lay person and have produced a daily Morning Prayer videos on YouTube for over two years. One version is a faithful narration of Morning Prayer from the single volume Christian Prayer. One is an abbreviated version. I'm certain the abbreviated version falls into the devotional category, but I'm not sure about the longer version. My question is: how would I know for sure if the longer version is devotional or could even be considered liturgical? YouTube channel 'penitentis'. God bless.
David Rollins

Kate Edwards said...

David - I'm not familiar with 'Christian Prayer'. The answer, I suspect lies with whether or not it has official approval for liturgical use, and there should be something in the title pages to indicate whether or not this is the case.

david said...

Kate, thanks for your quick reply. Yes, the single volume 'Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours' is approved for use in the Dioceses of the USA by the USCCB and confirmed by the Apostolic See. Is that what you mean?

Kate Edwards said...

Sounds like it is approved for liturgical use then. But maybe you could confirm with the USCCB? My opinions after all are just that, and have no canonical weight whatsoever!

david said...

Understand. Thanks for a very insightful article Kate. I'm inspired to investigate further and your piece has provided the springboard.

OfficeLover said...

I realize this post is quite late, but I want to play devil's advocate and get your opinion.

I was following your argument for awhile, but I am thinking that honestly, the question of whether or not a Benedictine-specific office is "liturgical" for laypeople to be quite the gray area. Let me ask you this: is a secular priest who prays the MD praying the prayer of the Church? Or does it fulfill his obligation by praying it in an albeit illicit form? It is an interesting question worth pondering.

Similarly, how can we be sure that a layperson praying a form of the Office specifically created and authorized for Benedictines to be praying the prayer of the Church liturgically, when it is a Benedictine liturgy, again, made for Benedictines doing liturgical stuff?

After all, the instruction of the application Summorum Pontificum seems to be speaking to religious communities, not the Church at large, when it permits the use of he Rites of Religious Orders from 1962. Similarly, it seems to be only speaking to clerics, not the laypeople, when it says:

32. Art. 9 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarium Romanum in effect in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.

This makes me wonder if even the 1962 Roman Breviary would be considered liturgical for a layperson. It also makes me wonder if the many Catechism and canon law entries you are referring to have in mind the modern Liturgy of the Hours of the Church when it gave laypeople the ability to offer said liturgy. And, believe me, as a Catholic attached to the EF calendar but who also loves to pray portions of the Divine Office, I hope that this is NOT the case.

I would love to hear your response, as I am considering purchasing the MD. But if it is not liturgical for I as a layperson to pray, I may have to unfortunately pass.

Kate Edwards said...

Office Lover: Summorum Pontificum shouldn’t be read too literally as ‘black letter law’. When reading canonical texts, one has to read them in the light of canon law and general liturgical law interpretation principles, which are not the same as those that apply in the Common Law tradition that governs secular law in most English speaking countries. Though I do have some training, I’m not a canonist or an expert in liturgical law, so these are just my opinions, take or leave as you prefer!

Context is important and here the key is that the 1983 Code restores the right to pray the Office as an action of the Church, that is liturgically, to the laity even praying by themselves. The 1983 Code restores the laity to the position of the clergy and the religious in this regard, with the only difference being that the laity are not obliged to pray the Office, whereas the clergy and religious generally are. The reason Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae are specific about clergy and religious is that they have not just the right to say the Office liturgically but an obligation to do so. And the Church has the right to determine what specific forms of it satisfy the obligation. Failure to respect these rules has traditionally been held to be a sin (mortal or venial depending on the extent of deviation from the rules). Since the laity are not obliged to say the Office, the question of sin will not normally enter into the question for them, except perhaps in the case of liturgical abuse which I will come to. Most importantly, the general principle is that privileges should be interpreted broadly. So if the privilege of using a particular form of the Office is extended to the clergy for the purposes of their obligation, it will normally be reasonable to assume it also applies to the laity when they voluntarily choose to say the Office. So I think it is absolutely clearcut that the laity have the right to say the Roman Office in its 1962 version.

The question of the use of the Benedictine Office is a bit more complicated, and seems to me to be more of a gray area. Although the Benedictine Office was originally developed specifically for Benedictines, at various times the Church has actually required all monks, regardless of which order to use it, so it has a broader validity than just within the Benedictine Order. But equally at times its use has been severely restricted by the Church. So far as secular priests and oblates (and oblate novices etc) go I personally think the story is pretty straightforward: priest oblates were granted the right to use the Benedictine Office to satisfy their obligation before Vatican II; its use by oblates more generally is a logical extension of this privilege consistent with the change in the Code of Canon Law on who is deputed to pray the Office. I don’t personally think this applies to secular priests more generally however: priests and religious are required to satisfy their obligation in ways approved by the church for their particular situation. If they say the Benedictine Office, it may be a liturgical Office, but it would not be one that satisfies their particular obligation (unless they had a specific permission, or were saying it in common/choir with actual Benedictines).he case for the laity more generally is gray: saying it would perhaps be ‘valid’ liturgy but illicit in that this is not, on the face of it, a rite approved for their use. But maybe that doesn’t matter a great deal given it is not an obligation, provide the right intent is there.

The biggest issue, it seems to me, comes in deviations from the approved calendar/rubrics: at some point, the extent of deviations (ie liturgical abuses) clearly render the Office not the Office (and there is a vast pre-Vatican II literature on this in the context of what does and doesn’t satisfy the obligation).

Patrick Kornmeyer said...

Kate: I have been thinking about this issue recently. Your insights are very helpful and elucidate many obscure principles regarding the Office.

I do think that a real case can be made for the validity AND liceity of the monastic Office for use by laypeople who are not oblates. In light of your position that the privilege of the liturgical recitation of the Office by laypeople qua "public" prayer, even when recited individually, and of your supporting citations (CIC, CCC, VII, etc.), it seems reasonable to hold that since laypeople have no canonical obligation to the recitation of the Office (let alone to the recitation of a particular form), they have a certain liberty or latitude in their participation in the Office that clerics and religious do not, since the latter have bound themselves to the observance of particular disciplines, including but not limited to liturgical discipline. As you rightly point out elsewhere, a secular priest cannot simply say a Dominican-use Mass, even as a private devotion (with certain well-regulated exceptions). But it seems that this is because the secular priest is bound to the "secular" usage of the Roman rite (itself a concept that originated with the 1570 Missale Romanum, since prior to this the "Roman rite" existed not concretely, but precisely in the totality of the various religious and diocesan usages of the rite), whereas Carmelites, Dominicans, etc. were bound to their proper usages (distinct from "rites").

With the various liberalizations of traditional liturgical books as found in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, while the various liturgical patrimonies are not totally liberalized for any and all priests to use ad libitum, nevertheless I think a certain "spirit" can offer light on where the letter of the law has not been explicitly extended, viz. the usage of "religious" Offices by laypeople. In brief: in light of said liberalizations, the revised canonical principles extending the liturgical prerogative to laypeople, and certain practical considerations (the virtual restriction on access to physical copies of the Breviarium Romanum due to price, etc.), it seems reasonable that the freedom of the layperson in this area extends to the liturgical recitation of the "religious" Offices.

Alternatively, while certain religious usages (e.g. Dominican) are relatively rare and virtually restricted to themselves alone, the relative accessibility and (dare I say) prevalence of the Benedictine Office seems to represent an unspoken extension of its liturgical use that has no corresponding positive legislation. Yet the western tradition, including Aquinas (ST, I-II, q. 97, a. 3, corp.), and even modern can law (c. 27 I believe) testifies to the legislative prerogative of custom, even when it goes beyond the letter of the law (and Aquinas holds that custom is the principal interpretive authority when it comes to law). And as far as I can tell, current legislation has nothing to say about restrictions of this kind when it comes to laypeople.

I might also add that in this regard liturgy might not be strictly binary (forgive the charged word), but on a "spectrum" (ditto). Even in the event that one does not have the prerogative to say a given Office liturgically, this does not mean that it ceases completely to be liturgical and becomes completely devotional. I hesitate to call this "paraliturgy" or "quasi-liturgy" since they imply the degradation of the liturgical integrity, but I sense that something along those lines will get to the heart of the matter (assuming, that is, the conclusion that non-oblate laypeople do not have a right to the liturgical recitation of the Benedictine Office, unless accompanied by a Benedictine).

Patrick Kornmeyer

Patrick Kornmeyer said...

Kate, thank you for your insights. They are very helpful in illuminating particularly obscure aspects of this complicated issue.

If what you say is true, viz. that the prerogative of the liturgical (i.e. "public, official") recitation of the Office has been extended to laypeople on a non-obligatory basis; and since there are no canonical obligations on ordinary laypeople for the recitation of the Office at all, it seems that the "religious" Offices are therefore open to liturgical recitation, i.e. "publicly" (even when alone).

On the other hand, certain usages of the Roman rite (e.g. Dominican) are virtually restricted to the Dominican order itself, both de jure and de facto. However, the Benedictine Office has been quite liberalized simply in virtue of its accessibility, as opposed to the Breviarium Romanum (which is prohibitively expensive for many). This "liberalization" would seem to indicate an unspoken extension of the liturgical prerogative to all laypeople, since there is no positive law on the subject, and Aquinas and the current CIC hold the "legislative" powers of custom anyway. So perhaps while the restriction still holds for the Dominican Office, it does NOT for the Benedictine Office, in virtue of the principle of custom-qua-law (ST, I-II, q. 97, a. 3, corp.; and CIC 27)? Also, in terms of practical considerations of common sense, the monastic Office, as stated, is much more accessible than the Roman Office (which, mind you, is a Tridentine innovation: the "Roman rite" never existed in a concrete form, only AS the totality of all the religious and territorial (cathedral) usages).

Alternatively, even if one were to accept the restriction of the Benedictine Office to Benedictines (and oblates), still there seems to be a "gradation" of liturgy: it seems unreasonable and unlikely that an essentially liturgical prayer can become "completely devotionalized" on a technicality. I think your example of "valid, but not licit" is too strong; I am not sure that liceity is relevant here, at least insofar as laypeople do not have a specific, canonical obligation to recitation of the Office (let alone any particular form).

Patrick Kornmeyer

Kate Edwards said...

There are obviously a lot of good reasons why laypeople want to say the Benedictine Office - both practical (cost of books, availability of aids to saying it) and spiritual (horrible truncation of readings in the 1962 Roman, lack of continuity with tradition in the psalm cursus of the same, superior organisation of the monastic office, etc).

The problem to me though is that though custom can certainly trump written law, custom, it seems to me, is more on the side of restricting the Benedictine Office to religious (and arguably oblates) as far as I can work out.

It is true that the Benedictine Office was and is used by orders other than the Benedictines - but there was always a strict divide between it and that used by seculars (and the laity).

And in more recent times, from the late nineteenth century up until Vatican II, the restriction of the Benedictine Office to the order was guarded very tightly indeed. The Benedictines actively promoted the use of the Roman Office for the laity, and produced assorted short breviaries, but the only one based on the Benedictine Office, the Collegeville Diurnal was at least notionally targeted at novices and religious out of their monastery (albeit I'm sure intended as a fictional justification to get around the rules). But Benedictine sisters not in solemn vows were not allowed to use it from the late nineteenth century; and the Benedictines were the last of the orders to permit priest-oblates/third order members to use their form of the Office to satisfy their obligation, giving permission only just before Vatican II.

The best argument I think for a wide approach to its use, are canons 213&214 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which gives the faithful the right to assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, and to follow their own form of spiritual life, provided it is in accord with Church teaching.

But those rights aren't absolutes, and I think a good case could be made to say that they apply to oblates, but not do it yourself enthusiasts given the words about Pastors (and other provisions relating to third order equivalents).

The other problem is that what we are talking about is saying the Office as √°n official act of the Church'- which means the Church can and historically has been quite clear about who has the right to use particular rites and uses of the liturgy. It is true it has been much more fuzzy on this of late, but nothing in the General Instructions on the Liturgy of the Hours suggests any fundamental change in the law on this point; quite the contrary, there is only a minor extension that allows priests attending another form of the Office when performed in common or choir to be held to satisfy their obligation.

OfficeLover said...

Alright, so I spoke to a friend about this more. He is of the opinion that even the 1961 Breviary is not liturgical for laypeople. This reasoning of his is based upon this clause found in the same instruction on the application of Summorum Pontificum:

“28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.”

He argues that the question of who can pray the Divine Office is in the realm of liturgical law, and so that any law that comes after 1962 in this regard is void, including any Canon Law that says laypeople can pray it.

Honestly, I am very tempted to write to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the matter. I would assume that they would say that it is the prayer of the Church when a layperson prays it in Latin and in accordance with the rubrics, but you just never know.

Aw, the struggles of having two different versions of the Roman Rite from two completely different periods and conflicting laws!

You can read more on that clause here:

Kate Edwards said...

Interesting argument Office lover. I'm not a canonist, but for what it is worth I have to say that I don't personally find his or her argument very convincing at first glance.

First, the key canonical principle is that privileges should be interpreted broadly. A delegation to say the Office on behalf of the Church is clearly in that category, so on the face of it, one should err on the side of laypeople having that privilege now as a result of the Code.

Secondly, and more specifically, for this provision to be relevant here you would surely have to establish how changing the delegation as to who can say the Office on behalf of the church as íncompatible' with the rubrics for 1962, and I can't see how it is. On the face of it the provision is surely meant to prevent obvious anachronisms such as receiving communion in the hand rather than more fundamental principles. For the reasons the McNamara article sets out, at least some provisions of the 1983 Code do apply to the EF Mass - re times of celebration, fasting rules, who is a cleric etc.

It is important to this argument, I think, that the provisions re who can say the Office as an action of the Church appear in the Code, and not in the General instructions on the Liturgy of the Hours (though they are alluded to in them).

Consistent with this, the church has changed the delegations as to who can offer/under what circumstances various sacraments/liturgies (including the Office) at various times in history, without affecting the question of what rite is used. On the face of it, the delegation is part of the wider 'disciplinary norms' which as Fr McNamara argues in the article you cited do apply, rather than something strictly a matter of the rubrics.

A piece of support for this is that the privileges of praying the Benedictine Office are set out in a number of decrees of the Congregation of Rites (including one from 1948 extending it to priest oblate) printed in the breviary, but not included in the General rubrics.

Or would your friend take a different view to Fr McNamara on what provisions if any of the 1983 Code apply to the EF/1962 Office?

Even if he does though, if this provision did come into play for the Roman Office would it apply to the Benedictine? In this particular case, the 1962 books are still technically the official books of the Order - all later versions are authorised by dint of the permission to experiment, with assorted guidelines (such as the 1975 Thesaurus) on the limits of experimentation. There is no one, later official version of the Office, each monastery is remains free to construct its own version (within limits). So what is the basis for differentiating in the code's application between the 1962 books as much as to the later versions of the Office?

Either way though, I'm against submitting a dubium - I'm not sure what is gained, and the risk of stirring up a hornets nest with wider repercussions for the right of anyone to use the 1962 books in the current environment is too high. I think it would be more valuable to find a few canonists who work in this field, and get their views.