Which Ordo should you use?

As it is that time of the year when liturgical calendars and Ordos for the new liturgical and/or calendar year are appearing on the web or in hardcopy, I thought it might be helpful to provide some comments to help you decide which one you should be using.

The Benedictine Office

I am going to focus here primarily on Ordos and calendars to aid you in saying the Benedictine Office, but there are obvious implications from what I'm saying for those saying other forms of the Office.

My starting point is an assumption that those who want to cultivate a Benedictine spirituality will want to use a form of the Office based on the psalm schema St Benedict himself established.  There are of course many modern variants claiming to be 'Benedictine' forms of the Office, but my view is that the ordering of the psalter set by the saint, through its structure and pattern of repetitions, has contributed to the formation of a distinctively Benedictine spirituality that has been handed down the centuries as part of the core patrimony of the Order.

In that light, there are I think, three key considerations in choosing which calendar to adopt: alignment with the Mass; solidarity with your own monastery; and practicality.

Novus Ordo calendars

In accordance with the current code of canon law and Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum, any Catholic can, in principle, say the Office in accordance with either the 1970 or 1962-3 calendars.  The two calendars vary firstly in the temporal cycle of the liturgical year, which affects the weekly collects as well as the Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons for Sundays, and the sanctoral cycle (feasts of saints etc).

The Office is designed to reinforce and integrate with the Mass.  Accordingly, in an ideal world, if you attend daily Mass in the Novus Ordo (1970 Missal) you should say the Office using a calendar aligned with it, and similarly use the older calendar if you generally attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

There are some practical challenges for those attached to the Novus Ordo however.  First, you will need to do a bit of extra work around the feasts of saints to identify the appropriate texts from the 'Commons of saints' (and if desired, the collects from the Missal) where feasts are not included in the older books.  The bigger problem comes with the Sunday cycle, for the older books are all aligned with the more traditional calendar.  The Monastery of Solesmes has, however, published a new (multi-volume) version of the Antiphonale Monasticum with prayers and antiphons aligned to the modern lectionary. The catch is that there is still no official, approved version with English texts, although the collects can be found in any missal, and there are a number of unofficial translations of the antiphons available in various places.

Traditional Benedictine calendars

If you wish to say the Benedictine Office liturgically (as opposed to devotionally) in a form aligned with the traditional calendar there are in essence two options: use the General calendar of the Order, or use a calendar provided by the monastery of which you are oblate (or religious!).

The Ordo provided on this website (and that for 2014 will be available shortly) is based on the rubrics and calendar approved in 1963 for the use of all Benedictine monasteries and oblates thereof.  As a general calendar for the Order, it needs to be supplemented with local feasts and those particular to a monastery or congregation, but it is the default option for those wishing to use a form of the Benedictine Office broadly aligned to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Individual traditional monasteries monasteries, however, often do adopt other variations to the calendar and rubrics which their own oblates are entitled to adopt.

The Monastery of Le Barroux for example provides an Ordo online in Latin (also covering the two monasteries associated with it) that retains I Vespers for Class II feasts, as well as Friday night vespers in the Office of Our Lady.  Its sanctoral cycle is also more closely aligned to the Roman 1962 calendar than the General Benedictine one, and of course, being located in France, includes a number of feasts specific to that country.

Roman EF

A purely devotional option which those attending EF masses outside a monastery may want to consider is adapting the Benedictine Office to the Roman Extraordinary Form calendar such as those prepared by the FSSP or the English Latin Mass Society.  In general this is fairly straightforward as the differences mainly relate to saints feasts omitted in the Benedictine calendar, or rated as memorials rather than as Class III feasts.

There are also a number of calendars available aligned to older versions of the calendar.  These are no longer approved for use by Catholics.


If there are links to other Ordos online that you think readers might be interested in, please do provide them in the comments box.


CountrySteve said...

I do not have a link for online, but I have a copy of Benedictine Matins published by LuLu and in the back it has the texts for some of the feasts not included in the Diurnal, like the Feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, the patroness of the Americas, the commemoration of Our Lady of Fatima and others as well; but there only in Latin, but hey, at least its liturgical! God bless! http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/clear-creek-monastery/matins-according-to-the-benedictine-ritual/paperback/product-5517638.html

Anonymous said...

CountrySteve, thank you very much for this Lulu link. I ordered the Benedictine Matins book and I'm really looking forward to using it. Up to now I've just been 'praying' the daily Matins Psalms from my Douay Bible in their proper order. But this book will be wonderful!! Thanks. Barbara

Anonymous said...

If people use the Gueranger Liturgical Year and prefer the older form of the Office (Roman or O.S.B.)as you often find it in the old pre- 1955 Diurnals, they might like the all latin Ordo published by the St Lawrence Press.They have their own blog and will send out the well printed Ordo by post.

Kate Edwards said...

But explain to me why would you use an older form of the calendar unless you are a sedevacantist? This type of 'creative' approach to the rubrics smacks to me of the novus ordo disease of mass disobedience to the liturgical (and other) laws of the Church, and I'm always disappointed to see it manifested amongst the traditionally inclined.