Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Office in Lent - Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent

During Lent the liturgy becomes much more elaborate, and the Office reflects that.

Forty days?

However these first few days of Lent not all that much changes in the Office.

That is because this period was something of a later (albeit now ancient!) add-on to Lent to make up the correct number of days, given that Sundays are not counted for fasting and penitential purposes.

Of course, under the modern rubrics we still don't quite make it to forty days, due to the several first class feasts (this year, SS Patrick, Joseph, Benedict, and the feast of the Annunciation) that normally intervene.

The rubrics

Ash Wednesday marks the official start of Lent, so far as the Office is concerned, but most of the Office stays as if it were still Septuagesimatide.  The liturgy does intensify:

  • there are canticle antiphons for both Lauds and Vespers; and 
  • there are two collects used each day, the first for Matins to None (excluding Prime), the second for Vespers.
But the rest of the Office at Lauds to Vespers remains that of  'throughout the year'.

During Lent the concluding prayers of the hour (from the Kyrie eleison) are normally said while kneeling in choir.  The gestures and body postures for the Office are not essential in private recitation, but still a good way of helping you pray I think, so worth considering.

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