The Divine Office Online
Published by the Confraternity of Saints Peter & Paul
What is the Breviary Online?
The Official Prayer of the Church
Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God. It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly. Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful. However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.
Now Accessible to the Layman
With the help of modern technology, it has become easier to overcome these problems. The result is the Roman Breviary published by the Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul in both Latin and English. No knowledge of the liturgy is required. All you have to do is click on the feastday, and then on the Canonical Hour you want to say. The rest is just like reading a book—everything is laid out for you in order according to the rubrics of the day. No more flicking through the ribboned sections of a weighty volume. No more apprehension that you are forgetting some obscure rubric. It's all there spelled out, in order, every day.
Learn More about the Breviary
And if you do want to deepen your knowledge of the Breviary or the Confraternity, this website can help you with that too. We already provide a short history of the Breviary, instructions on when to recite which Hours, a brief commentary on the psalms, and much more. And for those who would really like to understand the rubrics in greater depth, we provide in our bookstore a detailed but simply written electronic manual entitled How to Say the Breviary. We shall be expanding this website regularly with more information, so check back with us frequently. And may God reward your prayers by bestowing on you all those spiritual favours that come from a devout reading of the Church's Divine Office.
Is this Breviary for You?
Link to our Features Page to see what a difference our online edition of the traditional Roman Breviary can make in your life.
Link to the Office for the Feast of St. Pius X, our secondary patron. You can browse through the various Hours of the Office and get a feel for what to expect.
Check out the artwork, the original photos, play some of the music. We hope you enjoy the experience. More importantly do you think this approach to prayer is something that could be spiritually beneficial for you?
How Do I Get Started?
Register and Subscribe
Link to our online Breviary homepage. Underneath the login form is a box, with the words First-Time User? and Register Here in red letters underlined. Click on this link and complete the short form. Click the Sign up link.
Log in to our webiste using the user name and password you have chosen. When you first attempt to Recite the Breviary you will be linked to the subscription page. Here you may choose from our monthly subscription of $2.50 (USD) per month, or $24.00 for an annual subscription. Or simply send a check to the address provided on our Contacts page.
The Traditional Roman Breviary Online
- Fully Traditional — pre-dates Bugnini reforms of 1950s and 60s
- Easy-to-Use Format — no liturgical knowledge required
- Latin and English — fully traditional English translation
- Thousands of Images — traditional artwork and photographs
- Hundreds of Hours of Liturgical Music — sung by the monks and nuns of Europe and the cathedral choirs of England
- Includes Little Office of Our Lady, Office of the Dead, and much more
- Pray the Office from any Computer or Smart Phone with Wi-Fi
- And Now... Includes Daily Missal
New This Week!
Sermon for the Immaculate Conception
As Advent, our season of preparation, continues, our Sunday Sermon examines the singular privilege granted to Our Lady by God as part of his preparation for mankind's Redemption. In this act of Divine Providence we find a clue how we should prepare ourselves for Christmas.
From the Et Reliqua Archives
St. Nicholas and the Boy Bishop
December 6, 2012
Before the English Reformation, when Henry VIII led the Church of England away from the Roman Catholic Church, Nicholas was one of the most popular saints in England. Besides churches under St. Nicholas' patronage, "Nicholas" was one of the most common names for boys, as shown by baptismal records of the time. The medieval Boy Bishop custom, though practiced on the Continent, was most enthusiastically embraced in England.
Some English parishes and cathedrals have recovered the Boy Bishop custom which dropped out of favor in the 16th century. One of the choristers is selected to serve as the Boy or Nicholas Bishop. He wears full episcopal robes and carries the Lord Bishop's pastoral staff. During the First Vespers of St. Nicholas, at the words from the Magnificat, "He hath put down the mighty from their seat," the real Bishop would step down from his throne, while the Boy Bishop processes through the Quire and takes the Bishop's seat at the words "And hath exalted the humble and meek."
When sailors weigh anchor, the heavy weight is raised from the sea floor where it has been keeping the ship safe and stable in the midst of the stormy waters. Similarly, when we die, our soul may then rise to heaven. Instead of keeping us firmly grounded in this life, it may now rise up and allow us to move freely to the next port-of-call, that of our heavenly home. The death of St. Clement clearly presents to us this aspect of the anchor, and his feastday today is a wonderful opportunity to renew our sense of hope in the goodness and mercy of God, our final destination in these stormy seas we call Life.
The Boy Bishop was invested with all of the symbols of the episcopal office (some cathedrals owned elaborate sets of vestments for the Boy Bishop and his attendants). Although he could not celebrate the Eucharist, he had the authority to bless the people, was required to preach at least one sermon, and in cathedral cities he made a formal visitation of the parishes of the city and received certain revenues from parishes and church officials--in York he and his assistants traveled on horseback around the whole diocese. He was assisted by choristers who took the offices of the senior clergy of the cathedral and diocese and he and his canons could expect to be lavishly entertained. Records show that on occasion the celebrations degenerated into rude and even riotous behavior, boys being boys, after all. The Boy Bishop used to hold his office until the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28.
In keeping with the tradition of St. Nicholas, the Boy Bishop was given a supply of tokens to distribute to the poor. These could be redeemed for food and drink in local shops.
In England the custom of the Boy Bishop was abolished in 1542 by Henry VIII who thought it "unfitting and inconvenient." Revived by Queen Mary in 1552 it was finally abolished by Elizabeth I. It has been revived recently in some cathedrals and parishes.
Other New Features
This week's Et Reliqua explains what indulgences are and what they are not, as well as providing guidelines on how to gain them.
For All The Saints
The Choir of Kings College, Cambridge provides us with a stirring rendition of what is probably the greatest hymn in honour of all the Saints, set to the tune of Sine Nomine by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Some of the images are a tad modern and out of place, but we hope this will not spoil your enjoyment of this wonderful hymn. The words are by Bishop William W. How.
An Incentive to Prayer
Foreword to an English Edition of the Roman Breviary, published in 1950
Given by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York
For the truth is, the Breviary is fast becoming the prayer-book of the nun in the convent, even as it has long been the daily book of prayer for the priest. It is more than likely to become the Vade Mecum of the man in the street. This hope is justified, for the world has urgent need of the spirit, both of penance and prayer, which the Breviary, when properly used, abundantly supplies. Any earnest soul who looks about for helps in his life of prayer and in his practice of penance, need look no further. The Breviary, which is the official prayer-book of the Church, brings great graces: such as the grace to know the mind of the Church, the grace to live the life of the Church, the grace to share in the mission of the Church. In a word, more than any other book, the Breviary reveals the inner spirit of the Church and, what is just as important, it attracts the soul to intimate union with Her. All is said when it is stated that the Breviary helps the soul through and beyond such union into unity with the Church, possessing with Her "cor unum et anima una."
It is worth recalling in this regard that the closer the soul is to the Church, the closer it is to Christ. For, as Saint Paul teaches in so many places, the Church is "the body" of Christ (Eph. 5:30). Though this truth is shrouded in mystery, it emits bursts of light, as precious as they are dazzling. It helps the seeking soul to realize that the Son of God actually lives in His Church and works through Her, continuing in Her and through Her the mission He initiated in and through the Body Which His Virgin Mother gave to Him. It is an incentive to the soul to pray the prayer of the Church when the soul knows that Christ is now praying through the Church after the manner of His praying through His mortal Body. It gives courage to the soul to suffer with the Church when the soul is convinced that Christ is now suffering through His "body" which is the Church.
I point to this shining truth for the value it gives to the use of the Breviary. In this venerable book the Church has deposited the heritage of the ages, the inspirations which the Holy Spirit of God breathed into the minds and hearts of the faithful down the centuries. Actually, the thoughts dwelling therein are Christ's own; He conceived them through the mind of the Church. The feelings to be found here, too, are His own; He experienced them through His life in the Church. The prayers, with which the Breviary is replete, reveal the way Christ prays in His Church. Any one essaying to pray with Christ can pray with Him, through the open mouth of His Church, by using this prayer-book of the Church. Such a soul can be sure that in praying thus he is echoing the prayer which the Holy Spirit played on the heart-strings of the saints, evoking purest melody before the Lord.
In fine, the Breviary can best be described as the daily prayer of the Church, beginning with morning prayers, called Matins, and ending with night prayers, Compline. From dawn till dusk, and into the black watches of the night, the Church prays by the Spirit of Christ; Christ, too, prays through "his body", the Church. The Breviary is, thus, in very truth "the prayer of God" (Luke 6:12).
As a prayer-book, the Breviary is a library in itself, and a vast one, matchless for its variety, beauty and power. For instance, there are psalms of praise and petition, running the gamut of the emotions. These range from the woeful cry of misery in Psalm 29: "Out of the depths" to the hymn of exultation in Psalm 88: "The graces of the Lord I will sing forever"-the psalm, which Saint Teresa of Avila loved. There is history too. The Breviary contains selected readings from the lives of the patriarchs and prophets, as well as the history of Christ on earth and during the first years of His life in the Church. There is even prophetic history, wherein, as in the Apocalypse, the plan of God may be traced until its progress ends in triumph and glory for the striving God and regenerated humanity. All these are, of course, drawn from the Bible; in the Breviary, however, there is this advantage: they are read against a special background, proper to the various seasons and feasts of the calendar year.
A most appealing feature of the Breviary is this aspect of the spirit of the Church, expressing itself prayerfully through seasons and feasts. The praying soul who accompanies the Church through Advent is caught by Her radiant joy as She prepares, all expectant, for the journey to Bethlehem, with its Christ Child, the Angels' Song and the nearing Star. The Office for this period is charged with a calm jubilation such as we cannot hope to enjoy in its fullness until we reach the Vision of Heaven. Then, there is the season of Lent. At its coming, the Church lays aside her festive robes and puts on sackcloth and ashes for the penances She needs must undergo if Christ is to have in Her, His Agony in the Garden and His Death on the Cross. All this is but a prelude to Her cry of triumph as She stands before the Empty Tomb, adoring Her Risen Lord, Who is within a few days to send down upon Her the Divine Spirit of Love.
To us who wander the way of life in cold and darkness, the use of the Breviary affords much comfort through the short lives of the Saints as recorded in their feasts. These show how the Holy Spirit of Love worked the wonders of His grace in willing souls, thus giving to us both hope and strength against temptation. To the seekers after truth, the Breviary unlocks immense stores of wisdom through the explanation of Biblical texts by the great Doctors of the Church, such as Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom. The lovers of sublime songs will here find the noble hymns composed by saintly singers and sung by the faithful, from the remote past up to the present day. I refer to the "Pange Lingua" of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the "Te Deum" of Saint Ambrose.
For a long time the Breviary was a closed book to the layman, largely because it was written in Latin. Yet its charm cast a potent spell wherever the priest prayed or the monk chanted his Breviary. In consequence, the demand for wider use of it has been growing more insistent. Moreover, this demand has been calling for better renditions, such as embody the newest translations of the Psalter and of the New Testament. Now that this present edition includes these features, it is to be hoped that the greater use of it will stimulate ever greater love for the Breviary. Certainly, such use of it will help to satisfy the inner hunger of those souls who yearn to pray through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, unto the praise of the glory of his glory, in which he hath graced us in his Son (Eph. 1:6).
In these fearful days of crises and crosses, the pattern of life in the world is tangled and oddly out of focus. Minds are confused at it, and hearts restless. If the human mind is to have calmness in crises, if the human heart is to have courage amid crosses, recourse must be had to the power that prayer gives and to the patience that penance brings. Prayer and penance, and they alone, can compose the problems now trying the souls of men. For this reason The Sovereign Pontiff's proclamation of the Holy Year is, to this generation, like to the voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea; it is a call to penance and prayer, a promise of progress towards peace and plenty where now there are war and want. It is my earnest hope and belief that this new edition of the Roman Breviary in English may be fruitful in many souls, fruitful of prayer, fruitful of penance and fruitful of unity with Christ through His Church.