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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.

 

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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.

 

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Check out the Features

 

Link to our Features Page to see what a difference our online edition of the traditional Roman Breviary can make in your life.

 

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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?

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  Second Sunday in Lent

March 1, 2015

Climb Every Mountain

I’m sure many of you are familiar with that old Rogers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. I was reminded several times during the past week of one of the songs from the show, the one sung by the Mother Superior of Maria’s convent, called “Climb every mountain.”

What reminded me of this particular song this week were the numerous times mountains appear in this week’s liturgy. I’m a firm believer that the liturgy has something special to tell us every single day, a message perhaps to us as a community, or sometimes to just you or me as an individual. But God does speak to us on a daily basis through the holy words of the Church’s liturgy, in the Mass, in the Breviary. And if God is going to speak to us, then woe unto us if we turn a deaf ear. Listen then to some of the words of the Epistles and Gospels from last Sunday to today.

Let’s begin with last Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent. As befits the start of the forty-day fast, the Gospel takes us, if you remember, into the wilderness with Our Lord, where he fasts for forty days and forty nights. A significant number, forty, and we’ll be seeing it again in a few moments. But it’s what happens at the end of those forty days that I want to bring to your attention right now. Listen to the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel from last week, Chapter 4: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Here then, is our first foray into the mountains this week. It is the devil who leads us up to the summit of the Mount of Temptation, and it is the devil we follow when we entertain these temptations that come to us so very often it seems. And it is the devil whom we worship when we give in to these temptations and turn our back on our dear Saviour in order to seek the pleasures, the gratifications, of the world we see from the top of this mountain, stretched out before us. The devil can put on quite a show when he wants. Avoid the Mount of Temptation. Or if you do find yourself tempted, say with Our Lord: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

But this was last week’s lesson, and since then we have descended from the Mount of Temptation. But only to climb another mountain, it seems. This week’s Gospel takes us up another mountain, the Mount of Transfiguration. In the seventeenth chapter of St. Matthew, we read that “Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the snow.” This time it is not the devil that leads us up to the top of a high mountain, this time it is Our Lord himself. And while the devil’s reason for taking us up the Mount of Temptation was in order to lead our souls astray so that in the day of temptation we might lose our state of grace and be damned, Our Lord’s reason for bringing us up the Mount of Transfiguration is to strengthen our souls. He wanted his chief apostles, Peter, James and John, to see, in some small way, a reflection of his divinity, that they might not lose their faith during the coming scenes of horror at the Crucifixion. For us, Christ wants us to be reminded today of that same divinity, so that we might keep our minds and our hearts centered on the message he gave Satan in last week’s Gospel: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Let us be strengthened therefore by the sight of this our glorified, transfigured Saviour today. Let us be strengthened to serve only him, and not our own foolish passions and appetites. To persevere in our forty-day battle against the flesh, against the world, against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

In the whole of St. Matthew’s Gospel, there are only two mentions of a “high mountain”. It is no coincidence that the Church has placed these two high mountains on the first two Sundays of Lent. In order to make a good Lent, we need to climb both these mountains. What are high mountains after all, but the highest elevation of our planet earth, the points where our land reaches up to the heavens, and finds its place on the snowy mountain peaks “nearer, my God, to thee”. What a beautiful reminder of our own call to perfection. Our own soul imitates the rising of the land into mountains when it reaches up to God and strives for perfection. But we have to climb both mountains. Last Sunday, our soul makes the first step towards holiness by resisting and overcoming temptation, together with our Lord on the Mount of Temptation. Our soul chose the way of God over the way of Satan. And now this week, our soul sees its final end, beholding the radiant beauty of the divine Son of God. This almost beatific vision on the Mount of the Transfiguration today reminds us of our final goal, the true beatific vision of God in heaven, the prize of our struggle for perfection.

And something very interesting as a footnote to the tale of these two mountains: we had the Ember Days this past week, and at the Mass of Ember Wednesday there were two lessons before the Gospel. The first lesson was part of the story of Moses, where he is commanded to climb Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. “And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” Remember that mystical number of forty? Here now we have Moses going up into a mountain and fasting for forty days and forty nights. Now let’s switch to the second Lesson of the Ember Wednesday Mass. We hear the story of the prophet Elijah, who like Moses before him, and like Christ after him, went out into the wilderness. He was preparing himself to die, but God had more work for him to do, and so sent his Angel to give him food. “And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights.” And where did he go? “Unto Horeb the mountain of God.”

So the last we see of Moses and Elijah on Wednesday is the picture of them climbing their own mountain and disappearing into the cloud. And then in this week’s Gospel, who do we see appearing in the clouds on top of the Mount of Transfiguration with Our Lord Jesus Christ, but Moses and Elijah. This interwoven story of these two men, who represent the Law and the Prophets, and Our Lord, who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, is hidden like a needle in a haystack among the hundreds of pages of our Bible. But the Church’s holy liturgy this week has laid out the connections very neatly for us. We must fast as they all did. Because fasting is self-denial, mortification, the conquest of our fallen nature by our intellect and will, inspired by the grace of God. So we fast just as these three fasted. We fast for forty days and forty nights, just as Moses, and Elijah and Our Lord did. Because the mystical number of forty represents completeness, and to fast for forty days is therefore to purify the body completely, purging it completely of every stain of sin and imperfection. And we climb our mountains like they all did. We do so to raise our souls to God, to elevate ourselves as high as we can in the state of perfection. Fast, eliminate completely all attachment to sin in our life, all imperfections, and behold, Our Lord in glory, his face shining as the sun, and his raiment white as the snow—our final reward for all our fasting and climbing.

The words of the song “Climb every mountain” are about as banal as you can find in a Hollywood musical: “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, ‘till you find your dream.” The blatherings of Oscar Hammerstein are of no interest to us here. What’s he talking about “Till you find your dream…”? But let’s take his drivel and work with it a little. After all we all do have a dream, do we not, of one day saving our poor souls and being with God in heaven. And if you think of his song in these terms, he actually does make a very good point in the next verse when he describes what you need to “find your dream.” “A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live.” If you take anything at all out of The Sound of Music, let it be that line. Let us make this a good Lent, let us practice our penances, let us persevere in our fasting, let us overcome our fallen nature, let us climb our mountain to perfection. And let us do so purely out of love for God, “with all the love we can give, every day of our life for as long as we live.” For there is a final mountain we have yet to climb. We will do so on Good Friday, when we follow Our Lord once again up the Way of the Cross to the Place of the Skull, Mount Calvary. And there we will find what it truly means to give all the love that can be given, to the last single drop of the Most Precious Blood. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us.


 Sermons from the Chaplain