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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?

 

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.

 

Check out a Sample Day

 

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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  Low Sunday

April 12, 2015

Gasping for God

Today is the Octave Day of Easter, a week since the Resurrection of Our Lord. We know this day by many other names: as Low Sunday, for example, to contrast it with the “high holydays” of the Sacred Triduum and Easter itself. Or as Quasimodo Sunday, after the first word of the Introit. A common name in Latin is Dominica in Albis. The word “Albis” means white and refers to the white robes of the newly baptized catechumens, who have been wearing these “albs” during Easter week, and who today would finally put them aside after receiving their First Holy Communion. In the Eastern Church today is known as St. Thomas Sunday, after the story in the Gospel of Doubting Thomas.

Whatever name we give to this first Sunday after Easter, we are reminded of the continuation of the Easter season beyond the octave itself. In our churches, the lilies continue to adorn our altars, and white continues to be the liturgical colour. The Alleluia, so long suppressed during the time leading up to Easter, is now used more than ever, with the Great Alleluia replacing the Gradual and Tract before the Gospel. It is still a joyful time, and I hope this joy is reflected in your sense of peace and tranquility, knowing that the gates of heaven have been re-opened.

Our joy during this extended period of Eastertide, however, can be nothing like the breath-taking joy experienced by Our Lord’s disciples during that very first Easter week. In the Gospels of Easter week, we see example after example of Our Lord’s apparitions to his apostles and disciples. One of the most moving of these of these accounts is the story of St. Mary Magdalene, and the path she walked, from anguish to mere worry, and then from panic to exsultation.

Her anguish of course came when she stood at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday, along with the Blessed Mother and St. John. Poor Mary Magdalene, who seemed to spend so much time at the feet of Our Lord. We remember her in the house of Simon the leper, the Saturday before the Passion, when she broke the vase of precious ointment, pouring it over the feet of Jesus, bathing those feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Now we meet her again at the foot of the Cross, unwilling to tear herself away. Her burning love for Our Lord makes her indifferent to everything else. She wants him and him alone, the rest doesn’t interest her.

On Easter Sunday she cannot keep herself away from Our Lord, and returns early that morning to the sepulcher. She immediately notices that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and she is gripped by anxiety: “They have taken away my Lord.” So strong is her fear of not being able to find him, that she seems to become disoriented, and questions everyone she meets, repeating the same questions: Who could have taken him? Where have they taken him? She tells it to St. Peter and St. John, who come running to see for themselves. She tells it to the Angels she finds at the tomb. She tells it even to Jesus himself, when she mistakes him for a gardener.

The other women, when they find the sepulcher open, they go in to find out what has happened. But Mary Magdalene runs off to bring the news to the Apostles. Then she returns. She comes back to the empty tomb. She isn’t really sure why, but she knows she must remain close to the place where Our Lord’s body had been, that body she wants to find at any cost.

She sees the Angels, but is so consumed with grief at not finding Our Lord, that she doesn’t marvel, she doesn’t even have room for fear in her heart, or any other emotion. And when the Angels ask her: “Woman, why weepest thou?” she has only one answer: “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” Later, Jesus asks her the same question, and Mary, totally absorbed in her own thoughts, doesn’t even recognize him, but “thinking that it was the gardener”, she says to him: “Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” The thought of finding Jesus has now so occupied her mind, that in her panic she doesn’t even feel the need of giving his name; it seems to her that all the world must be thinking of him too, that everyone would immediately understand.

We think back on the Resurrection as a joyful occasion, we who have the benefit of knowing the whole story. But imagine the worry, the panic even, of one like Mary Magdalene, who loved so much (said Our Lord) that she was forgiven so much. One who loved Our Lord with every fiber in her body, where there was no longer any room for other loves in her soul, or for other desires, or pre-occupations. The movements of this soul were directed solely towards God, and through all her other thoughts, words, and deeds, she did nothing but seek God alone.

How far removed is this from our own state. How regrettable it is that our own love of God is so lukewarm in comparison with this woman’s. How it must wound Our Lord, bitterly, when he hears our poor excuses why we don’t desire to be holy, or at least to be without sin, when we consider someone fanatical because they want to go to daily Mass or receive Holy Communion as often as they can. And yet we make these excuses all the time. We’re too pre-occupied, too busy with other “important” matters for intangible things like “Sacraments.”. As if anything could be as important as God. As our salvation.

Keep this picture of yourself in your mind. And then compare it with the picture of Mary Magdalene dashing around in her panic to find Our Lord. How ashamed we should all feel at our lack of true love for God, our lack of desire and enthusiasm to find Our Lord.

There is a story about a holy monk who lived in Egypt. One day a young man came to visit him. The young man asked: "Oh, holy man, I want to know how to find God." The monk was muscular and burly. He said: "Do you really want to find God?" The young man answered: "Oh, but I do."

So the monk took the young man down to the river. Suddenly, the monk grabbed the young man by the neck and held his head under water. At first the young man thought the monk was giving him a special baptism. But when after two minutes the monk didn’t let go, the young man began struggling. Still the monk wouldn’t release him. Second by second, the young man fought harder and harder. After five and a half minutes, the monk pulled the young man out of the water and said: "When you desire God as much as you desired air, you will find God."

The key to finding God is simply how much you desire to find him. St. Mary Magdalene, on that first Easter morning, wanted desperately to find her Lord. And when the man she thought was a gardener spoke to her, calling her by her name, “Mary,” she finally recognized him, and fell once more at her familiar place, at the feet of her master. The Good Shepherd “calleth his own sheep by name, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice”. When Mary hears her name, she recognizes the Lord and cries out, “Master!”

At that moment she was perhaps closer to God than she had ever felt before. Her Lord was risen from the dead, he was truly God. And she must have reached out to clasp again those feet over which she had so recently poured ointment and dried them with her hair. But this time Our Lord pulled away and said to her gently: “Noli me tangere” – “Touch me not”. He is God, the Most Highest, the Most Holy. There is always an infinite distance between the Creator and his creature, between the one who is, and the one who is not. And the nearer the soul comes to God, the more it is made to realize (as Mary Magdalene was so very gently reminded by Our Lord that first Easter Sunday) that there is this infinite distance, and so is born in us a profound sentiment of reverence for the supreme majesty of God.

Today Our Lord is asking us the question he asked of St. Mary Magdalene. “Whom seekest thou?” Can we reply that we are seeking him alone? Look in the mirror and ask yourself the question. Could it possibly be that your answer is something like: “Well, yes, I’d like to find God, but if I don’t I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.” How far removed is this from the desperation of St. Mary Magdalene, or the young man with his face in the water gasping for air. He wanted to be a saint. But this wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He thought the monk would tell him to recite a list of prayers, or give his coat to some poor beggar, but this? This desire to breathe so strong he has no ability to think of anything else…

We are not Protestants who believe that because they simply “accept” that Jesus is Lord, they are entitled to heaven. For us Catholics it is not so easy. Or rather we are not so simple-minded as to believe that that is all God requires of us. He died on the Cross for us, not so that we can just smile and say thank you, but so that we will learn by his example that it is in a life of struggling against our fallen nature, struggling to carry all our heavy pains and sufferings (our crosses), struggling to practice virtue in the face of the persecution and mockery of others, and in the face of the lukewarm and selfish appetites of our own poor flesh, it is only in all this that we may learn to find our risen Lord. And we never quite get there, there is always that infinite distance between us and him. But if we desire it, we will do what it takes. We will struggle. And we will persevere until we find him. And how great will then be our joy when our loving Shepherd calls us by our name, and we can finally lie down at his feet for ever.


 Sermons from the Chaplain