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Sermons

For Sundays and Holydays

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?

How Do I Get Started?

 

Register and Subscribe

 

Register

 

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.

 

Subscribe

 

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.

  Fifth Sunday after Easter

May 10, 2015

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

“Ask, and ye shall receive,” says Our Lord in today’s Gospel. We have heard these words spoken often enough before. The words of our divine Saviour, telling us that if we want something, well then we’re supposed to ask God for it.

Did you ever stop and wonder why though? After all, if God knows everything, including what we need and what we want, why doesn’t he just give them to us? Why does he wait to be asked?

There is no question that God does want us to ask him for the things we want. Apart from the Gospel today we also have the example of the Our Father. In this prayer which Christ himself taught to his disciples, you’ll notice that after a brief introduction in which you give glory to God (“Hallowed be thy Name!”) there follows a list of petitions, things you’re asking for: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil”. You’ll notice he doesn’t stop at “Thy will be done.” It’s not enough simply to acknowledge that God’s providential will will provide all we want and need. No. We have to ask for specific things—daily bread, forgiveness, deliverance from evil, and so on. If this is how the Son of God wants us to pray, then it’s absolutely certain that we are supposed to ask our Father in heaven for the things we should have. But again… why?

These last few days leading up to the Feast of the Ascension are known as Rogationtide, from the Latin word rogare, meaning “to ask.” In other words this is the time of year devoted in particular to placing our requests and petitions before the throne of God. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, it is the common practice in Catholic churches to walk humbly in procession, chanting the Litany of the Saints, imploring God’s blessing on the new crops which the farmers plant at this time, but more generally for the good estate of Christ’s Church and our own needs and aspirations.

This then is the time to ask, so that we may indeed receive. But before we take a look at how we should ask, let’s answer that vexing little question why we have to ask. After all, God already knows all things. And so he already knows exactly what we need before we ask for it. Why doesn’t he just anticipate those needs and provide what we want without waiting to be asked? Well, first of all, if we didn’t actually ask God, if we simply wanted something and automatically received it, God would actually be removed from the whole process. There would be no reminder to us that all good things come from above, from the hand of the loving God who cares for us and loves us. So therefore the first reason we ask is simply that we may be given that reminder that there is a loving God who bestows his favours on his children in need.

The other and more important reason is that God commands us to ask because he likes to be asked. It is an integral element of his love for us. Having to ask for something we don’t have is an acknowledgment before our loving Father that we depend on him and on his bounty. And God wants us to depend on him. But sometimes for us to admit our dependency on someone else, even God, requires a little humility. Very often the poor and the sick feel humbled in having to ask the help of other people. Sometimes they would even rather do without something, than ask for someone’s help. But if they do that, if they refuse to acknowledge their need for help, they deprive the almsgiver of the graces he receives from bestowing an act of charity on his neighbor. Not only that, but they also refuse to the almsgiver even that natural feeling of joy and peace and goodwill that comes from such an act of charity. It’s the same with God, who wants so much to heap his gifts upon us. And so we must avoid this pitfall, and humble ourselves before the throne of God, relying on his benevolence and bounty to grant our petitions. And our dear God, because he is a loving God, is only too happy to answer those petitions with one good thing and one blessing after another.

When we ask of God, it impresses upon us the realization of our dependency and need, reminding us that without the help of God we would have absolutely nothing, not even life itself, because “every good gift, every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

And just as there is no variableness neither shadow of turning in God, so too the prayers we make today are the same as those humbly offered on bended knees by Christians since the very birth of the Church: freedom from pain and mishap, deliverance from sin and temptation, happiness in love and marriage, increase in virtue, prosperity and success in business—nothing has changed, we continue to present our shopping list of needful things, some important and some definitely less so, but all desired with childlike simplicity and trust in the Divine Providence of our Father in heaven.

And there is our clue on how we must pray. It has to be with that childlike simplicity. We must become, as Christ taught us, we must pray, indeed we must be, as little children. Even as the most innocent and simple of these children‒the newborn, the little infants. These tiny creatures, still with not a thought in their head, without the use of reason, not able to walk or talk or even turn themselves over in their cribs, they are still able to do one thing and only one thing, and they do it well. They are able to ask. They instinctively know that if they ask, they will receive. They express their petitions in the form of crying. When babies cry, it’s not because they are sad, it’s not because it’s raining, or because they can’t afford an iPhone. It’s because they need something, and they are communicating this need to those around them who will provide what they need. And so they cry—they’re asking to be fed, to be burped, to be changed. From the day they are born, they have this instinct built into their very nature, to ask for what they want.

And “except ye become as little children,” says Our Lord, “ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s why Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin and was laid in swaddling clothes, to teach us that if we are to be Christians, followers of Christ, we must follow him not just as God, nor even as a Man, but in this utter simplicity and dependency of a Child. We must become as little children, just like he was, helpless in the arms of our dear God who sustains us in all things, nourishing, protecting, loving.
This Child in the manger, this tiny baby is himself truly that God of God, that Light of Light, that very God of very God of whom we sing in the Creed. This infant, with all its apparent helplessness, is yet our God and our King. And we must follow him, even as was prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah, “A little Child shall lead them.” He shall lead and we must follow.

It is meet and right then, and our bounden duty, that we should pray not just as little children ourselves, but to the Christ Child. In fact, the Novena to the divine Infant of Prague is one of the most efficacious of all prayers. And surely it is no coincidence that it begins with these words: “O Jesus, who hast said, Ask and ye shall receive…”

They say that the prayers of a child are the most powerful. Any loving parent whose little child has ever asked them for something knows how hard it is to say no. And so this powerful novena to the Divine Infant never fails for those who pray it with the simple faith and trust of a little child. Prayers and petitions uttered from one loving child to Another, with none of the distractions and complexities of our darker grown-up world.

Finally, there is the question of what we should pray for. There’s a pitfall here, and it must be understood that while we can ask for anything at all, we should not trivialize the act of prayer. We should “supernaturalize” our prayers rather than just asking for things we want. Do you want your favorite baseball team to win the World Series? Please don’t bother Almighty God by imagining he might favor one team over another. In Mexico they have a shrine of the Christ Child dressed in the national soccer uniform and holding a soccer ball. It’s obvious that Pope Francis is committing the sacrilege of trivialization when he reverently places a soccer ball on the altar of St. Mary Major’s in Rome.

But what about when the stakes are higher: when nations are at war for example, and the priests of both countries lead their people in prayers for victory against the other. Again, we expect God to take sides. But just as with the sports teams, God is not likely to favour one nation over another without a better reason. We must supernaturalize the prayers we make to God. May God grant victory to the United States over another nation, for example, that the legitimate freedoms we enjoy here may not be eroded or suppressed. Especially the freedom to worship God according to the tenets of our Catholic faith. This week I heard one of the most frightening things I have ever heard an American politician say. In a speech to some women’s group about the spiraling frenzy to approve and encourage same-sex marriage, Hilary Clinton said this: “Religious beliefs will have to change.” Can you imagine that a time might come when it is the government of this country who will be deciding the words of the Creed at the Mass? Deciding them, and then presumably enforcing them? We can legitimately ask “Where are we going?” Pray very hard that this woman from hell never becomes president. This isn’t just a baseball game any more. It’s not a question of “May the best man win.” Make no mistake: this has become a war between good and evil, between God and the Devil. And Hilary Clinton is most certainly an evil woman, and an enemy of God.

So in short, don’t waste your time praying for trivialities. Don’t ask God for material things. The accumulation of mere “things” can become an insatiable obsession, and will be of no help to you when you stand before God. Rather, pray for the things you really need, your daily bread. And then pray for the other, less material, things, that you need—those things that will help you save your soul. Pray for the graces to lead a good life, that you might not fall into temptation, that you might be delivered from evil. Ask these things and you shall most certainly receive.


 Sermons from the Chaplain