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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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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.

 

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  Sunday within the Octave of Ascension

May 17, 2015

What's Next?

Since his Resurrection from the dead, Our Lord has appeared many times to his beloved disciples. For forty days, he has been seen amongst them, walking with them on the road to Emmaus, entering the Cenacle through locked doors, calling to them from the shore as they were fishing in the See of Genesareth. He has explained many things to them, things for which they were not ready before his death on the cross, but which now they would need to remember and take with them on their voyages over the seas and beyond to evangelize the nations. He had called Peter to be his rock, the rock upon which he would build his Church, he had instructed the apostles to go forth unto all nations, teaching and baptizing in his name. Finally, on the fortieth day of Easter, Ascension Day, he appeared one last time to them near Bethany on the Mount of Olives, and there he gave them their final instructions—that they should remain in Jerusalem and there wait for their baptism with the Holy Ghost.

It is difficult to imagine the feelings of the apostles that day. There were only eleven of them. One of them had taken another path, betraying his friends, and then committing suicide in a final act of despair. The others had lived to see Our Lord put to death, and then to see him walking again in their midst, the miracle of the Resurrection. These were men that had seen so much! So many miracles. Healings, exorcisms, walking on water, feeding thousands of people with a few loaves of bread, and then finally that indescribable moment when they first saw Our Lord after the crucifixion, after the third day. What had all these events done to the psychological makeup of these simple men from Galilee? I could hardly say, I’m no psychologist, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, what was the reaction of these men, who probably thought they had seen it all, what on earth could have gone through their mind, when Our Lord finished speaking to them today, and started rising up into the air…
In our childish fantasies, we think of the Ascension of Our Lord, and we think of him floating up to the clouds with the apostles standing on the ground and maybe waving. Like a navy family on shore watching their son’s ship pulling out of the harbor. Only one member of the family hadn’t come along to see him off. There’s no mention of Our Blessed Lady in the account of the Ascension. It’s possible she was there, but somehow I doubt it. I prefer to think that Our Lord had a private meeting with his Mother before his Ascension in front of the Apostles, a meeting where he made his own private farewell, in words that were never meant to come to the ears of the Evangelists, never meant for our ears.

So with no Blessed Mother to look to for guidance what did the Apostles do now when they saw him gradually getting smaller, smaller, until he disappeared into the clouds and was seen no more? What does one do after such a spectacle as this? Banal conversation would seem so out of place, the shock of the scene could not have left them much in a mood for discussion or even for prayer. It must have been one of those oments when all you can do is just stand there and give your brain time to adjust to the enormity of what it had just seen. Our Lord certainly knew they would need help with this, and so he sent them two men clad in white apparel—angels obviously. And as the eleven apostles gazed into the sky with their mouths wide open, these angels break the shocked silence and say to them: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”.

And with a jolt these eleven apostles returned to the practical consideration of what to do next. They had their instructions—not to depart from Jerusalem. So they obeyed their Master’s last command, and journeyed back to the Holy City, about a day’s journey away. They went back to the Cenacle, that same Upper Room where Our Lord had celebrated his Last Supper with them, where the Holy Mass had been instituted, where they had been ordained, where they had returned a day later overcome with horror and grief at their sight of Our Lord in the agony of his final Passion and death. This was their comfort zone, the place to which they returned. And they remained there nine days.

The first order of business was to take care of the group. Christ had called Twelve Apostles, mirroring the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Judas had died a traitor’s death, and now they were only eleven. And so Peter, called by Our Lord to be their leader, made his first act as first Pope, and called an election to fill the vacant chair left by Judas. Accordingly they drew lots and chose Matthias to be the Twelfth Apostle. And then they sat back and they waited.

By now they had been joined by Our Lord’s Mother, the other faithful women, like Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and the rest. Many of the other disciples also flocked to the apostles to hear of Our Lord’s Ascension and to find out what they should do next. But they didn’t really know what else to do. They had been told to wait. And so wait they did. They waited and they prayed. Prayed for nine days. You’ve often heard this time called the First Novena. They prayed their Novena, not knowing it was a nine-day novena, not knowing what would happen next or when.

Let’s come back to the 21st century now. Two thousand years later, and the last anyone saw of Our Lord was Ascension Day twenty centuries ago. He has not been seen since. We are still waiting for his Second Coming, still praying, still not knowing what will happen next. We live in a world where certainly, anything could happen at any moment. There are evil men and crazy men all over the world who could pull the trigger any minute and plunge the world into catastrophe. Some of us here today will remember that day in September 2001 when our smug peace was shattered as those planes flew into the Twin Towers and our lives changed forever. When is the next big event going to take place? When are we going to get a phone call in the middle of the night from some relative telling us to turn on the news: “You’re not going to believe this…” What scenes of horror lie out there in that dim and scary, oh so uncertain future, waiting for us? And so we wait and we wonder.

We are just like the twelve apostles, aren’t we? We cling to our comfort zone, and there we stick like glue. And we wait. And hopefully we pray like they did. But we wait and pray with fear.

The apostles need not have feared. Look at all the promises Our Lord had given them. For example, he had just promised them he was going to heaven to prepare a place for them, for us. He promised them he would send the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. He had promised that wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there is he in the midst of them. That he would be with his Church until the consummation of the earth. But they continued to fear. And so do we. We have not learned that lesson yet. The lesson not to fear. Learn it today on this Sunday in the Octave of the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, when our Paschal Candle no longer lights our altar, when the Light of the World is hidden from us till the end of time. Hidden, Christ may be. But absent he is not. He ascended into heaven, but where is heaven. Heaven is where God is, and God is everywhere. Only a thin veil separates this hell on earth from our heavenly paradise. Only a thin veil separates us from the host on the altar which in a short while will become God himself. But her too God is hidden in the veil of the host, he is unseen to our eyes. Some of the saints learned to see beyond this veil, to see the angels, and the demons too, as they winged their way to and fro, influencing us for good and evil. We need to learn to look in the right way for God, beyond the veil of our fears, our distractions, our needs, and our trivialities. Learn how to see God where he truly is, which is everywhere. Don’t take this too far. We don’t want to become scientologists or pantheists, where God is a tree, every tree, every blade of grass. No. God is not a tree. But remember that indeed his majesty and his awe, his delicacy and his love for us is reflected in every tree, in every feature of the nature he created. And in his greatest creation of all, mankind, fashioned in his own image and likeness, then surely there, in our fellow man, we can find the face of God. In the smile of a baby, sure that’s an easy one. But look too in the face of your enemies, for there God is surely also.

And finally, take a lesson from God’s supreme creation, the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, Mother of God and Virgin most pure. When all else fails, let us do what the apostles must have done as they waited for the coming of the Comforter, and that is to turn every now and again to Jesus’ mother, now their mother, and now ours. How much solace they must have drawn from her presence there with them, from that face that physically resembled her Son’s, as they waited and prayed. Let’s not stray far from her side. For she is the one, the only one who has been given the privilege to follow Christ, body and soul, by being assumed into heaven. She is our inspiration that we too shall one day join them both, in in blessed bliss, forever and ever. Amen.



 Sermons from the Chaplain