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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.

  Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 20, 2015

He Hath Exalted the Humble and Meek

On this last Sunday before we celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our thoughts are naturally with Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph as they draw nearer to the city of David, Bethlehem of Judea. The opening of today’s Gospel takes us, however, to an altogether different place and time. We are taken to the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being the governor of Judea, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests.” We are taken into the wilderness where Our Lord’s cousin, John the Baptist, now a man already, is preaching the baptism of repentance, “a voice crying in the wilderness”, echoing the earlier prophecies of Isaias: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.”

These words of Isaiah are familiar to us as part of the Christmas story, especially to those who make the annual pilgrimage to the concert halls to hear Handel’s Messiah. But did we ever give any thought to this prophecy, made so many long years before the coming of Our Lord, and which St. John Baptist now chooses to repeat? Did we ever wonder why such emphasis should be given to these words on this last Sunday of Advent, when all our thoughts are turned toward Bethlehem and the coming of the Christ Child?

St. John Baptist was preparing the people for the coming of Our Lord in his earthly ministry, which as we know, began when he was thirty years old. He needed to prepare them because the events of that starry night in Bethlehem thirty long years ago had become nothing more than ancient stories that shepherds would repeat to their children as they sat around the campfire watching their flocks by night. The world had forgotten, perhaps chosen to forget, the enormity of the event that transpired that night. They had to be prepared now once again, as Our Lord himself prepared to make his presence known amongst them.

We must not scorn the good people of Judea for their poor memory and lack of enthusiasm. After all, the events of the first Christmas had happened thirty years in the past, and nothing had been seen or heard of this “newborn King” ever since. Sure, there may have been a rumor once of a young man who came to the temple in Jerusalem, asking questions and astonishing the rabbis with his knowledge and insights, and of a mother and father who had to leave their caravan and return to look for him. But again, that was long ago, and even back then people had more sense than to believe everything they were told. And besides, even we in the 21st century, with all our benefit of hindsight, our knowledge of history and of Holy Scripture, and our faith in God and his revelations, we too find ourselves every year becoming lax in our faith and morals, and in need of some Advent preparation for the coming of Our Lord.

We should feel a little humbled at this thought, and that is one of the reasons we are reading this Gospel today. One of the best ways we have to prepare the way of the Lord at Christmas, is to remember his own humility, and then to try and reflect that humility in our own lives.

This is why St. John Baptist points to the mountains and the valleys of Judea. Those familiar yet rather obscure words about valleys being exalted and mountains and hills being made low—what did St. John Baptist mean? Think back to the Visitation that Our Lady made to her cousin Elizabeth, when the yet unborn St. John Baptist was sanctified in the womb of his mother and cleansed from original sin. Think of the words of Our Lady as she was inspired by the Holy Ghost and prayed her Magnificat. Think especially of these words, which we repeat in the Magnificat at Vespers every evening: “He [God] hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts: he hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.” St. John is essentially saying the same thing. Every valley shall be exalted. The humble and meek shall be exalted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

The rest of our Advent should be devoted to this great virtue of humility. We have two great examples set before us in the persons of the Christ Child himself and his Blessed Mother. We cannot conceive the infinite degree of humility required for the divine and omnipotent Word of God who created the earth and all that is therein, to humble himself and be born as a helpless infant in a miserable little stable on a cold winter’s night “that was so deep.” Yes, deep. He went from the heights of glory on the right hand of his Father, to the depths of that winter’s night in the presence of mere mortals and farm animals. His blessed Mother, she who had been “magnified” by the Lord (“magnified” means “made great”), she who had been uniquely privileged among all descendants of Adam and Eve to have conceived without the stain of original sin, she who would be assumed into heaven, there to be crowned as its Queen… this Blessed Virgin Mary submitted herself to the indignities of giving birth to the Son of God in a dirty stable.

With examples like this, what reasons do we have for feeling any kind of pride. Who are we that we should expect people to respect us, to listen to our “words of wisdom,” to treat us with anything but the contempt we deserve for all those hidden sins that only we and God know. We need to know our place in the hierarchy of this world that God created. We need to be aware, constantly and humbly, of the grief we have caused to that Infant Son of God, soon to be placed in our manger. We need to take the hills and mountains of our pride and “make them low.” For if we don’t, God will. Remember the words of Our Lady in the Magnificat: “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”

Let us continue our preparation for Christmas. Our preparations started on the first Sunday in Advent with Hope for the future. The following week we spoke of the Courage we need to face the future. Last week, we were able to think of the Joy we feel at the Redemption, and the Joy we will have in heaven if we prepare properly for that future. Today, finally, we learn how to prepare properly for our future glory in heaven: only with Humility can we ever deserve to be raised by God, magnified by him that is mighty. Let us know our place and humbly accept it, so that, God willing, we may find our sole exaltation in the presence of God, in heaven, forevermore.

Christmas is coming. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

 Sermons from the Chaplain