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From Breviary to Liturgy of the Hours: The…

From Breviary to Liturgy of the Hours: The Structural Reform of the Roman…

by Stanislaus Campbell

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The story of The Divine Office -- the daily prayers that the Roman Catholic religious are required to say, while the laity are encouraged to participate -- is a fascinating one, but it's not completely told in this book. From Breviary to Liturgy of the Hours details many of the major decisions that had to be made from changing this daily prayer (said mostly by monks) into something useful for the whole church. The various groups charged with updating the prayers wanted to keep the rich history of the past, but wanted to ensure it wasn't a burden on priests with expanded duties (or even the busy laity).

While this is a very impressive work of scholarship, it tends to get a little monotonous. A particular debatable issue is identified, then both sides (or multiple viewpoints, when that happened) are given a sentence or two to state their points. A decision of a council is provided, and then the next matter is discussed. There's little commentary throughout; all of that is saved for a special final chapter ("Evaluation"). The book does divide the discussions into reasonable chunks, so all of the debates about Lauds and Vespers, for example, are mostly given together.

The author notes "it is remarkable that some less significant structural changes internal to each of the Hours consumed great amounts of time and energy of consultants and members of the Consilium." Indeed, it reminded me of the (non-religious) Constitutional Convention, where sometimes the really big issues were accepted without debate but little sticking points took forever to decide. In both cases, the members of these groups hoped to create something that would outlive them and set an example for those in the future.

This is a compelling book about the almost-decade long process in updating the Divine Office, but perhaps most useful for those who are already familiar with the pre-1970s Breviary and the current Liturgy of the Hours, as sometimes terms are given (in English or in Latin) without much explanation.

LT Haiku:

Decisions to make:
How many Psalms? When? Answers
will bind the whole church. ( )
  legallypuzzled | Aug 26, 2014 |
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In memory of Leo Joseph Campbell and Mary Topping Campbell
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To understand and to evaluate properly the scope of the structural reform of the Roman Office after the Second Vatican Council it is necessary to sketch at least the broad lines of the historical development of the structure of this Office.
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Decisions to make:

How many Psalms? When? Answers

will bind the whole church.


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