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I have had a few friends reach out, relaying the news that they have obtained the four-volume-set of the Divine office in the Carmelite Rite, and another dear priest and his community who have had questions about how to pray this Rite of the Office with his community of men, and what rubrics to follow etc. Over the next few weeks, with the help of Our Sweet Lady, I will be providing a series of four posts (this one included, serving as #1) that will go over specific rubrics and protocols for how to recite the Latin/Carmelite Rite individually and in common as a community. I have prayed it in both settings, and have had the privilege of learning a great deal with a community, and alone.
I very much prefer praying it alone; proof that I certainly want to be a hermit. Oddly enough I never liked most forms of prayer in common, whether it be a rosary or the Office. But I also know that learning how to pray the Old Office is uncommonly difficult. There has been weeping and gnashing of teeth on my end, in the beginning, because prior to religious formation I never prayed any version of the Divine Office (New or Old) and just stuck to praying “many rosaries”. Which is good, but the Office has changed everything about me- from my manner of behavior among other things- utterly and completely transforming my interior. Once I mastered the rubrics, an eagerness took root, to share these glorious riches with other fellow Catholics, who perhaps, might be missing out on hidden treasures, flowing from the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, through the recitation of the Carmelite and Roman Rite Breviaries.
Post 1.) Today’s: Introduction video (why the Carmelite Rite, the Roman Rite in general and why Our Lord chose Latin. How the Office changed along with the Mass after Vatican II, and how the rubrics of the Mass and Office, actually teach us to be well behaved and reverent even outside of the ceremonies. Some of my experiences with Office and the powerful realization of it being the highest form of prayer outside of the Latin Mass).
Post 2.) How to pray Matins, Lauds, Prime and Roman Martyrology. Two separate videos: community prayer vs individually.
Post 3.) How to pray Terce, Sext and None. Two separate videos.
Post 4.) Vespers and Compline. Two separate videos.
The lay faithful are not bound to pray the Divine Office, but priests and religious (in vows) are bound to pray it everyday, and if they skip it purposely, it is actually a mortal sin. I know a lot of holy souls who still choose to pray all the hours in the Roman Rite, though not bound, and others who choose to say all the mysteries of the rosary for their state in life in substitute of the Office. That is between you and Our Lady with what She desires you to do for Her Son. There is also the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Roman and Carmelite Rite, so if you are busy and do not have very much time for the full Office, that is a great alternative. I would only urge you to watch this video of introduction, regardless if you have any desire to pray the Old Office, simply because it is important to understand our faith and the link between the Holy Sacrifice of the Latin Mass and the Old Office.
The Office, in a very profound and glorious way, completes the Mass. I learned more about the Old Mass when I immersed myself in the Divine office, pre-Vatican II than I ever knew before. I also know that a lot of Catholics want to do more for Our Lord when they retire, so if you fall into this category, the Divine Office could very well be the way Our Lord desires you to share intimacy with Him in your state in life. These videos are strictly on how to pray the Carmelite Rite, 1938, but again, I urge you to perhaps watch the introduction and see the powerful resemblance between the Old Mass and the Old Office and how through them, the true definition of sacrificial love is revealed in its pages.
Materials needed for the Latin Mass (some optional materials as well):
*Summorum Pontificum Edition for Missal is HIGHLY recommended.*
“The grace of office”, literally in this case, is not just a phrase but it is real. When I say the grace of office, this applies to someone, perhaps the Holy Father or one in the Church who is given an office of some sort. In order for them to fulfill it, in a way pleasing to Our Lord, the Holy Ghost gives that individual a specific grace only pertaining to them. This also can be said regarding a member of a religious community who becomes a superior, they feel incompetent, but because they are expected to carry out the duty, they receive supernatural graces for their state in life to perform the task. This also applies to the recitation of the Divine Office.
If you are a member of a religious community and recite the office in common, then there are multiple roles that alternate weekly and the chosen monk or nun, perhaps is reader of the week or has the office of First Psalmist for example, are in charge of certain tasks. They receive “the grace of office”, which entails of “signal” graces AND help by the angels to perform it as perfectly as possible. Knowing when to intone certain antiphons, and to not forget to intone an antiphon, only pertaining to the First Psalmist of the week. I, ironically enough, learned more about the Divine Office on my own than I ever did with a community. When I left Carmel, I had just almost mastered all the rubrics of the Carmelite Rite of the Divine Office, but still had some doubts and questions regarding an area in Matins. I couldn’t help but panic a little because I did not know who to turn to, to receive my answers. I no longer had a Mother Superior to look to in these matters of rubrical questions.
Materials needed for the recitation of the Carmelite Rite of the Divine Office:
Roman Martyrology on the Above right pictured
When a sister takes vows, she is given greater responsibilities in the Office and in Carmel, there was a section that confused me beyond belief for Matins. Just months before discerning the call to gain approval as a Carmelite Hermitess, I obtained the four-volume-set of the Carmelite Rite Breviaries, providentially enough on Ash Wednesday of 2020. But as I began the process of learning how to recite the office individually, rather than with a community, I was still lost on that section I formerly mentioned. The grace of office, I truly realized, was on my side. There was a moment where I was discouraged because I knew that I needed help and had no one to ask. No one on earth anyway, and I say this because very few souls to begin with pray the Roman Rite, and so, finding someone who prays the Carmelite Rite would be one and a million, and the rubrics are not the same either. But how could I forget that if we pray to our angel, Our Lady or the saints, that they will come to our rescue? It was the matter of an instant, the thought popped in my mind, an answer to my question about how to intone a certain blessing for Matins, and it was no exaggeration- BAM- I knew what I had to do…
The answer came like lightening. It was a powerful moment for me. This has nothing to do with “I am so clever; I figured it out”. No, it was the grace of office and cooperation with the Divine. The Office is something so sacred, that the angels, are eager to assist us and participate in our act of worship. If someone is given a specific office, what could be higher than a title of DIVINE Office? It is given that title because it surpasses all other offices. When I was learning the Carmelite Rite as a postulant, I would hear some of the Mother’s saying things like, “if Sister so and so forgets her part, pray to her angel to remind her.” I remember a Mother tested this on me, when I forgot to ring the Mass bell during Terce. A thought hit me spontaneously, to “ring the bell”. And later, Mother told me at that exact moment she was staring at me (not in a creepy way) while praying to my angel to nudge me to take care of my office as bell ringer of the week. I never forgot that; a lesson that should console us, that the angels are always ready to assist us in whatever office placed in our care, our state in life or path to eternal life.
*If you are reading this post and have a hard time in general with the Latin, before casting judgement, I simply beg you to watch the video below. It is the best video on the Latin Mass I have ever had the honor of watching. I chose exclusively the Latin Mass when I was 23 years old, during none other than Our Lady’s 100 year anniversary of Fatima. Our Lady led me to a video produced by the Fatima Center called “Secret Still Silenced” and there was no going back for me. Our Lady desires Her children to be saints and worship God in the way he desires and predestined it to be. The Latin Mass is linked to the third Secret of Fatima and if we love Mary, we need to educate ourselves on Her ignored message…