27 August 2011

Benedictine Weekly Psalter now in hardcover

I really need to post here more often. Hope this starts a trend. For now, I merely point out that the Benedictine Weekly Psalter is now available in hardcover. This is the second edition incorporating some typo corrections and is the same as the second edition that's available as a spiral-bound paperback.

27 July 2010

Why not "just pray"? Great post by Prior Peter

A gem of an article on the monastic Divine Office has been posted by the prior of Holy Cross Monastery here in Chicago: This past Sunday after Mass we had our monthly coffee hour, and I found myself in a discussion of the complexities of the Divine Office. I was speaking with a group of laypersons, all of whom pray some form of the Liturgy of the Hours–pretty impressive I must say. Somewhere along the line, however, after I floundered trying to explain why the layout of our soon-to-be-published books has exercised my ingenuity so much, someone admitted, “Sometimes I think that God must look down on us and say, ‘Just pray!’” Read it all here.

02 June 2010

Benedict's Rule Line by Line With Michael Casey OCSO

Hear a weekly podcast on one verse from the Rule of St. Benedict from highly regarded Cistercian author Michael Casey of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia. Tarrawarra Abbey Podcast

22 February 2010

Wantage plainchant books in PDF

This is a bit of an historic day, in my opinion: the Plainchant Gradual, Sarum Antiphoner, and Introit book from St Mary's Convent in Oxfordshire are now available as PDFs. I can't tell you how long I looked for the Plainchant Gradual some years ago and eventually paid dearly for a copy via eBay. This superb resource of English-language chant propers for the Mass is a treasure, and now it's available to all.

21 October 2009

Anglican on Purpose

I wasn't going to weigh in on the current news about provisions for Anglicans going to or returning to the Roman Catholic Church, but another blogger has summarized my feelings about being Anglican eloquently and in a way that I can agree with in every respect.

13 October 2009

Contemporary Monastic Liturgical Song

One of my prized possessions is a giant binder containing a copy of a doctoral dissertation by a Benedictine nun, Sr. Victorine Fenton OSB, who in the early 1980s visited just about all of the Benedictine monasteries in the United States and wrote about their music: how they chanted the psalms, hymns, and other parts of their Divine Office and Mass. Today my various Google Reader sweeps brought me word of a similar study of selected European monasteries to find out how they are singing the Opus Dei today. One can download a PDF of the 410-page dissertation. It's in Swedish, but do not fret: go to p. 358 for an English summary. I've put the Pluscarden Abbey (Scotland) chapter through Google Translate to get a general idea, but I hope someone can translate the whole thing for us sometime. And perhaps now would be a good time for someone to redo Sr. Victorine's work and find out the current state of affairs in USA monasteries?

13 June 2009

Daily Office for Corpus Christi

For those praying the Daily Office of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in places where they celebrate Corpus Christi (the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ), there's a bit of a gap, as our prayer book provides propers for Mass (Various Occasions 5) but not for the Office. The parish of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City, comes to our aid with its excellent online documents giving the lessons for each day, and, in the footer, the psalms. As our parish celebrates Corpus Christi tomorrow (Sunday), I'm using these for this evening, tomorrow morning, and tomorrow evening.


YEAR 1 & 2, CORPUS CHRISTI, MORNING PRAYER: PSALMS 63:1-8, 96; EXODUS 12:21-27; LUKE 22:7-20


Photo: Scott Smith

19 March 2009

Opaque (to me) languages are oddly fascinating

I'd like to learn Welsh. Trouble is, I'd also like to learn Polish and am having a hard time with the basics of that. I guess I thought that being of Polish ancestry would mean I have a latent Polish-language talent that would be activated with just a bit of study. Nope. I learned German in the proper way: four solid, step-by-step years of daily classes, with very gradual language-lab experience and a three-week trip to Germany for immersion, and then four years of university German literature and discussion. Polish with a book and a CD is proving tedious, and there's nothing Germanic nor Latinate to hang my hat on. It's really very different. And so is Welsh.

Spanish would, of course, be very useful; I don't know why I haven't had an interest so far in learning it. I've picked up some reading facility from watching Spanish-language TV. I've also watched a lot of Polish-language TV without any results...it's so fast and still gibberish to me. I can't pick out phrases or even many words. Oh, I can hear "tak" for yes and "nie" for no, and maybe a "Czesc" or however it's spelled for "hi." Anyway, I was proud of myself this evening for recognizing that a Mexican restaurant's sign advertising "Especial por Cuaresma" meant "special for Lent."

Icelandic looks kewl to me, with those thorn and eth characters that earlier versions of English used to have. But Spanish and French seem more accessible and useful, although it would really be lovely to know some Polish, not only the language of my ancestors but also the third language of Chicago. I'll need to take classes, though.

A letter to the publisher of BDP

Dear Liturgical Press:

I very much appreciate your publication of Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary, and as a Benedictine oblate, I find it very useful in keeping my promise to pray the Divine Office. My question: Are there plans to publish an updated or possibly expanded edition of Benedictine Daily Prayer and/or make available an ordo or guide to using BDP?

I know that the Short Breviaries published by you in earlier decades were at least at one point available in an expanded edition that included all 150 psalms; I think there would be many people interested in a complete-psalter edition. I believe this could be done by adding more weeks of Vigils psalms.

There's a real opportunity to make the BDP an ideal resource for Benedictine oblates and others who wish to pray according to the Rule of Benedict, and indeed I just read about a professed Benedictine monk who uses the BDP as his travel breviary; I'm sure there are quite a few Benedictine monks and nuns who do this.

So I'm writing to request a second edition of the BDP featuring:

1. A complete psalter achieved by adding weeks of Vigils psalms, perhaps making a total of four weeks that could be used as a four-week cycle at Vigils or could be doubled up as a two-week cycle of two-nocturn Vigils, with the second nocturn of psalms being prayed between the two readings.

2. More guidance for what to pray from the BDP each day, in the form of an ordo (could be a Web page or available for download).

3. Correction of typographical errors and omissions.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this very useful prayer resource, and I thank you for publishing it.

03 November 2008

Chant courses at Saint Meinrad Archabbey

This just in from Saint Meinrad Archabbey:

Release Date: 11/3/2008

Chant workshops offered in July 2009

Two seminars on singing Gregorian chant will be offered in July 2009 at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN, by Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB.

The seminar, "Bringing to Life the Word of God in Song," will be offered in a beginner session on July 20-24, and in an advanced session on July 27-31.

Learn how the practice of Gregorian chant brings to life the Word of God in song, and study the intimate relationship between the proclaimed Word of God and its melodic setting.

The workshop includes study of the original chant notations as the key to unlocking the spiritual and artistic qualities that have influenced later Western music. Practice singing both Latin and English settings in chant style will be included.

Fr. Columba is an accomplished chant teacher. He earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology degree from Sant' Anselmo in 1959 and a doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. He has led numerous workshops on chant, throughout the United States, at the Abbey of Solesmes in France and for Benedictine communities in Australia.

A monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, he served as choirmaster for the community, where he began his work of composing English-language chants based on the principles used to create the original Gregorian chant repertory. He is also on the faculty of Saint Meinrad School of Theology. He has published many settings in chant and two books on the subject. For information on the cost or to make a reservation, contact the Office of Group Accommodations, Saint Meinrad School of Theology, 200 Hill Drive, St. Meinrad, IN 47577. Or, call (800) 730-9910 or e-mail dkleaving@saintmeinrad.edu.

30 August 2008

Emptying ourselves to pray in the name of the Church

A reflection on praying the Divine Office by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

When we come to pray, it's important that we empty ourselves. As Benedictine nuns we have statio*-- that's a very important time for us. It must be a time in which we empty ourselves of ourselves-- of our cares, our jobs, everything we're doing. Our hearts have to be empty because when we pray the Divine Office, we don't pray our own words. We pray the psalms, and we must be empty enough that our hearts can take up the psalms as if they were our own, because we pray as the Church before the throne of God. The psalms carry every person in the world, every emotion, every situation.

Mary prayed the psalms, Christ prayed the psalms! When we pray the psalms, it's the Holy Spirit within us praying. But if we're not empty, how can that happen?

*Statio is the five minutes before Vespers which the nuns use to recollect themselves before entering the Church to pray.

07 August 2008

Fr. Perren Hayes on the Daily Office

I highly recommend everything Fr. Perren Hayes writes on his blog, and this entry is a particular highlight.

04 August 2008

Constants for human guidance

I'm reading Tilden Edwards' Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction:

The records of Jesus' ministry marked the path of spiritual guidance taken throughout the Church's history. Through a great variety of forms, there have been these constants:
  • a sense of serving and sharing with rather than "lording it over" another
  • a sense of confidence in human capacity and calling to be in contact with the Holy, and to mediate it to one another through word, sacrament, and deed
  • an integral relation of moral and spiritual development
  • a vision of bearing, struggling hope in the final reconciliation of all creation in its intimate Source
  • a willingness to work with all sorts and conditions of people, one to one, in groups, in crowds, near and far
  • a valuation of ritual/sacramental means of grace: bread and wine, water, hands, and words of reconciliation.

These "constants" for human guidance, I believe, are as much living waters for us today as two thousand years ago.

[p. 41]

26 July 2008

Praying the Office alone vs. communally...clear distinction?

My spiritual director made a comment this week: "How does it work for you to pray the [BCP 1979] office alone, as it's designed to be communal?" I made a quick comment about wanting to stick with the system I'm involved with when praying the office in church at least once a week, and that I do feel I'm participating in a communal prayer when I'm alone. But what do you think about prayer books for the Divine Office being designed for communal versus individual prayer? I've heard the RC Liturgy of the Hours described as having been (sadly, in the opinion of the one I heard say this) designed for individual priests' prayer, missing a chance to make it easily prayed in communities. Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary seems designed for individual oblates. The lines between communal and individual aren't clear, obviously, and one might even argue there is no such line. My SD was obviously just getting me to talk about this...looking forward to exploring that question next time, since it went by rather quickly this session. Anyway, Cynthia Bourgeault, in her Chanting the Psalms: A Practical Guide with Instructional CD, suggests that if one prays alone (and presumably is free to structure one's praying of the psalter in any way), one follow this pattern:


Short scriptural reading

Psalmody (with or without canticle)


I'm about to go looking through my library for books that will facilitate this most easily. Maybe I can use my Benedictine Weekly Psalter if I figure out a scheme for the scriptural readings, or even add such a scheme to the next edition...hmm.