Thursday, August 12, 2010


"Tag, you're it!" said the email from David L. Alexander, a.k.a. "Man With Black Hat," who decided to "tag" me, as he says in his blog post, "Tagged" (Man With Black Hat, August 11, 2010), with a request list of favorite five devotions. So, for whatever they're worth:
My favorite devotions are, more or less in order:
  1. The Mass in the usus antiquior of the Traditional Roman Rite of St. Gregory the Great -- either the sung High Mass (from the Asperges to the Second Gospel and Dismissal) or Low Mass (from the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar to the Marian prayers following the Mass). In my experience, the distance between these and anything else is so vast, that little else even registers. But that's just my humble opinion.
  2. The Rosary with the particular framing of the mysteries offered by St. Louis de Montfort. I pray five decades every day, nearly without exception, with particular intentions ("prayer requests" for Protestant readers). I also like to point out to my Protestant friends that the "Hail Mary" is based on Luke 1:28, 42, and quickly became one of the earliest prayers of the Church along with the "Our Father."
  3. The Breviary in the traditional form and translation. I find the English translation of the reformed Liturgy of the Hours unbearable, but that may be just my Protestant background. I must also note that I rarely have time to pray all the traditonal hours. But when I did so for a period of time, I have found them incredibly rewarding, feeling a bit as though I were on a pilgrimage through time in that train of the "glorious choir of the Apostles," the "admirable company of Prophets," and the "white-robed army of Martyrs" mentioned in the Te Deum. Maybe when I retire... I also like to point out to my Protestant friends that two of the earlierst hymns of the Church, found in the Breviary, come from Luke 1:46-55 (the Canticle of Mary, or the Magnificat) and Luke 1:68-79 (the Cantacle of Zechariah).
  4. Benediction, with the beautiful hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, "O Salutaris Hostia" and "Tantum ergo," and the beautiful "Divine Praises."
  5. The Seven Sorrows (or "Dolors") of the Blessed Mother. (What other prayer has such amazing promises and consolations?!)
Just FIVE??? Out of the treasury of traditional Catholic resources??? How unfair!! I could mention a dozen more, some of which I frequent, even regularly, including the Latin Prayers of the St. Benedict Medal (what sacramental is so heavily indulgenced?), the devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (though I do not recommend this for untutored Protestants because of susceptibilities of misinterpretation), the Morning Offering prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (also with similar caveats for Protestants), or St. Alphonsus Ligouri's Stations of the Cross, with the accompanying hymn "At the cross her station keeping," the magnificent Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts, St. Josemaria Escriva's meditations, and some of the prayers I mentioned in my post, "Providence in the battlefield of prayer" (Musings, October 26, 2009). Why be Catholic if not to go deep into tradition to partake of the treasures and incredible resources there? Why live in an outhouse when you've inherited a castle?
Now, who to tag?


Rachel Gray said...

I approve your answers. :) What is it about the English translation of the current breviary that bugs you? To me it's unpoetic and flat, like the current translation of the Mass, but nevertheless I enjoy it. My Protestant mom has joined me occasionally too.

I love it when I can pray all the hours of a day, or even just morning and evening. It's especially great for feasts; really helps me get in the right frame of mind and praise God for whatever happened that day.

Mac McLernon said...

Heheheheheheh... you might want to see how this meme has mutated from the original (which I actually kicked off!)

Pertinacious Papist said...

Dear Rachel,

I think what 'bugs' me about the current translation is, much as you describe, it's "unpoetic" and "flat" qualities -- as well as its "modernizing" elimination of the "Thees" and "Thous" (which, ironically, we still use in the "Our Father," and which I prefer because of the flattening and secularizing effect the familiar "you" and "your" has in my experience).

The only example I can think of off hand (of what I don't like) is actually not from the Breviary but from the New American Bible translation used in the Novus Ordo lectionary. But the problems are quite similar. Isaiah 9:5 (NAB) is rendered: "For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."

"Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero"???

Anyone familiar with Handel's oratorio, The Messiah, will be familar with his use of the King James translation of the same text (which is Is. 9:6 in the KJV):

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Much more elegant, and even more accurate. The Douay-Rheims does a much better job, even, than the NAB.

Back to the Breviary: the only thing I don't particularly like about the older Breviary is the rather saccharine flavor of some of the hymns.

Pertinacious Papist said...

This isn't to say that the new translation of the Divine Office can't be used to good effect in one's own prayer life. Clearly, it can. There are some stylistic elements one has to overlook, however, as suggested above. From the point-of-view of the older Breviary, there is also a great deal that feels like it is simply "missing" from the new one, particularly with its loss of some of the traditional canonical hours, the abolition of the office of Prime, the revision of Matins into an Office of Readings, and the dissipation of the Psalter over a period of four weeks, instead of one. Some of this, obviously, is a matter of taste and convenience.

Rachel Gray said...

I'm glad to read your comments because I'm actually going to be joining a religious order (this one) in October that prays the old breviary. :)

Oh, don't get me started on the NAB! Too late. In Genesis 3 God walks in the Garden with Adam in the cool of the evening, but in the NAB it's "the breezy time of day." Furthermore, "you are dirt, and to dirt you will return." Oh, there are so many examples of what Fr. Neuhaus called "clumsy novelties and embarrassing gaucheries". (Here.) The worst was when our lector was forced to read, and we were forced to hear, "Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?"

Pertinacious Papist said...

"Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus," affiliates of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest! Fantastic, Rachel! God love you, that's beautiful! (Let us keep one another in our prayers.)

Rachel Gray said...

Thank you! I'm quite happy about it. :) Yes, oremus pro invicem.