November 2014 Letter to Postulants and Potential Postulants

Dec 6, 2014

By now, you have the Office of the Paters. Because there are several variations of this Office, we mailed you one to start with. For additional versions, please see the document posted November 25, 2014 called “Office of the Paters”. Be aware that one of the variations of the Office of the Paters is called the Seraphic Office.
 
By now you will have a good understanding of what is meant by the term “Office”. For many Tertiaries, due to their state of life, the Office of the Paters is a good choice to recite.
 
This article will discuss another good choice for those who would like to do more: The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Ordering information is at the end of this article.)
 
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is patterned on the Divine Office (the Breviary) but is simpler and shorter.
 
“The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is of ancient usage in the Church. It was recited by the clergy and devout laity, and practiced by rule in religious monasteries, even from the sixth and seventh centuries, and probably at a more early period. There is at least sufficient historical evidence to prove that a liturgical prayer in honour of Our Lady is of very early times” (The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, p 2).
 
Therefore, if you choose (and I would encourage you) to recite the Little Office, consider a description of how it is recited in a monastery/convent:
 
“At the sound of a bell, the Community meet[s] at some place outside the chapel, and form[s] into two ranks, the youngest nearest the entrance, the Superior last. At the given signal they enter the choir, two and two, and, after genuflecting, proceed to their respective stalls. Kneeling, they say silently the introductory prayer. When the Superior gives the signal (by a tap on the desk) they rise, and bowing profoundly (so that the tips of fingers may touch the knees), say in silence the Ave Maria” (The Little Office p 3).
 
As Franciscan Tertiaries, we do not live in a monastery/convent, but we should strive to get as close as possible to the ideal and should therefore try to say each hour at its appropriate time. “This Office was instituted by the Church, guided by the Spirit of God, and is divided into seven canonical hours, according to the following order set down in the Roman Breviary”:
 
1st – Vespers – to be recited between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

2nd – Compline – to be recited before retiring to bed.

3rd – Matins with Lauds – to be recited between 12 a.m. (midnight) to 5 a.m.

4th Prime – 6 a.m.

5th – Tierce – 9 a.m.

6th – Sext – Noon

7th – None – 3 p.m.
 
“These canonical terms should be adopted in naming the hours” (The Little Office p 2).
 
Also, the “Prayer Before” and the “Prayer After” do not need to be said before and after each hour; rather, the “Prayer Before” is said before Matins and the “Prayer After” is said after Compline.
 
If you are confused by I, II, III in the book – they refer to the selection of prayers to be used in the different seasons of the Liturgical Year: #I refers to From Candlemas (Feb 2) to Advent, #II refers to During Advent, #III refers to From Christmas until Candlemas. These selections are further subdivided in some hours, such as the Anthems at the end of Compline and the choice of Psalms in Matins. So pay attention to the instructions given for each hour.
 
You should also be aware that there is a simplified way to recite this Office. The hours may be divided into two groups:
 
In the morning, you recite – Matins, Laud, Prime, Tierce, Sept, None
In the evening, you recite – Vespers, Compline
Matins start with Prayer Before (page 6), and Compline ends with Prayer After (page 7)
 
The book can be ordered at:
http://www.sistersofcarmel.com/little-office-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary.php
 
The copy that we are using is St Bonaventure Publications, originally published by Benziger Brothers, 1904, republished by St. Bonaventure Publications, June, 1999 – it is small (7″ x 5”) and has a bright red hard cover. The price at the above link is US$38.95 plus shipping.
 

Sr Constance (TOSF)

  

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