Friday, May 05, 2006

The Monastic Diurnal and Western Rite Hours

Considering we just commemorated an Orthodox Benedictine monk, it's also an excellent time to answer this question from the mailbag.

Q: Is it true the Antiochian Western Rite hours (Matins, Vespers, etc.) are "throughly Protestant," simply the BCP rite, and recognizing this, the Antiochian WRV has "recently" appointed the Monastic Diurnal as an ad hoc stop-gap?

A: No, in its entirety. I've dealt with the charge of the alleged "Protestantism" of the Liturgy and hours of St. Tikhon here. As I wrote, no Protestant would be comfortable with the Marian devotions customary at our parishes, our iconography, nor our Orthodox theology. And even the bare BCP -- as distinct from our Antiochian Tikhonite hours -- largely collated the medieval church's hours (Matins and Lauds into Morning Prayer; Vespers and Compline into Evening Prayer), streamlining them for lay participation -- originally in a parish setting (daily), then later at home.

More importantly, the Monastic Diurnal is not a "new" observance: it has always been an authorized prayer book of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate. (To be fair, I do not know what Hours were prayed by the very first WRO in America, in 1927-33. However, I strongly suspect it was the MD or another Roman form.) Since the Liturgy of St. Tikhon was not celebrated in the AWRV until 1977, it should be obvious the Tikhonite hours were not used before then, either. The Church's ancient Benedictine services were the exclusive use before that.

Benjamin Andersen sent an informative historical note about this very situation recently. I'm glad to give him "a blog from beyond the cyber-grave":

The religious order which was received into the Antiochian Church and became the Western Rite Vicariate (in 1958), the Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, used the Oxford MD [Monastic Diurnal] as its official office book. Ever since, as I understand, the Monastic Office [Breviarium Monasticum - BJ] has been the standard for clergy (even married clergy) for their private recitation, and the standard in our Roman (Gregorian) Rite churches for public celebration.

With regard to the use of the MD according to our Orthodox guidelines,

(1) We are to recite it in accordance with our version of the Western church kalendar...and the current Paschal calculations of the Orthodox world.

(2) We are avoid expressions of certain controversial doctrinal issues, such as the Double Procession of the Holy Spirit (e.g. we have a slighly altered sixth verse of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, appointed for Vespers on Pentecost).

Otherwise, the Antiochian Church regards the Benedictine Divine Office to be fully Orthodox, especially since it's essentially what is set forth by Our Holy Father Benedict (a saint high esteemed by both East and West) in his Rule, and used by many Saints and countless pious monastic souls long before the tragic schism.

We're eternally grateful, Subdeacon Benjamin. (I hope the blog wasn't too indelicate a hint.)

Clearly, the source of this question is confused about the Western Rite in general, or an inaccurate source of information. Thank you for the chance to clear this up!

Got questions? Got myths? Send 'em my way.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Paul Goings said...

Is there an authorized form of the hours which derives from secular (the Sarum, York, or Roman breviaries) rather than from either monastic (the diurnal) or B.C.P. uses?

If not, would one be permitted?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Andersen said...

Ben – Thanks for the kind words ...

Paul – I don't see why the secular Breviary couldn't be approved for Western Rite Orthodox use. In fact, Father Jack Witbrock, an Antiochian priest in New Zealand, is working on a version of the pre-Pius X secular Breviary.

Someone else (Ari?) may be able to fill us in on whether the ROCOR WR folks use the Sarum Hours ...

5:28 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Fr. Jack Whitbrock, an Antiochian Western Rite priest in New Zealand, recently completed an Orthodox version of the Roman Breviary. You can download/print it here. Whether it could be used in the U.S. or not would be a question for the Vicariate, should a parish petitioning to join have an attachment to it.

Also, Fr. Michael in Tasmania prays a version of the Sarum hours, as published by the sisters in Clewer. I presume that's what will be in his forthcoming St. Colman Prayer Book.

I'm not aware what the official WR breviary was in in the 1920's-'30s; perhaps it was a version of a secular use. Anyone know?

God bless,
Ben Johnson

2:19 AM  
Blogger Aristibule said...

The St. Colman's Prayer Book includes both liturgies and the most commonly used hours for each of three uses of ROCOR:

the English Use
the Sarum Use (Usus Cascadae)
the Benedictine Use (Usus Providentiae)

Altogether, there is a full office there - but, the intention of that book isn't to be a full breviary for clerical/monastic use.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Subdn. -- thanks for the informative words in the post. You can't hide your light under a bushel forever. :)

Ari, thanks for the elucidation about the SCPB.

6:09 PM  

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