September 18, 2008

One For The Canonists

The other day someone pointed out article 9, paragraph 3 of Summorum pontificum to me, which gives clerics in major orders (i.e. bishops, presbyters, and deacons) permission to pray the Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Breviary of 1962.

But this raises some questions about obligation. What about Prime? If someone is praying with the breviary of Bl. John XXIII, is he obligated to recite it, seeing as it doesn't exist in the current rite and is thus absent from the current Canon Law?

And what about the "little hours," Terce, Sext, and None in the usus antiquior and Mid-Morning, Midday, and Mid-Afternoon Prayer in (the American English translation of) the Breviary of Paul VI? According to the current understanding, clerics outside of choir only have to pray one of these three at some time between Morning and Evening Prayer. Was this a relaxation of the reform or was it in effect before? Is a cleric using the 1962 breviary obligated to all three, or not?

Just wondering as I take a morning off to strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.


Garpu said...

I"d be interested in the answer to this, as well, since I prefer the older Benedictine Office.

ben in denver said...

I'm certainly no expert but ti seems to me that.....

Canon law obliges the cleric pray the office according to the approved books, and the difference you mentioned, concerning the supression of prime and the possible reduction of the daytime hours to one are found in the General Instruction appended to the current books, not in the Code of Canon Law itself, right?

Therefore, I would see Sommorum Pontificum as mostly adding an option to the list of approved books. Therefore, the rules of prayer would be those found in the General Instruction for the books in force in 1962, assuming there was one.

However, I beleive it was a common practice for diocesan clergy in the 50's to recite all of the hours at once, and this might be in conflict with canon 1175:

Can. 1175 In carrying out the liturgy of the hours, the true time for each hour is to be observed insofar as possible.