Can a parish priest use the Monastic Breviary?


Can a Roman Rite priest (e.g. a diocesan, Jesuit, Redemptorist, etc.) who recites the Divine Office privately fulfill his obligation by reciting a monastic version of the Office in the same Rite? The monastic liturgy is part of the Roman Rite, but the hymns and distribution of the psalms is different. GILH 242 makes it clear that the obligation is fulfilled for those visiting a monastic community. My question is whether a priest can chose to use the Breviarium Monasticum for his own private recitation of the Office.


No, he cannot. It is strictly for monastic communities only.

I think a better way to phrase the question would be: Can a secular priest fulfill the obligation by reciting the monastic Liturgy of the Hours? Benedictines, Franciscans, etc. are Roman Rite priests, yet they are monastics.


Do you have a citation? I was under the impression that at the very least oblate priests were permitted to use it.


Benedictine Oblates actually have a separate breviary they use.

The monastic breviaries are solely for the monastic communities. For example, a diocesan priest cannot celebrate the Carmelite Rite, as it is a monastic Mass solely for the Carmelites. It is really late, and I am exhausted, so I am not going to look for a citation. But you can trust me, I am correct.


Yes, but whereas the Carmelite Mass is part of a separate rite, the Monastic Breviary is not. It’s part of the Roman Rite. Historically, permission was given to third order parish priests to use the breviaries proper to their respective religious orders without being allowed to say Mass in the Rite. So a different set of rules applies to the Divine Office, and I wouldn’t be surprised if no permission is required to use a different breviary that’s already part of the Roman Rite.


Again, the Benedictine Divine Office is solely for Benedictines. It is a two-way street. Benedictines cannot pray the regular Liturgy of the Hours. They must use the Benedictine Breviary, as that is what their order dictates. It would be sort of like saying that since the Benedictines celebrate the Mass of Paul VI, they should be allowed to pray the regular Liturgy of the Hours. It doesn’t work that way.


Franciscans are not monastics. Tell Br. JR that he is a monk and he will bite off your head. =p


They are friars. The Franciscans are a medicant order.

Lutherans have bit my head off for that consubstantiation/sacramental union thing, so I’m weary of someone who bites heads off. :smiley:


Ok, where is this in canon law? Thats really what I’m looking for. Can anyone else provide a recerence?


But in a loving, charitable, way :wink:


Not exactly. First of all, oblates of the abbey I’m associated with can either pray the Monastic breviary, or the Roman one; we don’t have a separate breviary, just an abridged version of the monastic one, that is Lauds, Vespers and Compline only. I do either depending on my time constraints (the monastic one is considerably longer). Other abbeys may have special breviaries for oblates or simply recommend the LOTH. Each abbey will do according to its own oblate charter.

We have a few parish priests and deacons, who are also oblates. I am sure that the authority to allow them to use the monastic breviary resides with their bishop, i.e. they can ask for permission to do so. Also I believe the current Carmelite breviary is the current 4-week LOTH but with a Carmelite calendar.

There are actually several Monastic Breviaries that divide the psalter over either 1 or two weeks; 4 schemas are defined in the Thesaurus Liturgiae Horarum Monasticum; the first, schema A, is the one described by St. Benedict himself and spreads the psalter over 1 week with many psalms repeated; schema B as used at our abbey, is post-Vatican II and says the entire psalter in 1 week with no repetitions, with a couple of 2-week adaptation (our abbey does it in one week). Schemas C and D are two-week psalters.

That said, the General Instructions of the Monastic Liturgy of the Hours does allow the use of the Roman Breviary in certain cases (my translation from French):

  1. If a community, for particular reasons, wishes to adopt the Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Rite, it is recommended to chant entirely the principle hours (Lauds and Vespers) and to distribute the psalms of Vigils (Office of Readings) over two weeks…
  1. For the private recitation of the Office, monks who habitually exercise a pastoral responsibility may use the LOTH according to the Roman Rite, or according to another schema approved by the abbot. The same applies for monks who are traveling, or for particular reasons, those who with the consent of the abbot are unable to present in choir.

So as you can see for private recitation and when outside choir, monks are allowed to use the Roman Rite.

Keep in mind that the Benedictine Order is a loose confederation only. Therefore considerable latitude is given to each community, under the authority of its abbot, to use different breviaries or even design its own as I have seen in some places. Similarly, whether oblates use the same breviary, or abridged version, or a separate one for oblates only, or the LOTH, is a matter for individual abbeys to define in their Oblate Charter. Our abbey obliges recitation of part of the Divine Office, and recommends Lauds, Vespers and Compline (hence those three hours in our abridged breviary), but does allow the substitution of the Roman Rite, or the recitation of the entire breviary. Houses that use Schema A are likely to see their oblates use a very abridge version since it is so heavy, or allow the Roman Rite.

Similarly the bishop cannot impose a breviary on a monastery, it’s outside his jurisdiction. It is however, within his jurisdiction to allow a priest of his diocese to use a different breviary, for instance for a priest belonging to a third order or is a Benedictine Oblate.


The reason I ask it because I know the Breviarium Monasticum (1962) is much, much closer to what all Roman Rite priests prayed historically from Gregory the Great to Pius X. I was a postulant in a Benediction community that used the Breviarium Monasticum, and I continued to pray that Office for years after, so it’s had a huge impact on my spiritual life. And now that I’m considering joining a non-monastic priestly order, I hate the thought of having to give it up for the regular LOTH. I doubt my future superiors would ever care what breviary I use, but I need to find out if using the Breviarium Monasticum as a secular priest is licit and fulfills my obligation.


That’s probably something you’ll have to work out with your bishop.

If it helps, there is a post-Vatican II version of the Monastic Breviary. It’s Benedictine Schema A. The psalms of Prime can be distributed over other hours, or Prime can be retained. All the books you’ll need (at least in Latin) are available from Solesmes, but it will be murder to use them, not only page flipping but book flipping as well :eek:

That said, though initially the LOTH gave me the chills as well, it has grown on me. I chant the day hours in Latin using Les Heures Grégoriennes, a Latin-French diurnal antiphonary. It’s beautifully done, with all the Gregorian notation required to chant the entirety of the day hours (Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline). For the Office of Readings, I used that as Vigils and chant it recto-tono which appears to be current monastic pratice. But then I have a very demanding professional life coupled to a difficult commute. Still, scratching beneath the surface it’s uncanny how many traditions have been kept (apart of course from the psalter schema, though many psalms retain their traditional positions during the day), with several interesting options that are available.

When I do have more time I use the monastic schema of the abbey I’m associated with, Benedictine schema B (the entire psalter in a week, though I often use one of the 2-week options allowed by that schema).


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