Efficacy of EF Office in the Vernacular

Hello all! So recently after juggling around versions of the Office for awhile, I decided to pray the EF Divine Office entirely in Latin. This way, it counts as a true “liturgy”.

Recently, I have thought about inviting my girlfriend to pray Vespers with me. If I ever did, I would use my all-English edition book that I have, as she does not know Latin and is not interested in learning. Of course, then it would not count as liturgy, but only as a devotion based off of a liturgy.

This got me wondering, what would the efficacy of such a prayer be compared to the actual Divine Office. It is interesting to ponder. On one hand, the Divine Office is the prayer of the Church. If it is said entirely in Latin with the intention of doing what the Church what the Church does, it is objectively liturgy, and of a higher form of prayer than just personal devotion, even when the speaker does not always know what he is saying (I myself am only beginning to learn Latin). Yet, on the other hand, I know that praying the EF Office in the vernacular can contribute more to meditation when said vernacular is the mother tongue of the speaker (this is really the only thing I miss from the LOTH, the ability to always understand what I was praying).

A somewhat related question came up as I pondered this. Let us say that, before Vatican II, a priest prayed the text of the mass entirely in the vernacular in an unapproved translation. In other words, the Vatican did not give any permission to use it. This would certainly be illicit, but would it really be invalid? If the priest were to say “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.” (which is the approved English translation for the Ordinary Form), and he did so with the intention of doing what the Church does, would the bread become the Body of Christ? Or if a priest today invented a time machine, went back before Vatican II, and celebrated the Ordinary Form, would it be valid?

I have to think it would be probably valid, but gravely illicit.

This leads to another, somewhat similar question I’ve had. If a validly ordained Catholic (or Orthodox, for that matter) priest becomes an Anglican, and celebrates their Mass with the intention of doing what the Catholic and Orthodox Church do (consecrate the bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Christ), is it a valid Mass? Do the bread and wine, in fact, become the true Body and Blood?

I would guess “yes”, but I’d like to hear other ideas (ideally from a priest). Has the Catholic Church ever formally addressed this scenario?

That question has actually been asked and answered before, albeit a long while back… and the answer is YES. If he’s validly ordained and does what the Church intends, he’s performing an illicit but valid sacrament by using proper form and matter for consecration, even in unapproved (and inappropriate) circumstances.

I thought this was the case, thanks. Therefore, depending on the priest and what his intent is, some Masses celebrated in Anglican churches could in fact be valid. I am not arguing against Apostolicae curae, though I would like to see the entire matter revisited, especially in light of valid episcopal orders being grafted into the Anglican church via Old Catholic, Orthodox, and others (what they call the “Dutch Touch” and the “Polish Pat”). I am just stating, as do you, that the Anglican Mass at St XYZ Church could be a valid Mass.

This would, of course, not apply to Masses celebrated by women priests, nor where the priest has become very “low church” after converting to Anglicanism and does not intend to confect a sacrament where Our Lord is truly present.

Why do you think that something has to be said in Latin to be considered “true liturgy?” So the thousands of U. S. priests and deacons praying the LOTH in English aren’t really engaged in “liturgy?”


That is not what I mean at all. As I understand, at least from a canonical point of view, the form of the Divine Office is to be approved by the Vatican. In the Roman Church, there are two primary forms of the Office: the Liturgy of the Hours (the Ordinary Form) and the 1962 Divine Office (the Extraordinary Form). The Liturgy of the Hours has many approved translations, including English. Priests and deacons who pray this form in English are engaged in true liturgy (the prayer of the Church). On the other hand, the 1962 Divine Office is only allowed to be said in Latin if a cleric wants to fulfill their obligation. Only the Latin is approved. Therefore, any translation of it is simply devotional, or to be used as an aid in understanding the Latin.

Geesh this is so weird! That is really all I have to say about that. The thought that my local Anglican communities could have a valid mass both saddens me and weirds me out.

I expect that the Benedictine schema B is at least as widespread as the EF Breviary. It is the most popular breviary in the Benedictine order and is also used by Cistercians. It is the same length as the EF and is approved for other languages. A bit hard to find a print edition though.

Why not simply pray the LOTH in English? Overdoing it is a sure way to turn your GF off of liturgical prayer. It would be far more nourishing spiritually, to pray together. Where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name…

There’s nothing wrong with praying the EF Breviary though it wouldn’t be my choice. But IMHO nothing will solidify your relationship together in a Catholic manner better than praying the Church’s liturgy together. Use the Breviary that facilitates this. You won’t regret it.


That is fair, however, I am living my life by the EF liturgical cycle. There is a great peace in being integrated with one calendar, rather than trying to force them to fit together and reconcile them in your life. This is what I have found lately.

This is why I would choose to pray Vespers with her in a good EF English translation (I do own one such translation). I would, of course, give her the disclaimer that it is not “true” liturgy (or maybe it is, but just illicit?), but that is still has a lot of merit as a devotional prayer.

I will say that I do still pray compline in the Ordinary Form, since it is hardly affected by the calendar differences (outside of pre-Lent stuff), so maybe that would be the best hour to pray with her in the vernacular.

I will also add that the biggest thing for me is not the scheme of the psalms (I have actually come to appreciate both the four week and one week psalter). Rather, it is the feast days and the collects that go with them that I appreciate matching the liturgy I attend.

Why would it sadden you or, as you say, “weird you out”? If all the conditions are there, and if they have a valid priest, then I am very pleased that they have a valid Mass, where people can receive the Blessed Sacrament and the grace that comes only from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If they are in good faith and subjectively not guilty of being separated from the Roman Pontiff (because they do not realize they have to be in union with him), then their situation is similar to Orthodox who possess a valid Divine Liturgy and sacraments.

The 1962 Breviary in English doesn’t satisfy the canonical obligation for a cleric, but it’s perfectly fine for a layman.

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There’s your key – if a cleric wants to fulfill their obligation. So the Latin is not binding on you.

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The Orthodox would say “No” for Orthodox priests: once one loses his Orthodoxy, he loses Apostolic succession. It doesn’t matter that the a Bishop once laid hands on him - to focus on that is sort of legalistic to us and missing the point that a schismatic ceases exercising holy orders.

When I grew up a high church “Anglo-Catholic,” we loved to make that point about the Dutch touch and certain Eastern bishops being involved in our episcopal ordinations. It sounded so Catholic, and responsive to Apostolicae Curae. Eventually I realized that the reality was something different. While it was certainly true for a small number of bishops being ordained (more in England than in the U.S.), the vast majority did not. So while we tried to imply that there could be many validly ordained bishops and therefore priests, it turned out that such participation was the exception, and not the norm. Moreover, as time went on, and Anglicans began ordaining women, the so-called Orthodox participating became rare, and mostly from obscure groups that were not in communion with Constantinople. As for the Old Catholics, they have been ordaining women in recent decades. So while such claims sound good to the ear, they end up being built on sand. Moreover, in 1998, the Church’s teaching on Anglican orders was reasserted, so it’s not really something to be revisited.

I did not realize this. I thought that there was, at one time, a concerted effort to get Orthodox and schismatic Catholic episcopal orders into the Anglican church, both to respond to AC and for the sake of absolutely ensuring apostolic succession. I thought the idea was that these orders would “percolate down” and that, eventually, all Anglican bishops would be able to trace their apostolic succession at least in part to these orders. In light of what you say, I can see that I may have read a little more into the “Dutch Touch” scenario than actually existed. Thank you.

I see what you are saying — in the Orthodox view, the holy orders kind of “evaporate” if the priest or bishop leaves Orthodoxy, or at the very least, they can no longer be exercised validly (not just licitly).

It is “housekeeping issues” such as this, that will be one obstacle to full communion. I mean this in no bad way whatsoever, but in one sense, the Orthodox are similar to sedevacantists fast-forwarded 1000 years.

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I never fully understood how this view works in light of the fact that the early Church condemned Donatism. Orthodox Churches will often also receive Catholic clerics through a simple vesting, so some semblance of ordination must be recognized?

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O[quote=“HomeschoolDad, post:16, topic:556839, full:true”]

I did not realize this. I thought that there was, at one time, a concerted effort to get Orthodox and schismatic Catholic episcopal orders into the Anglican church, both to respond to AC and for the sake of absolutely ensuring apostolic succession. I thought the idea was that these orders would “percolate down” and that, eventually, all Anglican bishops would be able to trace their apostolic succession at least in part to these orders. In light of what you say, I can see that I may have read a little more into the “Dutch Touch” scenario than actually existed. Thank you.
Most Anglicans were and are unconcerned about the Roman view of their orders. It is only the Anglo-Catholic wing that cares, and only some of them made the effort to involve others in their ordinations. Anglo-Catholics have always strived to make their positions appear to be the norm within the Anglican Communion, but they are only a minority, both within England and the U.S., and elsewhere. When I realized that, I knew where my future lay. That was 35 years ago.

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Respectfully, I think you are overthinking this. The important thing is to pray regularly with your girlfriend in a manner agreeable to you both.

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