Must Divine Office be prayed vocally to be Liturgy?


#1

Is there an authoritative source stating that in order to be a liturgical act, the Liturgy of the Hours must be prayed vocally as opposed to silently? This question comes up on the regular forums now and then, but the answers seem to be just opinions. I would like to see something in a modern (post Vatican II) document if possible.

I understand the logic of it: the Liturgy of the Hours is the public prayer of the Church, rather than something going on inside your own head, even if you are by yourself. I believe a priest saying mass by himself is similarly obliged to say everything out loud, at least in a whisper. I would just like some kind of explicit documentation of this. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours does not spell out this requirement, although several priests have told me that they were taught this in the seminary. I’d just like some sort of reference for the sake of some research I’m doing.


#2

[quote="daria1588, post:1, topic:298419"]
Is there an authoritative source stating that in order to be a liturgical act, the Liturgy of the Hours must be prayed vocally as opposed to silently? This question comes up on the regular forums now and then, but the answers seem to be just opinions. I would like to see something in a modern (post Vatican II) document if possible.

I understand the logic of it: the Liturgy of the Hours is the public prayer of the Church, rather than something going on inside your own head, even if you are by yourself. I believe a priest saying mass by himself is similarly obliged to say everything out loud, at least in a whisper. I would just like some kind of explicit documentation of this. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours does not spell out this requirement, although several priests have told me that they were taught this in the seminary. I'd just like some sort of reference for the sake of some research I'm doing.

[/quote]

I can't help you with a reference, but I know that this general idea is correct. From what I know, there's three levels of praying the LOTH:

Praying internally: Praying the prayers of the church, but more as a personal prayer (which I sometimes do)
Praying vocally without a cleric: a para-liturgical prayer, praying with the church (kinda)
' with a cleric: a liturgical prayer perfectly united to the entire church


#3

Indirectly it seems that you can pray silently when praying alone, though this may just be taking about praying psalms in general(:shrug::slight_smile: except this direction is within the General Instructions:

General instructions: 103. The psalms are not readings or prose prayers, but poems of praise. They can on occasion be recited as readings, but from their literary genre they are properly called Tehillim (“songs of praise”) in Hebrew and psalmoi (“songs to be sung to the lyre”) in Greek. In fact, all the psalms have a musical quality that determines their correct style of delivery. **Thus even when a psalm is recited and not sung or is said silently in private, its musical character should govern its use. **A psalm does present a text to the minds of the people, but its aim is to move the heart of those singing it or listening to it and also of those accompanying it “on the lyre and harp.”

In my diaconal training we were told that we may find it beneficial to pray aloud because the psalms are songs of praise and so were meant to be heard or sung not read silently.

Reading aloud certainly does involve more senses than reading silently.


#4

I pray it out loud when praying with my husband morning and evening but silently at other times. I often see the priests at work praying it silently in church or at adoration.


#5

Not to get off-topic, but is being vocal the only requirement? I often chant the pre-VII Divine Office but I don’t think that makes it liturgical; I’m just a layman. I’m sure you need a priest to make it liturgy, but I couldn’t cite that, either.


#6

It is already a liturgy and millions are praying the office (many right now as I type) and you enter into the liturgy by praying the Office.

It's not a bunch of individuals or small groups saying the same prayers, but who somehow remain disconnected and apart.

It's the whole Church praying as one.


#7

I split the difference between silently praying it and vocal prayer, especially when praying it in the quiet of the adoration chapel.

There is a word for the technique where you start off whispering and after a minute or two, only the lips move. This way the words can be "pronounced" in one's mind. Brother JR mentioned it once, as a way to pray vocally but without making sounds.

It must look silly but that's what I do sometimes. :shrug:

-Tim-


#8

[quote="Rich_C, post:5, topic:298419"]
Not to get off-topic, but is being vocal the only requirement? I often chant the pre-VII Divine Office but I don't think that makes it liturgical; I'm just a layman. I'm sure you need a priest to make it liturgy, but I couldn't cite that, either.

[/quote]

I know that some traditional priests think this but my reading of the Second Vatican Council tells me that the Divine Office is offered to all the people of God as the Divine Office, which is in itself liturgical.

My reasoning is this (and I don't offer this as an authoritative interpretation).

Sacrosanctun concilium 85 states that all who offer the Divine office, "are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honor of Christ's spouse, for by offering these praises to God they are standing before God's throne in the name of the Church their Mother." This is pretty much a textbook definition of liturgical prayer.

Then in SC n. 100, it states, "And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually."

I'm therefore inclined to think that the Church's mind is that the Divine Office is always liturgical, although for priests and religious, they offer it up liturgically for the Church by virtue of their ordination or consecration (i.e. priests are required to pray for the Church). For laity, it remains liturgical in that they too are participating in the public prayer of the Church by virtue of their universal priesthood, even if alone.

I think the only time it is not possible for the Divine Office to be offered liturgically is when it is said by the unbaptized, but this is just my opinion.


#9

I often do that when praying alone.


#10

In CCD the kids are taught liturgy mean “work of the people” that is supported by the Oxford English Dictionary. Practically, I don’t knowif others on the subway in DC want to hear me chant/sing at 7:45am. Several times a year people do ask me about it.


#11

[quote="hilde_the_dog, post:10, topic:298419"]
In CCD the kids are taught liturgy mean "work of the people" that is supported by the Oxford English Dictionary. Practically, I don't knowif others on the subway in DC want to hear me chant/sing at 7:45am. Several times a year people do ask me about it.

[/quote]

Why not? Plan one of those "flash mobs" and get a subway car full of people to just break out in a full sung vespers after work one day. Have them memorize the first minute or two so you can start out suddenly without books. Boy, that would be sweet....


#12

[quote="TimothyH, post:7, topic:298419"]
I split the difference between silently praying it and vocal prayer, especially when praying it in the quiet of the adoration chapel.

There is a word for the technique where you start off whispering and after a minute or two, only the lips move. This way the words can be "pronounced" in one's mind. Brother JR mentioned it once, as a way to pray vocally but without making sounds.

It must look silly but that's what I do sometimes. :shrug:

-Tim-

[/quote]

I think the term was vocalization.


#13

[quote="triumphguy, post:3, topic:298419"]
Indirectly it seems that you can pray silently when praying alone, though this may just be taking about praying psalms in general(:shrug::) except this direction is within the General Instructions:

In my diaconal training we were told that we may find it beneficial to pray aloud because the psalms are songs of praise and so were meant to be heard or sung not read silently.

Reading aloud certainly does involve more senses than reading silently.

[/quote]

When alone, those who are obligated to recite them, may do so silently, provided their lips move and breath passes through them.

Don't ask me how I know that because I can't remember where I read it. I know it was something official, though.


#14

There is nothing official that says that, and I have studied the Liturgy of the Hours. Prayer is prayer whether your lips move or air passes though. What you probably read was someone’s thoughts or interpretations. If what you say is true than many of the priests and seminarians I know are doing it wrong.


#15

[quote="superamazingman, post:2, topic:298419"]
I can't help you with a reference, but I know that this general idea is correct. From what I know, there's three levels of praying the LOTH:

Praying internally: Praying the prayers of the church, but more as a personal prayer (which I sometimes do)
Praying vocally without a cleric: a para-liturgical prayer, praying with the church (kinda)
' with a cleric: a liturgical prayer perfectly united to the entire church

[/quote]

I agree that there are three levels and that priest+community is that which the church prefers and hopes we do whenever possible (which is not often for most of us). I disagree with the use of the term "para-liturgy" to describe a layman praying the LOTH alone. Both the Catechism (1174-75) and the General Instruction of the LOTH are pretty clear that laity using an approved text and format are indeed praying liturgically. It's an enormous privilege to be able to do so, hence my original question about the vocal vs. interior situation.


#16

#17

That is correct. If the words aren’t at least whispered, the Mass is not valid.


#18

There may be none. E.J. Quigley did make mention of it in his book on the Divine Office (1920) under the section on moral and ascetic principles. In that section, he did state that it was expected that the lips form the words, even if silently and that merely mental reading did not satisfy the obligation (at that time, the Breviary was expected to be used only by those with obligation). His footnotes say this:

“The privilege of mental recitation was granted to the Friars Minor by Pope Leo X. and Pius V., but it is probable that the privilege was withdrawn by Pope Gregory XV.”

So far, I haven’t seen particular documents by any of these Popes, so you may have to resort to secondary sources such as Quigley. And even then, Quigley only tells us what’s customary and it may be custom enough to have the force of law, but I don’t know if anyone can state this authoritatively.
[/quote]


#19

[quote="daria1588, post:15, topic:298419"]
I agree that there are three levels and that priest+community is that which the church prefers and hopes we do whenever possible (which is not often for most of us). I disagree with the use of the term "para-liturgy" to describe a layman praying the LOTH alone. Both the Catechism (1174-75) and the General Instruction of the LOTH are pretty clear that laity using an approved text and format are indeed praying liturgically. It's an enormous privilege to be able to do so, hence my original question about the vocal vs. interior situation.

[/quote]

This is correct. The LOTH even said by the laity is fully liturgical if the approved texts are used. The rubrics even specify how the final blessing is to be done if a priest or deacon is presiding, and what replaces it when only laity are present.

We tend to forget that many religious communities of women, for instance, pray the LOTH even though they don't have a priest (sometimes their chaplain only shows up for Mass). They are definitely not clerics!

I have a very strong attachment to the LOTH which I pray daily. I chant it when I can, and read it silently when I cannot (for instance the minor hours at the office).


#20

Vocal and mental or silent prayer are described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The vocal form of prayer is a divine requirement and is the best forml: “He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.”

As another example, for plenary indulgences and many partials, vocal prayer is required, unless one is deaf or dumb. (It may be audible only to yourself.) *
Ref: Enchiridion Indulgentiarum* 4th ed., vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/apost_penit/documents/rc_trib_appen_doc_20020826_enchiridion-indulgentiarum_lt.html

Catechism of the Catholic Church

I. VOCAL PRAYER
2700 Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the heart should be present to him to whom we are speaking in prayer: "Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls."2
2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.3
2702 The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.
2703 This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.
2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of him "to whom we speak;"4 Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.


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