From a reader:
So, I’ve resolved to get a Breviarum Romanum set, but I was holding out for Baronius Press’ because it is rumored to have both Latin and English text. However, it would seem that the Baronius set is the stuff of myth (seeing as it’s been in the typsetting stage for a year), and it looks as if I’ll be purchasing the one from romanbreviary.com. I would rather it have both English and Latin, but alas it does not. I have an intermediate grasp of Ecclesial Latin, and while I would prefer the training wheels, I’m not altogether deterred at the Latin-only prospect. My question is, are there any recommendations you would give to somebody who is jumping into the deep end?
First, it is unclear to me whether the questioner is a cleric or religious, that is under the obligation to say the office, or a layman without the obligation.
If you have an obligation, and you are not too strong with your Latin, then I would suggest taking the Latin office in small bites. It is better for you to understand what you are doing when fulfilling your obligation. You might stick at first to Compline. Otherwise, as a supplement to your regular office, Baronius has a nice volume of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Latin and English facing in columns.
You might look for a couple aids, such as Pius Parsch’s The Breviary Explained or The Church’s Year of Grace, to help you identify the over all flow of the themes and concepts the Church is underscoring with the feasts, Sundays, and seasons.
Otherwise, keeping in mind that the office is a form of vocal prayer, you will greatly increase your comprehension and facility with the breviary by saying it out loud. Having the musical notation for the hymns via the Liber Usualis can help too.
Also, perhaps by focusing on one hour, writing down the vocabulary on flashcards, you can master small sections at a time.
Finally, when reading the psalter, you might first read the psalm in English straight through, and then turn to the Latin.
Not having a strong grasp of Latin will make this a bit arduous, but it could be a good way to get you into the Breviarum Romanum.