QUAERITUR: Saying the Office for an Old Testament saint from the Martyrology

From a reader:

While reading the martyrology yesterday, I saw that today (6/14) has the prophet Elisha listed. I remembered your posts reminding your readers that the Church commemorates old testament figures and that "if there were no other saint in the liturgical calendar taking precedence, we are told that we indeed could take a saint from the Martyrology." (post of May 9, 2009)

Because there’s no solemnity/feast/memorial today in the general Roman calendar, I thought about praying the Liturgy of the Hours for the optional memorial for Elisha. How would I do that? Which common would I use, the common of "holy men"?

If you don’t know how this would be done with the OF LOTH, would you know how it would be done for the EF Divine Office?

Hmmm… I don’t know!

I suppose the common of Holy Men would be right, in the case of an OT figure.


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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I have ALWAYS wondered this. You would think since the rubric is given, there would be some further direction regarding what common to use. It seems that the Common of Holy Men or Holy Women would be the safe default.

    Perhaps the CDW should produce a “Common of Prophets”?

  2. Random Friar says:

    Looking to those who still regularly celebrate OT saints, I found this from our Carmelite brothers:


    It says all propers to their Ordo, but I think Elisha must take some commons from Holy Men.

  3. tjvigg3 says:

    As you know, St. John the Baptist has traditionally been seen as the last of the Old Testament prophets and the bridge between the Old and the New. The Office (OF) for the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist directs one to the Common of Holy Men for those parts of the Office that are not Proper to the Day. Therefore, by extention, it indeed seems correct that the Common of Holy Men would be used for other Old Testament figures. Others who bridge the two testaments but presumptively died before our Divine Lord was crucified and rose (e.g. St. Joseph, St. Joachim) also use the Common of Holy Men (OF) for those parts of their Offices that are not Proper. I think the reader’s instincts are correct.

  4. Rellis says:

    To actually answer the question…

    1. All parts taken from the Common of Holy Men
    2. Psalms taken from the weekday
    3. Weekday Compline

    For the older BR, this is a one nocturn, third class day with three lessons

    1. All the variable parts are from the Common of Confessors not Bishops
    2. The first two Matins lessons are from the weekday; the third is from the lesson iv-vi in the Common
    3. Psalms from the weekday
    4. Te Deum is said
    5. Compline of the weekday

  5. Oneros says:

    Yeah, what is the deal with Votive Offices in the Old Rite, exactly? The way Rellis describes seems like a good way to do it without losing too much of the ferial office (ie, the psalms and Matins lessons are from the feria), and yet didnt Pius X get rid of the votive offices that Leo XIII introduced? If this is allowed on free ferias under the Old Office, I’d like to know.

  6. aquinas138 says:

    Oneros, yes, Divino Afflatu abolished all votive offices. Nevertheless, a lay person could observe such a memorial without problem. Rellis’ schema would be correct.

    The “votive offices” of the pre-Pius X Office were not quite as “votive” as the ones in the LOTH; there was an office assigned to each day of the week (Mon. – Holy Angels, Tue. – Ss. Peter and Paul, Wed. – S. Joseph, Thu. – Blessed Sacrament, Fri. – Passion, Sat. Immaculate Conception) which could be said whenever the ferial office was to be said outside of privileged seasons. This had the effect of completely obscuring the ferial psalter, which was already rarely used due to the crowded nature of the calendar – one of the primary goals of Pius X’s reforms was to restore use of the ferial psalter. The offices of the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Conception were mandatory in some parts of the Church, so they were “votive” only in name.

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