QUAERITUR: Using the Breviarium Romanum but with the Novus Ordo calendar

From a priest:

Thanks for all of your work on behalf of the Church and, from a brother priest, oremus pro invicem! [Libenter!]

I was ordained this year and thank God for the tremendous gift of offering the Divine Sacrifice and forgiving sins in the Sacrament of Penance.

The Lord blessed me with many very good years of Latin study before priestly ordination and as a result I have the ability to read well and speak a little; what great treasures of the Tradition the key of Latin unlocks to those willing to suffer and work for it. Thanks for encouraging all seminarians to fulfill their canonical obligation by learning it well.

My question for you is this: may a priest fulfill his obligation by praying the traditional breviary according to the new calendar? I happen to be exercising my priestly ministry in a parish following the new calendar. Basically this would mean celebrating the feasts that both calendars have from the traditional calendar, using the common for feasts that don’t exist in the old calendar and praying the ferial days in the breviary when it is a ferial day in the new calendar.

I know this is not ideal but in light of the present historical moment would this fulfill one’s obligation apropos the breviary until the calendars are reconciled?

While there are some genuine benefits of the new breviary (the richer selection of Church Father’s for the Office of Readings et alia) the new psalter, in my humble opinion, is atrocious.

I am getting quite a few breviary questions these days.  Interesting.  These are complicated issues and I don’t really know quite how to respond.  The Church’s law isn’t entirely apparent to me.

It is clear that we can use either the Liturgia Horarum or the Breviarium Romanum. It is clear that we can use either the 2002 Missale Romanum or the 1962 Missale Romanum.   The new office is aligned to the new Mass and the older office is aligned to the older Mass.  It is best to be consistent: say the old Mass and say the older office, etc.

I don’t believe there is any obligation to say the Breviarium Romanum on the days you opt to use the 1962 Missale Romanum.  But it sure makes sense to do so.

What happens for the priest in the parish who has less control over which missal he uses is that he can wind up caught between two calendars.  That gets a little schizophrenic.  Thus, you are trying to reduce the craziness by using the older breviary with the newer calendar.  Good luck.

I think the mens of the Roman Pontiff is not to mix these two expressions of the Roman Rite… yet.  It seems to me that we need more direction on this.  My own thought on this is evolving.  Therefore, I suggest that, in the morning when your hand reaches to the right to pick up the Breviarium Romanum, or to the left to take the Liturgia Horarum, you stick what you chose – and its calendar – through the day.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr Martin Fox says:


    > I think if a cleric prays the hours according to either breviary, he fulfills his obligation. I am not at all familiar with the older form, so I don’t know if it is more demanding than the newer form; but if it is, then I would be even more confident in saying the older form satisfies the obligation to pray the office.

    > I agree with our genial host that it makes sense to match the older breviary and Mass calendars, and match the newer as well; even if it isn’t strictly required as it may not be.

    > I also think you pray your office with the breviary you have at the moment and be content. There have been times I forgot my breviary and was hearing confessions, and I had recourse to one of the breviaries issued shortly after the council–which are no longer used. It was what I had.

  2. “Schizophrenic” is exactly the word that I came up with to describe bouncing back and forth between calendars, when I had regular access to the TLM yet prayed the new breviary. This business of two calendars has got to end. I hope, when it does, it means going back to the pre-conciliar calendar with the addition of new saints and feasts.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I am thinking one could “legally” observe the Ordinary Form saints as votive offices, at least on ferial days in the Extraordinary Form.

    I pray the Holy See would edit both calendars, and even the Proper of Seasons, so that both forms of the Roman Rite would be united on that front.

  4. moconnor says:

    I understand this priest’s desire for the older Breviary. The LotH is nowhere near as rich as the traditional Roman Office. It was compiled for busy priests to read and be done with. The older office is so closely tied to the TLM that the two are virtually inseparable. My suggestion? Celebrate the TLM once a day, privately if you must, and pray the traditional Divine Office. Only Sundays and Holy Days seem to matter in the OF anyway.

  5. moon1234 says:

    I think there would be severe blowback from those groups who use the preconciliar booxs exclusively if there was any king of tinkering other than adding feasts and saints.

    I think all of the Holy Week changes should be reverted back to 1950. Bugnini tinkered with Holy Week before the council. The changes that he instituted made no sense. Most of them were dumped in the new Mass. THAT is a change I would LIKE to see in the liturgical calendar of the old Mass.

    The LOTH is very simplified compared to the breviary. If you are one who has an affinity for the traditonal office then by all means learn and use it. You will be able to connect yourself to all of those saints from the last 600 years. You will be praying, for the most part, the same prayers they did. Your daily sacrifice will be similar to theirs. The LOTH is another break with the Church’s past.

  6. Rellis says:

    A distinction, of course, must be made between clerics (bound to either the LOTH or the BR) and the laity (for whom anything is devotional here).

    As a layman, I do exactly as the emailer suggests. I (basically) use the EF (actually, 1954) Proper of Time and the OF Proper of Saints. That isn’t exactly right, but it’s 90 percent there.

    I have the freedom to do that as a layman, but I would not want priests out there doing this on their own. If men were angels, no laws would be necessary. For the time being, pick one or the other and be faithful to what the Church has handed down.

    As to why Fr. Z is getting so many breviary questions, the answer is simple–it’s the next hill. The TLM is a battle largely won, even if the skirmishes are still not over. The BR is the second major liturgical book of the Roman Rite, and we’re still in the early stages of education here. Things remind me of where things were with the Mass in the early to mid 1990s.

  7. bourgja says:

    Clearly the older breviary must be prayed with the older calendar, and the newer breviary with the newer calendar. Also, the instruction specified that clerics who pray the older breviary should do so in Latin.

  8. Johnny Domer says:

    I’m not sure why everybody’s so negative regarding the idea of using the EF Breviary and OF Mass or vice versa. I mean, yeah, it’s slightly annoying to have breviary and Mass not match up, but I’ve never thought that it was some dreadful hindrance to my prayer that I was praying the office for St. X but going to Mass for St. Y. It’s not ideal, but I’m hesitant to say it’s some awful thing; and my guess is that, for many people, the benefit of the extended rigor of the EF Breviary would outweigh this inconvenience.

    I don’t pray the whole office each day, so I guess I might not entirely understand the negative effects of this. I always thought it was a nice way for me to keep in touch with the EF calendar while having to go to Mass in the OF. Any priests think likewise?

  9. Robert of Rome says:

    I won’t suggest what anybody else should do, whether cleric or layman, and I won’t presume to interpret Church law. Speaking personally, I don’t find it difficult to say Mass in the OF, if I must, and to pray the Roman Breviary on the same day. I don’t find it difficult to carry two liturgical calendars in my mind and to move between them, even on the same day. I don’t think this is the best possible solution, but for me it is doable. And I don’t experience doing so as “schizophrenic”.

  10. Another advantage of the Breviarium Romanum is the possibility of using the Pius XII psalter. I personally prefer it, as it is far more intelligible than the Gallican psalter, and it’s just better Latin. It’s also more familiar for people used to the Psalms in a translation from Hebrew.

    As for the LOTH’s neo-vulgate psalter, I see no reason to use it, since it’s just an imitation of the Gallican psalter that tries to follow the Hebrew text more closely. The end result is neither beautiful nor practical. You can’t have the best of both worlds.

  11. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    I think it’s great that the office and the mass are designed to match up, but I think that one should not get uptight about the many times when they don’t, for instance when a ritual or votive mass is celebrated, or an external solemnity. In the OF, of course, we have all kinds of options, including optional memorials and commemorations. (There are commemorations in the EF too, but they are not really the same thing, are they?) So when I attend mass, I am quite used to the celebrant picking a different option from the one I chose when I started to pray Matins or the Office of Reading. No biggie. Even on a bad day, it is annoying at worst. On a good day, it is indeed refreshing to celebrate the Office of Saint Bruno at one hour, the office of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher at another, and the office of the 5th Feria of the 27th week “per annum” at a third (and all these just according to the OF).

    On the other hand, I could see how it could become wearing if it happened every single day. But the two calendars are not really that different, are they?

    Father Hunwicke has often complained about the lack of EF style commemorations in the OF. What is it (he asks) that Bugnini had against celebrating more that one feast at a given mass? Although the OF did indeed proscribe mixing celebrations at a single hour or mass (except for the new OF style commemorations restricted to Lent and a few days of Advent), it does allow for the mixing of multiple celebrations throughout the day.

  12. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Daniel Arseneault,

    I know of no restriction in the OF that would preclude using either the Pian (or Gallican!) psalters.

  13. paterscotus says:

    Either the Liturgy of the Hours or the Brevarium Romanum may be used to satisfy ones clerical obligations. The pope said so.

    I’ve used the BR for most of the past couple of years both as a means to get a better grip on Latin (which my seminary training lacked) and to connect with the deeper tradition of our liturgy. It helped ground me in the language of the EF and I found it very satisfying to be praying the same office as did St Jean Vianney, etc.

    I also found, though, that I’d been taking some *pride* in praying Matins and Lauds for an hour and a quarter or more before my associate (and others) even rolled out of bed. And I cannot deny, having the duties of a pastor, that the time involved almost seemed a little oppressive, particularly when the BR supplanted time previously devoted to unstructured meditation, the rosary , or lectio. As a Carmelite (secular) that set up a certain dissonance with my spirituality.

    And so, on the feast of St Therese (current calendar) – the saint of the “Little Way,” I decided to return to the LOH (ad experimentum, at least). I already miss some of the accouterments of the older breviary, but am also breathing something of a sigh of spiritual relief. We’ll see how it goes.

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