ASK FATHER: What time of day should Father be saying his Office?

From a reader…


I know some priests who pray all the Hours of the divine office at a particular time…for example:

There is this priest who went out for an important trip..he probably didn’t have any free time in the evening so he prayed Lauds, Office of Readings, Daytime, and Vespers all in the morning, is that allowed for just causes since Canon Law states that the Hours be prayed as much as possible in their respective time, thanks Father.

First, let it be said that it really isn’t any of your business when Father says his Office.  Be happy that he is, in fact, saying his Office for the whole Church (that is, also for you).

That said, restricting myself to priests of the Latin Church and Roman Rite, the law requires that the Officium  (“office” is from Latin officium, “duty, obligation, function, service”) be celebrated “as far as possible” at the appropriate time of day (cf. General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours 29).  Also, the 1983 Code of Canon Law says in can. 276, § 2, n. 3: “Priests, and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily, in accordance with their own approved liturgical books; permanent deacons are to recite that part of it determined by the Episcopal Conference”. The 1983 CIC no longer says “under pain of mortal sin”.

This all gives the Latin cleric a good deal of latitude.

A good and faithful priest, taking stock of his schedule, will pray his Office when he can. If the evening is jammed with a meeting of the Knights of Columbus, a funeral vigil, training servers for the Extraordinary Form Mass, and a social event with the St. Gabriel Possenti Gun Club at the parish’s indoor shooting range, Father is to be commended for his foresight if he prays Vespers at 1:00 pm. If Father knows he has a free morning, but the afternoon and evening are going to be hectic, and he therefore he prayers through the whole Office in the morning, that could be better than rushing through Vespers and Compline with tired eyes and distracted mind at 11:53 PM.

BTW… there was a time when priests would, while driving, stop their cars and read their breviaries with the light of the car’s headlamps.   Not only!  They would know when solar midnight fell in the place where they lived, or how far they lived from the timezone line by longitude in case they needed those extra few minutes accorded them by the interpretive principle of law odiosa restringenda, that is, that laws which impose a duty are to be interpreted strictly.  This is handy for understanding “time” in the legal sense.  For example, if I need to finish my office by midnight, I can think in terms of 1200 midnight by civil time, 24h.  That’s both boring and too restrictive.  To give me more flexibility I can also go by an offset of how many degrees I am from the timezone line.  By that reckoning, I should have, given my location, till about 12:06 AM, I think, to complete my office.  However, I can also calculate Roman midnight, since I am Roman Catholic priest.  Roman midnight is halfway between sunset and sunrise the next day.  As a matter of fact, my Roman Curia calendar, with the tear off sheets provides me with the sunrise and sunset times, in addition to “Aurora” and “Ave Maria” times… in Rome.  But figuring this out each day is a bother.  To give myself greatest latitude, pardon the pun, I can also go by solar midnight, which would today give me until 12:52  AM tomorrow (and 54 seconds), given my precise coordinates on your planet!  That’s when your Earth’s yellow sun will be at the exact nadir for my location. But I digress.

So, if Father regularly prays the whole Office at once “to get it out of the way”, he might want to bring his practice up with his spiritual director. That notwithstanding, he fulfills his obligation to the Lord and to the Church, an obligation he willingly assumed at the time he was ordained a deacon.

As far as the time of recitation of the hours is concerned, looking at the Liturgy of the Hours, it is reasonable to assume that the Church wants us to pray Morning Prayer in the Morning, right?  The intermediate hours still have distinctions of Terce, Sext, Nones.  Does that mean that Father must say the intermediate prayer for Sext exactly at noon (civil, solar or Roman?).  I don’t think so.  Neither should Father worry during Mass about completing signs of the Cross exactly between the syllables where the appears on the page.

Priests should talk to their spiritual directors about their relationship to the Office.  They should be open with their brother priests if they struggle with it. Fraternal support can help tremendously, and fraternal correction can also be of great value. They publicly assume at ordination the duty to recite the Office daily, that is, to offer the Church’s official prayers on behalf of the whole Church so that God hears ceaselessly the supplications and praises raised by His Son’s Mystical Body.

And, before people raise it:

Yes, Latin, Roman Rite priests fulfill their obligation by reciting either the Roman Breviary as it was during the Second Vatican Council (that is to say with the Breviarium Romanum of Saint John XXIII, the actual Vatican II Office) or with the Liturgia Horarum of Paul VI revised by St. John Paul II in 1985 with the New Vulgate.  And were I to participate in the singing of any of the hours at, say, the wonderful Benedictine Monastery at Norcia or at Le Barroux, I would fulfill my obligation.

Furthermore, while recitation of the Office should be aloud, since it is official and vocal prayer – this is why of yore and even now priests move their lips when saying their Office, there is always a measure of subvocalization taking place when reading.  I am of the opinion that a priest fulfills his obligation even when not moving his lips, reading silently.

And, yes, priests and deacons can use mobile phone apps and websites.  They don’t have to be holding a book in their hands.  The Office is the text, not the book.

Finally, this is why I think it is wrong wrong wrong to call Holy Mass simply “the liturgy”.  The Church’s liturgy is much more expansive than Mass, even though Mass is the zenith of what we do in our sacred liturgical rites.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Nicholas says:

    But Father, but Father!

    What about priests on the moon, in space, or on other planets?

    This is very interesting.

  2. Nicholas says: What about priests on the moon, in space, or on other planets?

    This is something I considered when I was a character in a SciFi series. I figure I could go by the ship’s time. Otherwise, when I was deployed to the surface, I was busy killing hideous creatures who wanted to eat us or seeing to the wounded and dying. Not a lot of time for the Office them.

  3. Nathan says:

    I am certain that your reader, Father, was motivated by love for his priests. [Haudquaquam dubitandum’st!] However, if in my dotage I ever question a priest on the schedule by which he prays the Divine Office, it may bring up a legitimate question for Father on the use of the liturgical Beretta.

    In Christ,

  4. Stephen Matthew says:

    …wanders by aimlessly mumbling something incoherent about the Council and the Church calling for public celebration of the major hours in parishes…

    …heard muttering “the spirit of Vatican II calls us more deeply into the liturgy” as he disappears into a meteorologically anomalous fog.

    [You mean as in Sacrosanctum Concilium 100? “Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts.”]

  5. Regarding the obligation to recite or pray the divine office, I recall the admonition in an old breviary that “what you don’t say, you don’t pray”. But it went on to advise that “saying it” doesn’t require that it be audible, only that the words be formed, even if silently. No doubt, some can silently form words gutturally (with throat or tongue) without moving their lips. However, I wonder whether mere mental reading (without formation of words in any sense) satisfies any definition of “recitation”.

  6. Uxixu says:

    I do wish parishes would celebrate the hours in Choir, as able of course, and at the very least have Solemn Vespers for Sundays and major Feasts. [Holy Innocents in Manhattan has Vespers on Sundays and major feasts.]

  7. Uxixu says:

    I would be interested in how the diocese set up on Luna and Mars colonies will do the Hours. Will they synchronize off Roman time or GMT, but especially other worlds when the periodic cycles don’t evenly translate. An 11 hour “day” or a moon tidally locked in orbit around a planet would seem logical to link to Roman time or something similar, but a planet with a 26 hour day would quickly going have issues with that. Might be more natural to link Lauds to sunrise and Vespers to sunset, etc and not adjust based on the time and cycles of Earth…

    Interesting to ponder what will regular space travel will do to interplanetary / interstellar colony’s vestments…

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Z, thanks for this info, but to the reader and other laity who just pay WAY to much attention to their priests, a lesson I learned in the good, old Midwest-MYOB.

    We laity have enough to do evangelizing rather than playing clergy police.

  9. Fr. Z,

    Does the canon law requirement you cite–that “Priests, and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily”–mean all of the hours daily, from lauds and office of readings through vespers and compline?

  10. Mary Jane says:

    If the original question stems from curiosity and wanting to learn that’s one thing…but otherwise I agree with Supertradmum on this one.

  11. Fr Kurt Barragan says:

    Henry Edwards,

    In 2000, the CDW issued a lengthy response to various questions on the obligation of praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The Latin text (published in Notitiae) is available here.

    The full text is worth studying carefully but I would summarize the key points as follows:
    – the obligation extends to the entire and daily recitation of the Office
    – the Office is never to be omitted through laziness or unnecessary leisure activities
    – serious reasons may excuse some or all of the obligation, e.g. health problems, fatigue caused by extensive pastoral duties (e.g. many hours in the confessional)
    – a proportionately greater justification is needed for omitting Lauds and Vespers than the little hours
    – for a just or serious reason, the proper ordinary can dispense or commute the obligation
    – the Office of Readings can be said at any time of day
    – at least one of the hours of terce, sext and none should be said each day, selecting the most appropriate hour for the time of day
    – if Lauds and Vespers cannot be said in the morning/evening hours as appropriate, they should be said as soon as possible: the time of day does not, of itself, excuse the obligation to pray these hours.

  12. robtbrown says:

    If someone is saying the Office at a time not appropriate to the time of day (e.g., Vespers at noon), those prayers are being joined to people in another part of the world who are saying the Office at the appropriate time of day. NB: The Church as Mystical Body.

  13. robtbrown says:

    It is said that Cardinal Richelieu would say one day’s office before midnight, then the next day’s just after midnight.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Excellent analysis. I especially like these lines: “I am of the opinion that a priest fulfills his obligation even when not moving his lips, [ie] reading silently. And, yes, priests and deacons can use mobile phone apps and websites. They don’t have to be holding a book in their hands. The Office is the text, not the book.” I agree completely.

    Also, re the moon, if memory serves, “mission” time was Central (because Mission Control was in Houston).

    [Ah! That makes sense. So much for the Moon.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  15. I’m sorry to hear that the reference to pain of mortal sin was omitted in the 1983 CIC. Another motivation for when temptation beckons.

    That said, I was under the impression that deliberately skipping the hours as a deacon or a priest was a mortal sin due to the gravity of the promise to prayer (“Do you promise to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to their care by observing the command to pray without ceasing?”).

  16. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Finally, this is why I think it is wrong wrong wrong to call Holy Mass simply “the liturgy”. The Church’s liturgy is much more expansive than Mass, even though Mass is the zenith of what we do in our sacred liturgical rites. AMEN!

    And I’m sure that you don’t mean to leave the impression, Father, that that the Office is just for clerics and religious. The Office is for the whole Church, and it should be part of a layman’s life. As in all liturgy, Christ Himself is the chief actor. When we pray the office, it is Christ Himself praying. The Psalms and Canticles are not just the prayers that He had used. Nor is He praying at the same time that we pray the Office. In fact, when we pray the Office, it is the Very Christ Himself Who is doing the praying. And because we all are incorporated into Christ, we all consequently should be praying.

    And this is the occasion to bemoan the loss of the Office as part of a parish’s daily liturgical life. So it was in the first six centuries in the early Church as the misnamed “Cathedral Office”. That office died out in the Western Church, and V2 revived it as the LOTH. At the very least a parish should have Solemn Vespers on Sundays and after Solemnities.

    [I was addressing myself to what clerics are obliged to do. Laypeople, unless they are consecrated persons whose state in life obliges them to the Office (e.g, Consecrated virgins, women religious, brothers), weren’t under consideration.]

  17. Geoffrey says:

    “The Office is for the whole Church, and it should be part of a layman’s life.”

    Amen to that! I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for years now, and I cannot imagine a day without it. Even though I am a layman and am not “bound” to observe the rubrics as a priest is, I believe it is a good rule of thumb if at all able.

  18. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    What time of day should Father be saying his Office?

    Two remarks:
    1. If Father is praying the old Office, I’m surprised that he has time for anything else.

    The old Office was the result of imposing a Monastic Office on clerics (the old Office for clerics and laity, the misnamed “Cathedral Office”, having died out after the 6th C), becoming a canonical duty for clerics in 1568; this is the judgement of scholars — Taft, Bradshaw, Meßner and others. Yet clerics aren’t monks; it was probably a bad idea to impose a Monastic Office even on Friars and Canons. By so imposing the result is “sheer liturgical exhaustion, from overnutrition and consequent spiritual indigestion.” (Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West , p. 308 quoting Van Dijk and Walker)

    2. Because the Office is about “sanctification of the day”, and because the moments of the day each have their own Spiritual significance, the Office should be prayed as close as possible to that moment of the day: to wit:
    — Lauds, the rising sun, the Resurrection and the theology of the Benedictus
    — Terce, aka “midmorning”, hour the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and on Fridays Our Lord beginning the way of the cross
    — Sext, “midday” the hour of St. Peter’s vision to convert the gentiles, and on Fridays the darkness at noon.
    — Nones, “midafternoon”, the hour the Apostle went to the Temple to pray, the hour of Cornelius’ vision, and on Fridays Our Lord’s death.
    — Vespers, the sunset, the hour of those hired returning from work to give the Taskmaster an account, the hour of thanksgiving, the hour of lighting our lamps for the night, the hour to recall the theology of the Magnificat and the Eschaton.
    — Compline, night prayer, penance
    — Mattins at anytime. I still prefer to read it before Lauds (and there are provisions for combining the two Offices). And the two-year cycle of readings is superior to the one-year.

    I add in passing that Macrina Wiederkehr’s _Seven Sacred Pauses_ has helped me with the significance of each hour, as well as the great Pius Parsch’s work on the Office.

  19. Fr. Barragan,

    Thank for your detailed elucidation of the priestly obligation to say the whole liturgy of the hours. I’ve heard individual priests speculate privately that this obligation is not … well, let’s say … universally respected. I recall a bishop saying that, when he had to call in a priest who had gotten into “trouble”, the first question he ordinarily asked him was “Father, when did you quit saying your daily office?”

  20. APX says:

    Fr. Z,

    Consecrated virgins are not obliged to recite the Office. They are strongly encouraged, if possible, to recite lauds and vespers daily. [Strongly encouraged, fine. So they should be given just a photocopy of the title page of the book during the consecration rite.]

  21. bohanlon says:

    As a seminarian whose schedule is a bit different from day-to-day (though not, of course, as varied as a parish priest’s would be), I usually try to affix my praying of the office to the fixed parts of my day – Matins and Lauds after I get up; Prime and Terce before and after the morning Mass; Sext and None before and after our midday exercises; Vespers before dinner, and Compline before bed; this is close enough to the canonical hours to be meaningful while still being fairly practical. When I have been in a parish, I have been able to pray the breviary closer to the preferred times, but then things pop up all the time where several hours get pushed together before or (more often) after the event.

    Had I been in charge of the reduced Liturgy of the Hours, which I do agree makes practical sense for busier parish priests and laity, I would have done a three-week cycle: three psalms at Matins, three midday, one each at Prime (SC 89d notwithstanding – it would not be the first time part of SC was completely thrown out anyway) and Compline, with all these hours on a three-week cycle. Lauds and Vespers would remain the same, five psalms on a one-week cycle.

  22. PaterAugustinus says:

    Two queries:

    I remember reading in some theological manuals, that an immemorial custom allowed for anticipating some portions of the Office, both in and out of choir. For example, when I was in the Monastery, which was Eastern Rite, it was our custom to do Compline, Matins, Lauds and Prime all in a solid block before retiring. We woke in the morning and did Terce-None at 5 AM, followed by Mass. Vespers and Compline were the only parts of the Office that happened at precisely the “right” time. This is the practice I follow privately when I am away from the Monastery with my Benedictine Office. Is there something objectionable about this kind of anticipation?

    Second, I would be interested in hearing more about praying the Office silently. Some of the manuals I read indicated that moving the lips was the bare minimum; what are the arguments pro and con, and why, father, do you find the arguments in favour of allowing silent recitation to be convincing?

    Finally, to Sid Cundiff: the Monastic Office can be quite manageable. It takes only about three hours out of your day at the longest, if you’re simply reciting it. It means getting up a bit early and cutting down on leisure activities, but it is certainly possible to get a full day’s work in with it. If, like many parish priests, you already have no leisure time because you are busy with confessions and counseling and coordinating with various other ministries and programs, and are also trying to get Mass, a rosary, mental prayer, an holy hour and other devotions in, it could be a bit much. But anybody with a bit of spare time could easily pray it – and it has the benefit of retaining some very ancient principles from St. Benedict, St. John Cassian, and the Desert Fathers.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear Sid Cundiff in NC,

    to me, should implies an obligation (even though perhaps a weak one, under venial sin or so). In this sense, I should not (pun intended) say the laity should pray the Office.

    I do say the Office is for the whole Church: clerics must, laymen laudably may. In addition, one of the reasons secular clergy prays the Office is that they do so on behalf of the laity they are in charge of.

    A note: silent prayer (which suffices, for the Rosary, to gain the indulgence) does not to my information fulfil the (clerical) obligation. But it is much much faster than if you have to speak everything out, and thus might be a fine alternative to those unobliged.

  24. Imrahil says:

    In that part, my information is limited, of course, and I at once defer to the knowledge of our reverend host and of Dr Peters.

    By silent praying, you can – without actually omitting anything meaningful and with actually reading, not just skimming, but reading very quickly otherwise – pray all the office in about an hour, I’d assume.

  25. scholastica says:

    Knowing a dear priest who struggled to get the liturgy of the hours prayed every day as he was so busy caring for souls, I purchased for him a kindle fire (using Fr. Z’ s link), and loaded it with the Universalis app for the divine office and the Roman Ritual. Though he struggles a bit with technology he quipped one day that it may have saved his soul.

  26. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    PaterAugustinus, if you find the Old Office manageable, then God Bless. Most folks can’t and don’t.

    Yet the question Which Office? is secondary. Primary is the question, How do we make the Office part of the daily spiritual life of diocesan clerics and laity in the 21st C and part of the daily liturgical life of every parish? I don’t think the Old Office is the way.

    Imrahil thinks too much in terms of sin as neglect of duty (not neglect of love), and of morality as a list of do’s and don’t’s (not Our Lord’s summation of the Torah). Our Lord says that this is Pharisaic, and that if we have done all that the Torah obliges, we haven’t done enough. I would rather think with the Church, who in V2 and the General Instruction to the LOTH, says that the Office is of immense benefit to the laity, the neglect of which has deleterious results.

    The best attempt at the theology of the Office that I know of is Reinhard Meßner Einführung in die Liturgiewissenschaft pp. 227-300. The people, he says rightly, want something other than daily Mass and grace at meals for their spiritual life. When the old Cathedral Office died out in the Western Church, people turned to private devotions (Andachten — none of which should have priority over the Office. The best history of the Office is Robert Taft’s, who condemns the idea that the office is deputed to cleric and religious. It isn’t what the Church (Eastern and Western) thought and did in the first six centuries. And I add that it isn’t needed to be so deputed when 95% of people are literate (as opposed to to 5% in 1568, when the deputation was made).

  27. Unwilling says:

    priests on the moon
    If a reference to Earth Time (say, Rome) is made, you’d also have to take account of the relativistic elasticity of time (a moving mass takes less time). But, using iThis and iThat for the text, let’s also give flextime a chance.

  28. AV8R61 says:

    Sid Cundiff:
    Imrahil thinks too much in terms of sin as neglect of duty (not neglect of love), and of morality as a list of do’s and don’t’s

    My Orthodox wife frequently says that Catholics are to rule oriented (ie dos and don’ts) and duties fulfilled or unfulfilled. What I don’t really understand is why that is a problem. One must start somewhere. Not all can achieve the spiritual life of a saint or a Mount Athos Monk. In the meantime, is it not enough that at least I can comfort myself knowing that “I didn’t break rule (commandment 1-10) today? Or that I examine my conscience and decide “Hey, the rules say I need to go and confess what I just did/thought/ failed to do? Maybe someone goes by the rules, and in so doing, enough grace is given to him so that he may advance to the next level.

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

  29. andia says:

    Some of the hours seem to be at hours when most folks would be asleep, are priest/religious obligated to rise to say the Office.

    If a lay person wants to say it ( longs to say it) and they are simply not up at say 6am, can they say Lauds at another time?

    Is it ok to say it in Chuch, just before Holy Mass?

  30. APX says:


    I know the Poor Clare’s arise at night to do Matins, as well as the Carthusians, some stricter Benedictines and Carmelite Orders, but from what I have noticed (as far as women religious) the vast majority do an anticipated Matins before bed.

  31. APX says:

    Forgot to add,

    The hours can be recited at any time during the day. When I was receiving instruction in how to recite parts of the Breviary (1961 edition), I was told as long as I got the hours done between midnight and midnight, it was considered completed. Having to get up at 3:30 am each day for work leaves me reciting lauds in the afternoon after I get home from work since I only get two 15 minute breaks during my shift. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Another option is the Little Office of the BVM, which is much shorter and easier.

    If one is taking up the breviary, I was advised not to try to do it all at once, but to start with one or two major hours at a time. Otherwise you risk burnout.

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear AV8R61,

    And what you say is indeed entirely what I’d say too.

    Dear Sid Cundiff,

    there certainly is the impression floating around that “fulfilling duties” in religion is Pharisaical. There is also the impression around that Pharisaism is the 100% contrary to Christianity. And the two impressions have certainly been given a heavy impetus by the Reformers and the Protestants after them, who have a habit of reading “Pharisee” in the Bible and understanding “Catholic”. (There cannot be a doubt about the latter fact.) This, alone, might raise the question whether the impressions are so true after all.

    Are they?

    Let’s start with the second. We find the Pharisees – that much is clear – among the parties of Israel most (by quantity) criticized by Our Lord when he was on Earth. However, that does not mean they were the ones most contrary to Him. They may just as well have been a party where He did realize much good, and whom He critisized all the more to eradicate the remaining evil. It may very well have been the case that harsh rebuke was the method that spoke most clearly to their heart (whereas to the more humble sinner such as myself, the honey St. Francis Salesius spoke of is much better). And it may well have been the case that they were quite personally people who thwarted an (in parts) respectable program by their personal misgivings.

    In any case, the most clear opponent of Our Lord were probably the Sadducees. The leader of the Pharisean party advises tolerance for the Church (Acts 5,34). St. Paul was a Pharisee and once, as a Christian, began an sermon with the words “Brethren, here I stand a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees” (Acts 23,6). Nicodemus was a Pharisee too.

    Now for the first impression: I do not find anywhere in the Bible the idea that the specific problem of Pharisaism is not doing more than prescribed.

    Our Lord does say that our justice is to surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees. (I say in parenthesis that this may refer to their personal sins which he critisizes elsewhere, and it may refer to the justification which comes from His Precious Blood. Chiefly, though:) when He is saying it, it is within the Sermon of the Mount in introduction to some specific, even casuistical laws, some of them corrections of Pharisee misunderstanding, some actually surpassing the Old Law. But they’re law.

    Nowhere in the Bible, we find a commandment that “thou shalt do more than thou shalt”. And this would be contradiction and perplexity, by the way, and we don’t have perplexity in morality, and I don’t particularly like contradictions ;-) .

    When Our Lord heaps heavy criticism on the Pharisees, it is not their sticking to law he criticizes. It is their failure to fulfil it. A great part of that is the failure to follow the law internally, while sticking to meaningless externalities. But that’s not only that. In His probably most comprehensive speech against them, He becomes very specific, and it’s worth to read particularly what he does rebuke:

    The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Mt 23,2seq.) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

    In fact – I say it for the sole purpose of not leaving a good argument out, and do not mean it purposely – if I insist that the Office (which, of course, is a specific religious practice) is not obligatory, and you insist that nevertheless not praying it marks a defect in a Christian layman, committing a “neglect with deleterious results” as you say… it is strange that you think I am the Pharisean. Okay, I have not said it. I have not meant it. I omitted the italics. Just for the love of a pointed argument, I didn’t want to leave the thought out.

    And I do not think that a person who says the morning and evening prayers and Grace, goes to Mass daily and prays the Rosary daily too, does too little for leaving the Office out. (I’m not giving conditions for excuses from the Office; it was just an example.)

    Notwithstanding that praying the Office and encouraging and inviting other laymen to pray it are worthy causes. Only it should be really inviting; and “encouraging” in the real sense and not in the sense the word is used in pep talk.

    In addition, I have for some time had the following impression, strange though this may seem, for it would require a somewhat hidden sense of the obligations: The way to get people do what they must is tell them they must; invitations won’t reach much here. They way to get people do what they need not is tell them they need not but can; orders won’t reach much here.

    Excuse the long comment, please.

  33. Imrahil says:

    In a short post-scriptum, the method of giving qualifications à la: “this is a mortal sin, this is a venial sin, this is perhaps unadvisable but no sin, etc.” was quite extensively used by St. Alphonse, and apparently all or most of the moral theologians at least among other things at least up to the last Council.

    Having tried to do the same (albeit much less good and without right to comparison), I think I’m in good company.

  34. acardnal says:

    Sid Cundiff in NC wrote, “Imrahil thinks too much in terms of sin as neglect of duty (not neglect of love), and of morality as a list of do’s and don’t’s (not Our Lord’s summation of the Torah). Our Lord says that this is Pharisaic, and that if we have done all that the Torah obliges, we haven’t done enough.”

    I disagree.

    Christ did not criticize the Pharisees for following the Law but for being hypocrites. There are things Christians must do and must not do; sins of neglect both of duty and of love. Our Lord said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jn 14:15,

  35. Imrahil says:

    Dear acardnal,


    Thanks for putting me to shame by expressing that as briefly ;-)

    I was kidding, of course, except that I do mean the thanks.

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