ASK FATHER: Using the traditional Breviarium Romanum: whole or just some?

From a seminarian:

I am a seminarian for ___ and have recently begun reciting the Divine Office using the traditional breviary. Some other seminarians and I are now wondering if a priest is still only bound to recite 5 of the hours even when saying the older form, or if use of the older form binds the priest to say all the hours. I was wondering what your thoughts are.

Thank you so much for all that you do. You are a true inspiration to us who are still in formation.

First, even though you are a seminarian for diocese with a sane bishop, keep your use of the older, traditional office to yourselves.

The answer to your question is found in the document from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” called Universae Ecclesiaewhich helps to interpret several points in Summorum Pontificum.

Breviarium Romanum

32. Art. 9 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarium Romanum in effect in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.

However, if you are not ordained at least as deacons, this does not apply to you, as you are not clerics.  You can do as you please… just keep it to yourselves!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Seminarians and Seminaries, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, Universae Ecclesiae and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jaykay says:

    Via this post, can one say to the querist and his brethren: thank you, Gentlemen and future Fathers! And, as in another recent post: “Vigilate!”

  2. On a side note, it seems to me very hard to say the old breviary if the Novus Ordo Mass is the only one available where you live. I tried once some years ago and just couldn’t keep it up: it was exhausting to try to cope with and keep track of two different liturgical calendars on my own. It was also another stark and upsetting reminder of the rupture within the Church. I might try it again when we succeed in establishing the traditional Mass on a weekly basis where I live.

  3. Uxixu says:

    I advised a seminarian friend of mine to not only wait until after ordination but his time as an associate. In this largely self inflicted vocational crisis, it won’t be long until he’s a pastor of his own. Not only toeing the line, but making sure you’re familiar with the current books will make the traditional books so much sweeter later anyway given patience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There should be all the time in the world to pray and chant the glorious Vulgate Psalter. When a pastor one can pretty much pray their Divine Office anyway they wish. If they try too soon, they may not get that far, though.

    I’ve seen one rather… modern… pastor give negative reviews to TWO younger priests causing them to seek greener pastures in another diocese (one was trying to get incardinated the negative review squashed that). When we heard we wrote the bishop on his behalf but it unfortunately did not work.

  4. Fr. Kelly says:

    I use the 1961/2 Breviary regularly except when I am praying in common with my fellow priests.
    At first, I thought that keeping up two calendars would be difficult, but it really isn’t that hard once you get going with it. (We all do a form of this by keeping track of the secular and church calendars.)
    At our diocesan seminary where I teach philosophy, we usually have several seminarians who are interested in coming to know and use the older forms. My advice to them is to begin to pray Matins and the day hours in the older form. (These are the hours that are not prayed in common in the new form at the seminary.) There is usually a small group who meets daily for Sext before lunch. its size varies but it usually grows during Advent and Lent. The Latin teacher also encourages this practice and even prays with them on occasion, as it helps them grow in familiarity with their mother tongue.

    I do have to say that the great work of the late lamented Laszlo Kiss on the divinum officium website has made this much easier. He made available the whole of the old office and the Mass with the full range of options.

    Until very recently, Kiss’ work could be found in several apps available for Android devices and IPhone. However, last night, when I tried to download one for a new android device, all I could find were apps for the new office. Even searching for “1962 divinum officium” (which up til now has been foolproof) brings up ibreviary, and Liturgia Horarum, etc which are formulated for the new breviary.
    Does anyone know what has happened here? and where I can find an app for divinum officum 1962?

  5. iPadre says:

    Fr. Kelly wrote: “Does anyone know what has happened here? and where I can find an app for divinum officum 1962?”

    For the iOS devices, it’s called BrevMeum

  6. Thank you to anyone who desires to learn and say the old Breviary. It is so much fuller and richer. And the Scripture quotes are accurate.

    Here’s hoping seminarians can learn the 1960 Office in time so that they can read it fully in Latin by the time it becomes a requirement to read the Office. The digital BrevMeum has both Latin and English side by side – imagine reading it in English for four years and gradually filling in the Latin in spots where it becomes familiar enough to understand. Start with the Gloria Patris and the repetitive prayers, then build through the Psalms gradually. You don’t have to be a conversational Latin expert. For instance children learn phrases of language long before rules grammar and structure.

    Anyway, I myself try to read the old Breviary. I go back and forth between the Latin and English. I love the Martyology in Prime, the repeated pleas to keep me out of sin this day in the morning prayers, the “Visit this Dwelling” of Compline, sometimes I skip through some [I have no requirement to do the Breviary at all] or miss days. But I do sense that I benefit from the work. Using a timer on one’s watch or cell phone works as a reminder, or a timer not to go too long from ones duties might help some.

    I like seeing the old calendar up against the daily Novus Ordo Masses as it keeps me grounded in the Church’s old ways while keeping in mind what we’ve lost, and where the uncatechized sheep are now. I also read the Douay-Rheims versions of the readings and the Gospel at the Novus Ordo Masses in the iPieta [we have USCCB copyrights of the Mass texts to thank for for that as those new heretical texts are not allowed to be printed]. Wow what an eye-opening experience it is to hear those readings from the altar while simultaneously reading the accurate text from my iPieta. The daily comparison will scare the Hell out of anyone and cause one to pray vehemently for the mislead betrayed sheep. The newer versions are downright heretical with dropped phrases and completely rewritten phrases. How about this: the new version states “He will crush your head” or “bruise” while the Douay-Rheims states “she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” The new version denies Mary’s role!

    Yes it is hard to do this. We are paying for the sins of the past and present. We carry a heavy burden living through the worst crisis the Church has ever known – but that is the way it is. We are here now because God planned our existence and role here and now. And gives us the strength and grace to go beyond what any other saint in any other era has been called to do. That is the way it is. Step up with courage and confidence.

    The old traditions and the old translations are an immovable stake in the ground to keep one in the Faith, the real Faith. I pray that all revert back to the old Breviary and all that accompanied it.
    Oh, for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and all who watch, ready for her.

  7. Gripen says:

    What is a good way to learn the old Breviary? I have a copy of the Anglican Breviary I’d like to use more (minus the few extra non-Catholic bits), which I believe is translated from the 1955 Roman Breviary. It’s a good deal more complicated than I’m used to, though, and the rubrics usually just leave me lost.

  8. nighm says:

    I have been using the 1962 Breviary for over a month now, in Latin and in full, and though it has challenges, I love using it! I have found that the greatest challenge are not all the minor hours, but rather the lengthy Matins and setting aside enough time at the beginning of the day to do it. Once Matins and Lauds are said, the rest is not so difficult.

    I agree with suggestions to use the BreviariumMeum: This will show beginners how the parts of the office fit together, and even when one switches to the books, this app can still be useful to check that one has correctly set one’s ribbons. After a week of using the book, I no longer needed the app. Also: I am no SSPX supporter, but their online 1962 Ordo is a most useful resource for resolving festive conflicts with having to wade through the calendar instructions.

    Another bit of advice for priests or seminarians bound to the Office: I recommend continuing with Liturgy of the Hours as long as you need to, but start praying the traditional Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the times not contained in the LotH. This will develop the habits needed to give the Roman Breviary the time it requires, and also introduce you to another spiritual treasure of the Church.

    As a parochial vicar, I have rarely had issues finding time for the Breviary, but I know many pastors who have ended up going back to the Liturgy of the Hours on account of obligations–just make sure you are praying the Office!

  9. JesusFreak84 says:

    If you want to pray the old Office but don’t want to be tied to an app, there’s a mobile-friendly version of the most popular website for it here: I had to use this on my old Windows Phone since there is NO app support there =-p

    You should be able to put a shortcut to this on your home screen, though I wouldn’t know where to begin telling an Android user how to do so. For iOS, open the ink in Safari, tap the box with an arrow coming out of the top, then tap “Add to Home Screen.” I no longer remember how to do so on Windows Phone; sorry.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    I find the Divine Office in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to be extremely complicated, at least for a layman to pray it daily. I do not have any real issues with the Divine Office in the Ordinary Form, other than missing psalms and verses. I do hope to tackle the old Divine Office someday… probably when I retire!

  11. Josephus Corvus says:

    I use the same website that JesusFreak84 references. As a lay person, I a free to do what wish in this case (including choice of languages in certain parts). However, it seems that the priests who are looking for a mobile version need to use the 1962 version according to the quote that Fr. Z referenced. The Divinum Officium site has a number of options, but the most recent is 1960, so a cleric would need to do a little research before using that site.

  12. Fr. Kelly says:

    I use Laszlo Kiss’s website regularly, and have been doing so since some time in 2008. At that time, Laszlo only had Latin, English and Magyar for languages.

    I was hoping to find an easy way to download the whole database so as to be able to pray the office independently of an internet connection.
    Back in 2013, I was able to do this from the divinumofficium website, (Laszlo had given instructions as to how.) but I no longer have that computer and something went wrong in backing up those files. When I went to download it, I was referred to an ongoing project of updating it and I was referred to the breviariummeum app for ios and android (it is only for ios)

    In any case, computer woes aside, the 1960 version is the one in use in 1962 that is referenced in summorum pontificum. (1960 is the publication date of the rubrics in force in 1962)

    For Josephus Corvus: If you set the options to all and rubrics 1960 and pray the office in Latin, you have the version allowed by Summorum Pontificum.

    For Geoffrey: As for complexity, with its 4 week psalter, the new Liturgy of the Hours is much more complicated than is the old office, which uses a one-week psalter.
    Matins is perhaps marginally more complex with its system of nocturns , etc. but if you start with Lauds, Vespers and compline, it is easy to add the other hours as they become more familiar.

  13. Elizium23 says:

    Anita Moore: The liturgical calendar ALONE has caused schisms when reform was attempted, among our brethren in the Orthodox Churches. Of course, this calendar controversy was kind-of instigated by the Roman Pontiff who promulgated the Gregorian one, but he couldn’t help it if the Julian was gradually slipping out of sync with reality. Nonetheless, the Orthodox schisms occur because of no heresies, no other disciplines, no other changes other than using a different calendar.

    Isn’t that kind of scary?

    A Presbytera at an OCA mission used to muse on how “right” it felt for her to use the Julian calendar for celebrating saints. She said “it is OK if we observe it on the Gregorian day, but it just… feels… better when we use the Julian dates.”

    I am kind of a pedant. I would have a hissy-fit if we still used the Julian calendar and the days didn’t match the seasons. But I also have a hissy-fit when I think about the General Roman Calendar of 1969 and losing, among other things, Saint Christopher, and – temporarily – Saint Katherine of Alexandria. I guess the threefold rank is easier to understand than the old way.

    But I think the fact of the matter is that as we march through the mists of time, and men and women keep achieving perfect holiness in the Ranks of Heavenly Hosts, we have quite a lot of saints to cram into 365 days’ worth of calendar. So eventually, something’s gotta give. It seems right to occasionally, every couple hundred years, pare down the saints who are kinda forgotten or not-so-relevant anymore and add fresh faces such as Saint Mother Teresa and Saint John Paul the Great (who himself canonized thousands of souls.)

    And don’t get me started on the Lectionary.

    Yes, I think there should be uniformity in one’s liturgical life. If you celebrate the EF, pray the Brevarium Romanum. Otherwise, use the Liturgy of the Hours. And hope and pray that the revised translation comes quickly and accurately.

    Some arrangement can be made for singular laypeople, and for religious communities, but imagine a marriage between a Latin Catholic and an Eastern Catholic. Who would win? I’d definitely go Byzantine, myself.

  14. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Although I am an intense fan of the LOTH, I have no problem with those who wish to pray the BR provided
    1. that they have the time to pray it and all of its seven offices;
    2. that they have the time to pray it with “attention, reverence, and devotion”; and
    3. that they keep in mind that the BR is a monastic breviary, not a breviary for diocesan clergy, laity, and religious in apostolic life (see recent histories of the Office on this) — although these folk certainly can use it if they keep in mind ##1 & 2.

    What is more, if one wishes to pray the official prayer of the Church and pray with the Church, there are two choices:
    1. The LOTH of Pope Blessed Paul VI from 1971, updated 1985, and
    2. the BR of Pope Saint John XXIII of 1962.

    Earlier Breviaries might be fine for a private devotion, yet they are not the approved and official Prayer of The Church.

  15. Fr. Kelly says:

    Sid Cundifff in NC
    Your condescension is breathtaking!

    Although I am an intense fan of the LOTH, I have no problem with those who wish to pray the BR provided — Indeed!

    I wonder if you realize that my praying of the Breviarium Romanum has nothing to do with your approval of it or of me?

    I wonder where you got the idea that it would be appropriate for you to make up conditions under which we should “be allowed” to pray the prayer of the Church?
    1 and 2 would apply equally to the Liturgia horarum. Number 2 is a description of how to pray the office well, not a condition of praying it at all.

    Your number 3 is simply false.

    although these folk certainly can use it if they keep in mind ##1 & 2.

    Does your hubris know no bounds? Now you are making up your own conditions for the fulfillment of the Church’s law. And I resent being called “these folk”

    As far as the options, you have left out the most commonly used one.
    You say option 1 is “The LOTH of Pope Blessed Paul VI from 1971, updated 1985,” (any reason that you left out St. John Paul II here?)
    You say option 2 is “the BR of Pope Saint John XXIII of 1962.”

    These two are both in Latin. The most commonly used option around here is the ICEL translation of number 1 (without the update of 1985, since this has not yet been officially translated into English) And this is very often used using mitigation provided for those with cura fidelium — namely the permission to pray only one of the day hours. This mitigation is so widely used that the printed English edition of the breviary has supplemental psalmody to be used if someone should happen to want to say more than one of the say hours. Any reason you left this option out?

    I am sorry if this is is too sharply worded, but I am truly tired of seeing the legitimate use of the Church’s traditional liturgy treated as though it were somehow an oddity to be tolerated rather than a precious gift to be treasured.

  16. aquinas138 says:


    I used the Anglican Breviary for several years. I can help you out with the rubrics if you want. Email me at aquinas138 AT gmail dot com.

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