Chanting the Divine Office

Lay people are encouraged to pray the Divine Office daily.  (Clerics are generally required to pray it.)

Suppose you want to chant the office, or at least the psalms.  It’s easy to find chant in Latin, but what if you want to chant the office in English?  It isn’t so easy to find good resources for that.

St. Meinrad has published (and made available for free download) chants for use with the psalms.  You can find them in gregorian notation and in modern notation.

But which tone do you use with each psalm?  For the longest time, I used the first four on even numbered weeks and the second four on odd numbered weeks, just taking them in order.

Then I discovered a table that someone created based on the tones used in the Psalterium Monasticum assigning a tone to each psalm.

Here is a nice post over at St. Corbinian’s Bear in which the Bear has posted about chanting the office.  He is coming at it from the Benedictine tradition, but it is available to everyone.

It would certainly make a good lenten devotion.


Ash Wednesday

Lent is upon us once again.  I am resolving, among other things, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours regularly – at least morning and evening prayer.

You can use any one of a variety of books – small single books, larger single books, four volumes sets – as well as apps and website which will give you the texts.

The LOTH (or Divine Office) is mostly psalms, and it uses the Grail translation, which is excellent for chanting.  The psalms are songs, so, while you can certainly recite them, they are meant to be sung.  I use the psalm tones from St. Meinrad, which they have put up for download free of charge.

The LOTH is a great way to build your day around God rather than fitting God into whatever cracks may already exist in your day.  Always remember, God wants our best, not just our leftovers.

May your Lent be fruitful.


Lent is Coming

As I write this, Ash Wednesday is a week away.

The 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima are a few months away.

Here a couple of things to help us along the way.

Best Lent Ever is a program from Dynamic Catholic.  I found out about it because my parish gave away copies of Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly, and there was a blurb about Best Lent Ever on the back cover.

The men’s group I belong to – The 27:17 Fellowship – is now studying the book.

I can’t tell  you if Best Lent Ever is a good program or not, but I am going to sign up for it, so I guess I’ll find out.

Nineveh 90 is a program started by Fr. Richard Heilman.  It began on February 13, but nobody says you can’t start late.  You can find an explanation of it here.  It’s kind of a long post, and the essential program is listed near the end.  There are a lot of things for sale at the websites, but you don’t actually have to buy anything to do the Nineveh thing.

Let this Lent be a time of spiritual growth for you.


I Took a Friend to Mass…

A few days ago, a friend of mine went to the mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time.  This person comes from a Protestant background and entered the Catholic church just last year (after several years of attending the Novus Ordo mass).

We attended the mass together and later talked about it.

First of all, my friend was struck by the silence.  In fact, he was almost overwhelmed by the silence to the point that it made him extremely uncomfortable.  The silence seems to be, for many people, one of the most striking things about the mass in the EF.

He didn’t like not knowing what was going on up at the altar during the consecration and not being able to see what the priest was doing.  At the same time, he felt that it was right for the priest and the people to all be facing the tabernacle.

He also didn’t like receiving communion only under one species.  (Communion under one species is normal in the EF.)  He felt that “something was missing” although he did feel that it was right to receive communion on the tongue and while kneeling, though he found going to the altar rail for the first time to be a little scary.

At this particular mass, the congregation sang a hymn at the beginning and at the end of the mass.  There was no other music.  He liked having no music at communion, as he felt better able to pray.

He liked the last gospel.  (At the end of the mass, the priest reads John 1:1-14.)

Well, to be more accurate, he didn’t know what was going on at the time, but he liked it when I explained it to him after the mass was over.  Yes, I did have a missal with me, but my friend didn’t have his reading glasses with him, so he couldn’t read the missal during the mass.

He liked the fact that there were as many men as there were women present at the mass, and he was amazed by the fact that the several small children who were there were well behaved.  (There were several families there, some of them with young children, older people and younger people who had come on their own.  At a guess, there 50-60 people present.)

He liked the formality and the he loved the reverence of the mass.

When we first left the church, it was the overwhelming silence that he talked about and how uncomfortable it had made him.  He said that he almost wanted to get up and run out of the church it was so uncomfortable.

A day later, I was a bit surprised when he called me and asked me where he could get his own missal because he wanted to go back to the EF mass on a regular basis.

Where I live, there is a mass in the Extraordinary form offered twice a month.  I will be curious to see what my friend has to say after he’s been going for a few months.

TLM – Part 4 – Participation

Aside from the fact that it is ad orientem and in Latin, one of the things that tends to stand out about the mass in the Extraordinary Form is how quiet it is.  When I was into the church, it is almost totally silent.  (This is a big change form the the parish where I normally attend a Novus Ordo mass!)

During the mass itself, the priest does the readings, the priest alone gives communion, and, during much of the mass, you can’t even hear what the priest is saying.  It’s quiet.

Some people view this as a negative.

We are called to full, conscious, active participation, right?  And that means that I have to be doing something, right?  I need to be making verbal responses, be serving as a lector, be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, be exchanging the sign of peace with my fellow worshipers, and on, and on, and on…

And, no the people don’t have a lot of responses to make.  The server does, but not he people.  (I heard of a parish where they have the TLM and the priest wears a microphone so that everyone can hear every word and the congregation makes all the responses along with the server.  They are happy because they are participating.)

I love the silence of the mass.

Yes, some parts of the mass are not meant to be heard by the congregation.  The priest is instructed to say them in a low voice.

I certainly understand why some people object to this.  I will mention that, if you have a good hand missal, you can follow all the prayers that way.

But I love the silence of the mass.  (I know that I said that before, but it bears repeating.)

First of all, you can participate.  It’s just that your participation is interior.  You can unite yourself with the sacrifice of the mass and be open to receive the graces that God is giving you through the mass.  You can worship the Lord.  Trust me, this may take more effort than saying this response or singing that hymn.

And what do you do with all that silence?  You be still and know that the Lord is God.  You pray.

We aren’t used to silence, anymore, are we?  There’s always a computer, a tablet, a cell phone handy.  We get buzzed and binged, texted, instagrammed, tweeted at, snapchatted…silence makes many people uncomfortable.  If we aren’t in contact with some else, we get a little twitchy.

I can’t even try to explain the experience that I have in the silence of the mass.  I can only say that it is wonderful.

Leave the phone in the car, go to mass, rest in God’s arms in the majestic silence of the mass and listen to Him speak to you.  His voice gets drowned out by all the voices clamoring for our constant attention, and that is a deep loss.

I will say that, if you go, be prepared to go a few times in order to really find out how you feel about it.  Some people know instantly, but, for others, the mass has to grow on them.  They have to learn to sort of find their way around in it.  Just put the missal down and be present.

Also, of course, you can watch the mass online.  Try Livemass for that.  You can find training videos online.  They are intended to teach priests how to celebrate the mass, but a layperson can learn a tremendous amount about what is going on by watching them.

The Latin mass isn’t a dusty old relic of a bygone age.

Go and see.

TLM – Part 3 – Sacred Space

Now, as I’ve said before, I regularly attend the Novus Ordo mass, so I’m not knocking it.  I’m just pointing differences between the NO and the TLM.

In the NO mass, the lector, the priest and the altar servers simply walk up to the altar in procession.  There is an altar server in front carrying a cross.  Later, at least in the church I attend, the Eucharistic ministers walk up to the altar as well.

It’s a little different in the TLM.

First of all, there is an altar rail which serves as a physical barrier between the sanctuary and the nave (where the congregation is).  This is a visual reminder that the sanctuary is a sacred space where only clerics and those assisting them (the servers) go.

Before the mass begins, this happens:


The priest genuflects at the foot of the Altar and recites the “Júdica Me,” a part of Psalm 42 written by an Israelite priest 800 years before our Lord was born and which speaks of his yearning to worship on the holy hill of Jerusalem. The Júdica Me is omitted from Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday inclusive and in Masses for the Dead.

Then he will say the Confiteor, confessing and begging God’s forgiveness for his sins. The server, speaking for the people — the unordained royal priesthood — then says the Confiteor on our behalf as we mentally accuse ourselves of our sins and ask the Saints to pray for us. The priest then absolves us (this does not obviate private Confession).


In nómine Patris, et Fílii, + et Spíritus Sancti. Amen. In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Introíbo ad altáre Dei. S.Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam. I will go in unto the Altar of God. S.To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
Júdica me (Psalm 42):

The priest joins hands and says:

Júdica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab hómine iníquo, et dolóso érue me. Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.
S.Quia tu es, Deus, fortitúdo mea: quare me repulísti, et quare tristis incédo, dum afflígit me inimícus? S.For Thou, O God, art my strength: why hast Thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflictech me?
P.Emítte lucem tuam, et veritátem tuam: ipsa me deduxérunt, et aduxérunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernácula tua. P.Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles.
S.Et introíbo ad altáre Dei: ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam. S.And I will go in unto the Altar of God: unto God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
P.Confitébor tibi in cíthara, Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es, ánima mea, et quare contúrbas me? P.I will praise Thee upon the harp, O God, my God: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
S.Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus. S.Hope thou in God, for I will yet praise Him: Who is the salvation of my countenance, and my God.
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
S.Sicut erat in princípio et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen. S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
P.Introíbo ad altáre Dei. P.I will go in unto the Altar of God.
S.Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam. S.Unto God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
Adjutórium nostrum + in nómine Dómini. Our help + is in the Name of the Lord.
S.Qui fecit cælum et terram. S.Who hath made heaven and earth.

Confiteor by the Priest first, and then the People:

The priest enters the Throne Room of God. He humbles himself and makes a public confession, bowing down to say the Confiteor for his own sins:

Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: He strikes his breast three times mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum. I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: He strikes his breast three times through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
S.Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam. S.May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting. .
P.Amen. P.Amen

We enter the Throne Room of God and, standing before Him, accuse ourselves of our sins. The server says the Confiteor on our behalf:

Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: mea culpa [strike breast] , mea culpa [strike breast] , mea máxima culpa [strike breast]. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te, Pater, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum. I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you Father, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: through my fault [strike breast], through my fault [strike breast], through my most grievous fault [strike breast]. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and Thee Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

The priest joins hands and grants us absolution of our venial sins:

P.Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis vestris, perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam. P.May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you to life everlasting.
S. Amen. S. Amen.
P.Indulgéntiam +, [cross yourself] absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum nostrórum tríbuat nobis omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus. P.May the Almighty and merciful God grant us pardon +,[cross yourself] absolution, and remission of our sins.
S.Amen. S.Amen.
Deus, tu convérsus vivificábis nos. Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life.
S.Et plebs tua lætábitur in te. S.And Thy people shall rejoice in Thee.
P.Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam. P.Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
S.Et salutáre tuum da nobis. S.And grant us Thy salvation.
P.Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam. P.O Lord, hear my prayer.
S.Et clamor meus ad te véniat. S.And let my cry come unto Thee.
P.Dóminus vobíscum. P.The Lord be with you.
S.Et cum spíritu tuo. S.And with thy spirit.
P.Orémus. S.Amen.

The priest is performing a sacred task in a sacred space, and this makes that obvious.  Is the sacredness of the mass so obvious in the Novus Ordo?

TLM – Part 2 – Latin

Probably the most obvious difference between the traditional Latin mass and the Novus Ordo mass is that the TLM is in Latin.  Why Latin?

Well, why not Latin?

That one’s easy:  “I don’t speak Latin.  The mass should be in a language that I understand!”  That is not an uncommon cry, is it?

Here’s the response to that:  buy a good bilingual missal takes care of that problem.

So, why Latin?  Here are some reasons that I have picked up from various sources:

Latin is the official language of the church.  Doesn’t it make sense that her worship should be in that language?

A common language means that anyone can go to mass anywhere in the world and follow along – i.e. a universal church should have a universal language.

Because Latin is no longer evolving as a language, the precise words can be chosen and used and they will continue to be the right words.  Languages that are spoken daily change over time, so the meaning of words and phrases will change.  We don’t have that problem with the texts of the mass if they are in Latin.

The use of Latin makes the experience of the mass stand out from everything else that we do in our daily lives.

Now, having written all of that, let me add that I’m not sure Latin is necessary.  I get all the reasons that I’ve listed above, but I still don’t know how important it is.  However, given the use of a missal, it certainly doesn’t have to be an issue.

Also, since this is a new post, I want to reiterate that I do attend the Novus Ordo mass.  Every week, in fact.  This explanation of the TLM should not be taken to mean that I think that the NO mass is invalid.

On those few occasions when I have been able to attend the TLM, I have been moved beyond words by the experience, but talking with the members of the men’s group at my church, I have come to realize that a lot of people don’t really know much about the TLM or have a lot of questions about it, so I am answering some of the questions that I have gotten when I talk about the TLM.

And, a note on terminology:  if you prefer to just call if the mass, the Latin mass, the Traditional Latin mass, the mass in the extraordinary form, the Tridentine mass…I’m not going to quibble about it.  I’m using TLM here for the sake of convenience.  It’s easy to type!







TLM – Part 1 – ad orientem

The mass comes in two flavors:  the ordinary form (also called the Novus Ordo or sometimes even the New Mass) and the extraordinary form (also called the traditional Latin mass (TLM) or Tridentine mass).

If you are of a certain age or younger, the NO may be all that you know.  In fact, many people thought that, after the NO mass came into being, the TLM had been abolished, but that isn’t the case.

Here’s a brief (and very superficial) history lesson.

In 1970, Pope Paul VI gave permission to various priests in the UK to continue offering the TLM.

In 1984, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted bishops the authority to allow specific priests within their dioceses to offer the TLM.

In 2007, Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum which allowed priests to offer the TLM without having to obtain permission from a bishop.

[Full disclosure:  most of the time I attend the NO mass.  I have been to the TLM a few times, but there are no churches close to me where the TLM  is regularly offered.]

So, for the benefit of those who have never been to a TLM, what are some of the differences?

The priest and the people face the same direction.

This is ad orientem as opposed to versus populum in which the priest always faces the congregation.

Now, let’s clear up one common misstatement.  You will often hear people say of the TLM “The priest has his back to the people.”  That’s true but inaccurate.

Yeah, I know.  That doesn’t seem to make sense, but it’s a question of perspective.

If you went to a classical concert, would you complain that the conductor had his back to the audience?  Of course not.  It isn’t so much that he has his back to the audience as that he is facing the orchestra.

In the TLM, when the priest speaks to the people, he faces the people.  When he speaks to God, he faces the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle…or, to put it technically, he faces liturgical east.


The church is supposed to be set up (if possible) so that, when the priest is facing the altar, he is facing east.  If isn’t y sefacing the compass point east, it is still called liturgical east.

Just as an interesting side note, the NO mass not only can be offered ad orientem, it should be offered ad orientem.  How can I possibly say that?

Well…here’s an excerpt from the instructions for celebrating the NO mass:

 1. When the people are gathered, the Priest approaches the altar with the ministers while the Entrance Chant is sung. When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The people reply: “Amen.”

There are actually several parts of the mass where the priest is instructed to face the people.  Why is that instruction necessary?  Because it is taken for granted that the other parts of the mass will be said facing east, as has been the correct form for a very very long time.

So, why isn’t it done that way in most places instead of only a few?

That’s a great question.  I wish I knew the answer.

Have you ever been to an ad orientem mass, either the TLM or the NO?  If so, what did you think of it?


Morning Prayer

This is a lovely morning prayer from the 1962 missal.

O Great God, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, I prostrate myself before Thee.  With all the Angels and Saints I adore Thee, I acknowledge Thee to be my Creator and sovereign Lord, my first beginning and last end.  I render to Thee the homage of my being and life.  I submit myself to Thy holy Will, and I devote myself to Thy divine service this day and forever.

The say the Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostles’ Creed, and the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  They will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Hail Mary

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried:  He descended into Hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.

Act of Faith

O My God!  I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.

Act of Hope

O My God! relying on Thy infinite goodness and and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

Act of Charity

O My God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all good and worthy of all love.  I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee.  I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Make a firm resolution to avoid evil and to do good.