RULES FROM MORAL AND ASCETIC THEOLOGY FOR THE RECITATION OF THE BREVIARY.
MORAL THEOLOGY GIVES THE RULES AND LAWS, WHICH MUST BE FOLLOWED FOR THE
VALID AND LICIT RECITATION OF THE HOURS. ASCETIC THEOLOGY EXPLAINS THE
MEANS, WHICH ARE TO BE USED IN THEIR FERVENT RECITATION. CHAPTER I.
MORAL AND ASCETIC THEOLOGY.
ARTICLE I. THE OBLIGATION OF THE RECITATION OF THE BREVIARY
Q. Who are bound to recite the Divine Office?
R. 1. Religious, that is, all those who have made Religious Profession,
in the Canonical sense, and who are bound to Choir recitation (Canon
610, Juris Canonici).
2. Clerics in Holy Orders (Canon 135, Codex).
3. Beneficed Clergy.
Who are Beneficed Clergy?
Beneficed Clergy are those who hold a Canonically erected benefice. Canon 1409 of the Codex Juris Canonici
defines an ecclesiastical benefice to be a "Juridical entity
constituted or erected by competent ecclesiastical authority,
consisting of a sacred office and the right of receiving revenues from
endowments attached to the office." Hence under this Canon, as
previously three conditions are required for a benefice, first, a
sacred office, second, the right of receiving revenues from endowment
attached to that office, third, erection by ecclesiastical authority.
There never was any doubt in the many discussions on this subject, that
the work and care of a parish is a sacred office, and that parish
priests hold such an office. But the second condition mentioned above
received different interpretations. Some held that it implied a certain
amount of ecclesiastical property set aside, from the revenues of which
the holder of the benefice would derive his income. Hence the revenues
of parish priests in these Kingdoms, arising from certain and voluntary
offerings of the faithful, were not fixed revenues, did not fulfil the
conditions of "endowment," and parishes must not be regarded as
benefices. This opinion is no longer tenable. Canon 1410 says:–"The
endowment of a Benefice is constituted either by property, the
ownership of which pertains to the Juridical entity itself, or by
certain and obligatory payments of any family or moral personality, or
by certain and voluntary offerings of the faithful which appertain to
the rector of the benefice, or, as they are called stole fees, within
the limits of diocesan taxation or legitimate custom, or choral
distributions, exclusive of a third part of the same, if all the
revenues of the benefice consist of choral distributions."
This Canon seems to make it clear that the second condition is
fulfilled in all the parishes of these Kingdoms, since to the sacred
office is attached the right of receiving revenue from the certain and
voluntary offerings of the faithful or from stole fees or from both.
The third condition, erection by ecclesiastical authority, is qualified
by Canon 1418 which prescribes that benefices should be erected by a
legitimate document defining the place of the benefice, its endowment
and the duties and rights of the person appointed.
law has not an invalidating clause, hence it is not now necessary nor
ever was it necessary to have such a written document. A valid
appointment was and can be made without any writing.
Where these three conditions are fulfilled there is a benefice, true,
real, and canonical. Normally parishes are benefices. (See Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. XIV., No. 623; and Irish Theological Quarterly, October, 1917, p. 209.)
Every cleric in holy orders is bound under pain of mortal sin to recite
daily the Divine Office. No General Council, no Pope, has made such a
law, but the old-established custom has grown, until it has the force
of a law (Bened. XIV., Instructio Coptharum). Authors are not
agreed as to the date of the first traces of this old custom. Billuart
quotes the text of the fourth Council of Carthage to prove that it
existed in the fourth century, Clericus, qui absque corpusculi sui inequalitate vigiliis deest, stipendiis privatus, excommunicatur.
Gavantus can find traces of it only as late as the sixth century.
Several decrees of provincial councils regarding this custom are quoted
by writers on liturgy. However, the matter is clearly and definitely
dealt with by the General Council of Lateran (1213) and by the Bulls, Quod a nobis and Ex proximo, of Pope Pius V. (1571). This Pope expressly states that wilful omission of the Divine Office is a grave sin—"grave peccatum intelligat se commissise."
The obligation of reciting the office binds those in Holy Orders, even
though they may be excommunicated, suspended, degraded or imprisoned.
The obligation binds for the first time when subdeaconship has been
conferred. Subdeacons are bound to recite "the hour" in the office of
the day, corresponding to the time of their ordination. If the
ordination is finished before nine o'clock, the sub-deacon is bound to
begin his recitation with Terce. If the ordination is held between nine
o'clock and mid-day the recitation begins with Sext. The question is
discussed by theologians if the recitation of Terce or Sext may be
lawfully and validly made before the ordination. Some authors deny that
it may be justly and lawfully done, while others, with some
probability, affirm that before ordination the debt may be paid in
Are priests bound to follow the Proper in their own diocese?
They are, if it has been approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (S.R.C., 4597-4746). But a priest travelling (peregrinus)
should recite the office according to the calendar of the church to
which he is attached regularly, but the obligation of following the
calendar of his home church was not binding by a grave precept. A reply
of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (Nov., 1831) arranged (1) that
beneficed clergy are always bound to recite the office of their own
proper church or diocese; (2) that simple priests may read either the
office as arranged for the place they tarry in or travel in, or the
office of their own home diocese; (3) for unattached priests (vagi) it is the wiser order to follow the office as laid down in their own diocese.
Must every holder of a benefice read the Divine Office?
Every holder is bound, under pain of mortal sin, to recite the Divine
Office daily, if the benefice be an ecclesiastical benefice fulfilling
the conditions named above. The omission of the recital of the Divine
Office by a beneficed person is a grave sin against the virtue of
religion and a grave sin against the virtue of justice. For the Church
imposes on the beneficiary the duty of the Office recital, on condition
that he may not take the fruits of his benefice if he do not recite the
What sin is committed by the omission of a notable part of the daily office?
He who wilfully omits a notable part of the daily Divine Office commits
a mortal sin. A notable part of the Divine Office for any day is held
by some theologians to be the omission of one psalm in one of the small
hours, or a corresponding quantity of matter in lessons, responses,
etc. They hold that such wilful omission is a grave sin. Other
theologians hold—and their opinion is the more common and the more
probable one—that, although one psalm is a notable part of a small
hour, in relation to the whole office it is not a notable part, and its
omission is not a grave matter. These theologians hold that the wilful
omission of an entire small hour or equivalent matter (e.g., Sext, or
the third nocturn of Matins) is an omission of a notable part and
cannot be excused from grave sin.
The omission of the
entire office of a day, the seven canonical hours, is held by some
theologians to carry the guilt of seven mortal sins. Because, there is
a different precept for each hour and the omission of each hour
violates a precept. The Salamenticenses think this opinion probable.
The more common and the more correct opinion is that by such omission
only one sin is committed. And the theologians who hold this opinion
say that the recitation of the canonical hours is imposed under one
precept only, and hence there is only one obligation embracing the
seven hours. This is the opinion of St. Alphonsus (n. 148) who quotes
several authors (including Lessius, Sanchez and St. Antoninus) in
support. If a person in Holy Orders omit several hours with a
retractation, or a moral interruption in his sinful intentions, he may
commit several mortal sins, because all the omissions, which in
themselves are grave matter, may become independent of each other by
the interruption and renewal of the intention (St. Alphonsus, n. 148).
What must a person do who has a doubt that he has omitted something in
his recitation of the office? Is he bound to make assurance doubly sure
by reciting the part of which he doubts?
If the doubt be
a positive doubt, that is, if he have good reason to believe that he
has recited it, he is not bound to anything further regarding the part
in question. For instance, if a priest remembers having started the
recitation of a lesson, and in a short time finds himself at the end of
it, and cannot be sure if he have recited it, the presumption is in
favour of the priest and of the recitation, because it is his custom to
recite completely whatever part he commences. He has, thus, moral
certainty that he has satisfied the precept, and it is not necessary to
repeat it; if the necessity for repetition be admitted in such a case,
a fruitful source of scruples is opened up.
On the other
hand, if the doubt be negative—that is to say, if a person has no
reasonable motive for believing that he has recited the full office or
the full hour, he is bound to recite the part omitted, because in such
a doubt, the precept of recitation is, as the theologians say, "in
possession." (St. Alphonsus, n. 150).
It is not allowed
to change anything nor to add anything to the daily office without
permission. The Sacred Congregation of Rites (10 June, 1690, n. 3222)
replied to a query, that in saints' offices nothing is to be added and
nothing is to be changed, and this reply applies to all sorts of
offices, old and new.
SECTION: Article II.—The Order To Be Observ…
Title XII.—The Arrangement Of The …