Friday, November 03, 2023

A Companion to the Monastic Breviary, from Libri Sancti Press

We are pleased to share this announcement from a new publishing outfit, Libri Sancti Press, which was launched in St Louis, Missouri, just three months ago. They have just issued A Companion to the Monastic Breviary, a unique publication consisting of two parts. The first is a translation of The General Rubrics, The General Rubrics of the Breviary, and The Year and Its Parts of the Breviarium Monasticum of 1963, the first such translation ever made. It also includes a new English “Table of Movable Feasts and New Easter Table,” which includes updated Dominical Letters, Golden Numbers, and Martyrology Letters until 2054, as these have been omitted in modern publications. The second part consists of a spiritual, instructional, and historical commentary on each of the hours of the Monastic Breviary. The purpose of this book is to provide all people, but especially oblates and novices, with a resource to better understand and learn the traditional monastic office.

Part 1: Liturgical Documents, including:
  • General Rubrics
  • General Rubrics of the Breviary
  • The Year and its Parts
  • Revised Table of Movable Feasts and New Easter Tables
Part 2: Commentary and Explanation:
  • Of the rubrics
  • Of the spiritual meaning of each hour
  • Of the historical development of each hour
‘The Monastic Breviary, the last edition of which this Companion deftly introduces, faithfully hands on the sixth-century liturgical tradition of Saint Benedict himself which has sustained classical monastic life and prayer ever since. Its renewed popularity in our times—of which the success of the Monastic Diurnal that it was my privilege to bring back into print almost two decades ago testifies—is surely a sign of God’s Providence, of the springing-up of a beautiful and fruitful plant in the spiritually and liturgically arid times in which we live.
Whether we are monks or nuns, novices, oblates or lay men and women who seek to give glory to Almighty God in and under the school of Saint Benedict, this utterly traditional form of the Church’s prayer will not fail to bring forth treasures both new and old (cf. Matt 13, 52), most especially when it is celebrated in common and with the ceremonial its rubrics indicate. Rubrics and calendars and tables of feasts can be daunting, but they serve to protect and convey the riches of the tradition they serve—as do the complex manuals of the innumerable gadgets and machines we daily use with facility.
Hence the painstaking work of the Companion’s editors should occasion our gratitude, for if through their efforts the riches of the Monastic Breviary can be plumbed all the more profoundly, or even discovered anew, they will have done much indeed to assist us to “put nothing before the Work of God” (Rule, ch. 43) so that Almighty God may be justly glorified, for in so doing lies nothing less than our salvation.’ – Dom Alcuin Reid, Prior of Monastère Saint Benoît

‘This is a beautiful book—not the sort that you would normally read cover-to-cover, but a “deep dive” into the charm, artistry, elegance, and profound theology of the monastic liturgy: from the colors of vestments to the structure and proper rhythm of the psalms as they echo the ancient heartbeat of the Church. Take for example, this gem: “Compline represents the prayers of the just at the end of the world.” I never knew that, and I’m a monk!’ – Father Augustine Wetta, O.S.B., Monk of Saint Louis Abbey

‘The Benedictine Office has become a popular choice in recent years, in part because of the support resources available for it, such as the Monastic Diurnal. This volume adds to these by providing an excellent English translation of the rubrical materials of the 1963 breviary, as well as some supporting notes on the individual hours that will be of particular assistance to those seeking to penetrate the arcane mysteries of the rubrics. It will be a useful addition to the libraries of regular users of the Benedictine Office who lack the necessary Latin to read the original.’– Kate Edwards, author of the blog Saints Will Arise

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