We highly recommend this version of the book published by Baronius Press in English and Latin. There are other versions of a Little Office to Mary, but this is the one that we recommend and are using for direction. It has a leather cover and superior binding. It ships from the US for American customers. We derive no profit whatever from Baronius Press which simply publishes excellent quality Catholic books.
in adjutorium meum intende.
( to which, “Alleluia” is added, except during Lent)
In this opening
we are focusing on God, aware of our weakness, our fragmentation, our
wandering minds and we want in our wills at least to praise God to the
best of our ability, and so we ask for his assistance and grace, then
given thanks to God, the Most Holy Trinity. We then proceed with the
hour as usual.
The term, “hour”, as we said, does not indicate that each section of the Daily Office should take an hour to pray (although under the direction of the Holy Ghost this could be!) but that the word, the hour, relates to a specific time of the day. This division of prayer into hours has its roots in Divine worship as celebrated in the Jewish tradition of the synagogues, even before Christ.
In this edition of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the traditional Latin names are used for the hours. (Matins and Lauds are regarded as one hour, although in practice they are often prayed separately). As the Psalmist sings, “Seven times a day I praise you, O Lord !” So let us look at what are called the “Canonical Hours” that we will find in The Little Office. It will help you to understand that:
THE CANONICAL HOURS EXPLAINED
(from the Latin, matutinas vigilias, or “morning watches”)
The hour of Matins was a nocturnal hour, it was celebrated at midnight
onwards and often joined with Lauds as a continuing vigil of prayer.
Within this is a great consolation, the realization that even now,
in many parts of the world, midnight is the advent of the expectant
new day... and “we do not know the hour when the Lord will come!”
lawds or loords) The word Lauds is derived from the Latin word
laus meaning, praise. This is always an hour of praise, as
is clear from the Psalms chosen within the text, which recall the
Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and the gift
of new life that comes to us in this new God-given day.
prime) (Latin: prima, first) was originally the earliest
Canonical Hour, prima hora, and the first hour of the Roman
day. Prime is celebrated at 6 AM, an hour in which
we consecrate the forthcoming day to God, giving thanks for the
awakening to life and being open to God’s gift of Himself through
(Latin: tertia hora) Called thus because the Romans celebrated
it at what they regarded the third hour of their day, which was
9 AM in the morning. Terce is often called the golden hour,
or the Hour of the Holy Ghost, recalling the hour when the disciples
went up to the Temple to pray. It also commemorates the event at
Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles
at this hour. As did the Romans, we celebrate Terce at approximately
9 AM and it is, therefore, a prayer inspiring us to begin the day
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in union with Mary Our
Mother. “Come Holy Ghost!”
(Latin, sexta hora) This was the sixth hour of the Roman
day, what is for us about Midday. At midday the time we recall the
hour that Christ was raised upon the Cross of Salvation for us,
and Mary His faithful Mother standing faithfully by Him in His suffering.
This is midday, and this hour can be regarded as an oasis
of prayer, a time to turn to Our Savior and pray in union with Mary
for the suffering of the world.
(pronounced: known) (Latin, nona hora) This hour
was regarded by the Romans as the ninth hour, hence the Latin name
nona, which for us occurs about 3 PM or three o’clock
in the afternoon. It was at the ninth hour, we will remember, that
Jesus cried out in his agony,
Eloi, lamma sabacthani?” which means,
God, My God why hast thou forsaken me!” This is the hour of Crucifixion,
the hour of Redemption, and in this hour we bring all our burdens
to Christ on the Cross, praying for all poor sinners with and through
Mary His Immaculate Mother.
(Latin, Vespers Espera ) was a name given to the evening
star of Venus, which rising in the evening was a call to prayer,
a light in the Heavens announcing the drawing on of the day, Vespers
is prayed at 6 PM or anytime after the Hour of None and before
(pronounced: complin) From the Latin word (Latin, complere,
or to complete) so named because it is the last hour of the day
to be prayed, at 7 PM. Compline is a beautiful way to complete our
day, to pray with Mary and to Mary for the dying and for all those
upon whom the night either of the spirit or in fact will soon fall.
We pray for Gods protection for the night, conscious of the many
evils perpetrated in the nocturnal hours. It is an hour in which
we commend everything , surrender everything to God. How many times
on our Christian journey we pray, “Holy Mary, Mother of God pray
for us sinners now and at the hour of our death ...”
This, hopefully, will give you a basic idea of when the hours are traditionally prayed, even while there is some flexibility within them. It may be that due to your commitments you are not able to pray all the hours. If this is the case, it is better to pray one or two with all your heart, rather than attempting all 8 hours every day in haste and anxiety. If you are not able to pray the entire Office, then ideally choose one Office or Canonical Hour at the beginning of your day and one to complete your day.
Let us, then,
We will keep the following two Canonical Hours — Prime and Compline — for some time.* You do not have to go to different sections or pages in the book each day. This is part of the beauty and simplicity of the Little Office. You repeat the same prayers each day. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the Readings until they come to you naturally, even by memory! This is not “rote”. It is immersion in prayer and in the ever unfolding depths revealed to you in each prayer. There is no rush! The world rushes you. God does not. Take the time to read and learn the Latin, side by side as well, and in this way praying as your forebears did for 100 generations in a beautiful and unbroken continuity. Latin has always been the unique and distinctive language of the Catholic Church. Everything written from the Seat of Peter in Rome is written in Latin. It’s beauty is ever ancient and ever new.
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Our deepest gratitude to the
Poor Clare Colettine Nuns of the Ty Mam Duw Monastery
in Harwarden, Wales, for their indispensible contribution
and direction, apart from whom this series would be impossible.
the Incarnation, when Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the divine nature of the Son of God was
united, and forever remains united, with the human nature of the Son
of Man such that the one divine Person Jesus Christ, is indeed both
“truly God and truly man”.
The Unum Necessarium (the one thing necessary)
Mary is the one person ever to contribute, to truly give, the one thing to God that was not already His, even as He first imparted it to her. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24.1)
It was something necessary to the final and perfect fulfillment of the will of God. In fact, it was the one thing that God created but did not possess. Apart from it, the suffering, crucifixion, death, and resurrection — absolutely necessary to the fulfillment of God’s will for the salvation of the world, for the redemption of souls from bondage to sin and death — was impossible: her very flesh! Mary assented to the will of God: “Et Verbum caro factum est”, “And the Word became flesh!”
Jesus Christ took the substance of His sacred humanity from Mary. It was in this Sacred Humanity that Christ preached, healed, raised from the dead, gave sight to the blind. It is also in His Sacred Humanity that Christ suffered, was crucified, and died for our sins and through which He purchased our salvation. Had Mary not consented to the will of God; had she refused to be the Mother of God's Son (Who Himself is One with the Father), the one thing absolutely necessary to our salvation — the flesh and the humanity which Jesus Christ assumed, and through which alone salvation came into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ — could never have been possible.
“God is a Spirit” (St. John 4.24), and spirit is not possessed of flesh together with all the limitations inherent within it. God is infinite. Flesh is not. God is everywhere present, flesh is not. God is perfect felicity, which is to say, God in Himself has ever been, is, and ever will be, perfectly happy, unassailed by suffering, and pain cannot touch upon Him — but flesh is not! For this reason, Saint Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, “Who being in the form of God ... emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2.5-7). How? Through the Incarnation. Through whom? Through Mary who contributed her flesh (giving Christ, Who had emptied Himself of “the form of God”, the “form of a servant”; in fact the "Suffering Servant" of Isaiah 53 through Whom mankind was redeemed. Only in the humanity that Christ took from Mary alone, could He possibly suffer ... even die!
Theologians speak of this in terms of the “Hypostatic Union”, or the union of God and Man in the Person Jesus Christ. Christ is both! But it was in His humanity that He suffered and redeemed the world — the humanity, the flesh, given Him by Mary alone. In her assent to the will of God, in her “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”, “Be it done to me according to your word” (Saint Luke 1.38), she, the lowly “handmaid of the Lord”, gave to God the one thing that Spirit does not, cannot, possess: flesh. Her flesh — which the Son of God assumed, becoming through her assent, “True God and True Man.”
This is beautifully
expressed in The Little Office during this hour of Prime through
O Creator Lord!
Mary’s role, then,
in our salvation is not, as some contend, marginal; it is central and
she can no more be understood apart from Christ than Jesus in His Sacred
Humanity can be understood apart from Mary. His flesh is her flesh,
and commingled with the flesh of no other! His humanity is, substantivally,
Mary’s humanity… from whence it came and from which it is inseparable.
When Jesus gave Mary to us on the Cross, and us to Mary, He never ceased calling us to Him through her. Jesus Christ speaks to each of us in this way:
“… I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.” (Song of Songs 3.4)
It is to a loving acquaintance with Mary, His Mother, that Christ first calls you; to His Mother’s House, which is Holy Mother Church, and into that chamber of the love that bore Him, that you, too, may know the love of Mary ...and be no more an orphan in this world, nor a stranger in the world to come.
* This does not mean that you cannot or should not pray the entire Office with all 8 Canonical Hours. If God gives you the time, and the inclination (it is His to give, not ours), you are encouraged to do so, although God recognizes that for most of the laity this is not possible with all their obligations to family life and work, which are intrinsic to their holy vocation as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, the single and the providers for their families. This is your primary vocation. It is through this that God calls you to sanctity in your life. It is far more pleasing to God to attend to a crying or wayward child, an elderly parent, or a distressed spouse, that to utter all the prayers in the world as though you can multiply the grace God gives you through praying much and loving little. One Hour (not 60 minutes) of the Office, if this is all that is available to you, will give you all the grace that you need from God. Remember the Widow’s Pence. (“And looking on, he saw the rich men cast their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in two brass mites. And he said: Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast into the offerings of God: but she of her want, hath cast in all the living that she had.”) (St. Luke 21.1-3)
Printable PDF File for the “Reflection on Prime”
the beginning of Compline in the Office of The Blessed Virgin Mary
us, O God our Savior.”
(note the communal aspect; we are
not just praying
for ourselves, but for all Christians).
The response is:
“And turn away Thine anger from us.....”
In this prayer we acknowledge our own guilt and we pray also in the name of all sinners fearing punishment from God, Who in fact abundantly gives His grace and mercy to the truly penitent, however held fast in the sinister web of sin from which they struggle in vain to escape. Alone, they cannot. They know this. And God does, too. Acknowledging their guilt, as the Good Thief on the Cross they cry out, “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” Behold me, Lord, I am held fast by my sin. In justice I have been condemned, but in hope I yet cry out, “Mercy, Lord, mercy! Do not turn away from me. Save me!”
It is the prayer of the guilty. Are there none among us?
We join, then, our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of Compassion and pray for grace, remembering that a sinner, one guilty — and not one just — was the first to enter the Kingdom. “My ways are not your ways”, God has told us again and again.
℣ means Versicle: a versicle is the first half of one of a set of preces (the Latin plural of prex, “prayer”) are prayers in liturgical worship that are short petitions, said or sung, and answered with a Response
is the response by the congregation
Strictly speaking, the following prayers are not part of the Divine Office, but they are widely used by those who pray any Office , both as a preparation for prayer in the beginning and as a thanksgiving at the end. It is not always feasible to add additional prayers to our Office because of time constraints, but when it is possible it is advisable, because the prayer of preparation enables us to focus upon what we are about to do, making us conscious of the fact that we need Gods help if we are to bring our poor wandering hearts and minds to worship. God can read us innermost thoughts, he knows our hearts and the proclamation of this prayer says to our God, “Lord you know I want to worship you, I want to give myself to You, despite the reality of how poor my response may be at times.” God who sees the depths of all things knows, and He loves us.
thou my mouth, O lord to bless thy Holy Name,
Through Christ, Our Lord.
+ Dómine, os meum ad benedicéndum Nomen sanctum Tuum.
praise, honor power and glory be given by all creatures
to the most holy and undivided Trinity, to the Humanity
of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ Jesus, to the fruitful
purity of the most blessed and most glorious Mary ever Virgin,
and to the company of all the saints, and may be obtain
the remission of all our sins through all eternity. Amen.
℟ And blessed are the paps that gave suck to Christ Our Lord.
Our Father ...
et indivíduae Trinitáti,
crucifíxi Dómini nostri Jesu Christi humanitáti, beatíssimae
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