Divine Office – Divinum Officium

The Divine Office

A Study of the Roman Breviary

Part II.—Rules From Moral and Ascetic Theology for the Recitation of the Breviary.

Chapter I. Moral And Ascetic Theology.

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ARTICLE VIII.—THE DIRECTION OF THE SCRUPULOUS.

Persons who are scrupulous about the recitation of the Hours should have help from their confessors, who should deal specifically with any of the scruples which arise in the daily task. Scruples generally concern the necessary intention, the necessary attention, pronunciation, and the time necessary for a good and faithful recitation of the canonical Hours. How should a confessor deal with scruples about intention? A confessor should tell a cleric, scrupulous in this point, that his fear is groundless and that by the very act of taking up his Breviary he expresses his intention of praying, of saying his Hours; that it is not necessary that such intention be actual or reflexive, it is sufficient if it be virtual, and that such an intention does exist every time one opens the Breviary to say his Hours. The saying slowly and deliberately the prayer "Aperi Domine" is a great aid to the scrupulous in forming a right intention and in dispelling their vain fears.

Clerics troubled about attention are helped and comforted by their confessor repeating to them what they well know themselves, about voluntary and involuntary distractions, and the telling of the anxious ones that this very anxiety and anguish show that their fear of losing attention in their prayer is a true and real sign of its existence. In dealing with scruples about vocal and integral pronunciation a confessor should advise that no stopping should be made in the saying of the psalms, etc., but that the recitation should be continued quietly, without restraining the voice, without impatience, and without scrutiny of the pronunciation of the part said, "God is a father, full of goodness, not an exacting taskmaster, and He is more honoured by moderate care than by a disturbing solicitude." Above all things, a confessor should remember that it is important to forbid scrupulous persons to repeat the whole or even the part of an Hour. An effort should be made by him to tranquilise the troubled soul with the principle that the precepts of the Church do not bind him to repeat the Hours with such inconvenience as leads to bodily and mental illness. The Church is our mother and does not wish her children to be troubled and solicitous, but to pray in peace.

 

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