Breviary and the New Missal Translation

And More on the Rosary

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ROME, OCT. 18, 2011 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: As you know, the English translation of the Roman Missal, third edition, soon to be the norm, has new translations for the texts of the collect (opening prayer) for use at Mass. What will be their status for use at the Liturgy of the Hours, once the third-edition translation is the norm for Mass? Is it (a) forbidden, or (b) mandatory, or (c) permitted, but not mandatory, to use these new translations for the Liturgy of the Hours? Permitting their use seems advantageous, in that these improved translations would improve the celebration of the office and show its unity with the Eucharist. However, mandating their use would seem burdensome, since breviaries are not printed with these texts. Yet the text for the Liturgy of the Hours has its own ecclesiastical approval; this would suggest that use of the current (older) translation be continued. — B.K., Oakland, California

A: Although there are no precise official norms regarding this, I would say that the most probable possibility would be our reader’s third option: «permitted, but not mandatory.»

In general, the closing prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours at morning and evening prayer is the same as the Mass collect. This is not an absolute rule as, for example, a priest can celebrate a votive Mass or an optional memorial and pray the office of the day. When All Souls’ Day falls on a Sunday the office follows the Sunday even though the Mass is of the Commemoration. However, all closing prayers used in the office are also found in the missal.

Since we are dealing with two alternative translations of the same prayer, both of which have received official approval, I see no difficulty in using the new translation if one so wishes. As yet, there is no booklet containing only the new collects. Even if there were one, it could prove somewhat awkward for recitation of the Divine Office. For these reasons it would not be mandatory until the eventual publication of an updated breviary.

Indeed, it is to be hoped that, having finished the missal, the English-language authorities begin to undertake the gargantuan task of preparing a new version of the Liturgy of the Hours. The current edition for English speakers outside of the United States hails from the 1970s and is missing all the additions to the liturgical calendar, such as the new saints.

A single text for the entire English-speaking world would also be most useful in these times of constant travel.

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Follow-up: Marian Prayers Before the Blessed Sacrament

In the wake of our column of Oct. 4, a reader wrote: «I understand that praying the rosary during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is perfectly fine. But can we pray the rosary with the leader before the altar of the Virgin on the side, while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the central altar?»

There are no official rules to cover such a situation, probably because it never occurred to anybody that this would arise.

I would say that liturgical logic would avoid this arrangement. By remaining at the side altar, the leader would inevitably draw attention away from the Blessed Sacrament. This would be unfortunate, since the act of adoration of Christ’s divine presence always holds precedence over the act of veneration toward an image of his Blessed Mother.

This is no lack of respect toward Mary, as she is most honored and most pleased whenever her Son is adored.

At the same time, there is no contradiction in adoring the Son while simultaneously venerating the Mother if an image is present in the vicinity of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, especially if the rosary takes place on a Marian feast.

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Readers may send questions to Please put the word «Liturgy» in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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