Secular Order Discalced Carmelites

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THE DIVINE OFFICE                    

it's Beauty and Significance

by Fr. Bill Healy, O.C.D.


Paragraph Five of the Rule states that the liturgical life as a perennial participation in the Pascal Mystery nourishes the Secular Carmelite in his/her daily pledge to follow Christ crucified and Risen toward an ever more perfect union with God by making pains and joys of his life an offering of praise and glory to God. The secular Carmelite's life will express itself chiefly in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in the recitation of the Church's Divine Office. He will, as far as possible, assist at daily Mass and will daily recite morning and evening prayers, lauds and vespers, that is, f rom the breviary. If possible, he will also recite night prayer, compline, before retiring. In order to appreciate the significance of this obligation imposed on each of the members of the Secular Order, our brothers and sisters should know the reasons behind this recitation. Only then, can they fully appreciate the dignity of the beauty expressed in this responsibility.

First of all, the members of the Secular Order must pray for the universal Church, for all peoples of all nations regardless of race, color or creed. The Psalms are a form of universal prayers. They are the prayers of the Christian and the non-Christian alike. And while the individual Secular Order member is praying, he is in effect saying, "I wish to pray for all people, to exempt no one from my charity or my interest. I pray dear Lord, for the Church at large, for the glory of the Order of Carmel and for all the people You in Your Divine Providence have placed in my special care."

Secondly, the Psalms are the prayers of Jesus Christ. Our Lord and Master learned how to recite the Psalms from his dear Mother, Mary Immaculate. So when the Secular Order member prays the Psalms, this act recalls the model and guide of all prayer, Christ Jesus, the Lord. The individual prays with Christ, and through Christ for all peoples because each baptized person is called a Christian. A Christian is not just a follower of Christ but a duplicate copy, as far as possible, of Jesus Christ Himself with the individual's temperament, personality and character. So when the Secular Order member recites the Office he is expressing the identical thoughts Jesus Christ gave to the Heavenly Father in a different language; in a different time, it is true, but nevertheless, the very same ideals the very same thoughts, and the very same manifestations of the internal consecration of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God.

Thirdly, consider the moods of the Psalms. the Psalms may be expressing a happy mood, thanksgiving, praise and glory; the next day, they present a sad mood, the prophesy of the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the appeal for mercy coming from the depths of the prayer's heart. This mood may be quite different from the emotion of the one praying, so the prayer forgets himself or herself to offer this adoration, this praise, this thanksgiving or this petition for people who at that moment, are experiencing blessings in life, graces, joys and special gifts from God for which they may have forgotten, or do forget, to say thanks. The one praying, I repeat, forgets himself or herself and asks God's benediction on these people that they in turn may offer their thanks for graces received. When the Psalm is unhappy (for want of a better term) the one praying asks God for strength to be given to others experiencing troubles, problems, temptations and cares; to enable them to carry their cross and to meet their difficulties because the worship of the prayer is offered for them, with and through and in Jesus Christ, the Lord.

Our Novice Master gave us different themes for the Office each day. He told us that when we used these themes it would prevent us from taking the Office as a matter of routine. He suggested Sunday be offered to the Blessed Trinity; Monday offered for the poor souls in Purgatory; Tuesday, for the angels; Wednesday, in honor of St. Joseph; Thursday, in honor and gratitude for the Blessed sacrament; Friday, in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ, our Brother, and Saturday, of course was to be given to the Blessed Virgin.

I So there is a reason and there is a purpose and there is a plan for everything that is found in our Rule regarding prayer. It is up to the individual Carmelite to be mindful of the fact that he or she joins the choirs of angels, all the priests, all the religious in the Catholic Church, as well as the devoted members of Christ's dear laity, in professing love and adoration to the Giver of Life, the Redeemer of Life and the Sanctifier; in other words, the Blessed Trinity. It is the Father to whom we offer ourselves through Jesus Christ and it is by the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit we are enabled to carry on this beautiful function. For as St. Paul so beautifully put it, we cannot so much as even express the name of Jesus Christ without the help and the assistance of the Spirit. So it is that the individual, Carmelite is closely united to the Triune God in fulfilling man's greatest purpose adoration, glory and honor now and forever. Amen.


Father William A. Healy O.C.D. was provincial delegate to the Secular Order of the Eastern Jurisdiction f rom 1984-88. Stationed at Saint Florian's parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Father was appointed in 1988 to be the provincial delegate to the Secular Order in Ontario, Canada.

Bill was born June 16, 1920, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was professed William 'of Our Lady of Perpetual Help' September 27, 1940, and ordained a priest of the Washington province 'of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,' on June 11, 1946.



Central Jurisdiction, U.S.A.


During visitation of one of our Communities, tha local President began Vespers while the Provincial Delegate was vesting in the sacristy for Benediction. When time came for intonation of the Magnificat antiphon, Father nodded for the President to intone. She hesitated, so Father intoned the antiphon. She later wrote asking who was supposed to begin the various antiphons and Psalms of the Divine office when we recite it in common at our meetings.

It is the role of the Leader whose latin title is 'hebdomadary,' to intone the Gospel Canticle’s antiphon. Since Father was vested on the altar at the time he should have assumed this role. So Father replied to her letter, "We did it properly, despite myself." The rest of Father's reply follows:

It pertains to the role of the Hebdomadary to begin the 'Hour' with: 'God, come to my assistance,' or 'Lord, open my lips' for the first hour of the day. The rest of the Community responds. 'Lord, make haste to help me,' followed immediately with the whole 'Gloria,' ending (except during lent) with, 'Alleluia.’ The Gloria is not intoned by anyone; it follows immediately by all. It is said whole; i.e., not, broken into two parts for each side of the choir as is done when it concludes the Psalms. When the "Lord open my lips' begins the office for the first hour of the day, a separate officer may intone the Invitatory Antiphon and recite the Invitatory Psalm while all repeat the antiphon immediately it's first intonation, then after each verse of the Invitatory Psalm. This officer says the concluding Gloria by himself, as he has verse. All respond by repeating the antiphon as they have after each verse. For the sake of simplicity, however, the Hebdomadary usually takes this officer's role.

The Hebdomadary intones the antiphon for the Gospel Canticle; i.e., the Benedictus for Morning Prayer, the Magnificat for Evening Prayer, and the Nunc Dimittis for Night Prayer. (Canticles of Zachariah, Mary & Simeon in English). All antiphons' are intoned with the first few words or phrase of the antiphon. All respond with the remainder of the antiphon. The one exception to this rule is the Invitatory antiphon mentioned above which is intoned in its entirety and repeated in its entirety by all. Most churches do this with the responsary after the first reading of Mass.

The Hebdomadary introduces the Intercessions. Another officer may lead the individual petitions with all responding to the latter part after the dash. For simplicity sake, however, the Hebdomadary usually takes this officer's role as well as his own in introducing the Intercessions. The Italic response, by the way, is used only as an alternative response of the people to the individual petitions when they do not take the part after the dash as their response. It is thus omitted entirely (even after the introduction) when the petitions are divided between officer and people by the dash.

Finally, the Hebdomadary reads the Prayer. and Conclusion. Notice the conclusion/dismissal varies depending on whether the Hebdomadary is a lay person, a deacon or priest since only clerics should give the Trinitarian form of blessing. Thus if a priest or deacon is present for the Office, he should assume this role.

It pertains to the role of the music leader or chanter to begin the Hymn and other portions of the Office that are sung.

It pertains to the role of First Cantor to intone the 1st and 3rd antiphons and Psalms for his/her side of the ‘choir.' The antiphons are intoned by the remainder together. The Psalms are intoned by the cantor saying the first entire line of the Psalm by himself; then his side says the remaining lines of that verse. The second side comes in on the 2nd verse, etc. The Cantor intones the antiphon's repetition after the "Glorla' (or Psalm-prayer) in the same manner as he intoned it at the beginning of the Psalm.

The Psalm-prayers are optional. We do not say them publicly at the Monastery, but leave them for the optional meditation of individuals during the silence between the repetition of one antiphon and the intonation of the next; if silence is observed between the Psalms, this is the proper place to observe it. Length of the silent period should be approximately the time taken to silently read a normal size Psalm-prayer. If silence is observed, it should always be observed, whether a Psalm-prayer is printed after that particular Psalm or not. The only Psalm not followed by silence (when observed) would be the Gospel Canticle.

It pertains to the role of the Second Cantor to intone the 2nd antiphon and Psalm for his side, in. the same manner Prescribed above. One of the Cantors should also intone the first line of the Gospel Canticle after the Hebdomadary intone the antiphon. This cantor should also intone the repetition of that antiphon at the end of the Gospel Canticle.

It pertains to the role of Reader to read the reading! Observe a brief silence after the reading, then lead the responsory, leaving the portions after the dash for everyone's response. The concluding doxology of the responsory is only a partial: its second half is not said. The reader only says, 'Glory to the Father and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit.' Then everyone comes in with the response after the dash. Don't ask why the 'as it was in the beginning...' is not said here. I've never seen it written in any rubric to omit it, but it is apparently the custom observed rather universally. There is a logic to it, however. You will notice that the people's response (after the dash) is also cut in half for the second time around.

Notice the rubric given on page 690 of the one volume breviary's Ordinary, 'A longer reading may be selected, especially in public recitations...' I've also noted that the one volume breviary has, in fact, lengthened many of the readings given only in short form in the four volume breviary. If the reading is of sufficient length, the reader should introduce it and end it the same way as is done at, Mass. If the reading is only a couple of lines long, however, the formal introduction and conclusion should be dispensed with. It becomes rather ridiculous for the leader to begin, ‘A reading from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians,' and ‘This Is the Word of the Lord,’ with the peoples response, ‘Thanks be to God,’ when the reading itself takes about as long to say as all this does. As Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, said in the conclusion of our original Rule: In all (these) things, use common sense, for that is the rule of all virtue.

Well, I think this just about covers all basic rubrics for public recitation of the Divine Office in Community. I've probably gone into more detail than I should, for the Church allows a great deal of elasticity in these matters. Few of these things are hard and fast laws that must be followed. Our individual Communities should feel free to adapt to their own particular circumstances. If all our Communities did follow these guidelines, however, it would be great aid to our 'feeling at home' when individuals visit our Communities of Friars in the Province, other Secular Community meetings Congresses, etc.. One word of caution regarding our Nuns: please do not expect them to follow the same rubrics we do. Always remember we are guests in the houses of any of our Religious, and as guests we follow their local customs when reciting the Office with them.

One last thought: I think we all realize the words in the breviary books printed in red are rubrics and titles; words in italics are aids to our meditation, and not part of the recited portion of the office. Such things cannot always be taken for granted, however. Our Holy Mother, St. Teresa, found nine pious ladies in Villanueva de la Jara who recited everything: Antiphons and all. She describes the scene in the 28th chapter of her Foundations book:

They seemed to spend most of their time reciting the Divine Office. Only one could read well, and they did not have Identical breviaries. Some used old roman breviaries given by priests who no longer used them; others used whatever they could find.. They did not recite the Office in a place where they could be heard by outsiders, [thank God!] They said little that was correct. [Ch. 28,42 ]



1.    History of the Order        

13.     750th Anniversary of the Brown Scapular

2.    Basic Identity of Secular Carmelites       

14.     The Brown Scapular 

3.    A Method of Meditation       

15.     Profile of an OCDS


16.     The Reform    

5.    Prayer,   Little Rock Congress 1976

17.      Practice of the Presence of God   

6.    Prayer,  Fr. Gabriel Barry, OCD

18.     Jessica Powers,OCD  

7.    Meditative Prayer,  Fr. Gabriel Barry, OCD  

19.     Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit (J. Powers)

8.    Elizabeth of the Trinity 

20.    The Spirituality of Jessica Powers 

9.    Fascinated by God 

21.    Sr. Maravillas of Jesus, OCD

10.  Raphael Kalinowski  

22.    Mother Luisita 



11.  Teresian Carmel, Origin & History   

12.  Message of John Paul II, Brown Scapular

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