Sunday, September 23, 2018

Traditional Latin Mass vs. Novus Ordo, Part 6: The new Divine Office and sacraments

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: A brief history
Part 2: First half of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 3: The rest of the Novus Ordo Mass
Part 4: The key differences
Part 5: Liturgical abuse

In addition to the radical revisions to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office and all seven sacraments were also heavily revised. These revisions represent many of the same trends that the revisions to the Mass represent, such as a horizontal rather than vertical focus and de-emphasis on infallible Catholic doctrine.

Like the Novus Ordo Mass, the Novus Ordo Divine Office and sacraments attempt to revert to ancient practices, but in this regard they fail completely. The new forms of the Divine Office and sacraments are even more novel than the Mass, and at no point do they have even the slightest resemblance to any ancient practices.

The Novus Ordo Divine Office is entitled the Liturgy of the Hours. Like the traditional Divine Office, its purpose is to be our sacrifice of praise to God, to sanctify each part of the day through prayer and psalms, and to supplement the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. However, the new Liturgy of the Hours is drastically shorter than the traditional Divine Office. If you are not familiar with the traditional Divine Office, you can read our series about it from last July. The traditional Divine Office consists of the hours of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. The sequence of hours in the Liturgy of the Hours is as follows.
  • The Office of Readings, which roughly corresponds to the traditional Matins, but may be sung at any time of day.
  • Lauds, also called Morning Prayer.
  • Daytime Prayer, corresponding to three of the four little hours of the traditional Divine Office. Daytime Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours consists of Terce (“Mid-Morning Prayer”), Sext (“Mid-Day Prayer”), and None (“Mid-Afternoon Prayer”).
  • Vespers, also called Evening Prayer.
  • Compline, also called Night Prayer.

Except for the Office of Readings, each of the hours has a descriptive English name in addition to its traditional name. For example, the evening office is called both Vespers and Evening Prayer. The traditional hour of Prime, which has been part of the Divine Office since AD 382, is completely suppressed. This is yet another example of the reckless destruction of ancient traditions in the Novus Ordo. It also means that the martyrology is no longer part of the Church's liturgy, so many thousands of saints who have been canonized by the Church are now completely neglected. The rubrics of the Liturgy of the Hours are given in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH).

Like the traditional Divine Office, the most important part of the Liturgy of the Hours is the singing of psalms. However, as mentioned before, the Liturgy of the Hours is much, much shorter than the traditional Divine Office, and each hour has far fewer psalms. In the traditional Divine Office, there are nine psalms or portions of psalms at Matins, four at Lauds, three each at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, five at Vespers, and three at Compline, for a total of thirty-three psalms per day or 231 per week. Thus, in one week, all 150 psalms are sung. In the Liturgy of the Hours, there are three psalms at the Office of Readings, two at Lauds, three at Daytime Prayer, two at Vespers, and one or two at Compline. The ancient tradition of reciting all 150 psalms in a week is suppressed. Instead, the psalter is sung on a four-week cycle.

Even over the course of the four weeks, the entire Book of Psalms is not sung in the Liturgy of the Hours. Psalms 57, 82, and 108, along with various verses of many other psalms, are omitted, because they have the character of cursing one's enemies. This is among the most preposterous of the Novus Ordo revisions. The reformers took it upon themselves to censor the Word of God, removing whatever did not please them. This is pure, unbridled Modernism. Men have placed themselves above God and their own sentimentality above the divine truth. As Catholics, we have a solemn duty to curse and renounce all enemies of God, just as King David did in these psalms. It is tragic that the Church's own sacred liturgy fails in this duty.

In addition to the psalms, hymns composed by the Church have been used in the Divine Office for centuries. Many saints, such as St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas, wrote beautiful hymns for the Divine Office. Unfortunately, the hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours are a confusing mess. In saner times, the Vatican would publish an editio typica (“typical edition”) of every liturgical book, and all other editions published anywhere in the world had to conform to the editio typica. In the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours, the hymns in the English translated editions do not conform to the Vatican editio typica. They do not even conform to other English editions. Every publisher of an English edition of the Liturgy of the Hours chooses English hymns to include. These hymns often include religious songs that are not sacred music and not appropriate for the liturgy. Many editions even include hymns composed by Martin Luther! This is a manifestation of the Modernist idea of placing sentiment above truth. People like these songs, so why not include them in the sacred liturgy? It is wrong and dangerous to make liturgical decisions based on the people's will instead of God's will.

Office of Readings

The Office of Readings is a new invention in the Novus Ordo. It replaces the hour of Matins, which has been celebrated since time immemorial. Unlike Matins, the Office of Readings is not a night office, though the GILH suggests that it be observed as such in religious communities. It may be sung at any time of day. Likewise, the Office of Readings is not divided into nocturns like Matins.

The Invitatory begins the office if and only if it is sung as the first hour of the day. The Invitatory is usually Psalm 94, but there is an option to replace it with Psalm 23, 66, or 99. The Invitatory antiphon is proper to the day. If Lauds has already been sung that day, there is no Invitatory, so the office begins with the traditional opening verse and Gloria Patri. If the Invitatory is sung, then this verse is omitted.

Deus ☩ in adjutórium meum inténde.
Dómine, ad adjuvándum me festína.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen. Allelúia.
O God, ☩ come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

A hymn is sung, followed by three psalms, each with an antiphon. At the end of each psalm, after Gloria Patri but before the repetition of the antiphon, a short prayer specific to the psalm, known as a psalm prayer, may be said, perhaps accompanied by a period of sacred silence. The psalm prayers are composed to aid personal devotion to the psalms. I actually think they are quite lovely.

After the three psalms, there are always two readings. The first is from sacred scripture, and the second is chosen from a variety of texts, such as the writings of Church Fathers or the lives of saints. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are included among the writings of Church Fathers that may be read from. There are no absolutions or blessings before the readings. Each reading is followed by a responsory. The Te Deum, the great hymn of praise composed by Ss. Ambrose and Augustine, is then sung on Sundays outside of Lent and on major feasts. It is even sung on Sundays of Advent, when the Gloria is not sung at Mass, so there is no longer the traditional connection between the Gloria and the Te Deum.

The Office of Readings concludes with a prayer proper to the day. Two options are given for the concluding prayer for each hour of the Liturgy of the Hours except Compline. The first is a prayer proper to the day unique to the Liturgy of the Hours, and the second is the collect of the Mass, so there is the option of continuing the tradition of singing the collect of the Mass at each hour of the Divine Office.


Lauds, or “Morning Prayer,” begins with the Invitatory if the Office of Readings has not yet been sung that day, otherwise it begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium. A hymn proper to the day is then sung. The psalms follow. Unlike the traditional form of Lauds, Novus Ordo Lauds does not have separate schemes of psalms for penitential and non-penitential occasions. One psalm is sung, preceded and followed by an antiphon proper to the day. A psalm prayer may be said after the Gloria Patri. This psalm is followed by a canticle from the Old Testament, with an antiphon. The Old Testament canticle follows the same four-week cycle as the psalms. Like in the traditional Divine Office, the Canticle of the Three Children from Daniel 3:57-88 is sung on Sundays and major feasts. Also like the traditional Divine Office, the canticle is followed by a psalm of a joyful nature.

Next, there is a short reading from sacred scripture, analogous to the capitulum of each hour of the traditional Divine Office, followed by a responsory. The Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah is then sung. Taken from Luke 1:68-79, the Benedictus is Zechariah's hymn of praise at the circumcision of his son, St. John the Baptist. If Lauds is offered solemnly in choir, the altar is incensed during the singing of the Benedictus to demonstrate the connection between the Divine Office and the Mass.

The Benedictus is followed by the Intercessions, a short litany proper to the day offering prayer to God. They are analogous to the preces feriales of the traditional Divine Office. However, unlike the preces, the Intercessions are sung every day. Since Lauds traditionally has a character of giving praise to God, the Intercessions at Lauds give praise and thanksgiving to God and consecrate the day to him. They also take on some of the character of the prayers for the day's work traditionally sung at Prime. Since the Liturgy of the Hours does not have Prime, there is no office specifically for preparing for the day's work, so this intention must be incorporated into Lauds. At the end of the Intercessions, the Our Father is said, followed by the concluding prayer.

Daytime Prayer

Daytime Prayer consists of Terce (“Mid-Morning Prayer”), Sext (“Mid-Day Prayer”), and None (“Mid-Afternoon Prayer”). In religious communities, all three of these hours are offered. However, diocesan priests are only required to offer one of these three hours each day. This destroys the tradition, extending back to the apostles, of offering prayer to God at the third hour, sixth hour, and ninth hour. It weakens the sanctification of the hours of the day that has been entrusted to the clergy since time immemorial. Furthermore, it undermines the mystical connection between the daytime hours and the events of our Lord's Passion. It is unfortunate that the Church has lowered her standards for her clergy.

The hours of Terce, Sext, and None are identical in form. They each begin with the verse Deus in adjutorium and a hymn. Three psalms with one antiphon and, optionally, one psalm prayer are sung. Since each priest is required to offer only one daytime hour, there is only one set of psalms for Daytime Prayer. Additional psalms are given in an appendix in the event that more than one of the daytime hours are offered in a day. After the psalms, there is a short reading from scripture, a versicle and response, and the concluding prayer.


Vespers, or “Evening Prayer,” is the most solemn hour. It is similar in form to Lauds. It begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium and a hymn proper to the day. Two psalms are sung, each with an antiphon and a psalm prayer. Next, a canticle taken from the epistles of the New Testament or from the book of Apocalypse is sung with an antiphon. There are seven such canticles, one for each day of the week. These canticles are a new innovation and did not appear in the traditional Divine Office. After the canticle, there is a short reading from scripture and a responsory. The Magnificat or Canticle of Mary is then sung. The Magnificat is the Blessed Virgin Mary's song of praise when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, taken from Luke 1:46-55. It is followed by the Intercessions, which offer supplication to God for the Church. The final versicle of the Intercessions always prays for the souls in purgatory. Vespers concludes with the Our Father and the concluding prayer.


Compline, or “Night Prayer,” is the final hour of the day. It is sung before bed to prepare ourselves for our sleep that night and for the hour of our death. Compline begins with the verse Deus in adjutorium, followed by an examination of conscience and the same reduced form of the Confiteor used in the Novus Ordo Mass. This is opposed to the traditional Divine Office, in which the examination of conscience and Confiteor precede the opening verse. A hymn follows. One or two psalms are sung, with one antiphon and no psalm prayer. The psalms of Sunday (either Psalms 4 and 133 or Psalm 90 alone) may be used any day.

There is then a short reading from scripture proper to the day of the week. It is followed by the responsory In manus tuas, just like the traditional form of Compline, taken from our Lord's words on the Cross: “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). The Nunc dimittis or Canticle of Simeon, the priest Simeon's song of praise when he saw the child Jesus in Luke 2:29-32, is sung with the same invariable antiphon from the traditional form of Compline. The closing prayer is then sung, which is proper to the day of the week. The blessing, “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death,” traditionally sung at the beginning of Compline, is now sung at the end of Compline. The day's Liturgy of the Hours concludes with the final antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which there are several options.

As you can see, the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours is drastically different from the traditional Divine Office. It is much, much shorter and does away with ancient traditions, such as the hours of Matins and Prime and singing all 150 psalms in a week. It replaces beautiful and sacred hymns with inappropriate religious songs. It even censors the Word of God by leaving out psalms that did not appeal to the reformers' sentimentality.

The new liturgies for the sacraments

In addition to the Mass and Divine Office, the liturgies for all seven sacraments were heavily revised. Once again, the Novus Ordo forms for the sacraments take away a lot of liturgical beauty and tradition and represent Protestant and Modernist influences. The people and their sentiments are given higher importance than God and his divine truth. To be clear, all of the sacraments are still valid. God's grace is still given. It is merely the ceremonies that are inferior.


The Novus Ordo Baptism ceremony is shorter than the traditional ceremony and takes place entirely inside the church. The tradition of beginning outside the church and bringing the new Christians into the church is suppressed. The priest never addresses the child in the ceremony, instead speaking directly to the parents and godparents. Most significantly, the ancient ceremony of tasting salt and the exorcisms have been abolished, so there is no longer any reference to driving away the devil. The beautiful seven-part ceremony of Baptism of an adult, with its quasi-little hour of the Divine Office at the beginning and a threefold exorcism, has been completely abolished.


The Novus Ordo rite of Confirmation is completely different from the traditional rite. It takes place in the context of the Mass, after the sermon. There is an option for a “ritual Mass,” where the Mass propers relate to the sacrament of Confirmation. The ritual Mass even has a proper form of the Penitential Act, which is unusual. The prayer to bestow each of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is abolished. The second imposition of hands, in which the bishop lays his hands on each confirmand's head individually, is abolished. The first imposition of hands, in which the bishop extends his hands over all of the confirmandi together, remains. The imposition of hands is generally regarded by theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, as part of the essential matter of the sacrament, so retaining the general imposition of hands is necessary for validity of the sacrament (Summa Theologiae IIIa, Q. 72, A. 2 ad 1). That being said, removing the individual imposition of hands is a very serious change that suppresses a tradition mentioned in the Bible itself (Acts 8:17).

Instead of the traditional form, “I sign thee with the Sign of the Cross...” the bishop says, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This form is taken from the Eastern rites. It is far less beautiful than the traditional form. It is also ambiguousis the Holy Spirit itself the gift, or is it something the Holy Spirit gives? After this form and the accompanying anointing with Chrism, the bishop says, “Peace be with you,” but he does not slap the confirmand.


As I discussed in previous parts of this series, there is far less respect given to the Blessed Sacrament in the Novus Ordo than in the traditional Latin Mass. It comes as no surprise, then, that many Catholics today (some sources suggest as many as half of all Catholics) either do not know or do not believe that the bread and wine are completely transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In the traditional Latin Mass, only what is consecrated may touch the Sacred Hostthe chalice, paten, corporal, pall, purificator, and priest's hands. In the Novus Ordo, the Eucharist is regularly distributed by lay people and received in the hands.


The form of absolution has been changed. There is less emphasis on the priest himself absolving sin. Instead, we have a prayer that, although lovely, does not fit with the sacrament of Penance. The essential form of the sacrament, “I absolve you from your sins...” feels forced and out of place. In fact, it seems to pander to the Protestant idea that we must pray directly to God for forgiveness instead of being forgiven by a priest.

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The prayer for indulgence (“May the Passion...”) is preserved as an option, but it is not commonly used. I have only heard one priest say it in the Novus Ordo.

With the Novus Ordo's reduced emphasis on the infallible Catholic faith, the practice of regular confession seems to have fallen by the wayside for many Catholics. Far too many parishes offer confession only a half hour a week, and even that half hour is barely attended. Many Catholics only go to confession once or twice a year. Some never go at all, even though Catholics have a solemn obligation to go to confession a minimum of once a year. Some are unaware of or apathetic to the requirement of being in a state of grace to receive Communion, so they regularly receive Communion even if they have not been to confession in months or years.

I have seen many liturgical abuses with the sacrament of Penance. The most grievous is the practice in some parishes of offering a “community reconciliation service,” in which the people do not confess their sins individually, but the priest still gives a general absolution to the whole parish. This is almost always invalid, and priests who hold such a service are committing a grave sin. A general absolution may be valid only for grave reason (such as if a group of soldiers are going into battle and there is not time to hear each person's confession) and with permission of the bishop. Each person who receives such an absolution is bound to confess their sins to a priest as soon as possible.

Extreme Unction

The sacrament of Extreme Unction has been radically changed. It is now called “Anointing of the Sick.” It is no longer associated with the time of death, but rather it may be received by anyone who is seriously ill. This is contrary to the constant tradition of the Catholic Church and the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas, which dictate that the sacrament of Extreme Unction be given at the time of death (ST Suppl. IIIae, Q. 32, A. 2).

In addition, the focus of the new rite of Anointing of the Sick is not on forgiveness of sins and spiritual healing, but on physical healing. There are no exorcisms. The saints are not invoked. Instead of the six anointings on various body parts, there are only two anointings on the head and hands, using these prayers:

Per istam sanctam Unctiónem et suam piíssimam misericórdiam, ádiuvet te Dóminus grátia Spíritus Sancti. Amen.

Ut a peccátis liberátum te salvet atque propítius állevet. Amen.
Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen.

Notice how the priest says, “May the Lord who frees you from sin,” as if freeing the sick person from sin were an event that occurs at another time, not related to the sacrament. Finally, any vegetable oil may be used, which contradicts the constant tradition of the Church that olive oil be used. Thus, the new rite of Anointing of the Sick, although valid, represents a completely different theology than the sacred Catholic tradition.


In the Novus Ordo, the sacrament of Marriage is generally celebrated within the Mass, after the sermon. The nuptial blessing is given after the Our Father as usual. Strangely, the Penitential Act and the Libera nos (“Deliver us Lord...”) are both omitted at a nuptial Mass. Unlike the traditional nuptial Mass, the new nuptial Mass has many different options for prayers and readings. The bride and groom are free to choose whatever suits their sentiments. St. Paul's exhortation on Marriage from his Epistle to the Ephesians, which is the Epistle at the traditional nuptial Mass, is an option for a reading. However, the verse admonishing wives to submit to their husbands is left out. Once again, the reforms censor the Word of God to fit their Modernist sentiments.

Holy Orders

The new rite of ordination of a priest takes places after the sermon, which is a break from the tradition of celebrating ordinations between the readings. The ceremonial bestowing of the powers to bless, offer the Mass, and forgive sins are all omitted. There is no mention of the sacrificial nature of the priesthood. Yet again, the infallible Catholic truth is cast away in favor of Modernist and Protestant sentiments.

New terms
  • Liturgy of the Hours – The Novus Ordo Divine Office.
  • Office of Readings – A new hour of the Divine Office concocted to replace Matins. It consists of three psalms and two readings and may be sung at any time of day.
  • Daytime Prayer – The hours of Terce, Sext, and None, only one of which is required for each priest except in religious communities.
  • General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (GILH)The rubrics of the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours.
  • psalm prayer – A short prayer specific to a psalm written to aid the faithful's devotion to that psalm.
  • Intercessions – Prayers sung at Lauds and Vespers, analogous to the preces of the traditional Divine Office.

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