The Little Office of Our Lady Instituted

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The Little Office of Our Lady Instituted, Pope Urban II (1095)

The Little Office of Our Lady also known as Hours of the Virgin is a liturgical devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in imitation of, and usually in addition to, the Divine Office. It is a cycle of psalms, hymns, scripture and other readings. All of the daily variation occurs in Matins. The text of the other offices remains the same from day to day in the Roman rite and most other rites. In the Roman rite there are seasonal variations in Advent and Christmastide. The Gospel antiphons also change in Eastertide, although there are no other changes during that season. The Little Office was a core text of the medieval book of hours.
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary probably originated as a monastic devotion around the middle of the eighth century. Peter the Deacon reports that at the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino there was, in addition to the Divine Office, another office “which it is customary to perform in honour of the Holy Mother of God, which Zachary the Pope commanded under strict precept to the Cassinese Monastery.”
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a variation of the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). It may have originally been put together to be prayed in connection with the Votive Masses of Our Lady on Saturday, which were written by Alcuin, the liturgical master of Charlemagne’s court.
The Little Office did not come into general use before the tenth century. Peter Damian states that it was already commonly recited amongst the secular clergy of Italy and France, and through his influence the practice of reciting it in choir after the Monastic Office, was introduced into several Italian houses. In the eleventh century there were at least two versions the Little Office extant in England. Pre-English Reformation versions varied considerably, and in England in medieval times the main differences were between the Sarum and York uses. Several early printed versions of the English uses of the Little Office survive in the Primers.
In a spirit of piety and gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Urban II ordained in the Council of Clermont, over which he presided in person in the year 1095, that the clergy should say the little office of the Blessed Virgin, already introduced among the monks by St. Peter Damian; and that thrice a day, morning, noon, and evening, the great bell of the Church should be struck three times, to warn the faithful to say the Angelas, or the triple salutation to the Blessed Virgin, which begins with the word Angelus. This salutation is sometimes called the pardon, because Pope JohnXXII.,CalixtusIII., Paul III., Alexander VII, Clement X., and other Sovereign Pontiffs have granted great indulgences, to all those who shall devoutly recite this prayer three times a day. It was revised by by Pope Pius V. 1571.


The Festival of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Festival of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This festival is thus named, because the Church on this day celebrates the commemoration of the day ever memorable in the Book of Life, upon which the holy, angelically pure Virgin Mary received the glorious announcement, that she was chosen to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The Church in the Introit exclaims: All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbors shall be brought to thee in joy and gladness. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my words to the king. Glory be to the Father, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who wast pleased that Thy Word, when the angel delivered his message, should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary: give ear to our humble petitions; and grant, that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her prayers.  Continue reading

The Feast Day of the Annunciation

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The Feast Day of the Annunciation

This is a great day, not only to man, but even to God Himself; for it is the anniversary of the most solemn event that time has ever witnessed. On this day, the Divine Word, by which the Father created the world, was made flesh in the womb of a Virgin, and dwelt among us (St. John. i. 14). We must spend it in joy. Whilst we adore the Son of God who humbled himself by thus becoming Man, let us give thanks to the Father, who so loved the world, as to give his Only Begotten Son (3 Ibid. iii. 16.); let us give thanks to the Holy Ghost, Whose almighty power achieves the great mystery. We are in the very midst of Lent, and yet the ineffable joys of Christmas are upon us: our Emmanuel is conceived on this day, and, nine months hence, will be born in Bethlehem, and the Angels will invite us to come and honour the sweet Babe.

During Septuagesima Week, we meditated upon the fall of our First Parents, and the triple sentence pronounced by God against the serpent, the woman, and Adam. Our hearts were filled with fear as we reflected on the divine malediction, the effects of which are to be felt by all generations, even to the end of the world. But, in the midst of the anathemas then pronounced against us, there was a promise made us by our God; it was a promise of salvation, and it enkindled hope within us. In pronouncing sentence against the serpent, God said, that His head should one day be crushed, and that, too, by a Woman. Continue reading