A priest-acquaintance of mine once told me that he re-reads the General Instruction of the Roman Missal on a yearly basis. After all, our chief duty as priests is to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy and our memory can be feeble; we need to stay fresh on what is required of us by the Church. Especially since, in the Oath of Fidelity that we took before ordination (and that we repeat before assuming various ecclesiastical offices throughout our priestly ministry), we swore things like:
With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church…
I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws…
A corollary of reviewing the liturgical law connected with the celebration of Holy Mass is that of reviewing the law for the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours — the other great liturgical office of priests, which all are bound to discharge faithfully on a daily basis (as well as most deacons, at least to some degree, and many religious). The laws that govern it are found primarily in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours.
During a recent consultation of this text, I made a rather surprising discovery — something that I had entirely forgotten (if I had ever internalized it to begin with — yikes!). At number 92 it says, concerning the Marian antiphon to be recited or sung at the conclusion of Night Prayer (Compline):
Finally, one of the antiphons in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said. In the Easter season, this is always to be the Regina cæli. In addition to the antiphons given in The Liturgy of the Hours, others may be approved by the conferences of bishops.
I knew about the traditional distribution of Marian antiphons throughout the year (see this post for more information) — and thus that, traditionally, during Easter, the Regina cæli is sung or recited; but when one looks at the Lent/Easter volume of the Liturgy of the Hours in English, the Regina cæli is listed first among several other options, in a way that suggests any of those options is legitimate to use. Moreover, it says nothing in the Ordinary section with the rubrics (before the four-week psalter) about how during Easter, only the Regina cæli is to be done.
(The Latin Easter volume [of my six-volume Latin set from MTF] has only the Regina cæli in it!)
In other words, if one relied solely on the volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours in English to know what must be done, one would be led astray on this (admittedly, rather minor) point… It is necessary to know what is in the General Instruction also!
The things one learns and re-learns while studying…!
The beautiful Regina cæli:
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia. For he whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia, hath risen as he said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. [Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia, for the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.]
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