The Divine Office Online
Published by the Confraternity of Saints Peter & Paul
What is the Breviary Online?
The Official Prayer of the Church
Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God. It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly. Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful. However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.
Now Accessible to the Layman
With the help of modern technology, it has become easier to overcome these problems. The result is the Roman Breviary published by the Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul in both Latin and English. No knowledge of the liturgy is required. All you have to do is click on the feastday, and then on the Canonical Hour you want to say. The rest is just like reading a book—everything is laid out for you in order according to the rubrics of the day. No more flicking through the ribboned sections of a weighty volume. No more apprehension that you are forgetting some obscure rubric. It's all there spelled out, in order, every day.
Learn More about the Breviary
And if you do want to deepen your knowledge of the Breviary or the Confraternity, this website can help you with that too. We already provide a short history of the Breviary, instructions on when to recite which Hours, a brief commentary on the psalms, and much more. And for those who would really like to understand the rubrics in greater depth, we provide in our bookstore a detailed but simply written electronic manual entitled How to Say the Breviary. We shall be expanding this website regularly with more information, so check back with us frequently. And may God reward your prayers by bestowing on you all those spiritual favours that come from a devout reading of the Church's Divine Office.
Is this Breviary for You?
Link to our Features Page to see what a difference our online edition of the traditional Roman Breviary can make in your life.
Link to the Office for the Feast of St. Pius X, our secondary patron. You can browse through the various Hours of the Office and get a feel for what to expect.
Check out the artwork, the original photos, play some of the music. We hope you enjoy the experience. More importantly do you think this approach to prayer is something that could be spiritually beneficial for you?
How Do I Get Started?
Register and Subscribe
Link to our online Breviary homepage. Underneath the login form is a box, with the words First-Time User? and Register Here in red letters underlined. Click on this link and complete the short form. Click the Sign up link.
Log in to our webiste using the user name and password you have chosen. When you first attempt to Recite the Breviary you will be linked to the subscription page. Here you may choose from our monthly subscription of $2.50 (USD) per month, or $24.00 for an annual subscription. Or simply send a check to the address provided on our Contacts page.
The Traditional Roman Breviary Online
- Fully Traditional — pre-dates Bugnini reforms of 1950s and 60s
- Easy-to-Use Format — no liturgical knowledge required
- Latin and English — fully traditional English translation
- Thousands of Images — traditional artwork and photographs
- Hundreds of Hours of Liturgical Music — sung by the monks and nuns of Europe and the cathedral choirs of England
- Includes Little Office of Our Lady, Office of the Dead, and much more
- Pray the Office from any Computer or Smart Phone with Wi-Fi
- And Now... Includes Daily Missal
New This Week!
Completing Your Catholic Library
CORNELIUS A LAPIDE'S GREAT COMMENTARY ON THE FOUR GOSPELS
One of the striking aspects of Holy Week that make this time different from all others is the narrative of the Passion and Death of Our Lord from each of the four Evangelists. St. Matthew’s Passion is read today, Palm Sunday, that of St. Mark on Tuesday, St. Luke on Wednesday, and of course St. John on Good Friday itself. It gives us a unique opportunity to study and understand the differences and similarities between the four Gospels, and serves to show that the history of Our Lord’s life is told in essentially the same way by all four writers of the Gospels.
Perhaps the greatest commentary on the four Gospels was written in the early 17th century by a Flemish Jesuit, Cornelius a Lapide. Born in Belgian Limburg in 1567, he studied humanities and philosophy at the Jesuit colleges of Maastricht and Cologne, theology first, for half a year, at the University of Douai, and afterwards for four years at the Old University of Leuven; he entered the Society of Jesus on June 11, 1592, and after two years’ novitiate and another year of theology, was ordained priest on Christmas Eve, 1595. After teaching philosophy for half a year, he was made professor of Holy Scripture at Leuven in 1596 and next year of Hebrew also. Twenty years later, in 1616, he was called to Rome in the same capacity, where on November 3, he assumed the office which he filled for many years after. The latter years of his life, however, he seems to have devoted himself exclusively to finishing and correcting his commentaries.
These famous commentaries he wrote on all the books of the Canon of Scripture, with the exception only of the Book of Job and the Psalms. All these commentaries are on a very large scale. They explain not only the literal, but also the allegorical, tropological, and anagogical sense of the sacred text, and furnish a large number of quotations from the Church Fathers and the later interpreters of Holy Writ during the Middle Ages. Like most of his predecessors and contemporaries, a Lapide intended to serve not only the historical and scientific study of the Bible, but, even more, the purposes of pious meditation and especially of preaching.
Confraternity Books now has available in English the Great Scripture Commentary of Fr. Cornelius a Lapide on the four Holy Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in four volumes. With this new edition, the full genius of this Jesuit priest is available in English for the first time. Over the last 400 years this has been the most complete commentary in use by the Catholic Church, known for successfully combining piety and practicality. His age was that of the Counter Reformation, so Fr. a Lapide included plenty of apologetics. His vast scholarship is equaled, however, by his piety, giving freshness and power to his commentary which lacks in others. He was so known for his zealous holiness that he was buried in a separate place in order to find him more easily when eventually, it was hoped, he would be beatified. He is responsible for receiving St. John Ogilvie (hanged in 1615) into the Church and for administering Extreme Unction to St. John Berchmans.
The Commentary is a line-by-line reading of all the Gospels, applying history and the richness of the Church Fathers, with from a half-page to two pages of commentary for each line. A Catholic powerhouse, it is known to have made many converts. It was a favorite of St. Robert Bellarmine, patron saint of catechists, and was praised by St. Anthony Mary Claret, founder of the Claretian Fathers, and by Dom Guéranger, author of The Liturgical Year. St. Louis de Montfort spoke of the Commentary as the basis of his “slavery to Mary” when he wrote:
“Fr. Cornelius a Lapide, as praiseworthy for his piety as for his profound erudition, having been commissioned by several bishops and theologians to examine this devotion, did so with great thoroughness and deliberation, and praised it in a manner which we might have expected from his well-known piety: and many other distinguished persons have followed his example.” (St. Louis de Montfort in his True Devotion to Mary).
is an essential tool in the library of every priest and
catechist for sermon-writing, catechism classes, and convert instructions.
It is well within the grasp of laypeople desiring to study the
traditional Catholic interpretation of the Gospels, and provides easily
understood explanations of symbolism, cultural accents, mystical and
allegorical meanings, as well as historical context. For
this reason it has always been a firm favorite for meditation.
This new edition makes a perfect Easter gift, and is of heirloom quality, with indestructible sewn bindings, red leather, and gold embossed, with satin ribbon. The four volumes contain almost 3,000 pages of never-before-translated commentary on the Gospels, and is a Catholic family’s greatest Scripture resource. The price is $199.00 from Confraternity Books (www.confraternitybooks.com) who are providing free shipping for this product throughout Holy Week.
Sermon for Palm Sunday
The Hosannas have barely finished echoing in the streets of Jerusalem this week when they are replaced with the shouts of "Crucify him!" and our Sunday Sermon dwells on the magnitude of this crime, and of our sins that have had the identical result. We learn what our reaction must be and the dangers of despair.
Other New Features
Luciadagen: St. Lucy's Day in Sweden
Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old "Julian" Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia's Day.
St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used! The crown is made of Lingonberry branches which are evergreen and symbolise new life in winter. Schools normally have their own St. Lucia's and some town and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung. A national Lucia is also chosen. Lucias also visit hospitals and old people's homes singing a song about St Lucia and handing out 'Pepparkakor', ginger snap biscuits.
Small children sometimes like dressing up as Lucia (with the help of their parents!). Also boys might dress up as 'Stjärngossar' (star boys) and girls might be 'tärnor' (like Lucia but without the candles).
A popular food eaten at St. Lucia's day are 'Lussekatts', St Lucia's day buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast.
St Lucia's Day first became widely celebrated in Sweden in the late 1700s. St Lucia's Day is also celebrated in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Bosnia, and Croatia. In Denmark it is more a of a children's day and in some part of Italy, children are told that St Lucy brings them presents. They leave out a sandwich for her and the donkey that helps carry the gifts!
Veni Emmanuel: St. Lucy's Day at the Storkyrkan, the Royal Cathedral of Stockholm
An Incentive to Prayer
Foreword to an English Edition of the Roman Breviary, published in 1950
Given by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York
For the truth is, the Breviary is fast becoming the prayer-book of the nun in the convent, even as it has long been the daily book of prayer for the priest. It is more than likely to become the Vade Mecum of the man in the street. This hope is justified, for the world has urgent need of the spirit, both of penance and prayer, which the Breviary, when properly used, abundantly supplies. Any earnest soul who looks about for helps in his life of prayer and in his practice of penance, need look no further. The Breviary, which is the official prayer-book of the Church, brings great graces: such as the grace to know the mind of the Church, the grace to live the life of the Church, the grace to share in the mission of the Church. In a word, more than any other book, the Breviary reveals the inner spirit of the Church and, what is just as important, it attracts the soul to intimate union with Her. All is said when it is stated that the Breviary helps the soul through and beyond such union into unity with the Church, possessing with Her "cor unum et anima una."
It is worth recalling in this regard that the closer the soul is to the Church, the closer it is to Christ. For, as Saint Paul teaches in so many places, the Church is "the body" of Christ (Eph. 5:30). Though this truth is shrouded in mystery, it emits bursts of light, as precious as they are dazzling. It helps the seeking soul to realize that the Son of God actually lives in His Church and works through Her, continuing in Her and through Her the mission He initiated in and through the Body Which His Virgin Mother gave to Him. It is an incentive to the soul to pray the prayer of the Church when the soul knows that Christ is now praying through the Church after the manner of His praying through His mortal Body. It gives courage to the soul to suffer with the Church when the soul is convinced that Christ is now suffering through His "body" which is the Church.
I point to this shining truth for the value it gives to the use of the Breviary. In this venerable book the Church has deposited the heritage of the ages, the inspirations which the Holy Spirit of God breathed into the minds and hearts of the faithful down the centuries. Actually, the thoughts dwelling therein are Christ's own; He conceived them through the mind of the Church. The feelings to be found here, too, are His own; He experienced them through His life in the Church. The prayers, with which the Breviary is replete, reveal the way Christ prays in His Church. Any one essaying to pray with Christ can pray with Him, through the open mouth of His Church, by using this prayer-book of the Church. Such a soul can be sure that in praying thus he is echoing the prayer which the Holy Spirit played on the heart-strings of the saints, evoking purest melody before the Lord.
In fine, the Breviary can best be described as the daily prayer of the Church, beginning with morning prayers, called Matins, and ending with night prayers, Compline. From dawn till dusk, and into the black watches of the night, the Church prays by the Spirit of Christ; Christ, too, prays through "his body", the Church. The Breviary is, thus, in very truth "the prayer of God" (Luke 6:12).
As a prayer-book, the Breviary is a library in itself, and a vast one, matchless for its variety, beauty and power. For instance, there are psalms of praise and petition, running the gamut of the emotions. These range from the woeful cry of misery in Psalm 29: "Out of the depths" to the hymn of exultation in Psalm 88: "The graces of the Lord I will sing forever"-the psalm, which Saint Teresa of Avila loved. There is history too. The Breviary contains selected readings from the lives of the patriarchs and prophets, as well as the history of Christ on earth and during the first years of His life in the Church. There is even prophetic history, wherein, as in the Apocalypse, the plan of God may be traced until its progress ends in triumph and glory for the striving God and regenerated humanity. All these are, of course, drawn from the Bible; in the Breviary, however, there is this advantage: they are read against a special background, proper to the various seasons and feasts of the calendar year.
A most appealing feature of the Breviary is this aspect of the spirit of the Church, expressing itself prayerfully through seasons and feasts. The praying soul who accompanies the Church through Advent is caught by Her radiant joy as She prepares, all expectant, for the journey to Bethlehem, with its Christ Child, the Angels' Song and the nearing Star. The Office for this period is charged with a calm jubilation such as we cannot hope to enjoy in its fullness until we reach the Vision of Heaven. Then, there is the season of Lent. At its coming, the Church lays aside her festive robes and puts on sackcloth and ashes for the penances She needs must undergo if Christ is to have in Her, His Agony in the Garden and His Death on the Cross. All this is but a prelude to Her cry of triumph as She stands before the Empty Tomb, adoring Her Risen Lord, Who is within a few days to send down upon Her the Divine Spirit of Love.
To us who wander the way of life in cold and darkness, the use of the Breviary affords much comfort through the short lives of the Saints as recorded in their feasts. These show how the Holy Spirit of Love worked the wonders of His grace in willing souls, thus giving to us both hope and strength against temptation. To the seekers after truth, the Breviary unlocks immense stores of wisdom through the explanation of Biblical texts by the great Doctors of the Church, such as Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom. The lovers of sublime songs will here find the noble hymns composed by saintly singers and sung by the faithful, from the remote past up to the present day. I refer to the "Pange Lingua" of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the "Te Deum" of Saint Ambrose.
For a long time the Breviary was a closed book to the layman, largely because it was written in Latin. Yet its charm cast a potent spell wherever the priest prayed or the monk chanted his Breviary. In consequence, the demand for wider use of it has been growing more insistent. Moreover, this demand has been calling for better renditions, such as embody the newest translations of the Psalter and of the New Testament. Now that this present edition includes these features, it is to be hoped that the greater use of it will stimulate ever greater love for the Breviary. Certainly, such use of it will help to satisfy the inner hunger of those souls who yearn to pray through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, unto the praise of the glory of his glory, in which he hath graced us in his Son (Eph. 1:6).
In these fearful days of crises and crosses, the pattern of life in the world is tangled and oddly out of focus. Minds are confused at it, and hearts restless. If the human mind is to have calmness in crises, if the human heart is to have courage amid crosses, recourse must be had to the power that prayer gives and to the patience that penance brings. Prayer and penance, and they alone, can compose the problems now trying the souls of men. For this reason The Sovereign Pontiff's proclamation of the Holy Year is, to this generation, like to the voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea; it is a call to penance and prayer, a promise of progress towards peace and plenty where now there are war and want. It is my earnest hope and belief that this new edition of the Roman Breviary in English may be fruitful in many souls, fruitful of prayer, fruitful of penance and fruitful of unity with Christ through His Church.