Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Office of the Immaculate Conception

As we treated the Little Office of St. Joseph on Wednesday and the Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, so today, Saturday, we focus on the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. You can find this text here and here.

Along with the other four explicitly indulgenced Little Offices (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Little Office of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Little Office of St. Joseph), it is enriched with a partial indulgence.

This particular Little Office is said to have been composed by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, the lay Jesuit. According to the immutable and infallible arbiter of all truth that is Wikipedia, he is likely not the original author of this text. Nevertheless, he can probably be credited with its promotion.

In structure, it is fairly similar to the other two Little Offices which we have treated. The Introductory Verse might strike one as being rather odd, as it changes the addressee from God (as is the case of the psalm verse it mimics) to Our Lady. This addressing of Our Lady also occurs in the short responses and concluding versicles.

The hymns are notable for their highly symbolic language. It draws mostly upon Old Testament types for the Blessed Virgin. The more poetic among us might take great delight in these texts.

For those who would want to use these prayers seasonally, rather than every day, the best times seem to be Saturdays (dedicated to Our Lady or the Immaculate Conception) or December. In the case of the Latter, the Novena of Preparation for the Immaculate Conception especially seems an excellent time for this Little Office.

It is true that the Directory of Popular Piety (101) warns against observing December simply in honor of Our Lady or the Immaculate Conception. There is great wisdom in this, given that the primary focus on Advent is the coming of Our Lord (both in his Nativity and in the parousia to come). Nevertheless, I personally do not believe that this Little Office would conflict, but rather complement, this devotion to Our Lord. However, I can understand the concerns of those who believe that it would. In their case, I would at least advocate the use of this Little Office during the Novena of the Immaculate Conception. I would especially recommend this because devotion to Our Lady during Advent is so encouraged in the same Directory (101-02).

It turns out that there is a small booklet available with these prayers. I was able to get a copy at Aquinas and More. It's small and cheap, and easily fits into another prayer book or Breviary. Give this Little Office a look!

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