Thursday, December 7, 2006


It's not what you think. The Dale Carnegie course, as it's first principle says that one should not complain, condemn or criticize, I intend to all three.
I have a breviary, that is a book used in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. It cost about $35.00, as opposed to the multi-volume version which runs about $145.00. Now in the interest of full disclosure I must point out that there are paperback versions of the breviary available for <$8.00. There are also online versions. The full Liturgy of the Hours, in both its unrevised pre-Vatican II and revised post Vatican II versions are available for free in Latin. English is another story. Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate has each day available for a subscription fee, equal each year to the cost of my breviary. It is also available for Palms for a stiffer $50.00. Universalis likewise provides a version of the Hours. Their version lacks the Antiphons, and the Palm version cost 30 pounds, which is anywhere from $38 to $60 depending on the exchange rate.
I don't really know who runs the first site. They have a New York address. Universalis is a publishing company and is based in England. I have nothing against companies trying to make money.
My problem is with the Church trying to make money by charging for something like Liturgy of the Hours. Why doesn't the Church post the daily Liturgy readings on line? I can easily afford the cost of my breviary. Having the hours on my handheld is just convenient when I'm not home and prevents me from having to carry my book around, but that's not the real point.
I know a deacon who works at a convalescent home as the spiritual coordinator. He works with chaplains from many denominations. Because of his position he is constantly being sent materials from the various Christian organizations. He tells me that a Protestant group will send him dozens of magazines to be handed out to the residents, by way of evangelization. Catholic magazines send him solicitations for subscriptions, which are not in his meager budget. The LDS sent him free copies of the Book of Mormon. The Baptists King James versions of the Bible. The Catholic publishers pamphlets on ordering Bibles.
By now I think you get my drift. Somebody is paying for all of this stuff, but most groups consider getting the Gospel, or their version of it, out as part of their mission to preach the word. Somehow the Church has bought into the idea that the word should be sold rather than given away.
Now I know that the Knights of Columbus and many other fine Catholic organizations raise money to give away free Bibles. Heck, my parish gives a new youth Bible to every rising sixth grader when they enter middle school catechesis.
That does not explain why, in the age when just about every Vatican document written is posted on the web, why something as universal as the Liturgy of the Hours is only available by paid subscription.

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