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Good morning Father Angelo,

I have several questions about my spiritual life.

One of these days in July, my father introduced me to the gift of Mary of the Scapular. I wish to receive it as much for the promises related to the practice and especially as a form of devotion to Mary, to whom I am very devoted. I therefore wanted to begin to recite the small Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on this I would have several questions:

1) How do you recite the Office? This is how I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I begin with Lauds, then I celebrate one of the three minor hours. I recite the Office of Readings when I can during the day, then the Vespers; while I do Compline before going to bed. Am I doing it correctly? Or: Should I celebrate all three minor hours?

2)  Do I break the promise of the Sabbatine Privilege linked to the Scapular and the recitation of Mary’s office if one day, due to various commitments, I cannot recite all the hours? Also, Does this practice, as you know, bind under sin if I cannot recite the office every day? I know that I would put my great good will into it, because it is my desire to remain always attached to the Lord not only by reciting the rosary and attending Mass, but also by sanctifying my day at all times.

3) Could you recommend me a good edition of the Little Office of the B. V. Mary?

4) I then read that scapulars are distributed in friaries of Carmelites. who There, one can be enrolled in one of their fraternities. I wanted to know if, joining one of their fraternities would later prevent me from becoming a Dominican tertiary. I am asking this because I feel a strong desire to serve the Lord in the charism of St. Dominic: I identify myself with the Dominican spirituality, the devotion to Mary, with the study of the Word of God and the Magisterium, with the love for the Truth and for the type of charity, to which the Order tends (i.e. participation in the Cross and suffering, penance, moments of prayer both meditated and personal, preaching, zeal for the salvation of souls). For this reason, I ask you to pray for me for my intention to enter the Dominican Third Order, so that I may discern the Will of God.

5) One of these days I was planning to go to a Dominican convent to talk about the various practices related to the Third Order: if I do not ask too much, can you anticipate something for me? Would you be so kind to give me some heads up?

I apologize for the length of the message and the numerous questions, but I trust in your patience. Thank you very much for the great service you provide through the website. I always pray for you.


Priest’s reply

Dear Andrea,

1. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary contains not only three minor hours (what are now called Daytime Prayer), but four.

There is in fact Prime, Terce, Sext or Midday Prayer, and None.

Pier Giorgio Frassati recited the whole Little Office every day.

You can recite it as you described.

You might pray the Vespers and the Compline separately.  You pray the first ones before dinner and do the latter before going to bed.

However, since it is not compulsory for you, you can choose the parts you want and pray them when you please.

Unlike in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Little Office, antiphons, hymns, readings (excepting for Compline, and the canticle of Zechariah and the Canticle of Mary).

2. With regard to the impediments, especially in reference to the Sabbatine Privilege, you have to keep in mind that ad impossibilia nemo tenetur: No one is obligated beyond what he is able to do.

Saint John recalls in one of his letters that  ‘God is greater than our heart’ (1 Jn. 3:20).

God is not a ruthless tax collector.

He is a very tender Father who always comes to meet us.

Failure to comply with particular regulations or statutes, which have nothing to do with the general law of the Church, binds the members, but not under penalty of sin.

This also applies to those who fail to fulfill the commitments related to the Sabbatine Privilege.

At most, they will not take full advantage of the Privilege, but in no way will they commit a sin.

3. I do not know if there is an up-to-date translation of Little Office.

In the past, the Dominicans of the Roman Province (Rome – Florence) published an edition of the Dominican Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Latin and Italian texts.

Since you live in central Italy, check if you can find a copy thereof in Santa Maria Novella (in Florence), or in any Dominican Monastery.

4. The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is not only distributed in Carmelite churches, but everywhere.

One must distinguish between the Scapular of the Carmelite tertiaries, and this is given only to the tertiaries and exclusively within their fraternities, and the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The latter can be worn by anyone, even if (s)he is not a member of the Carmelite third order. Everyone can buy it and have it blessed by any priest.

Wearing the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel does not impede you from becoming a Dominican or Franciscan tertiary or whatever you want.

It is something like belonging to the confraternity of the Holy Rosary or the Angelica Militia. By joining these associations, you become a member of the Dominican family, but you do not belong to the Dominican Order. I.e. you do not become a Dominican.

Whereas those who are Carmelite tertiaries cannot be at the same time Dominican or Franciscan tertiaries because being tertiary implies belonging to a specific religious order.

5. I am very happy if you become a Dominican tertiary. You will belong not only to the Dominican family, but also to the Dominican Order.

I make my own the words that Pier Giorgio wrote to a friend of his: ” ‘I am very happy that you want to be part of the great family of Saint Dominic, where, as Dante says,  “U’ ben s’impingua, se non si vaneggia” (Whereon one thriveth well, if one go not astray). The obligations are very small; otherwise, you should understand that I could not belong to an Order that obliges much. When Saint Dominic instituted the Third Order, he established it as a militia to fight against heretics. At that time, members of the third order had very strict rules – their rule almost followed the ancient rule of the First Order. Now, however, it has changed., There is no trace of strict obligations left. The Dominican Office of Our Lady or the Rosary should be recited every day. Nevertheless, you will not commit any mortal sin, if you deliberately omit to recite it for one or several days. I hope that you will celebrate your clothing at the magnificent temple in Turin. I will be close to you to give you a fraternal embrace: for you, who are already bound to me by the bonds of brotherhood through the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will be doubly bound to me, by also sharing Saint Dominic as a Father with me.’

6. If you go to your next Dominican friary, you can ask to be given a copy of the Rule of the Third Order, which is today named ‘Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic’.

After receiving it, Pier Giorgio Frassati examined the Rule for a year and then decided to become a member of the Dominican Third Order.

I wish you all the very best for your future. I remember you to the Lord and bless you.

Father Angelo