Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters, and oblates will be interested in this breviary. It is specifically for Benedictines, although others may find it useful, too. It is called a short breviary because it does not include the Patristic and other non-scriptural readings that the four volume set of Christian Prayer does. It does have readings for memorials, feast days, solemnities and two scripture readings to use at Vigils or Office of Readings. In the proper of saints, the Benedictine calendar is followed which is different from the Roman calendar. Before this breviary, English-speaking Benedictines had to rely on the breviary known as Christian Prayer or on the Roman Breviary; now they can use this.
For the Psalter, the breviary uses the inclusive language Grail Psalms. Inclusive language is only used in regard to humans and not to God. By contrast, the “exclusive” language Grail Psalms are used in the Christian Prayer. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is used for the Scripture readings. This breviary is pretty much what is used at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, the largest men’s Catholic monastery in the world. This breviary has Commons of Mary, the Apostles, the Martyrs, and combines the Commons of Pastors, Doctors, Virgins and Holy Men and Women into the Common of Holy Men and Women. There is no Common of the Dedication of a Church which is celebrated on the anniversary of the dedication of the parish church or the diocese’s cathedral, but one could use what is given for the Anniversary of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome for that.
The non-scriptural readings for some of the feasts and solemnities could have had better choices that were more in line with the saint or particular feast day being celebrated. Also, this breviary tries to be ecumenical by using some non-Catholic sources for its non-scriptural readings; many non-Catholic Oblates might want to use. There are no music scores in the breviary, just lyrics to hymns. If you do not know how to pray the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours, there are instructions included. The breviary is very compact yet contains the Benedictus, Magnificat, Te Deum, and other texts on the end pages.
Maxwell E. Johnson is an Oblate of St. John’s Abbey, and he compiled and collaborated with the monks on this breviary. He is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is also a professor of liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. “Oblates are persons, Catholic and non-Catholic, who associate themselves with a monastic community and live the principles of St. Benedict’s Rule within the circumstances of their own lives.”
Overall, this breviary is very good and has long been needed by Benedictines and their Oblates. It is highly recommended.