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Votive Offices

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A votive office is one not entered in the general calendar, but adopted with a view to satisfying a special devotion. By the Apostolic Constitution "Divino Afflatu" (1 Nov., 1911) Pius X abolished all votive offices. Before this action of the Holy See a votive office might be celebrated, in accordance with the rules summarized below, either in virtue of a privilege or in virtue of a custom antedating the Bull of St. Pius V. Such offices were called votive because their recitation remained optional in principle, because it was the object of a privilege ; and even when, after the privilege had been obtained, they became accidentally obligatory ( Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 14 June, 1845), it was none the less true that they originated in an optional devotion and that particular churches or communities might not request the privilege of reciting them. They were distinct from offices ad libitum properly so called because they had their place in the private or general calendar under rubric ad libitum ; among the rules to which these were subject was this: If the day does not prevent, the compiler of the Ordo may indicate at will the office ad libitum , either a transferred office or even a votive office. Hence a votive office was not an office ad libitum and, moreover, was never so designated.

There were two classes of votive offices: (1) Votive offices granted to petitioners, but obligatory after the concession, e.g. the Office of the Blessed Sacrament, for Thursday, and that of the Immaculate Conception for Saturday, which are found nearly everywhere. Others occurred in orders or congregations, such as that of St. Benedict, for Tuesday, in the Benedictine Order. (2) Votive offices granted to the universal Church by Leo XIII and published by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 5 July 1883. There were six of these offices, one for each day of the week, and they were celebrated under the semidouble rite. They were: the Office of the Holy Angels for Monday; of the Holy Apostles for Tuesday; of St. Joseph, for Wednesday; of the Blessed Sacrament, for Thursday; of the Passion for Friday; of the Immaculate Conception, for Saturday. This concession was the result of a Decree modifying the rubrics of translation.


(1) For the first class reference must be made, first, to the terms of the indults, which granted these offices once weekly or monthly on the condition that the day did not prevent, and reserved all the ferias of Advent and Lent ; next to the answers of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. (2) For the second class the forbidden days were much fewer than for the old votive offices; thus reservation was made only of the last eight days before Christmas and of the last two weeks of Lent beginning from Passion Sunday. The other indults granted for votive offices always had the same value; thus the old concessions of votive offices of the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Conception continue obligatory. Individuals might make use of the concession or not. If chapters or communities had decided, with the consent of the ordinary, that votive offices should be recited in choir (after all the members had been called upon to vote), they might not alter their decision: they were not permitted sometimes to profit by the indult and sometimes not to profit by it. Explanatory decrees concerning the details have been given in recent years by the Congregation of Rites, and to them recourse must be had for the solution of doubts in practice.

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