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Directorium is a Latin word meaning guide; in the later Middle Ages it came to be specially applied to liturgical guides for the recitation of Office and Mass.


Early history

For example, in the early part of the fifteenth century one Clement Maydeston, probably following earlier foreign precedents, adopted the title "Directorium Sacerdotum" for his reorganized Sarum Ordinal. In this way the words "Directorium Sacerdotum" came to stand at the head of a number of books, some of them among the earliest products of the printing press in England, which were issued to instruct the clergy as to the form of Mass and Office to be followed from day to day throughout the year.

This employment of the word directorium was by no means peculiar to England. To take one example, not the earliest that might be chosen, a very similar work was published at Augsburg in 1501, which bears the title: "Index sive Directorium Missarum Horarumque secundum ritum chori Constanciensis diocesis dicendarumn". As this title suffices to show, a directorium or guide for the recitation of Office and Mass had to be constructed according to the needs of a particular diocese or group of dioceses, for as a rule each diocese has certain saints' days and feasts peculiar to itself, and these have all to be taken account of in regulating the Office, a single change often occasioning much disturbance by the necessity it creates of transferring coincident celebrations to other days. Out of the "Directorium Sacerdotum" which in England was often called the "Pye", and which seems to have come into almost general use about the time of the invention of printing, the later Directory, the "Ordo divini Officii recitandi Sacrique peragendi" gradually developed.

Contemporary usage

It is now the custom for every Catholic diocese, or, in cases where the calendar followed is substantially identical, for a group of dioceses belonging to the same province or country, to have a "Directory" or "Ordo recitandi" printed each year for the use of all the clergy. It consists simply of a calendar for the year, in which there are printed against each day concise directions concerning the Office and Mass to be said on that day. The calendar is usually provided with some indication of fast days, special indulgences, days of devotion, and other items of information which it may be convenient for the clergy to be reminded of as they occur. This Ordo is issued with the authority of the bishop or bishops concerned, and is binding upon the clergy under their jurisdiction. The religious orders have usually a Directory of their own, which, in the case of the larger orders, often differs according to the country in which they are resident.

For the secular clergy the calendar of the Roman Missal and Breviary, apart from special privilege, always forms the basis of the "Ordo recitandi". To this the feasts and saints' days celebrated in the diocese are added, and, as the higher grade of these special celebrations often causes them to take precedence of those in the ordinary calendar, a certain amount of shifting and transposition is inevitable, even apart from the complications introduced by the movable feasts. All this has to be calculated and arranged beforehand in accordance with the rules supplied by the general rubrics of the Missal and Breviary. Even so; the clergy of particular churches have further to provide for the celebration of their own patronal or dedication feasts, and to make such other changes in the Ordo as these insertions may impose. The Ordo is always compiled in Latin, though an exception is sometimes made in the Directories drawn up for nuns who recite the Divine Office, and, as it is often supplemented with a few extra pages of diocesan notices, recent decrees of the Congregation of Rites, regulations for the saying of votive Offices, etc., matters only affecting the clergy, it is apt to acquire a somewhat professional and exclusive character.


How long a separate and annual "Ordo recitandi" has been printed for the use of the English clergy it seems impossible to discover. Possibly Bishop Challoner, Vicar Apostolic from 1741 to 1781, had something to do with its introduction. But in 1759 a Catholic London printer conceived the idea of translating the official "Directorium", or Ordo, issued for the clergy, and accordingly published in that year: "A Lay Directory or a help to find out and assist at Vespers . . . . on Sundays and Holy Days".Strange to say, another Catholic printer, seemingly the publisher of the official Ordo, shortly afterwards, conceiving his privileges invaded, produced a rival publication: "The Laity's Directory or the Order of the (Catholic) Church Service for the year 1764". This "Laity's Directory" was issued year by year for three-quarters of a century, gradually growing in size, but in 1837 it was supplanted by "The Catholic Directory" which since 1855 has been published in London by Messrs. Burns & Lambert, now Burns and Oates. The earliest numbers of the "Laity's Directory" contained nothing save an abbreviated translation of the clerical "Ordo recitandi", but towards the end of the eighteenth century a list of the Catholic chapels in London, advertisements of schools, obituary notices, important ecclesiastical announcements, and other miscellaneous matters began to be added, and at a still later date we find an index of the names and addresses of the Catholic clergy serving the missions in England and Scotland. This feature has been imitated in the "Irish Catholic Director" and in the Catholic Directories of the United States. Hence the widespread idea that Catholic directories are so called because they commonly form an address book for the churches and clergy of a particular country, but an examination of the early numbers of the "Laity's Directory" conclusively shows that it was only to the calendar with its indication of the daily Mass and Office that the name originally applied.

In the Middle Ages, and indeed almost down to the invention of printing, the books used in the service of the Church were much more divided up than they are at present. Instead of one book, our modern Breviary for example, containing the whole Office, we find at least four books — the Psalterium, the Hymnarium, the Antiphonarium, and the Legendarium, or book of lessons, all in separate volumes.

Rubrics or ritual directions were rarely written down in connexion with the text to which they belonged (we are speaking here of the Mass and Office, not of the services of rarer occurrence such as those in the Pontifical), but they were probably at first communicated by oral tradition only, and when they began to be recorded they took only such summary form as we find in the Ordines Romani of Hittorp and Mabillon. However, about the eleventh century there grew up a tendency towards greater elaboration and precision in rubrical directions for the services, and at the same time we notice the beginning of a more or less strongly marked division of these directions into two classes, which in the case of the Sarum Use are conveniently distinguished as the Customary and the Ordinal. Speaking generally, we may say that the former of these rubrical books contains the principles and the latter their application; the former determines those matters that are constant and primarily the duties of persons, the latter deals with the arrangements which vary from day to day and from year to year.

It is out of the latter of these books, i.e. the Ordinal (often called Ordinarium and Liber Ordinarius), that the "Directorium", or "Pye", and eventually also our own modern "Ordo recitandi" were in due time evolved. These distinctions are not clear-cut. The process was a gradual one. But we may distinguish in the English and also in the Continental Ordinals two different stages. We have, first, the type of book in common use from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, and represented by the "Sarum Ordinal" edited by W. H. Frere, or the "Ordinaria of Laon" edited by Chevalier. Here we have a great deal of miscellaneous information respecting feasts, the Office and Mass to be said upon them according to the changes necessitated by the occurrence of Easter and the shifting of the Sundays, as well as the "Incipits" of the details of the service, e.g. of the lessons to be read and the commemorations to be made. The second stage took the form of an adaptation of this Ordinal for ready use, an adaptation with which, in the case of Sarum, the name of Clement Maydeston is prominent connected. This was the "Directorium Sacerdotum" the complete "Pye" (known in Latin as Pica Sarum), abbreviated editions of which were afterwards published in a form which allowed it to be bound up with the respective portions of the Breviary. The idea of this great "Pye" was to give all the thirty-five possible combinations, five to each Dominical litter (q.v.), which the fixed and movable elements of the ecclesiastical year admitted of, assigning a separate calendar to each, more or less corresponding to our present "Ordo recitandi". This arrangement was not peculiar to England.

One of the earliest printed books of the kind was that issued about 1475 for the Diocese of Constance, of which a rubricated copy is to be found in the British Museum. It is a small folio in size, of one hundred and twelve leaves, and after the ordinary calendar it supplies summary rules, under thirty-five heads, for drawing up the special calendar for each year according to the Golden Number and the Dominical Letter. Then the Ordo for each of the thirty-five possible combinations is set out in detail. The name most commonly given to these "Pyes" on the Continent was "Ordinarius", more rarely "Directorium Missæ". For example, the title of such a book printed for the Diocese of Liège in 1492 runs: "In nomine Domini Amen . . . Incipit liber Ordinarius ostendens qualiter legatur et cantetur per totum anni circulum in ecclesia leodiensi tam de tempore quam de festis sanctorum in nocturnis officiis divinis." Such books were also provided for the religious orders. An "Ordinarius Ordinis Præmonstratensis" exists in manuscript at Jesus College, Cambridge, and an early printed one in the British Museum. When the use of printing became universal, the step from these rather copious directories, which served for all possible years, to a shorter guide of the type of our modern "Ordo recitandi", and intended only for one particular year, was a short and easy one. Since, however, such publications are useless after their purpose is once served, they are very liable to destruction, and it seems impossible to say how early we may date the first attempt at producing an Ordo after our modern fashion. The fact that at the Council of Trent (Sess. XXIII, De Reform., cap. xviii) it was thought necessary to urge that ecclesiastical students should be trained in the understanding of the computus, by which they could determine the ordo recitandi in each year for themselves, seems to imply that such Ordos as we now possess were not in familiar use in the middle of the sixteenth century.

See also

External links

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.



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