Mary wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Third Order Carmelite and I love the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I find the readings very beautiful and I feel I get more out of doing it than the Divine Office because of the Carmelite spirituality being so close to the Blessed Virgin.

Nevertheless, I understand I am supposed to do the Divine Office which at times I have trouble doing because I don't always have the proper guide with me for the readings.

  • Can I substitute the Little Office especially since the Vatican II Council adapted it more to be part of the Liturgy of the Hours?

In many ways I feel the Carmelites are drifting a bit from their Marian roots these days . . . at least in my particular group. I had one of our leaders explain that perhaps not all Carmelites had consecrated themselves to Mary and I could not believe she misunderstood what wearing a Scapular really meant. This is another reason I want to do the Little Office . . . almost as a way of making amends for falling away from the Marian devotion which should be so strong in Carmel.

Any comments will help. If I asked the Carmelite priest I know invariably he will tell me to do the Divine Office and I will feel frustrated.

God Bless,


  { Is it permissible to substitute the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Divine Office? }

A long-time friend, Mary replied:

Hi Mike —

The devotion to the Little Office of Our Lady is one that I share as well. Long before I ever recited the Divine Office, I said the Little Office for years. For anyone with deep devotion to Our Lady, it is a very sweet daily prayer, easier to say and far less changeable than the Divine Office, which does require some expertise as well as a current Ordo Missal.

It is, nevertheless, a private devotion and is not a part of the Divine Office, although medieval European clergy often prayed it in addition to the Office, especially on Saturdays. It was also often used by Third Order members and lay brothers as it is easily memorized.

I have attached a link here for a short history of the devotion:

All this being said, if someone is bound to say the Divine Office by promise, then they have to fulfill the duty. Perhaps a conversation with their spiritual director, reflecting on the difficulties in saying the entire Divine Office could resolve this. The Divine Office is the official prayer of the Church, and by participating in it, you join in the prayer of the Bride of Christ, rising up from the whole world.

Generally speaking, the official liturgy of the Church (the Mass, the Divine Office, and the Sacramental rites) always take precedence over any private devotion like the Little Office, the Rosary, novenas, etc.

Hope this helps.


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