The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not the oldest of the short breviary
texts; it can, however, claim the honor of being the most used and popular of them all. The Little Office contained Matins,
Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.
Below are listed the Psalter schema for the Little Office of the BVM. Although the Psalters seem
very similar, when they are analyzed with their related antiphons and other texts, it is easier to discern the differences
of the various uses
The Carthusians refer to the office as The Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
without the word "Little". The Office is prayed alone by the monk in his cell, but he is
required to maintain the ceremonial that is used in the monastery church for the Divine Office (standing, bowing, the 'venia',
head covered or uncovered, gestures, etc.). The Carthusians regard the celebration of the Office with great respect,
and everything concerning the office is treated accordingly.
While the Roman "Little Office" is without additions, the Carthusians use the Office
of Our Lady as an opportunity for deeper and further prayer. For example, there are two additional psalms and a number
of other prayers at the end of Lauds and some of the other hours. There is also, at the end of Prime, the Mass of the
BVM, sometimes known as the Missa Sicca.
For many medieval priests, the Missa Sicca was generally prayed right after the celebration
of a private Mass, and the priest continued to wear the Mass vestments of the day. For the Carthusian, it was prayed
by the choir monk alone, in the cell, without vestments.
It is, in essence, a recitation of the "proper" (and a few of the "ordinary") texts of one
of two common Masses of the Blessed Virgin (Salve, Sancta Parens for ordinary time, and Rorate Caeli, for Advent).
Among Carthusians, it has always been prayed in the cell, i.e., alone, and it was generally attached to the end of hour of
Prime or Terce of the daily Office of the Blessed Virgin.
Carthusian Prime of the Office of Our Lady
Carthusian Terce of the Office of Our Lady