Chances are that no, not many have sat and contemplated what the life of a breviary might have held; and this is why The Autobiography of an Old Breviary is an interesting speculative read; and the author makes it quite entertaining. To educate and inspire the reader, Rev. Herman J. Heuser amusingly writes in the first person the “character” of a Totum Roman Breviary, or complete breviary. This character is high-minded, being a Totum and not just an abbreviated prayer book, and begins with a complaint at having been shelved at assumedly nearing the end of its life.
The book contains great detail on the Kalendorium contained in the Roman Breviary. To this end, the Breviary narrates how the secular and liturgical calendars came about, and the mathematical logic behind the forming and perfecting of it. This matter necessarily takes up much space, and the author shows even more talent enlightening the reader while holding up the storyline, interrupting occasionally with humorous quips and interjections by the story’s supporting characters.
No instruction on the spiritual life would be complete without a fair warning against the abuses and failings that can and do unfortunately occur during the fulfilling of a duty. Much of the book is spent in this effort, even devoting an entire chapter to it. In the “words” of the character of the breviary: “…to treat the Breviary, which included my poor relations, with disrespect or neglect, implied low views of the spiritual life, a certain degree of professional dishonesty, and a stinginess by giving to God and the Church a secondary and slovenly treatment which they would not give to men and institutions which they professed to respect.”Autobiography of an Old Breviary is a cherished read, once begun. It is a book for entertainment as well as study, and is an easy one for multiple readings. It proves itself appropriate for personal and classroom use. In the process of reading this title, the reader gains:
- A complete history of the Roman Breviary
- An Apologia for the Faith, Priesthood, and Catholic interpretation of the Bible
- In-depth detail of the linguistics of the Church
- An excellent explanation of the Church’s liturgy and culture through the Kalendorium
- A brief instruction on how to follow the Breviary with description of its parts
- A greater devotion in the recitation of the breviary
- An amusing reading experience that aids to keep in the mind what has been learned