Monday, April 21, 2014

Our First Triduum and Easter

A great success – this year, the Hobart Latin Mass Community celebrated the Triduum and Easter for the first time since the liturgical changes in the nineteen-sixties.

Fr Mannes, a Dominican currently based in Sydney, very kindly came down to Hobart to officiate – he is an excellent singer, and rendered the Exultet extremely well. The choir also performed admirably (no mean effort, singing all the chant, plus motets, at the liturgies for four days in a row), as did the servers; the only real mishap resulted from yours truly, as M.C., managing to step on and break the incense boat, while manoeuvring the umbella into place at the start of the procession to the altar of repose on Holy Thursday evening (I had driven down from Launceston after work, so arguably I was a little distracted). Several appreciative comments about every other aspect of the liturgies were received: I still can't believe we did it! (The incense boat will be repaired in due course…)

In order to be ready for the special rites, we practiced from 6:30 pm onwards on Holy Thursday, and on Good Friday from after Stations till the afternoon Liturgy, with a break for a penitential lunch, while on Holy Saturday we practised from about 6 pm onwards. On Easter Monday it took us till nearly 11 am to get everything packed up. The Archdiocese very kindly lent us several old vestments and a chalice for the liturgies, as the sacristy at St Canice wasn't fully equipped for the many ceremonies carried out.

Our timetable was as follows:
  • 7:30 pm Holy Thursday: Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, sung and with incense as usual (no footwashing this year), followed by the procession to the altar of repose, then the stripping of the altars and Compline (90 minutes all told); adoration at the altar of repose continued till midnight;
  • 10:30 am Good Friday: Stations of the Cross (half an hour);
  • 3:00 pm Good Friday: Solemn Afternoon Liturgy (only 75 minutes - the Passion was read, not sung, and there were less than our usual Sunday numbers present);
  • 7:30 pm Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil (2 and a quarter hours - the church has no font so all that part of the service was omitted);
  • 10:30 am Easter Sunday: Missa cantata, with Vidi aquam beforehand (70 minutes);
  • 9:00 am Easter Monday: Low Mass, with the Ordinary sung (40 minutes).
On Good Friday evening at 8 pm, I went with a friend and Fr Mannes to attend the Greeks' service of Matins, with procession of the epitaphion; it was good to see, and I met up with several whom I know, but I found it a very long three hours, so I decided to turn down the invitation to come back the next evening after our own Vigil! Having stayed in Hobart for four nights, I've now returned home on a cold, wet autumn afternoon.

Next year, who knows? With a sufficiently augmented choir, we could even attempt Tenebræ… it would be shorter than the equivalent Byzantine Rite service that I attended.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Column of the Scourging

According to the 1925 Processional of the Franciscans for use in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on Holy Wednesday, "according to a most ancient custom, the Holy Column of the Scourging is today exposed for veneration". After singing the usual hymn, the following antiphon, versicle and collect is recited; these might with profit be appended to the psalm of the scourging (as given in the previous posting), or added after reciting a decade of the Rosary while meditating on this, the second sorrowful mystery.

Aña. Apprehendit Pilatus Jesum et flagellavit: ac tradidit Judæis ut crucifigeretur.
V/. Fui flagellatus tota die.
R/. Et castigatio mea in matutinis.
Deus, qui pro salute nostra in assumptæ carnis infirmitate, ad [hanc*] Columnam alligari, et flagellis cædi voluisti: concede propitius; ut qui ejusdem Columnæ gloriam celebramus, pretiosi Sanguinis tui fructum consequi mereamur. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.

Ant. Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him: and delivered him to the Jews to be crucified.
V/. I have been scourged all the day.
R/. And my chastisement hath been in the mornings.
Let us pray.
O God, who in the weakness of our flesh which thou hadst taken upon thee, wert pleased, for our salvation, to be bound to [a / this*] Pillar and scourged with thongs: grant, we beseech thee, that we who celebrate the glory of that Pillar may become worthy to obtain the fruit of thy precious blood: who livest and reignest world without end. R/. Amen.

[*The word hanc ("this") is only used at the actual Column itself.]

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Psalm of the Scourging

That devout man, the Servant of God Don Giulio Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa, used the following prayer, based on Psalm 50, when commemorating the scourging of Our Lord at the pillar:

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum copiosam redemptionem tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem plagarum tuarum, sana infirmitates meas.
Amplius lava me Sanguine tuo: et cruore vulnerum tuorum munda me.
Quoniam languores meos in te cognosco; dolores tui fuerunt pro me semper.
Tibi soli non fuit peccatum; nec malum unquam fecisti: ut justificeris in operibus tuis; et vincas cum judicaris.
Ecce enim absque iniquitate conceptus es; et ex Spiritu Sancto concepit te Mater tua.
Ecce enim animam meam dilexisti; et in Cruce amorem tuum manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me Sanguine tuo, et mundabor: lavabis me; et super nivem dealbabor.
Auditui meo dedisti verba lætitiæ; quando erant in Cruce ossa exaltata.
Avertisti faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et chirographum mortis meæ delesti.
Cor tuum apertum ostendisti mihi; et spiritum misericordiæ in visceribus tuis.
Ne excludas me a fructu Sanguinis tui; et gratiam redemptionis tuæ ne auferas a me.
Redde mihi antiquas misericordias tuas: et spiritu amoris tui confirma me.
Docebo iniquos pietatem tuam; et impii percutientes pectora sua, revertentur.
Libera me, ne sim reus Sanguinis tui, Deus salutis meæ; et exaltabit lingua mea misericordiam tuam.
Domine, labia tua in Cruce aperuisti; et os tuum oravit pro salvatione mea.
Quoniam si damnare voluisses, fecisses utique; morte peccatorum non delectaberis.
Sacrificium acceptabile Deo, mors tua: cor tuum apertum, et lanceatum, Deus non despiciet.
Benigne vitam tuam pro me obtulisti; et coram omnibus gentibus extra muros Hierusalem.
Tunc acceptatum est sacrificium misericordiæ pro oblationibus, et holocaustis: et tu fuisti super altare Crucis, pro omnibus vitulus. 
(Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy copious redemption. 
And according to the multitude of thy wounds, heal my infirmities.
Wash me yet more with thy Blood, and cleanse me with the gore of thy wounds.
For I know my sufferings in thee, thy sorrows were always for me.
In thee alone was no sin, nor didst thou any evil: that thou mayst be justified in thy works and mayst overcome when thou art judged. 
For behold without iniquity thou wast conceived; and by the Holy Ghost did thy mother conceive thee.
For behold thou hast loved my soul: and on the Cross thy love thou hast made manifest to me.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with thy Blood, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
To my hearing thou didst give words of gladness: for on the Cross thy bones were exalted.
Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out the handwriting of my death.
Thy heart laid open thou didst shew unto me; and the spirit of mercy within thy bowels.
Exclude me not from the fruit of thy Blood; and take not the grace of thy redemption from me.
Restore unto me thy mercies of old: and strengthen me with the spirit of thy love.
I will teach the unjust thy kindness; and the wicked striking their breasts shall be converted.
Deliver me, lest I be guilty of thy Blood, O God of my salvation; and my tongue shall extol thy mercy.
O Lord, thou didst open thy lips on the Cross: and thy mouth didst pray for my salvation.
For if thou hadst desired to damn, thou would indeed have done it: with the death of sinners thou wilt not be delighted.
A sacrifice acceptable to God is thy death: thine opened and lance-pierced heart God shall not despise.
Favourably thou didst offer thy life for me; and before all the nations outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Then was accepted the sacrifice of mercy in place of oblations and whole burnt offerings: and thou wast upon the altar of the Cross, in place of all bullocks.)

Bunyip Aristocracy

Aristocracy, as the Philosopher says, is the rule of the best; to-day, we have representative democracy, whereby certain elite groups compete to receive the fabled popular mandate. Tolkien said that he would prefer unconstitutional monarchy – and rulership of the sort displayed in his fiction, which seemed to mean that day-to-day affairs were almost unaffected by any government at all, most of all in the Shire, seems an excellent suggestion in these days of creeping totalitarianism. O for the days when the tithe was all the tax we paid!

Wentworth was lampooned when, in the debates before New South Wales (and several other Australian colonies) attained responsible government in the 1850's, he proposed an hereditary Upper House, after the model of the Lords in London (not of Lord's in London). This was thought ridiculous, a bunyip aristocracy of jumped-up Rum Corps profiteers and squatters, as odd as a platypus and about as useful.

But since our Prime Minister has fittingly restored knighthoods in the Order of Australia, our own home-grown system of awarding merit in right of the Crown, it amuses me to speculate on yet further prime ministerial largesse, should a Menzies-like longevity attend his time as the Queen's First Minister Downunder. Just what would an Australian peerage look like?

Peerages these days are titles and nothing else: I seem to recall that the last time a nobleman used the privilege of trial by his peers – the House of Lords – was back in the fifties or earlier; rights such as personal access to the Sovereign have fallen into desuetude; and the right most associated with power and authority, that of sitting in the House of Lords, has been taken away – only ninety or so hereditary Lords (elected by polling the peerage) still ornament that chamber named after their number. Of course it all went downhill when the mitred abbots were removed at the Reformation…

No rival to the Senate is proposed; merely that the particularly great and good (let's be honest, those great in donating to worthy causes, such as political parties, as well as those actually or merely seemingly good according to this world's passing standards) ought get not merely a knighthood but a dukedom. After all, who doesn't like Downton Abbey?

Having inquired to a very small degree, I find the surviving aristocracy of the Old Country has a little over eight hundred members (including Irish titles). For some reason, there are almost 70% more earls than viscounts, despite viscount being a lesser title than earl (then again, the name of viscount is a Continental importation, as is marquess, a rank for those not really suitable as dukes); otherwise, there are very roughly half as many peers in each succeeding rank, from the 450 barons (or Scottish Lords of Parliament) to the 24 non-royal dukes.

Now, as Australia has about one-third the population of the British Isles, it seems fair and proportionate to imagine a future local meritocratic peerage of about 280 members, allotted in proportion to state and territory populations, allowing each state at least one (so Tasmania would one day have a duke – no, not that impostor the Duke of Avram, a former state parliamentarian – even though our population is so small). I spare gentle readers the calculations; suffice it to say that Her Majesty would be asked to ennoble sufficient persons of merit that this nation gain 10 dukes, 19 marquesses, 36 earls, 71 viscounts and 143 barons…

Succession to these peerages would, of course, be open to the oldest child or nearest relative regardless of gender (a fraught issue these days in any case), unless, say, Countess Greer would wish to place her earldom off-limits to males. And it would be a matter for ecumenical consultation to see how Catholic and Anglican bishops (and abbots) would be ranked alongside the Lords temporal. Do cardinals outrank dukes?

I predict that, whatever the whining of lefties and the cultural Irish (it pleases me to imagine the outpourings of bile at the ABC), it would be quite remarkable how many fervent republicans would snap up the titles on offer; and titles would be all they would be, in plain truth, so how cheap and cheerful a present to offer to leading persons - it could help Lord Carr get an upgrade on Emirates from business to first class, for example, lest he suffer, poor man. After all, the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition was fairly muted in his criticism of knighthoods, since his mother-in-law was the first to receive one and is now a Dame.

I would retain but one restriction corresponding to the very nature of the British nobility - as they cannot sit in the House of Commons, not being commoners, neither should any future Australian title-holders be permitted to hold elected office (needed, a declaratory Act to this effect): thus Clive, Marquess of Coolum, would have to relinquish his seat in the House of Representatives upon his accession to so titanic a dignity; but of course he could still manipulate his and another party's Senators behind the scenes, in the best tradition of the Whig and Tory aristocrats of old. Many likewise would rejoice at a peerage for Senator Abetz, not least his colleagues.

Finally and most nobly, in parallel to their British titles, the members of the Royal Family could each receive a royal dukedom here: Charles could be fittingly created Duke of New South Wales (for like a Botany Bay convict he's certainly doing his time, if not in exile, yet in waiting for the throne so many years), Philip Duke of Queensland (a nice pun, that), Anne Duchess of Victoria (fittingly for a female descendent of that monarch), Andrew Duke of Tasmania, Edward Duke of South Australia, William Duke of Western Australia (full of Poms as it is), Harry Duke of the Northern Territory (given his wild adventures), and dear little George Duke of the Australian Capital Territory – how fitting for our future King George VII, long may he one day reign.

I assume there is no need to pass legislation to enable all this fantasy, since the Sovereign is the fount of all honour and it would need but the respectful advice of the Prime Minister to move the Crown to issue the patents of nobility of some bunyip aristocracy. Unlike the American, our Constitution does not forbid such grants being one day made; and Malaysia, for example, has not merely its several state sovereigns, but an elected monarch and also titles of honour and nobility, so we would be but better inculturating ourselves into the Asian area – is not Thailand, too, a monarchy? Japan an Empire (I mean, a land with an emperor)? and Brunei the equivalent of a grand duchy? does not a Sultan still reside at Yogyakarta and hold court? – by developing our own analogues to such titles.

We nowadays solemnly recognise the fabled Dreamtime, its Rainbow Serpents and mythic creatures, in ritual moments opening civic and state occasions; likewise we love and retell tales of the bunyip and the banksia men; we mock not but value the platypus and the echidna, lament the passing of the Tasmanian tiger, and emblazon the kangaroo and emu as the supporters of our national coat of arms (as neither animal can walk backwards).

Forwards then to such a future, towards a true culture of entitlement!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Compline and Stations

Another pleasant evening: first we practised, then we sang Compline, followed by Stations of the Cross, with an English version of the Stabat Mater, and, to conclude, the Vexilla Regis and Christus factus est.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Passion Sunday Missa Cantata

A good showing for our Passion Sunday Missa cantata at St Canice – fifty or more (including the many children), with a pleasing sound from our choir and a sterling performance on the part of our servers. I've had a most pleasant weekend in every respect, though I did need to dash back from Hobart (where I dropped off a very dear friend at the airport to await her flight) in order to get back in time to attend a dinner for my parish priest's ordination anniversary in Launceston.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Compline and Honours

Though unfortunately our priest was unable to attend, and so we didn't have Benediction last night – at which I served at the city church on Monday night in any case, since the weekly Rosary devotions include Benediction this Lent – we did keep the feast of the Annunciation with special care, by singing the Litany of Loreto after Compline, and ending with the hymn "The Angel Gabriel from heaven came".

In other good news, the pre-eminent rank of Knight and Dame in the Order of Australia has been restored by our Prime Minister, just as the title of Queen's Counsel for senior lawyers is in process of being restored in certain State jurisdictions when it had been replaced with "Senior Counsel". We are a monarchy after all...

Friday, March 14, 2014

2nd Sunday of Lent - Missa cantata, 10:30 am at St Canice

While last Sunday found me at St Aloysius in Melbourne, where they are celebrating the imminent establishment, by decree of the Archbishop of Melbourne, of their community as a personal parish for those adhering to the traditional Latin liturgy, this Sunday almost upon us will instead find me in Hobart, at our now-fortnightly Latin Mass, its frequency being in process of increasing, thanks to our new Archbishop.

Since a visiting priest with different time constraints will be coming to celebrate the Missa cantata, Mass will be at the earlier and actually more convenient time of 10:30 am. As usual, Mass will be at St Canice, Sandy Bay.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

War and Peace

Matters in the Ukraine have reached breaking point; Russia is acting just as the USSR did – I think of the cynical and lying manner in which Stalin proclaimed peace while bloodily occupying the Baltic States, for example. That said, I think Ukraine might be well advised to let the Crimea go, since Russia is in de facto control there already.

How upsetting, to think that the pro-Russian President of Ukraine would turn tail and run, and those pro-Europe scum came suddenly to power! How upsetting – to the Kremlin, not known for fondness toward would-be overthrowers of authoritarian regimes.

The real danger comes if Putin (think Stalin, think Lenin, think Ivan the Terrible – Russian autocrats are all the same, just like those Russian dolls all nested inside each other) decides to take more than the Crimea: perhaps the easternmost Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to begin with.

After all, to the detritus of the old Soviet Empire (I mean Kaliningrad Oblast, between Poland and Lithuania), several puppet states "protected" by the Russian military have been added since the breakup of the USSR:
  • Transnistria, between Moldova and Ukraine: 4,163 sq km (protected since 1990)
  • Abkhazia, formerly north-western Georgia: 8,660 sq km (protected since 1992-3 and especially since 2008)
  • South Ossetia, formerly north-central Georgia: 3,900 sq km (also occupied since 2008)
  • Crimea: 26,964 sq km (de facto occupied as of late February 2014)
It appears the bear is getting hungrier.

May we expect ethnic cleansing, or just bashings and like cruelty, once the Crimea "overwhelmingly votes to reunite joyfully with the Motherland"? If I were a Crimean Tatar I'd be afraid.

Russia's government of course assumes that the European Union, the US and NATO are all as gormless and spineless as they have so far appeared; which seems a fair assessment. But hand-wringing will not scare away the bear, only a bloodied nose will. At least the Lithuanians have realised what's at stake, and have invoked Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

If NATO mobilised, and the US and UK declared they were willing to enforce, militarily if need be, the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, a "piece of paper" signed also by Russia (perfidy again), which guaranteed the borders and territorial integrity of Ukraine against the threat of force – then Putin might draw back.

Then again, NATO might prove itself the loser in such a conflict, should conflict come. Or Russia. Who knows what may happen? And didn't something very nasty transpire in similar circumstances in 1914?

Do pray for peace:

Aña. Da pacem, Dómine, in diébus nostris: quia non est álius qui pugnet pro nobis, nisi tu, Deus noster. 
V/. Fiat pax in virtúte tua. 
R/. Et abundántia in túrribus tuis.
Oratio. Deus, a quo sancta desidéria, recta consília, et justa sunt óреrа: da servis tuis illam, quam mundus dare non potest, pacem; ut et corda nostra mandátis tuis dédita, et hóstium subláta formídine, témpora sint tua protectióne tranquílla. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R/. Amen. 
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Regína pacis, ora pro nobis.
Ant. Give peace in our time, O Lord: because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God. 
V/. Peace be in thy strength. 
R/. And plenteousness within thy towers. 
Let us pray. 
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen. 
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.
Queen of peace, pray for us.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rosary Prayers

After introductory versicles, begin the Rosary with the "Hail, Holy Queen", its usual versicle and the collect "O God, Whose Only-begotten Son" – this was the somewhat startling advice I found in several late nineteenth century books, said to follow the official method laid down for use amongst Dominicans.

These days, of course, one expects to say such prayers at the end of the decades (Dominicans still maintain the introductory versicles, instead of the newfangled Creed, Lord's Prayer and three Hail Mary's); then, instead, they were said beforehand, and afterward – where now they are recited – instead came first the Litany of Loreto, and then the Sub tuum and an anthem to St Dominic, with appropriate versicles and collects.

The collect connected to the Sub tuum in this arrangement seemed familiar, as I have seen it referred to as St Pius V's prayer for use at the conclusion of the Rosary – the more familiar "O God, Whose Only-begotten Son" having been introduced by his successor, Gregory XIII, when he approved a proper Mass and Office for the feast of the Rosary. But the prayer appointed by St Pius V is itself a modification of the Dominican collect for Marian feasts – unsurprising, as Pius was a Friar Preacher:
Supplicationem servorum tuorum, Deus miserator, exaudi, ut, qui in societate sacratissimi Rosarii Dei Genitricis et Virginis congregamur, ejus intercessionibus, a te de instantibus periculis eruamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. R/. Amen. 
(Hear, O merciful God, the prayer of thy servants: that we, who meet together in the Society of the most holy Rosary of the Virgin Mother of God, may, through her intercession, be delivered by thee from present dangers. Through the same Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.)
Having come across this old form, I now preface the Rosary with the Sub tuum, versicle Post partum and collect Supplicationem servorum quorum, plus – from what I've learnt from our local Monday night Rosary group – the Memorare, before I make the usual start by signing myself with sign of the Cross, saying the Creed, and so forth. 

Spanish sources gave a variant to the Dominican or rather "Pian" collect for the Sub tuum (which they paired with the collect of the Angelus for good measure), which I prefer, as it is not so much that we meet together in a society of the Rosary as instead meet to recite it – hence its use in the version given below (Dominicans omit "gloriosa et" in the Sub tuum, by the way):
Aña. Sub tuum presidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. 
V/. Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti. R/. Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.
Supplicationem servorum tuorum, Deus miserator, exaudi: ut, qui ad recitandum sanctissimum Rosarium Dei Genetricis et Virginis Mariæ congregamur, ejus intercessionibus a te de instantibus periculis eruamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. R/. Amen. 
Ant. We fly to thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God: despise not our petitions in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
V/. After childbirth, O Virgin, thou didst remain undefiled. R/. Mother of God, intercede for us.
Let us pray.
Hear, O merciful God, the prayer of thy servants: that we, who meet together to recite the most holy Rosary of Mary, Mother of God and Virgin, may, through her intercession, be delivered by thee from present dangers. Through the same Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Better Late Than Never - A Joint Contribution

How to hold a Septuagesima Eve or Farewell Alleluia Party

Septuagesima Eve is the lychgate of Lent – that way station marking entry into the churchyard, ere on Ash Wednesday we pass through the very portal of the church into Quadragesima Abbey, as it were, where for forty days and nights we will redouble our penances and in monkish wise undertake ascetic exercises, cloistering our souls from the busy world till the happy day of Resurrection.

Now a lychgate, as all men know, is a gate overshadowed by a roof, symbolic of Him Who is the Gate of the sheepfold, Himself overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, whereto a body brought for burial is carried, and the first part of the funeral conducted, before it is brought into the church. Hence, when as at first Vespers of Septuagesima the Alleluia is laid aside, in a manner its death is to be represented – just as the corpse, in shroud y-wrapt, ought be plonked down in the lychgate.

Moreover, a wake ought be held, for to mourn dead Alleluia (dear maiden), and, to prevent enormities, Alleluia ought be buried straightway. For this reason, on Septuagestima Eve, Alleluia is buried after Vespers; and, both before and after these affecting services, cocktails in the liturgical colours ought be served nearby.

Before the obsequies, as suitably accoutred guests arrive for this devotional pastime, the gracious host ought present each one with a green cocktail to fittingly conclude Epiphany-tide. It is not permitted to colour the drink with green food colouring – note in particular that green-tinted Guinness is an abomination, and one reserved in any case for St Patrick’s Day. Instead, cunning combinations of sundry decoctions, liqueurs and elixirs are to be employed. This verdant beverage, and all subsequent top-ups, should be consumed before the commencement of First Vespers of Septuagesima.

One should wait until all guests arrive before starting Vespers; it is most disruptive to have people scrabbling for chairs and music, and attempting to join in psalms half-way through. Note that, if the land be laid under interdict, the doors must be closed, and the Office recited on a low note; which will somewhat dampen the spirit of the occasion.

For Vespers, a mediæval chapel (Gothic or Romanesque) is required (every home should have one), or at least a large space, fittingly tricked out, with two rows of chairs facing each other. Do not use narrow hallways: otherwise there can be the risk of accidental concussion at every Gloria Patri. While purists may gasp in horror, it is suggested that the two choirs be mixed (with men and women on each side), lest the volume be too unequal.

It is preferable, whether there be a permanent or temporary chapel, to celebrate Vespers before a dressed and decorated altar (eastward facing) upon which the requisite number of lit candles burn. The Alleluia should be hung on the altar front for all to observe clearly. If no medieval tapestry is available, a large piece of cardboard, made to resemble parchment, with the Alleluia y-writ thereon in clearly visible lettering (employing a flowing font with serifs) will suffice, and may be attached to the altar with concealed tape if no hooks are provided.

Benedicamus Domino with doubled Alleluia having been sung, and Vespers concluded with the Fidelium animæ (or, if a bishop be present, after he has imparted his blessing – if several prelates be present, the highest-ranking blesses unless suspended a divinis), immediately two or four of the youngest present (juniores priores) approach the altar, make due reverence, detach the Alleluia in comely fashion, and gently lay it flat, text facing up, on the waiting bier, which has been prepared earlier.

Carrying their cargo with deserved decorum, these bearers then lead a funereal procession out from the chapel, through the house, and around the garden to the grave prepared (which must have been suitably decorated with purple flowers, and supplied with a handy pile of stones nearby). Meanwhile all sing the hymn Alleluia dulce carmen, preferably in polyphony, repeating its verses as necessary until Alleluia be buried into the grave. 

Having assembled at the graveside, the officiant first rolls up the Alleluia if necessary, then with sober deportment deposits it into a coffin or other apt receptacle. After sealing this, he lowers it into the grave. All present then process past this resting place of dead Alleluia, each one laying a stone on top as they pass, thus building a cairn while still singing. All depart the grave in solemn silence after a most liturgical pause.

Following the obsequies, as expeditiously as possible, the host and his attendants (as it were the celebrant and his ministers) should make and distribute purple cocktails to the guests. On no account are any left-over green cocktails to be consumed, under pain of serious sin and excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See. Nonetheless, exceptions to this rule are allowed for those who are allergic to the purple cocktail; or those who are only permitted one alcoholic beverage and who arrived too late to finish their drink before Vespers; or those holding a Papal indult or immemorial privilege: no others.

During the mixing these purple cocktails, it is fitting for guests to retire and shed their green garments in favour of purple ones, if possible. Men of limited imagination may choose simply to change their neck tie. Since the liturgical portion of the evening has been completed (as Compline will be recited in private), guests may innocently disport themselves henceforth as befits any polite social gathering, taking care to remember that utterance of the ‘A’ word is strictly forbidden.

It is appropriate to serve dinner now. Please note that serving only purple food would be considered excessive, not to mention nauseating. A reasonable use of vegetables in such shades would be appropriate, however.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Almost Finished

While in Rome on pilgrimage, four of us, during our visit to Santa Maria Maggiore, decided to go to confession. A little later, we compared penances, feeling a rather hard done by… a young lady had been told to say her Rosary every day for a week for a certain intention; one of our priests had been told to offer up his Breviary every day for a week for a similar cause; and Mike and I, upon learning that each of us had been told to offer up the Rosary for such and such an intention (I got "sincerity"), daily – for a month – felt uniquely put-upon.

I recall that, according to that devout book, The Secret of the Rosary, St Dominic assigned just such a lengthy penance to a pious Roman matron, who was in the habit of doing the rounds of the Seven Churches every day. Like her, I own to feeling more than a little discomfited!

Doubtless the … son of St Dominic in question (for the confessors at St Mary Major are Blackfriars) had been a-reading some such "manual of penance". I am now nearly finished fulfilling this penance – at least I have thereby got back to saying the Rosary. Perhaps that was the desired result.

Moral of the story: when on pilgrimage with no less than three priests, don't think to shop elsewhere. Or at the least, avoid the confessionals of Friars Preachers like the plague.