Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Another Year Over, A New One Begun

Today's Office contains most delightfully beautiful texts, especially the Lauds and Vesper antiphons drawn from the Greek Liturgy.  

In the older books it is known as the Feast of the Circumcision (when the Holy Name of Jesus was bestowed upon our Lord, in accordance with the angel's message; of course, there is a separate feast for this coming up very soon), while in the modern books it is styled the Feast of Mary the Mother of God (subsuming the fairly recent feast of the Maternity of Our Lady on the 11th of October); yet in reality there is not much difference, since even the old Breviary's texts for this feast are quite Marian (apparently the texts come in large part from the Christmas Office as chanted anciently at St Mary Major, where naturally the Feast had a Marian flavour).

The modern Martyrology best links up all aspects of today:

In octava Nativitatis Domini et die ejus Circumcisionis, sollemnitas sanctæ Dei Genetricis Mariæ, quam Patres in Concilio Ephesino Theotokon acclamaverunt, quia ex ea Verbum carnem assumpsit et inter homines habitavit Dei Filius, princeps pacis, cui Nomen super omne nomen datum est.

(The octave day of the Nativity of the Lord and the day of His Circumcision, the solemnity of holy Mary Mother of God, whom the Fathers at the Council of Ephesus acclaimed the Theotokos, for from her God's Son the Word took flesh and dwelt amongst men [cf. S. John i, 14], the prince of peace [Is ix, 6], to whom was given the Name above every name [cf. Phil. ii, 9].)

It is also the feast of St Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/7-527/33):

Ruspis in Byzacena, sancti Fulgentii, episcopi, qui, munere procuratoris Byzacenæ functus, monachus evasit; deinde episcopus effectus, tempore vandalicæ persecutionis, ab arianis multa perpessus est et in Sardiniam a rege Thrasamundo bis relegatus.  Tandem populo suo restitutus, eum per reliquos vitæ annos veritatis et gratiæ verbo fideliter nutrivit.

(At Ruspe in Byzacena, of Saint Fulgentius, bishop, who, suffering the burden of the office of procurator of Byzacena, escaped to become a monk; thereafter, being made bishop, in the time of the Vandal persecution, endured much from the Arians and was twice exiled to Sardinia by King Thrasamund.  At length restored to his people, he fed them faithfully for the remaining years of his life with words of truth and grace.)

On this day died also St Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (c.962-c.1048), who instituted the commemoration of All Souls on the 2nd of November; St Giuseppe Maria Tommasi (1649-1713; canonized in 1986), Theatine Cardinal and noted liturgical scholar; as well as many others who passed triumphant from this world to heaven – 

Et alibi aliorum plurimorum sanctorum Martyrum et Confessorum, atque sanctarum Virginum.  R/.  Deo gratias.

(And in divers places many other holy Martyrs and Confessors, and sainted Virgins.  R/.  Thanks be to God.)

– such a pity this formulaic conclusion, which just rolls off the tongue, is not included in the new Martyrology!

Curiously enough, the 2002 Roman Missal provides a Votive Mass for the beginning of the civil year, although this is of course not to be said on the 1st of January!  Here are the texts with my translations:

Aña ad introitum

Benedices coronæ anni benignitatis tuæ, et campi tui replebuntur ubertate.  Ps 64:12

[Thou shalt bless the crown of the year, of Thy goodness: and Thy fields shall be filled with plenty.]


Ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, dicit Dñs, usque ad consummationem sæculi, allelujaMt 28:20b

[Behold, I am with you all days, saith the Lord, even to the consummation of the world, alleluia.]


Deus, qui, sine initio et sine fine, totius es principium creaturæ, da nobis ita hunc annum, cujus initia tibi dedicamus, transigere, ut et substantiis abundemus, et sanctitatis operibus fulgeamus.  Per...  

[O God, Who, without beginning and without end, art the foundation of all creatures, grant unto us so to pass this year, whose beginning we dedicate unto Thee, that we may both abound in good things, and shine forth in works of holiness.  Through...]

Super oblata

Sacrificia quæ tibi offerimus ita tuis oculis, Dñe, sint accepta, ut omnes, qui initia hujus anni cum lætitia celebramus, reliquum excursum ejus in tua mereamur transigere caritate.  Per...

[May the sacrifices which we offer, Lord, be so acceptable in Thine eyes, that all we, who celebrate the beginning of this year with joy, may deserve to pass the rest of its length in Thy love.  Through...]

Aña ad communionem

Jesus Christus heri et hodie, ipse et in sæcula.  Heb 13:8

[Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same for ever.]

Post communionem

Adesto, Dñe, populis, qui sacra mysteria contigerunt, ut in toto decursu hujus anni nullis periculis affligantur, qui in tua semper protectione confidunt.

[Be present, Lord, to the people who have received the sacred mysteries, that in the whole course of this year they may be afflicted by no perils, who ever trust in Thy protection.]

Benedictio solemnis

Deus, fons et origo totius benedictionis, gratiam vobis concedat, benedictionis suæ largitatem infundat, atque per totum annum vos salvos et incolumes protegat.

Custodiat fidei vobis integritatem, tribuat spei longanimitatem, perseverantem usque ad finem cum sancta patientia caritatem.

Dies et actus vestros in sua pace disponat, preces hic et ubique exaudiat, et ad vitam æternam feliciter vos perducat.

[God, fount and origin of all blessing, grant grace to you, pour into you the gift of his blessing, and protect you safe and secure through the whole year.

He guard for you the integrity of faith, grant long-suffering of hope, charity persevering until the end with holy patience.

He dispose your days and actions in His peace, here and everywhere hear your prayers, and felicitously bring you to life everlasting.]

The relevant Lectionary supplies the following choice of pericopes:
  • Genesis i, 14 -18 (the fourth day of creation – sun, moon, stars, day, and night, marking seasons, days and years) or
  • Numbers vi, 22-27 (the Aaronic blessing; how on earth is this relevant?!);
  • I Corinthians vii, 29-31 (the form of this world is passing away) or
  • James iv, 13-15 (life is as a passing mist);
  • Psalm 8, 0r 48, or 89 (the elegaic last being my favourite);
  • St Matthew vi, 31-34 (do not be anxious about tomorrow) or
  • St Luke xii, 35-40 ( be ready for the Master's return).
I must say, I miss in this list what the Revised Common Lectionary supplies: surely Ecclesiastes iii, 1-13 is the best of all choices?

Omnia tempus habent,

et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub cælo.

Tempus nascendi, et tempus moriendi;

tempus plantandi, et tempus evellendi quod plantatum est.

Tempus occidendi, et tempus sanandi;

tempus destruendi, et tempus ædificandi.

Tempus flendi, et tempus ridendi;

tempus plangendi, et tempus saltandi.

Tempus spargendi lapides, et tempus colligendi,

tempus amplexandi, et tempus longe fieri ab amplexibus.

Tempus acquirendi, et tempus perdendi;

tempus custodiendi, et tempus abjiciendi.

Tempus scindendi, et tempus consuendi;

tempus tacendi, et tempus loquendi.

Tempus dilectionis, et tempus odii;

tempus belli, et tempus pacis.

Quid habet amplius homo de labore suo?

Vidi afflictionem quam dedit Deus filiis hominum,

ut distendantur in ea.

Cuncta fecit bona in tempore suo,

et mundum tradidit disputationi eorum,

ut non inveniat homo opus

quod operatus est Deus ab initio usque ad finem.

Et cognovi quod non esset melius nisi lætari,

et facere bene in vita sua;

omnis enim homo qui comedit et bibit,

et videt bonum de labore suo, 

hoc donum Dei est.


Here is The Byrds' version!  

The RCL also gives Psalm 8, Rev. xxi, 1-6a (I make all things new) and S. Matthew xxv, 31-46 (the general Judgement).

While I didn't get around to singing a Te Deum in thanksgiving last night (very tired and out of sorts, please pray for me!), I will be offering up a Veni Creator Spiritus to supplicate God's blessings on this new Year of Our Lord, 2008.  As the modern Easter Vigil puts it:

2 | o
0 | 8

Christ yesterday and today 
the beginning and the end 
and Omega 
all time belongs to Him 
and all the ages 
to Him be glory and power 
through every age for ever.  

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