Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Invocabit me, & Our Lady of Lourdes

Work has been a real killer...

The Sunday "at the head of the forty days" was intituled of old Invocabit (me), from the opening of its Introit. (Curiously, while even among Traddies this has died the death, Lutherans still do so!) And how great it is that the Introit (Ps 90:15-16a, 1), the Gradual (Ps 90:11-12a), above all, the Tract (Ps 90:1-7,11-16), the Offertory (Ps 90:4-5a) and the Communion (ditto; and with which we sang further verses of the Psalm again) - every one of the variable chants of the Mass - should all come from that wonderful Compline Psalm, Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi, echoing the last words of the Gospel reading: "and behold Angels came and ministered to Him" (St Matthew iv, 11).

Psalm 90 Qui habitat.

1 He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High,
shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.
2 He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge:
my God, in him will I trust.
3 For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters:
and from the sharp word.
4 He will overshadow thee with his shoulders:
and under his wings thou shalt trust.
5 His truth shall compass thee with a shield:
thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
6 Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark:
of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand:
but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 But thou shalt consider with thy eyes:
and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou, O Lord, art my hope:
thou hast made the most High thy refuge.
10 There shall no evil come to thee:
nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
11 For he hath given his angels charge over thee;
to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear thee up:
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk:
and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
14 Because he hoped in me I will deliver him:
I will protect him because he hath known my name.
15 He shall cry to me, and I will hear him:
I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
16 I will fill him with length of days;
and I will show him my salvation.

This Psalm is indeed a word of hope, and I must recommend the great 17 sermons of St Bernard upon it: they are available in Latin here.

Since the people's Kyriales at the Pro don't contain Mass XVII, we sang the ferial Mass XVIII instead, so they could join in with the Ordinary, while we executed the Propers (lest we all die of oversinging, or of the M.C.'s wrath, we psalm-toned the Gradual and Tract). Curiously, it was decided to sing Psalm 129, the De Profundis, with the Offertory as antiphon... while at Mass's end, in anticipation of the next day, we sang the Lourdes Hymn, before Mass and the Asperges we led the congregation in James McAuley's "May this Lenten discipline", one of the last decent productions of Australian Catholic hymnwriters.

Fr Rowe gave us a sobering sermon on the three sources of temptation: "the lust of the flesh" (impurity), "the lust of the eyes"(avarice), "and the pride of life" (ambition) - I St John ii, 16 - and their respective contraries and cures: fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. He especially and forcefully counselled guarding oneself from the deluge of impurity now abroad, that vice and crime more answerable for the damnation of souls than any other, warning us of the awful truth that St Paul reminds us of: "Neither fornicators,... nor adulterers, nor the effeminate,... shall inherit the Kingdom of God" (I Cor. vi, 10-11).

And then, on Monday evening, we were able to sing a Missa Cantata for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Again, the propers of the Mass are most beautiful and apposite. While it would have been nice to sing Alme Pater, we went with Cum jubilo instead (that is, Mass IX, not Mass X), since again the people's Kyriales only have the latter. For the Offertory Motet, we rendered the Vespers hymn of the feast, and at Communion we sang the Magnificat interleaved with the Communion itself, finishing off after Mass with the Lourdes Hymn, of course. Fr Rowe being away preaching an Ignatian retreat somewhere in Sydney, Fr Holmes, a fine old Irish priest - a Camillan, who says Mass with effortless grace and devotion - stepped in, and gave us a gentle homily recounting his own pilgrimage to Lourdes, back in 1965.

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