Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Good Friday

Lauds and Sext from the Divine Office, then, the Solemn Liturgy... (I fitted in the Office of Readings later in the day.)

Good Friday: Fr Rowe (priest), Fr Terence (deacon), Fr Richard (subdeacon); the usual servers, including Aaron; Andrew, Justin, and I singing the chant; and about one hundred and twenty faithful (cf. Acts i,15!), including many friends and acquaintances, such as Anastasia and Brad (newly engaged), George, Rosemary, Sue, and so forth - all assembled in the cathedral parish centre's hall, turned into a stark but effective chapel for the occasion; Fr Rowe has a number of altars in storage, and brought out one of them for today's solemn liturgy.

The acoustic was very good, and I found myself getting a great deal out of the beautiful texts and music provided by Holy Mother Church this day: the haunting melody of the Tract Domine audivi (Habacuc iii, 2-3), whose words are customarily applied in the Eastern Church to the mystery of the Incarnation ("the Holy One from the shady and thickly covered mountain"), and the second Tract Eripe me (Psalm 139:2-10,14); the very moving chant of the St John Passion; the Ecce lignum Crucis; after creeping to the Cross, singing the Reproaches, with the Trisagion;

the Crux fidelis and Pange lingua gloriosi / Lauream certaminis; the antiphons at the procession of the Blessed Sacrament; and Psalm 21 during Communion. It was good to kneel down and receive our Lord with all the choir, and then to sing this psalm of His Passion. May His death be our life!

Hail to Thee, True Body, sprung
From the Virgin Mary's womb!
The Same That on the Cross was hung
And bore for man the bitter doom.

Thou, Whose Side was pierced
And flowed both with water and with Blood,
Suffer us to taste of Thee
In our life's last agony.

O kind, O loving One,
O sweet Jesu, Mary's Son!

A rich vein of doctrine was expressed in today's sermon, in which reference was made to "God is love" (I St John iv, 8) as the summation of our religion, a love revealed not merely in the blessings of creation, but shewn forth to the uttermost in Christ Crucified (cf. St John iii, 16; I St John iv, 9-10), and thereby manifest in suffering for us, as per Our Lord's words to St Angela of Foligno: "I have not loved you for fun". We, too, ought not merely give good things to all whom we love, as God does to all, but suffer also for others, as God in Christ has done on Calvary, reconciling the world to Himself.

A friend of mine is a subdeacon, and I was pleased to hear all such prayed for in one of the solemn collects; then I recalled that I have been instituted a lector, and was glad to know that I, too, the least such, have received the benefit of these prayers.

The solemn liturgy took just shy of two hours. Rather than drive home and then come back, Justin, Robert, Rosemary, Peter and myself decided to pop up to the Royal Perth Hospital cafeteria (just around the corner) and have a modest fish dinner, before making our way to Tenebræ. Better still, Anastasia and her fiance Brad came and joined us, so we had a good little meal with good company and talk.

In due course, we finished up, and drove the short distance to St Brigid's for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday, which, in rejection of Bugnini, and all his works, and all his empty promises, we do in the evening, when it should be done. Over a hundred came, and there was a goodly number in choir (well over a dozen) - including, apart from the three priests at the 3 o'clock liturgy, the local Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and most notably His Grace the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Barry James Hickey, who deigned to officiate (to make it easier for him, one of the clergy sang the ninth lesson on his behalf) and therefore concluded this Office of Matins and Lauds with its proper collect.

Andrew and Justin were cantors, and, in between chanting the psalms, hopefully sapienter, among the readers I exercised my ministry of lector for the first time in a long while, by managing to chant the fifth lesson. Andrew and his mates, who constitute Quartessence, sang the Responsories - the first three, by Croce, and the six remaining, those famous one by Victoria. They also sang the Christus factus est. At the end, what a strepitus! Tenebræ just exceeded the length of the afternoon liturgy, by running two hours exactly.

Afterward, eight of us joined Fr Rowe for a cup of tea at the presbytery, until "time, gentlemen, please!" at 11pm. (NB When having something to drink on a fasting day, one may take a little morsel with it, ne potus noceat - "lest the drink harm [thee]".) Then I drove two of my mates home, and got back to my place a little after midnight. I will end with Compline soon. Prosit.

No comments: