Friday, March 21, 2008

So much for Holy Thursday!

I pick up the tale from my last blog, admitting how tired I have been from work; well, after almost dozing off while on the highway home, I decided to have a nap before the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper: going to bed at 5.30pm is not usually my idea of fun, but I was exhausted, and in the end, rather than try and get up, I fell fast asleep, slept through the solemnities, and didn't get up till 10am this Good Friday morning. (Perhaps I should join the Dormitionists.)

Luckily, Holy Thursday hasn't been a day of obligation since 1642!

Apparently - as I learn from my spies - the Mass started at least half-an-hour late, and didn't finish till 10.30pm, so I suspect it was prudent of me to sleep rather than completely to exhaust myself with singing and whatnot, especially considering I've been finding driving very tiring, which could be dangerous.

I do miss, however, the glorious Introit Nos autem and the Gradual Christus factus est (which, however, we will sing at Tenebræ for Holy Saturday tonight). Likewise, it's a pity not to have joined in the Ubi caritas and Pange lingua - though these of course are familiar from much singing of them at other times as well. Given my tiredness, I wasn't going to stick around for the adoration for long, though again in years past, when more awake and more fervent, I've lingered the longer.

Not to boast, but in years past I've attended the Mass of the Lord's Supper at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, and have had my feet washed by Archbishop Pell (prior to his translation to Sydney and elevation to the Cardinalate) and also by Bishop Hart, prior to his succeeding to the see (for that year, Pell had put his back out, and couldn't bend down to wash feet), so I have some memories to reflect upon.

However, I do not wish to give the impression that all I care about is singing nice music, being involved in celebrations, or bells and smell - the usual accusations against Traddies - for in reality, I love these things only insofar as they outwardly manifest the inner significance of the holy mysteries being celebrated. That is why this blog is called Psallite sapienter - we ought sing with understanding and delight, realizing and assenting to the good truths proclaimed with such beauty, because goodness and truth is beautiful.

It has always affected me to hear or read the Secret and the words in the Canon that are proper to the day:

Ipse tibi, quæsumus, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æternae Deus, sacrificium nostrum reddat acceptum, qui discipulis suis in sui commemorationem hoc fieri hodierna traditione monstravit, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: Qui tecum vivit...

(May He Himself render our sacrifice acceptable unto Thee, we beseech, Holy Lord, Almighty Father, eternal God, Who didst this day by his handing-over [of it] command His disciples to do this in His memory, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord: Who with Thee liveth...)

Communicantes et diem sacratissimum celebrantes, quo Dominus noster Jesus Christus pro nobis est traditus...

(Communing with and celebrating the most sacred day, when our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed for us...)

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ, sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quam tibi offerimus, ob diem, in qua Dominus noster Jesus Christus tradidit discipulis suis Corporis et Sanguinis sui mysteria celebranda...

(Therefore this oblation of our service, and of all Thy family, which we offer unto Thee, by reason of the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ handed over to His disciples the mysteries of His Body and Blood to be celebrated...)

- What a play on words! Jesus our Lord, is betrayed, handed over (traditus est), to his enemies, who will torment and slay His Body and spill His Blood, and yet out of the evil deicide of this murder will be drawn great good, a divine and spotless willing sacrifice for us men and our salvation; and He hands over (traditione), entrusts (tradidit), to His disciples His own Body and Blood, to be the saving sacrament of His sacrifice, applying its infinite merits to our souls and bodies that we may be saved! -

Qui pridie, quam pro nostra omniumque salute pateretur, hoc est, hodie...

(Who the day before He suffered for the salvation of us and of all, that is, today...)

- This last line almost moves me to tears.



In rejection of the traitorous kiss of Judas that betrayed our Lord to His enemies, the kiss of peace and the accompanying prayer is not said at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The double mystery: Christ is betrayed, and from this evil comes the salvation of the world; Christ hands over Himself in a mystery, and from this marvel comes the oblation to perpetuate his triumph, and the food and drink that give eternal life.

As a result of my collapse into bed, upon getting up this morning I read the Office of Readings, Vespers, and Compline of yesterday (!) - not through any necessity, but to in some way join in the celebration of the mysteries I'd missed: I must say, the modern Vespers of Holy Thursday (never said if you actually attend the evening Mass) are not terribly inspiring - Psalm 71(72) seems spectacularly inappropriate. About the best bits were the short reading, the introduction to the intercessions, and of course the collect:

Jesus suffered outside the gate to sanctify the people with his own blood. Let us go to him, then, outside the camp, and share his degradation. For there is no eternal city for us in this life but we look for one in the life to come. Through him let us offer God an unending sacrifice of praise, a verbal sacrifice that is offered every time we acknowledge his name. (Hebrews xiii, 12-13)

- This ties together Christ's murder as a saving sacrifice, our own duty to take up our crosses in union with him, our hope for the life to come and not for some imagined this-earthly utopia, and our rightful delight in offering through Him the sacrifice of praise: by which reason the Divine Office is the highest prayer after the Holy Mass -

Let us adore our Saviour, who at the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, entrusted to the Church the memorial of his death and resurrection to be celebrated throughout the ages. Confident that he will hear us, we pray: Sanctify the people whom you redeemed with your blood.

Lord God, since for your glory and our salvation, you willed Christ your Son to be the eternal High Priest: grant that the people he gained for you by his blood, may be strengthened by his cross and resurrection when they take part in his memorial sacrifice. Through...

1 comment:

Mark said...

Oh well. I would rather you sleep, than had a car accident!!