Sunday, May 11, 2008

Liturgical Anniversary

I was baptized, confirmed, and houselled on Pentecost Sunday, 1987; after a most lukewarm time as a teenager, I came back to the practice of my faith on Pentecost Sunday 1994: I treat this solemnity, therefore, as my anniversary - this year, the 21st - of incorporation into Christ through His Church.

Although I daily grieve the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph. iv, 30), by His free gift of grace I continue to turn again to the Lord, and through Confession come again to Communion, the Holy Eucharist: Ave in æternum, sanctissima Caro Christi, mihi ante omnia et super omnia summa dulcedo. The Eucharist gives us spiritual life: "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me" (St John vi, 58). I think I could not go without it. Soon I will go off to Mass.


Anonymous said...

"Houselled"? What does that mean?

Pete said...


I too was baptised in 1987 - good year that!

P.S Fr. Terence was a priest 20 years on the seventh!


Joshua said...

Sorry - my love of the arcane and archaic!

"Housel" (cognate with Gothic "hunsl") is an old English word meaning "sacrifice" - it is the OE equivalent of the modern word "host", deriving from the Latin "hostia", a sacrifice or victim: both words refer to a consecrated wafer, administered in Holy Communion, which, since it has been transsubstantiated into the Body of Christ, is truly the Living Sacrificial Victim.

From this noun derives the verb "to housel": the priest housels the people, i.e. feeds them Holy Communion; the communicants are "houselled", i.e. fed on the Holy Eucharist.

To die "without shrift or housel" - that is, without Confession or Communion - was a fate to be feared in the eyes of the medieval English.

Is there a Scots term like this?

I don't have my copy of the poems of William Dunbar to hand...

Anonymous said...

The word was probably extant in Scots, but I think it likely died out at the Reformation (remember the established "Church" in Scotland is the Presbyterian Kirk).

We still have the verb shrive, as seen in "Shrove Tuesday".