Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I'm disgusted with the modern English edition of the Divine Office - for, though in the OF today is the 1st day of Ordinary Time, albeit with two possible optional memorials, volume III thrice-stupidly only includes the sanctoral cycle from the 14th of May onwards, meaning that one would need to juggle volumes II and III if the saints were to be commemorated this year or any year when Easter falls so early!

Since I was going to attend Low Mass tonight, I decided to say the Breviary instead, and keep in the Trad. spirit of keeping the Octave of Pentecost, that most holy feast.

However, before work I didn't get around to saying any Office, so when I arrived at the Pro. at 5.45pm I had to plunge into Matins (only one Nocturn of three splendid apposite psalms, 47, 67 and 103, as a special treat as in Easter Week), Lauds (with its worthy psalms and canticles), Prime and Terce - which was as far as I got before I had to tog up for serving the 6.30pm Mass.

Whitmonday Mass appears to be a carefully arranged mirror for neophytes, all its texts providing a thoroughgoing mystagogical catechesis. Today's Mass is notable for the Introit, Cibavit, which was recycled as the Introit for Corpus Christi when that feast was instituted in the Middle Ages, no less than for the Collect and Postcommunion, which, praying for peace and deliverance from the raging of enemies, clearly bespeak their great antiquity because reflecting the concerns of the days of the end of the Western Empire and the invasions of barbarians. The Eucharistic theme of the Introit is paralleled by the Baptismal character of the Offertory Intonuit... et apparuerunt fontes aquarum, alleluja.

As for the Epistle and Gospel, from Acts x, 34. 42-48a and St John iii, 16-21, what may not be said of their sacred message of salvation? They repay much rumination:

In those days:
Peter opening his mouth, said:
Men brethren, the Lord
commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is he who was appointed by God, to be judge of the living and of the dead. To him all the prophets give testimony, that by his name all receive remission of sins, who believe in him. While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word. And the faithful of the circumcision, who came with Peter, were astonished, for that the grace of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking with tongues, and magnifying God. Then Peter answered: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(On this second day of the Octave, St Peter is called to bring forth his magnificent testimony to the saving power of Our Lord unto all who believe in His Name, as proved by the miraculous illapse of the Holy Ghost, manifesting that the waters of baptism were open to all.)

At that time: Jesus said to Nicodemus:
For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.

The Breviary offers St Augustine's commentary on this ineffable text, which I reproduce in translation here from the website to which I've just linked:

A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop
(Tract. 12 in Joann., sub finem)

The Physician cometh to do all he can towards the healing of the sick. And the sick person who will not attend to the advice of the Physician bringeth on his own death. This Physician is come, as a Saviour, to the world. Why is he called the Saviour of the world, except that he came, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved? Hast thou no desire to be saved through him? by thine act be thou condemned. Any why do I say, Be thou condemned? Because it is written: He that believeth on him is not condemned. What then dost thou expect will be said to him that believeth not? This shall be said: He is condemned. Indeed he hath already said more than that, to wit: He that believeth not is condemned already. Though the condemnation be not yet openly pronounced, it hath nonetheless already taken place.

The Lord knoweth them that are his. He knoweth them that will continue unto the crown, and likewise he knoweth them that will continue unto the fire. He knoweth the wheat on his threshing floor, and the chaff. He knoweth the field (which is the world) with its good grain, and its tares. He that believeth not is condemned already. Why? Because he hath not believed in the Name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation: That light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Whose deeds, my brethren, doth the Lord find to be good? None. He findeth the works of all men to be in themselves bad. How then do we hear that some there be who do the truth, and come to the light? For it is written: He that doeth truth, cometh to the light.

But he saith: Men loved darkness rather than light. And here he maketh the great point of difference between such as love darkness, and such as come to the light. There be many who have loved their sins. Also there be many who have confessed their sins. He that confesseth, thereby denounceth his sin, and is working already with God. God denounceth thy sins, and if thou denounce them likewise, then dost thou join thyself with God in his act. The man and the sinner are, as it were, two different things. God made the man; man made the sinner. Destroy what thou hast worked in thyself, and God will save what he hath already made. Thou art behoven to hate in thyself thine own works, and to love God's work. When thine own works begin to displease thee, then is it that thou beginnest to do well, because thou denouncest thine own evil works. The first thing to do, if thou wouldest do good works, is to acknowledge thine evil ones.

Fearful words! What the mystery of our hoped-for election, or yet of dreadful reprobation!

After Mass, as my thanksgiving, I said Sext and None (why is Psalm 118 so long?), and read the texts of the impeded Mass of SS Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancras to redouble my worship of God, and therewith to duly commemorate them and ask their aid, as in the postcommunion of their feast:

We beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the prayers of Thy blessed martyrs Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancras, the holy sacraments which we have received may profit unto the enhancement of Thy appeasement concerning us. Through...

After Mass, and consulting with Fr Rowe, etc., over a pot of tea and a snack, regarding new security arrangements for St Anne's, now it is officially "ours", I finally made it home, and again have prayed Trad. Vespers in our home chapel, singing out the great Veni Creator Spiritus, just as Fr Rowe had us all do at Low Mass earlier tonight, after the Leonine Prayers.


Terra said...

All very laudable!

Your list of psalms interested me - not the same as the Benedictine breviary, which is unusual for great feasts, I'll have to do some research on this!

And in the meantime, tell me more about St Anne's, this seems like important news!

Joshua said...

Oh, you use the Monastic Breviary?

For news re St Annes - see older posts... :-)

Terra said...

Yes, its a bit longer than the Roman but in my view a more logical arrangement of the psalms to hours!

Joshua said...


Do tell me more - on your blog perhaps - about the Monastic Office.

Do you use that handy Diurnal reprint, by any chance?

Joshua said...

A "bit longer"? During this happy Pentecost Octave, the Roman Office, in a special dispensation also common to Easter week, has only three psalms at Matins (albeit two of these on ferias are broken into three parts, so they amount to about seven average psalms) - but the Monastic has twelve, plus three canticles on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday! (And there are twelve lessons on those first three days, plus the full Gospel of the day, rather than just three. Hence on Pentecost Sunday I see the Roman Office omits the passages from Acts and Pope Leo the Great...) So Monastic Matins is hugely longer than the Roman.

On the other hand, the Monastic Office for the Octave only reads the first half of Psalm 118 at the Little Hours (Prime: i-iv; Terce: v-vii; Sext: viii-x; None: xi-xiii), rather than all of it plus Psalm 53 as the Roman does; and likewise Monastic Vespers has only four psalms, omitting the Roman Office's long Psalm 113. (And not to forget that Monastic Compline has no Nunc dimittis!) Therefore, the day hours in total are significantly shorter in the Monastic Office than in the Roman.