Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sacraments out of Sync

It's never out of order to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

To-day, arriving just in the nick of time for our Missa cantata, I was able to be of some help to the ladies' choir by reminding them when to sing certain items, as Fr and they had asked me to do.  Our sermon was on the value of the liturgical year, whereby the Church sanctifies time and seeks thereby to sanctify our souls, that we may at length attain to the everlasting feast which God celebrates with His saints and angels in heaven.

One arresting thought: the Church has never established a separate feast for God the Father, since He, unlike the other Two Persons, has not appeared in a visible form; but in another sense all of Advent is devoted to Him, as it demonstrates the truth that "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting."  (St John iii, 16)

(This comment must be understood in the light of the ministry of another Perth priest, whose lengthy true surname is abbreviated to Rowe, and who is a great partisan of devotion, some would say unusual devotion, to God the Father.  While he was operating at St Joachim's, the temporary Pro-Cathedral - as opposed to our own St John's Pro-Cathedral - the joke was, "Don't go to the false Rowe at the false Pro.!")

Another insight that I firmly share, and which I feel has been neglected in the reform of the liturgy to the general detriment: originally the Church celebrated the anniversaries of the triumphs of her martyrs, and later added to these the days of the birth into life eternal of her other saints; and from this came the celebration nearly every day of the feasts of saints, to the end that we may be moved to imitate their examples, venerate them for their fidelity to the Lord, and implore their glorious merits and mediation.  The modern atrophy in the cult of the saints, and the turning of weekday Masses into a most boring exercise in obscure lectio continua, is I feel a misreading of the established basis for daily Mass and acts to diminish what has down the ages proved to be the inspiration and training of Christians in virtue, by presenting to us the saints who have saved their souls by firm adherence to the grace of God.

I remembered one aspect of this after making a spiritual communion (feeling myself unworthy of the sacramental): the postcommunion of this Sunday, the 27th after Pentecost, being taken from the Mass of the 6th after Epiphany which went unused this year owing to an early Easter, is as follows:

Cælestibus, Domine, pasti deliciis: quæsumus; ut* semper eadem, per quæ veraciter vivimus, appetamus. Per...

(Having been fed, Lord, with celestial delicacies, we beseech, that* ever for the same, by which we truly live, we may hunger.  Through...)

with the addition at * of the words beati Philippi Confessoris tui meritis et imitatione (through the merits and imitation of blessed Philip Thy Confessor), it is the postcommunion of St Philip Neri, one of my favourite saints, who had a legendary love and desire for the Most Holy Eucharist.  Since I was not receiving, I read it instead as an act of desire for the Sacrament: Domine, quæsumus: ut semper eadem, per quæ veraciter vivimus, appetamus.  Per... (Lord, we beseech, that ever for these, by which we truly live, we may hunger.  Through...)

After Mass, I went up to the hospital as we do, and there grabbed a coffee, which took ages as there was quite a queue.  Looking at the time (just after 11 am), I turned round and popped into church again, where Fr Rowe was hearing confessions before the late Mass; and I made my humble confession, then said my penance.

Soon after, stopping to buy a salad wrap for lunch, I went for a walk around the CBD, and bought some books: a Latin dictionary; an account of a  Shackleton's Forgotten Men; and Acts and Precepts: The Aristotelian Logical Structure of Thomas Aquinas's Moral Theory, by Kevin Flannery.

An hour passed, and coming back to my car, I noticed the Pro. still unlocked, and resolved to go inside and say my Office, as yet unstarted.  I got through Lauds and Prime and into Terce; Fr Rowe still being present (he'd been busy in the sacristy), I asked him if he would administer Holy Communion to me, which he did: Confiteor... Misereatur... Indulgentiam... Ecce Agnus Dei... Domine, non sum dignus... Corpus Domini nostri... O sacrum convivium... Panem de cælo... Dominus vobiscum... Oremus.  Deus, qui nobis... Benedictio Dei omnipotentis...

It seemed to me, after a time in prayer, that the best thanksgiving would be to finish off the Little Hours; which I did.

On my way home, I walked round Heirisson Island (about 40 minutes), and now it's mid-afternoon; to-night, dinner with friends in honour of my upcoming birthday.

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