Sunday, March 30, 2008

Best-laid Plans

It was announced at Mass today that our earlier plan to move some Masses to St Brigid's has fallen through.

Instead, His Grace the Archbishop has returned to approving an earlier plan (no disrespect to him, but he seems to change his mind a lot): we are to move, some time after Pentecost (in June, most likely), to St Anne's, Belmont, where the tentative Sunday schedule will be a Low Mass at 8am and Sung Mass at 10:15am.

(The weekly Sunday Masses at Kelmscott - possibly at an earlier time - and the monthly Sunday Masses in Bunbury will continue. But St John's Pro-Cathedral will revert to its previous role as a museum-piece, and we will no longer have any Masses nor devotions there once we complete our move.)

While St Anne's is neither as large, nor as central, as St Brigid's, it is more spacious than the Pro., and will be wholly and solely for the use of the Latin Mass community, so we won't have to work around others, as we would have had to have done at St Brigid's. Furthermore, the church comes with a hall, necessary facilities, and a presbytery, all of which is very useful. (It is also much closer to where I live!)

Once the last Novus Ordo Mass - joyous phrase! - is said there on Pentecost Sunday, the locals must move out (there are three other churches close by, all of which, together with St Anne's up till now, are in one parish under one priest, so they won't be left bereft), and we will move in, after necessary renovation work and the like.

St Anne, pray for us.


Two Masses today: the 9.15am at the Pro., and the 2pm at Kelmscott.

I forgot daylight saving ended overnight, and got to Mass an hour early! At least I had plenty of time to say my prayers and practice the music.

Once we finished the Vidi aquam, Mass began in earnest. The St Cecilia choir sang Dom Moreno's Missa Nona, which I find too hard; so I could sit back and relax during the Ordinary (tho' we still sang Credo III), and enjoy chanting the very beautiful and apposite Proper. The Introit Quasi modo, and the Communion Mitte manum, are both very simple and yet powerful; and the double Paschal Alleluia was very inspiring. To fill up the time, we also rather eccentrically sang the Victimæ paschali at the Offertory, and O filii et filiæ at Communion.

At Kelmscott, our little schola of three sang the Vidi aquam, the Proper and the Ordinary (the latter, Missa Orbis factor and Credo III), plus the solemn Regina cæli at the Offertory, and the O filii et filiæ at Communion again.

Fr Terence sang the earlier Mass, with Fr Rowe as Deacon - the latter was the homilist, and contrasted Doubting Thomas with faithful Mary Magdalen: the former was given helps to his weakness, while the latter was not, for Thomas was asked to touch the Sacred Wounds, while Mary was told Noli me tangere! It is the same in our spiritual lives: when we are weak beginners, God graces us with consolations and answers to prayer, but as we progress and grow stronger, He withholds consolations and sends crosses instead, immersing us in the "dark night of the soul".

Fr Richard was the celebrant at Good Shepherd, Kelmscott, and expatiated on the various names of this Sunday: Quasimodo, Low Sunday, Dominica in albis depositis, the Octave Day of Easter, (Thomas Sunday,) and Divine Mercy Sunday. After the Mass, we all recited the Divine Mercy chaplet. As I left, I venerated the image of Divine Mercy: Jesus, I trust in Thee. Having been to confession again yesterday evening (to a very kindly, gentle, and holy old priest, who reminded me that God loves sinners who in humility turn to Him to acknowledge their weakness), I trust even I may be the recipient of the special graces of this feast.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Engagement

After going to confession, and serving Fr Rowe's afternoon Low Mass for Easter Friday, I had the happiness of assisting him in blessing the engagement of Brad and Anastasia. Brad is from country Victoria, while Anastasia, who's been worshipping at the Pro. for some years, is originally from Siberia! They met last year on the Christus Rex pilgrimage, and make a lovely couple. We hope to hear wedding bells in the next few months, once they decide on the date; but the marriage will be over East, so I probably won't make it.

Mass and Engagement was followed by a feast at a nearby Asian restaurant, to which fourteen of us came - most of the people at Mass (I counted 25 communicants). A very happy day. And to imagine that last week we were all solemnly fasting on Good Friday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Limbus Anglicanorum

Everyone should have their own heresy - most of the clergy do, after all.

Mine is devout belief in the Limbus Anglicanorum, that is, a special Limbo for Anglicans.

Now, all know that the gates of heaven were closed from the Fall until Christ's triumph over death, when He reopened the everlasting gates that had been shut fast those many ages.

From this, and from accounts in the Scriptures of Sheol or Hades or Tartarus, etc., it is known that the souls of the righteous dead, awaiting Christ to deliver them, were not in Hell itself - else they would have perforce been tormented with the damned - but were to be found instead as if on its edge (limbus), separate from their offended God, but unpunished save by the absence of His Majesty (though of course God is present everywhere by reason of His boundlessness, and is present in the hearts of the just by His grace; nonetheless earth is not heaven, because there one beholds God face to face in the Beatific Vision, which all those souls lacked who died before Christ). This zone, called in the Gospel "Abraham's Bosom" (after one of its foremost inhabitants) is therefore styled the Limbus Patrum, the "Limbo (border-region) of the Fathers".

However, once Christ rose victorious o'er the grave, having burst the bonds and shattered the gates of hell, He drew all ransomed souls forth and led them forthwith into heaven, at least by the day of His Ascension, when He rose above and beyond all the heavens, by reason of His Divine plenitude of power being able to locate His Body outside of all space and time, in the empyrean heaven wherein reigns the Trinity above and beyond all creatures*.

(*For - says Augustine - God is beyond all things, yet not above them; within all things, yet not contained by them; beneath all things, yet not below them; around all things, yet not outside them.)

This left the Limbus Patrum empty.

But Nature abhors a vaccuum, saith the Philosopher. Again, Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity, avers William of Occam.

Hence God, in His all-seeing Providence, could not leave the Limbus Patrum empty, for that were a superfluous waste unbefitting Him.

It is clear, therefore, that this Limbo - distinct and separate from the Limbus Puerorum, the "Limbo of the Children" maintained for the unbaptized, as theologians have posited since Augustine, but yet sharing its property of being a place for the departed wherein is perfect natural happiness, but, alas, no Vision of nor communion with God - would not be suffered to remain empty, but would in due time be put back into use.

Hence, since "Outside the Church there is no salvation," and Anglicans are outside the Church, as all men know; and again, as the life of heaven is angelic, but these are not angels, but Anglicans (Non angeli, sed anglicani); and again, as the Anglican clergy customarily are "of the world, but not in it"; yet many among them have lived godly and pious lives in the esteem of mankind, as Thomas Ken, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Gregory Dix, and - some would add - their putative martyrs William Laud and Charles I, it would seem that these are spirits of a middle rank (Dryden, or Pope? I forget), neither fit for heaven nor worthy of hell, and so dropt down into a middle place: the Limbo of Anglicans.

Therein, the shade of C.S. Lewis takes tea with Ken and various other Non-Jurors (whose place in charity we assume is found with their sundered brethren), the soul of Lancelot Andrewes compares his pious meditations with those of Dorothy Sayers, and Gregory Dix works on the second edition of his magnum opus with William Laud, who had much practical experience in the pitfalls of being liturgical.

Comments, anyone?

Christ is Risen from the Dead

Beloved of Eastern Catholics and Orthodox alike is the Paschal Troparion, repeated numberless times in Eastertide, celebrating the victory of our Risen Christ over death, and His bestowal of life on us who were dead in sins - below find the Greek original, the Old Church Slavonic, the Ukrainian, the Latin, and the English (the two beaut video clips I have embedded make use of all these):

Χριστός ’ανέστη ’εκ νεκρών,
θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας,
και τοις ’εν τοις μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

Хрїстосъ воскресе изъ мертвыхъ,
Смертїю смерть поправъ,
И сѹщымъ во гробѣхъ
животъ даровавъ!

Христос воскрес із мертвих,
смертю смерть подолав,
і тим, що в гробах,
життя дарував!

Christus resurrexit a mortuis,
Morte mortem calcavit,
Et entibus in sepulchris
Vitam donavit.

Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

[Or, more literally:

[Christ has risen from the dead,
by death he has trampled on death,
and to those in the graves given life.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Donation #25

I've been a blood donor on and off over the last seven years or so, and have in the last year switched from making whole blood donations (which can be done quarterly) to plasma (which can be done as often as every fortnight). That said, this evening's was my first donation since the 19th of December!

Anyhow, at the price of some discomfort from the needle (I have a very low pain threshold, how wimpy), tonight's was number twenty-five, and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service therefore gave me a nice new ballpoint pen, to match the keyring earnt by five or so bleedings.

Give blood today! (Surely it is one of the corporeal works of mercy...)

To refortify myself, upon returning home I had steak and ale (as Bad Queen Bess had for breakfast): a ⅓kg slab of meat with the juices still running red, and a Grimbergen... a man's meal, to put hairs on the chest (no wonder Eliz. I never married). While I did feel lightheaded after the beer, didn't the doctor used to recommend that expectant mothers drink stout for nourishment? That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Then I did the washing-up (when you share with two other blokes, it can really pile up), and have just had a cuppa.

Greatly to my delight, as I came in the kitchen door I espied a package for me on the table: the facsimile edition of the 1738 Missale Parisiense that I bought from Shawn Tribe of NLM fame has finally arrived - after 79 days in transit - from British North America. In the heyday of Empire, a gentleman of leisure could have circumnavigated the globe at the same speed, as Verne tells it, and as a brave Yankee lady journalist proved.

Oh well. At least, now I again have access to a copy, I can blog with reference to its very interesting contents, liturgical and euchological in particular.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Joy

Today, after Confession, and praying Prime and some of Terce, I served the 12:10pm Mass for Fr Terence; strangely, only about four communicants presented themselves at the rails, but all was explained when I heard that the other two priests had said their Masses at 11am and 11:30 respectively! To prepare the better for his own Mass, Fr Terence had served the previous one. After the Sacrifice, I said the remainder of Terce, and Sext, as my thanksgiving. After lunch with our priests and some others, I finally got to None while in my car in the carwash...

Some Easter treasures from our Holy Mother the Church:

(1) the Paschal Vesper hymn (from Low Sunday onwards) Ad regias Agni dapes -

- which, in its modern recension in the Divine Office is the Ad cenam Agni providi, but, as used by the Dominicans and Benedictines is this Ad cenam Agni providi following, which has about half its verses (marked with the asterisk *) different to that in the modern books, let alone to the version in the Roman Breviary since Urban VIII:

Ad cenam Agni providi
* Et stolis albis candidi,
Post transitum Maris Rubri
Christo canamus principi.

Cujus corpus sanctissimum,
In ara crucis torridum:
*Cruore ejus roseo
*Gustando vivimus Deo.

Protecti Paschæ vespere
A devastante Angelo,
*Erepti de durissimo
*Pharaonis imperio.

Jam Pascha nostrum Christus est,
*Qui immolatus Agnus est:
Sinceritatis azyma
*Caro ejus oblatus est.

*O vere digna hostia,
Per quam fracta sunt tartara,
*Redempta plebs captivata,
*Reddita vitæ præmia!

Consurgit Christus tumulo,
Victor redit de barathro,
Tyrannum trudens vinculo,
*Et reserans paradisum.

*Quæsumus, Auctor omnium,
*In hoc paschali gaudio
*Ab omni mortis impetu
*Tuum defende populum.

*Gloria tibi, Domine,
*Qui surrexisti a mortuis,
*Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

(At the Lamb's high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from His pierced side.

(Praise we Him whose love divine
Gives the guests His Blood for wine,
Gives His Body for the feast,
Love the victim, love the priest.

(Where the Paschal blood poured,
Death's dark Angel sheathes his sword;
Israel's hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.

(Christ, the Lamb whose Blood was shed,
Paschal victim, Paschal bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we manna from above.

(Mighty Victim from the sky,
Powers of hell beneath Thee lie;
Death is conquered in the fight;
Thou hast brought us life and light.

(Now Thy banner Thou dost wave;
Vanquished Satan and the grave;
Angels join His praise to tell—
See o'erthrown the prince of hell.

(Paschal triumph, Paschal joy,
Only sin can this destroy;
From the death of sin set free,
Souls re-born, dear Lord, in Thee.

(Hymns of glory, songs of praise,
Father, unto Thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
Ever with the Spirit be.)

That great Pope, St Pius V, died while reciting the second-last verse: "We beseech Thee, O Author of all, in this [time of] Easter joy, from all motions of death to defend Thy people". I like to use this, and the fifth verse (but in the modern version - "O true, worthy Victim, by Whom Hell was smashed, a captive people redeemed, the prize of life returned!"), as my adoration at the Elevations in Paschaltide:

O vera, digna hostia,
Per quam franguntur tartara,
Captiva plebs redimitur,
Redduntur vitæ præmia!

Quæsumus, Auctor omnium,
In hoc paschali gaudio
Ab omni mortis impetu
Tuum defende populum.

(2) The passage from Colossians iii, 1-4, used as the Epistle at the Mass of the Easter Vigil, the first half of which, down to terram (vv. 1-2) is used at Prime daily:

Si consurrexistis cum Christo: quæ sursum sunt quærite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens:
quæ sursum sunt sapite, non quæ super terram.
Mortui enim estis, et vita vestra est abscondita cum Christo in Deo.
Cum Christus apparuerit, vita vestra: tunc et vos apparebitis cum ipso in gloria.

If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God:
Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.
For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.

(3) The collects for Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday:

Deus, qui solemnitate paschali, mundo remedia contulisti: populum tuum, quæsumus, cælesti dono prosequere; ut et perfectam libertatem consequi mereamur, et ad vitam proficiat sempiternam. Per...

(O God, who in the Paschal solemnity hast given a remedy to the world: we beseech Thee, further Thy people by heavenly gift, that they may both deserve to obtain perfect freedom, and profit unto life everlasting. Through...)

- This remedy, this celestial gift, is saving baptism, bestowed at the solemn Paschal vigil, by which alone, set free from sin's slavery, we may be set free in Christ (woe if we fall away! cf. Gal. iv, 31 - v, 1) and attain in Him eternal life -

Deus, qui Ecclesiam tuam novo semper fœtu multiplicas: concede famulis tuis: ut sacramentum vivendo teneant, quod fide perceperunt. Per...

(O God, who dost ever multiply Thy Church with new offspring: grant unto Thy servants, that they may keep hold of for living the sacrament, which by faith they received. Through...)

- The Sacraments, including Baptism, are sacraments of faith, for without faith they profit us not; and likewise, if the sacraments not be relied on and kept hold of that we may live by their grace, they are likewise profitless and serve only to merit us punishments for our falling away and abandonment of them, as we run heedlessly from life into death.

(4) The marvellous Easter Preface:

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, te quidem, Domine, omni tempore, sed in hoc potissimum die (vel in hoc potissimum) gloriosus prædicare, cum Pascha nostra immolatus est Christus. Ipse enim verus est agnus, qui abstulit peccata mundi; qui mortem nostram moriendo destruxit, et vitam resurgendo reparavit. Et ideo cum angelis et archangelis, cum thronis et dominationibus, cumque omni militia cælestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus...

(It is truly meet and just, right and salutary, to praise Thee, O Lord, at all times, but more especially on this day [or at this time] when Christ out Pasch was sacrificed [cf. I Cor. v, 7]. For he is the true lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world [cf. St John i, 29]; who by dying destroyed our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing: Holy...)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Roadtrip Report

Departure: about 1pm, Easter Sunday.

Return: about 8pm, Easter Monday.

Approximate distance covered: 400km+.

Having had a good sleep in till 11.30am, and having been at the Trad. Vigil, which suffices for Matins, Compline, and Lauds, all I had to read on Sunday at noon was Prayer during the Day from the Divine Office. Luxury!

Once dressed, packed and breakfasted, I drove from home about 20km to Good Shepherd Church, Kelmscott, with my car already packed by Fr Rowe the day before, prior to the Vigil, with vestments, candles, booklets, and whatnot (in other words, with everything needed for Mass at Bunbury, plus vestments for Kelmscott). The journey took about half an hour - then, upon arrival there, the vestments were unpacked, and, after making my Easter confession, I went to practise the music with Fr Terence (who was to play the none-too-reliable electric organ, as well as sing). Fr Richard joined us shortly before Mass began, just before 2pm. Fr Rowe and servers - including Aaron, who was bringing the Frs R. & T. on the trip in his car - processed in.

The proper Vidi aquam, Mass propers psalm-toned, Mass Orbis factor, Credo III, the Victimæ paschali, O filii et filiæ (solo by yours truly) at offertory and Ad regias Agni dapes at communion - after I made my Easter communion - some organ interludes, and "Through the Red Sea brought at last" for a recessional, comprised our modest and rather unevenly-executed programme. (The Ad regias Agni dapes is an especial favourite of mine, since it is so appropriate for the reception of Holy Communion in Eastertide, and I like in this season to use part of it as a prayer at the Elevation of the Host.) But of course this was but the ornament of the Holy Liturgy, in which we have seen the resurrection of Christ, once more made present in His Body and Blood as our feast and sacrifice, triumphant on the very day of His victory over death.

Fr Rowe gave a short sermon (based on an earlier remark of Fr T.) lampooning the local unbelieving Anglican Archbishop, for his comments in the newspaper to the effect that those believing in the literal, physical resurrection of Our Lord were "living in fairyland": as Fr Rowe pointed out, it is pretend clergy of a pretend church that are living in fairyland [as could be said quite literally of their Dean at St George's, BTW], and one may well ask why they bother at all with their ecclesiastical pretense: is this not hypocrisy? As the Apostle reminds us, If Christ be not risen, our faith is in vain - but He is risen, and His resurrection is our hope.

Come 3pm, Mass concluded, and - after some tasty sandwiches and fizzy cordial provided by the servers' mother - we headed off in convoy for Bunbury, that great metropolis of the South (population approx. 81,000). Along the way, not one but two stops for petrol! (Aaron thought, when I stopped to refuel, that he wouldn't need to fill up even though he had stopped at the servo too, but he revised that opinion further down the track, and, since they were following us, I had perforce to pull over as well.) Because of all this dawdling, we really had to rush... at least, en route, Fr Rowe led a Rosary for himself and me, and likewise the Chaplet of St Michael, and Vespers and Compline from the Roman Breviary, thus completing the cursus of the day prior to 6pm...

We arrived at St Thomas' Church in Carey Park (a suburb of Bunbury) at about a quarter to six in the afternoon, with most of the people already there and waiting for us. Fr Rowe sent Fr R. into the confessional, and lined up the prospective penitents, and then helter-skelter we all got ready for Mass. The music was the same as for Bunbury, albeit with only Fr T. and myself to sing, and a slightly less ill-behaved electric organ... Fr R. sang the Mass (which began a bit late, at about 6.15pm), and gave a beaut homily (which I suspect he was repeating from an earlier Easter Vigil); we finished by 7.15pm, and then had a good chat afterward with various of our friends and acquaintances - including the family of Peter, a sometime-commenter on this blog, who's currently visiting some Traditionalist Carmelites in America.

Aaron and his two priest-passengers headed off to stay with Michael, who often makes the commute to Perth to serve at the Pro.! But Fr Rowe and I were to stay with friends of ours, with whom he always stays and with whom I've stayed when I've done the Bunbury run with Fr before. Lucky us - Frank (our host) had some dhufish, a Western Australian delicacy, for us, which a mate had caught; lucky for us, since it can be $70 a kilo. A royal Easter feast; Frank shewed me the vintage car he's renovating also, which was quite something. And then, finally, to bed after ten.

Up at 7.30am, breakfasted, dressed, packed, and back to church (Aaron and Fr R. had already been in at 7am for a first Low Mass) for Low Mass at nine in the morning on this Easter Monday holiday: about twenty people came, and Fr Rowe gave them a sermon on the Scriptural proofs of the Resurrection, continuing our anti-Anglican theme. Aaron and the other priests arrived toward the end of Mass, and afterward, after the packing up, we split up - they went to visit the local Discalced Carmelite Nuns (concerning whom I blogged last year), while we went to visit Rosemary and family (Gerard her son was the server today, and he helped yesterday too), lovely people, and while there Fr and I joined them for brunch of bacon and eggs.

It wasn't till after twelve that we returned to St Thomas' to collect the pyx with the Sacred Host. (Fr Rowe takes communion to a shut-in in Mandurah as part of his round trip each month.) I had only past the first psalm of Matins, when he returned with Our Lord. From then till Mandurah, we had Rosary, Chaplet of St Michael, Vespers and Compline (! - he'd finished the rest already), Divine Mercy Chaplet, and so forth: it was a great privilege to travel with a priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament, tho' I didn't manage much more than a very conventional devotion.

Once in Mandurah, while Fr made the sick call I finished Matins and Lauds just about, and then we popped in to visit Gerald for lunch-cum-afternoon tea, during which Aaron and Frs T. and R. arrived, fresh from the same heavy traffic we'd had, but still delighted to have had converse with the nuns, who had all assembled in the large parlour, and had fed them quite a feast into the bargain. Very Catholic! But it was after 2pm by the time we had got to Mandurah, and didn't leave till half-past three: so, back to hard driving on the second-last lap.

Once en route, Fr decided to anticipate Matins and Lauds for Tuesday! So I felt very confused indeed with all this Office. Back at last to his presbytery, we unloaded everything, and to cut a long story short then I had to take him into town for the last Mass of the day at the Pro., not because he was to say it - Fr Terence did - but because he had to set up for the ceremonies afterward...

Arriving at the Orate fratres, by the time I'd run back to the car for my Breviary it was almost time for the consecration, and so I adored at the Elevations then prayed Prime, Terce and Sext, with a pause for a spiritual communion at the Ecce Agnus Dei. After the Last Gospel, Leonine Prayers, and Regina cæli, there was time to complete the Office with None.

[Does anyone else find the sequence Matins (interrupted), Vespers, Compline, Matins (continued), Lauds (interrupted, then completed), Matins of the next day, Lauds of the next day, then finally Prime, Terce, Sext and None of today rather bizarre? I felt disoriented.]

Then - the supplying the ceremonies of Baptism for little Augustina, who'd been laved in the waters of regeneration in the hospital soon after birth in an emergency; now all her friends and family were assembled, including me, who know her mother slightly. Fr Terence did a great job, catechising and preaching as he led us through the ceremonies, which were rounded off by enrolling her in the Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal, and consecrating her to Our Lady, as is the pious custom. What a beautiful end to Easter Monday: a tiny baby publically recognized as one of the newest members of the Mystical Body of Christ, as we celebrate with joy His triumphant resurrection.

I had been tired, but all this evening ritual restored me, and I joined everyone for a light supper in the garden by the church afterward, before finally driving back to my house.

It's been a great trip, but it is really good to be back home.

Happy Easter to all readers; if you're not clergy I doubt you've had quite so busy or churchy an Easter as I!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Risen Christ Appears to His Blessed Mother

As is the Tradition of the Church, upon His Resurrection, Our Lord appeared first to His Most Holy Mother, that she, being blessed among all women, might receive the firstfruits of Easter joy. When it was said by the angel, "He is risen, He is not here," well, that's where He was: gladdening the heart of the Most Blessed Virgin.

Regina cæli, lætare, alleluja!
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluja!
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluja!
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluja!

R/. Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluja!
V/. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluja!


Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Jesu Christi, mundum lætificare dignatus es; præsta, quæsumus; ut, per ejus Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R/. Amen.

It's five o'clock in the morning! I'd best go to bed!

Anniversary of Pope Benedict's Baptism

Early in the morning of Holy Saturday, 16th April 1927, the Ratzingers brought little Joseph, only a few hours old, to their church in their Bavarian village: in those days, today's evening Easter Vigil was anticipated in the morning, and the priest was happy to include in the ceremonies not merely the customary blessing of the font, but a baptism as well. “The more I think about it, the more fitting it seems that I was baptized on Easter Eve, not Easter,” the future Pope was to write; “We live in this world not in the full light of Easter, but journeying toward that light, full of hope.”

Christ Has Conquered Sin, Satan, Death, and Hell

Christus resurrexit! Surrexit vere!

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе!
(Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
(Christós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!)

Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.

Christ is Victor, Christ is Ruler, Christ is Lord of all: He has conquered, He has triumphed, He has harrowed hell, and snatched the human race from the tyranny of the devil. May He conquer us, may He triumph in us, may He harrow our souls, break the bars and chains, cast out every sin and snare, release us from bondage to Satan, and have us share in His Paschal conquest evermore. To Christ be glory forever, with the Father and Holy Ghost, one God in perfect Trinity: Amen.

To all in the blogosphere, a very happy Easter to you all!

It's after half-past three in the morning, and I've just given my friends a lift home after some beer and chocolate (Guinness, on top of a Corona, and a Lindt chocolate bunny each) at my place, after the Vigil. Please pray for Robert, as he screws up his courage to ask to be received into the Church; and for Tim, another new acquaintance and friend of a friend, who came to Mass for the first time tonight, and is very interested by the Faith, and I trust "not far from the kingdom of God": I offered up my Paschal Communion for them, since I felt for them as they were unable to receive Our Lord this most blessed night.

The Vigil of the Twelve Prophecies took just over an hour; four of us in rotation - Fr Terence, Justin, Aaron, and I - read the said prophecies in English (I had the choice passages from Genesis v-viii about Noe, from Baruch iii, and from Jonas iii regarding Nineveh), Justin and I sang the three canticles/tracts, and Fr Rowe chanted the collects, in Latin of course. The collects are really quite grand, and so long and involved as to seem more Gallican than Roman; the whole service I found a great exercise in the hallowed art of lectio divina, and the faithful who attended in preparation for the true Vigil to come would have been a good crowd at any weekday Mass, about thirty or so.

Then, off to St Brigid's to set up... The ceremonies began a little late, at 9.48pm, and the long Vigil lasted two hours; then came the glorious High Mass of the Resurrection, so we took three hours in total. Quartessence sang the chant, and much polyphony too; Justin and I assisted in soutane and surplice from the start till the end of the Vigil, for we sang two of the prophecies each - a difficult task, in Latin, especially since we had only learned the right cantillation this evening. I somehow got through it: pronouncing the text doesn't worry me, but I kept mucking up the drop of a fifth at the full stops through nervousness. It was a great relief, giving how hot and muggy it was, to change back into lay attire and go to the pews for the Mass itself.

It was windy outside, and lighting the Paschal Candle and keeping it lit proved difficult - O for the Serpent, that wondrous old threefold candle that nasty Bugnini et al. got rid of! Surprise, surprise, far from being an impediment it would have really been a great help in getting the light of Christ successfully transferred from the bonfire to the Candle in church. The Exultet and Prophecies came next and worked well, but why was it felt needful in the reforms of the 1950's to split the Litanies of the Saints in half, move the Sicut cervus, add to the already long blessing of the Font by tacking on an aspersion of the faithful and renewal of baptismal promises, and only then conclude the Litanies? It was rather cluncky and vexing, especially with the changes of vestments needed, and I wryly remarked to Justin that if Cranmer had done such a bad job as Bugnini certainly did with his liturgical tinkerings, then the BCP would never have lasted as long as it did!

(We felt a bit like the two grumpy old men from the Muppets, criticizing the service, but as Traddies I suppose that's par for the course - no disrespect to the reverend clergy! - for it was difficult to do the ceremonies in an unfamiliar church.)

Finally on a humorous note, tonight we saw the resurrection of the subdeacon! Recall that on Palm Sunday we lost him after the Passion... well, tonight the subdeacon arrived during the Prophecies... (On both occasions, the duty to assist at another Mass had meant that both had to skip part of the liturgy.)

Tonight's Epistle is a favourite text of mine (Colossians iii, 1-4):

Brethren: If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, Who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory.

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.

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...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spy Wednesday

I arrived at the Pro. at about ten to five o'clock, just after the consecration at Fr Terence's private Low Mass, the remainder of which I then heard, before going to the sacristy to vest for to serve the next Low Mass. Even with the reading of the St Luke Passion, this Mass only took forty minutes; Fr Terence came back to the sanctuary to read the Passion together with his confrere.

But then, after Mass, we had to carry a very heavy long kneeler over to the parish centre, which was being set up for the Good Friday Liturgy; I can now well imagine the weight of the Cross. More organization went on, with carrying of chairs and candles, and the stripping of the altar at the Pro. (since there will be no Mass there tomorrow).

Tourists coming by - as happens daily - were glad to find a spot for Mass, and delighted to see that "everything old is new again".

I thought I was now able to escape, but no! Fr Rowe wanted me to come round to his place to get the music organized for Easter Sunday at Kelmscott and Bunbury... so, after dropping Aaron at the train station and buying some Chimay to bring along, I ended up having dinner with three priests, and then practising the Vidi aquam, Ad regias Agni dapes, Missa Orbis factor, and various other ditties, before folding the Tenebræ booklets for Father.

It was after 10pm by the time I left and stopped off at the 24 hour supermarket on my way home; I nearly fell asleep in my car (after I parked, I hasten to add). And now, very soon, to bed...

But I cannot let this day pass without recalling with horror the wickedness of Judas, who this day so shamefully betrayed Our Lord for filthy lucre, as foretold by Zacharias the prophet (xi, 12-13; St Matthew xxvi, 15) - recalling that the Christian who sins sins worse than unhappy Judas, for the Christian ought know better.

R/. Revelabunt cæli iniquitatem Judæ, et terra adversus eum consurget: et manifestum erit peccatum illius in die furoris Domini, * Cum eis qui dixerunt Domino Deo: Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus.
V/. In die perditiones servabitur, et ad diem ultionis ducetur. * Cum eis qui dixerunt Domino Deo: Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus.
R/. Revelabunt cæli iniquitatem Judæ, et terra adversus eum consurget: et manifestum erit peccatum illius in die furoris Domini, * Cum eis qui dixerunt Domino Deo: Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus.

(R/. The heavens will reveal the iniquity of Judas and the earth will rise up against him; his sin will be manifest on the day of the Lord’s wrath. * He will be with those who have said to the Lord God, Depart from us, we do not desire the knowledge of your ways!
(V/. He will be kept for the day of destruction; to be led forth on the day of wrath. * He will be with those who have said to the Lord God, Depart from us, we do not desire the knowledge of your ways!
(R/. The heavens will reveal the iniquity of Judas and the earth will rise up against him; his sin will be manifest on the day of the Lord’s wrath. * He will be with those who have said to the Lord God, Depart from us, we do not desire the knowledge of your ways!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Week and Easter Schedule at St John's Pro-Cathedral

(NB Private Low Masses for Holy Wednesday: before and after 5pm, at the Pro.)

Maundy Thursday

8pm: Solemn High Mass and Adoration - at St Brigid's Church, Northbridge.

Good Friday

10am: Stations of the Cross - at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth.

1:30pm: Stations of the Cross - at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth.

3pm: Solemn Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Our Lord - in the hall at the Cathedral Parish Centre, Perth (just round the corner from the Pro., which will be too small to host the mass of the faithful; owing to all other parishes having their services at the same time, we were unable to obtain a church to make use of, and so will celebrate today's liturgy in very stark, albeit air-conditioned, surroundings, as had to be done for Christmas Midnight Mass).

7:30pm: Tenebrae - at St Brigid's Church, Northbridge. (His Grace the Archbishop will preside.)

Holy Saturday

7:30pm: Vigil of the Twelve Prophecies - at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth (these are being done as a standalone devotion, so as to have the pre-Pian lessons and still adhere to the 1962 Missal, as is proper).

9:30pm: Vigil of Holy Saturday and Solemn High Mass of Easter - at St Brigid's Church, Northbridge.

Easter Sunday

7:30am (sung), 9:15am (Solemn High), and 11:15am (Low): Masses - at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth.

2pm: Sung Mass - at Good Shepherd Church, Kelmscott.

6pm: Sung Mass - at St Thomas' Church, Carey Park (in Bunbury).

Easter Monday

9am: Low Mass - at St Thomas' Church, Carey Park (in Bunbury).

5.30pm: Low Mass - at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth.

It goes without saying that the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum will be solemnized with chant and polyphony, as is most just.

After attending the ceremonies of the Thursday and Friday, culminating with Saturday's Vigil (both of them!), and hopefully my usual 9.15am Sunday Mass at the Pro., I will be driving out to and singing at the Kelmscott Easter Sunday Mass, and then travelling down to Bunbury with priests, servers, and friends, for the sung Mass(es) there in the evening and next morning, and returning on Monday to Perth for - more Masses. Hopefully we will have sung Mass every day of the Octave, as we did last year. Stay tuned for my reports!

Akathist: Threnody of the Theotokos

An akathist is really a metrical homily; the most famous are by that great sainted deacon, Romanos the Melodist. In the Byzantine Liturgy, only the first Kontakion and Oikos are now sung, apart from the Akathist, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, done as a Lenten devotion; but in private prayer they are often used. I have transcribed this extract, the Threnody of the Theotokos, as given in one of the two great Marian collections by Fr Gambero; it is instructive to compare it to its Western equivalent, the Stabat Mater, one of my favourite hymns. (Similarly, the icon pictured is of the Παναγία η Θρηνωδούσα, analogous to the Mater dolorosa.)

Truly it is a wonderful piece, this; the depth of Scriptural knowledge and theology built on the same revealed herein is great; I was particularly gladdened to see in the 5th-last oikos an allusion to the title of this blog: "sing with understanding".

Akathist in honour of the Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross
by St Romanos the Melodist


Come, let us all celebrate him who was crucified for us: for Mary looked on him upon the cross and said: “Though you endure crucifixion, yet you are my son, my God.”


Worn out with grief, Mary, the ewe, seeing her own lamb taken to the slaughter, followed with the other women and cried: “Where are you going, my child? For whose sake are you finishing this swift race? Is there yet another marriage in Cana, and are you hastening there now to change the water into wine for them? Shall I go with you, child, or shall I rather wait for you? Speak to me, O Word; do not pass me by in silence; for you kept me in my purity, my son, my God.


“I never thought I would see you, my child, in such necessity nor did I ever believe that the lawless would rage so, and unjustly stretch out their hands against you; for still their infants cry “Hosanna” to you; still the road is strewn with palm-branches proclaiming to all how the lawless had sung your praises. And now a worse deed is done, and for whose sake? Alas; how is my light snuffed out, how to a cross is nailed my son, my God.

“You are going to unjust slaughter, my child, and no one is suffering with you. Peter does not go with you, Peter who had said to you: ‘Never shall I deny you even though I die.’ Thomas deserted you, Thomas who cried, ‘Let us all die with him.’ The others too, the friends and companions who were to judge the tribes of Israel, where are they now? None of them is here; but one, alone, for the sake of them all, you are dying, my child; because instead of them you have saved all, because instead of them you have loved all, my son, my God.”

Mary cried thus, from her heavy grief; and as she wailed and wept in her very deep sorrow, her son turned to her and said: “Why, mother, do you weep? Why do you grieve with the other women? Lest I suffer? Lest I die? How then should I save Adam? Lest I dwell in the tomb? How then should I draw to life those in Hades? And yet, as you know, I am crucified most unjustly. Why do you weep, my mother? Rather cry out thus, that willingly I suffered, your son, your God.

“Put aside your grief, mother, put it aside; mourning is not right for you who have been called the All-favoured. Do not conceal the title with weeping; do not liken yourself, wise maid, to those with no understanding. You are in the centre of my bridal chamber; do not consume your soul as though you were standing outside. Address those within the bridal chamber as your servants; for all, when they rush in terror, will hear you, holy one, when you say: ‘Where is my son, my God?’

“Do not make the day of my suffering a bitter day; it is for this day that I, the compassionate, (now) descended from heaven as manna, not upon Mount Sinai but in your womb; for within it I was conceived, David once foretold. Recognize, holy one, the ‘mountain God delighted to dwell in’; I now exist, I, the Word, who in you became flesh. This day I suffer and this day I save; do not therefore weep, mother. Rather cry out in joy: ‘Willingly he suffered, my son, my God.’”

“See, my child,” she said, “I wipe the tears from my eyes, though my heart I wear down still more; but my thoughts cannot be silent. Why, offspring, do you say to me: ‘If I do not die, Adam will not be healed’? And yet, without suffering yourself, you have healed many. You made the leper clean and have felt no pain, for so you will it. You bound the paralytic together, yet you yourself were not undone. Again, when by your word you gave sight to the blind, you yourself, good one, remained unharmed, my son, my God.

“You raised the dead but did not yourself die, nor, my son and my life, were you laid within the grave. How then can you say, ‘Unless I suffer Adam will not be healed’? Command, my saviour, and he will rise at once and take up his bed. And even if Adam is covered by a tomb, call him forth, as you called Lazarus from the grave; for all things serve you; you are the creator of all. Why then do you hasten, my child? Do not rush to the slaughter, do not embrace death, my son, my God.”

“You do not know, mother, you do not know what I say. Therefore open your mind and take in the words you hear, and consider on your own what I say. This miserable Adam, of whom I spoke before, who is sick not only in body but yet more so in his soul, is sick of his own will; for he did not obey me, and is in danger. You know what I say – therefore do not weep, mother; rather cry out: ‘Take pity on Adam, and show compassion to Eve, my son, my God.’

“Adam, sick through debauchery, through gluttony, was led down to deepest Hell, and there he weeps for the suffering of his soul; and Eve, who once taught him disobedience, grieves with him and languishes with him, that together they may learn to heed the Healer’s word. Now, do you see? Do you understand what I have said? Cry out again, mother: ‘If you forgive Adam, forgive also Eve, my son, my God.’”

And when the blameless ewe heard this, she answered to her lamb: “My Lord, if I speak yet once more, do not be angry with me. I shall tell you what is on my mind, so that I may learn from you all I wish to know. If you suffer, if you die, will you come back to me? If you heal Adam, and Eve with him, shall I see you again? For my fear is that from the tomb you may hasten to Heaven, my child; and I, searching to see you, shall weep and cry our: ‘Where is my son, my God?’”

When he who knows of all things before their birth heard this, he answered Mary: “Take courage, mother, for you shall be the first to see me (risen) from the tomb; and I shall come to show you from what suffering I liberated Adam and how much I sweated for his sake. I shall reveal it to my friends and show them the tokens in my hands; and then, mother, you shall see Eve living as before, and you shall cry out for joy: ‘He saved my parents, my son, my God.’

“Endure a little, mother, and you shall see how I, like a healer, divest myself and come to where they lie, and how I heal their wounds, cutting their callouses and scabs with the lance; and I shall take the vinegar and with it bathe their wounds; I shall open the wound with the chisel (made) of the nails and dress it with the cloak, and my cross I shall use, mother, as a splint, that you may sing with understanding: ‘By suffering he freed us from suffering, my son, my God.’

“Put aside your grief, mother, put it aside, and go in joy; for now I hasten to fulfil that for which I came, the will of him who sent me. For from the first this was resolved by me and by my Father, and it was never displeasing to my spirit; that I become man and suffer for him who had fallen. Hasten then, mother, and announce to all that ‘By suffering he lays low the hater of Adam, and comes as a conqueror, my son, my God.’”

“I am overcome, my child, overcome by love, and truly I cannot bear it, that I am to be in my room while you are on the cross, I within my house, you within the tomb. Therefore let me go with you, for it heals me to look upon you, I shall look upon the outrageous daring of those who honour Moses: for these blind men, pretending to be his avengers, have come here to kill you. But what Moses said to Israel was this: ‘You will see life hanging on the cross.’ And what is life? My son and my God.”

“If you come with me, mother, do not weep, and do not tremble if you see the elements shaken. For this outrage will make all creation tremble: the sky will be blinded and not open its eyes until I speak; then the earth and the sea together will hasten to disappear, and the temple will rend its veil against the perpetrators of this outrage. The mountains will be shaken, the graves emptied. If, like a woman, you are seized by fear when you see this, cry out to me: ‘Spare me, my son, my God.’”

Son of the Virgin, God of the Virgin, and creator of the world: yours is the suffering, yours the depths of wisdom. You know what you were and what you became; because you were willing to suffer, you deigned to come and save mankind. Like a lamb you have lifted our sins from us, and you have abolished them by your sacrifice, my Saviour, and saved every man. You exist both in suffering and in not suffering; by dying you save, and you have given to the holy lady freedom to cry to you: “My son and my God.”

St Mark Passion

Having been shriven this even, but not having heard Mass, I thought it appropriate, seeing as my soul has again been laved in the Lamb's Blood, to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the account of the Passion given at Mass today, from the Gospel of St Mark. For the sacraments are graced moments wherein the merits of the Passion of Christ are applied to us by Our Lord Himself, the true and only Priest, acting through His ministers, His Body being the physical instrument of His Divinity for meriting and dispensing grace - "power went out from Him, and healed them all" (St Luke vi, 19).

As the Collect of today's Office says:

All-powerful, ever-living God,
may our sacramental celebration of the Lord's passion
bring us your forgiveness.

(Among the reforms of Holy Week under good Pope Pius XII, the Synoptic accounts of the Passion were all shortened by about 30 verses or more, by beginning with the Agony in the Garden, and omitting the accounts of the Last Supper &c.; previously, each had been two full chapters, omitting only a few of the last verses thereof - St Mark xv, 47 and St Luke xxiii, 54-56 - rather than being cut down to only 1½ chapters. The St John Passion on Good Friday remained sacrosanct. I indicate the omitted portion by using square brackets, and follow it with a short phrase substituted for it, between asterisks.)

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

At that time:
[the feast of the pasch, and of the Azymes was after two days; and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might by some wile lay hold on him, and kill him. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest there should be a tumult among the people.

[And when he was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard: and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head. Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said: Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her.

[And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

[Now on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the pasch, the disciples say to him: Whither wilt thou that we go, and prepare for thee to eat the pasch? And he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith to them: Go ye into the city; and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him; And whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The master saith, Where is my refectory, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will show you a large dining room furnished; and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city; and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch.

[And when evening was come, he cometh with the twelve. And when they were at table and eating, Jesus saith: Amen I say to you, one of you that eateth with me shall betray me. But they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one: Is it I? Who saith to them: One of the twelve, who dippeth with me his hand in the dish. And the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born. And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many. Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.

[And when they had said an hymn, they went forth to the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith to them: You will all be scandalized in my regard this night; for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed. But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter saith to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, yet not I. And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, today, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shall deny me thrice. But he spoke the more vehemently: Although I should die together with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all.

[And they]
*Jesus and his disciples* came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. And he taketh Peter and James and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from him. And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. And when he returned, he found them again asleep, (for their eyes were heavy,) and they knew not what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough: the hour is come: behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go. Behold, he that will betray me is at hand.

And while he was yet speaking, cometh Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve: and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the ancients. And he that betrayed him, had given them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he; lay hold on him, and lead him away carefully. And when he was come, immediately going up to him, he saith: Hail, Rabbi; and he kissed him. But they laid hands on him, and held him. And one of them that stood by, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the chief priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus answering, said to them: Are you come out as to a robber, with swords and staves to apprehend me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me. But that the scriptures may be fulfilled. Then his disciples leaving him, all fled away. And a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and they laid hold on him. But he, casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked.

And they brought Jesus to the high priest; and all the priests and the scribes and the ancients assembled together. And Peter followed him from afar off, even into the court of the high priest; and he sat with the servants at the fire, and warmed himself. And the chief priests and all the council sought for evidence against Jesus, that they might put him to death, and found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their evidences were not agreeing. And some rising up, bore false witness against him, saying: We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another not made with hands. And their witness did not agree. And the high priest rising up in the midst, asked Jesus, saying: Answerest thou nothing to the things that are laid to thy charge by these men? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him: Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed God? And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rending his garments, saith: What need we any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What think you? Who all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him: Prophesy: and the servants struck him with the palms of their hands.

Now when Peter was in the court below, there cometh one of the maidservants of the high priest. And when she had seen Peter warming himself, looking on him she saith: Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying: I neither know nor understand what thou sayest. And he went forth before the court; and the cock crew. And again a maidservant seeing him, began to say to the standers by: This is one of them. But he denied again. And after a while they that stood by said again to Peter: Surely thou art one of them; for thou art also a Galilean. But he began to curse and to swear, saying; I know not this man of whom you speak. And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said unto him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny me. And he began to weep.

And straightway in the morning, the chief priests holding a consultation with the ancients and the scribes and the whole council, binding Jesus, led him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him: Art thou the king of the Jews? But he answering, saith to him: Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him in many things. And Pilate again asked him, saying: Answerest thou nothing? behold in how many things they accuse thee. But Jesus still answered nothing; so that Pilate wondered.

Now on the festival day he was wont to release unto them one of the prisoners, whomsoever they demanded. And there was one called Barabbas, who was put in prison with some seditious men, who in the sedition had committed murder. And when the multitude was come up, they began to desire that he would do, as he had ever done unto them. And Pilate answered them, and said: Will you that I release to you the king of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him up out of envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas to them. And Pilate again answering, saith to them: What will you then that I do to the king of the Jews? But they again cried out: Crucify him. And Pilate saith to them: Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more: Crucify him. And so Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

And the soldiers led him away into the court of the palace, and they called together the whole band: And they clothe him with purple, and platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him. And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews. And they struck his head with a reed: and they did spit on him. And bowing their knees, they adored him. And after they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own garments on him, and they led him out to crucify him.

And they forced one Simon a Cyrenian who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up his cross. And they bring him into the place called Golgotha, which being interpreted is, The place of Calvary. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but he took it not. And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the inscription of his cause was written over: The King of the Jews. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed. And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again; Save thyself, coming down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests mocking, said with the scribes one to another: He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of the standers by hearing, said: Behold he calleth Elias. And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar, and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: Stay, let us see if Elias come to take him down. And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.

(Here all kneel and pause for a few moments.)

And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God. And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph, and Salome: who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.

And when evening was now come, (because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before the sabbath,) Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counsellor, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. But Pilate wondered that he should be already dead. And sending for the centurion, he asked him if he were already dead. And when he had understood it by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Six days before the Pasch

Ante sex dies Paschæ... (St John xii, 1-9) - Our Lord dines with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, whom He restored to life; and Mary anoints Him as for burial; Judas the thief complains at all the fuss. Six days before the Passover...

I heard this Gospel thrice this afternoon, once in prayer with others, and then twice at the Pro., where I heard one Low Mass and then served a second. The passage appointed for the Epistle (from Isaias l, 5-10) was one of the great Passion prophecies. As always, the orations of the Mass are pregnant with meaning:

Grant, we beseech, almighty God, that we, who fail by reason of our infirmity in so many adversities, may breathe again by the pleading of the Passion of Thine Onlybegotten Son: Who with Thee liveth...

Cleansed by the potent power of these sacrifices, almighty God, may they make us to come more purified to their source. Through...

May Thy holy gifts, Lord, inspire us with divine fervour, that we may both delight in their celebration and in their fruit. Through...

Help us, O God of our salvation, and grant that we may come joyfully to recollect the benefits whereby Thou hast deigned to restore us. Through...

French Baroque Lamentations

This time of year I always turn to Marc-Antoine Charpentier, my favourite composer, and play some CD's of his settings of the Lamentations, and some of the Responsories, for Tenebræ, along with psalms therefor in faux-bourdon.

The embedded music is a setting by Charpentier of the 3rd Lesson for Matins of Maundy Thursday (Lam. i, 10-14):

Jod. Manum suam misit hostis ad omnia desiderabilia ejus, quia vidit gentes ingressas sanctuarium suum, de quibus præceperas ne intrarent in ecclesiam tuam.
Caph. Omnis populus ejus gemens, et quærens panem; dederunt pretiosa quæque pro cibo ad refocillandam animam. Vide, Domine, et considera quoniam facta sum vilis!
Lamed. O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite, et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus! quoniam vindemiavit me, ut locutus est Dominus, in die iræ furoris sui.
Mem. De excelso misit ignem in ossibus meis, et erudivit me: expandit rete pedibus meis, convertit me retrorsum; posuit me desolatam, tota die mœrore confectam.
Nun. Vigilavit jugum iniquitatum mearum; in manu ejus convolutæ sunt, et impositæ collo meo. Infirmata est virtus mea: dedit me Dominus in manu de qua non potero surgere.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum, Deum tuum.

Jod. The enemy hath put out his hand to all her desirable things: for she hath seen the Gentiles enter into her sanctuary, of whom thou gavest commandment that they should not enter into thy church.
Caph. All her people sigh, they seek bread: they have given all their precious things for food to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider, for I am become vile.
Lamed. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow: for he hath made a vintage of me, as the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger.
Mem. From above he hath sent fire into my bones, and hath chastised me: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate, wasted with sorrow all the day long.
Nun. The yoke of my iniquities hath watched: they are folded together in his hand, and put upon my neck: my strength is weakened: the Lord hath delivered me into a hand out of which I am not able to rise.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord, thy God.

What wonders, the Lamentations, how moving unto tears; the plaints over the ruined city that once sat so proud, and now for her idolatry, her spiritual fornication - one the image of the other, both profound degradations of all that is good in man - cast down to the dust. We sing them, recalling that the Synagogue was abandoned when she tragically rejected the long-promised Christ; we sing them, recalling that for our sins we deserve to be forsaken not less, but more; we sing them, recalling all the sufferings of Christ's Church, casta meretrix; we sing them, knowing Him Who has taken all sin onto Himself, that from sin we might be set free.

The Second Book of Paralipomenon (xxxvi, 11-19) provides a preface, as it were, to the Lamentations, to be taken in both its literal and mystical senses:

Sedecias was one and twenty years old when he began to reign: and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God, and did not reverence the face of Jeremias the prophet speaking to him from the mouth of the Lord.
He also revolted from king Nabuchodonosor, who had made him swear by God: and he hardened his neck and his heart, from returning to the Lord the God of Israel.
Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people wickedly transgressed according to all the abominations of the Gentiles: and they defiled the house of the Lord, which he had sanctified to himself in Jerusalem.
And the Lord the God of their fathers sent to them, by the hand of his messengers, rising early, and daily admonishing them: because he spared his people and his dwelling place.
But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused the prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, and there was no remedy.
For he brought upon them the king of the Chaldeans, and he slew their young men with the sword in the house of his sanctuary, he had no compassion on young man, or maiden, old man or even him that stooped for age, but he delivered them all into his hands.
And all the vessels of the house of the Lord, great and small, and the treasures of the temple and of the king, and of the princes he carried away to Babylon.
And the enemies set fire to the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burnt all the towers, and whatsoever was precious they destroyed.

May God have mercy on us, that we not perish as did Jerusalem of old!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Three Masses

I am going to do what I have never done, and omit all today's Office except for Compline. After singing at the 9.15am High Mass (which ended at 11am), then driving some of the reverend clergy out to Kelmscott for to join them in singing at the Missa Cantata there (2.05pm till about 3.25pm), returning to Fr Rowe's place and rustling up food and drink for three, then going over to St Bridget's to help ferry church supplies for a funeral there tomorrow, and, last but not least, driving back to the Pro. to serve a Low Mass for a visiting priest who had bolstered the choir for the earlier Masses, I really think I've done enough for to-day.

If more than one Mass relieves priests of their obligation to the Office, by the same logic a layman nowise bound thereto (but for his love thereof) may without scruple - indeed, in order to prevent and abolish any scruple - most rationally omit it, after singing at two and serving one. So I shall.

As for today's music - 'twas great to sing the Pueri Hebræorum (both chants), the Gloria laus et honor, and - albeit it with difficulty and mistakes, owing to lack of practice - the Proper of the Mass. I really stuffed up the Communion, since we were to sing psalm-verses with it (in itself, it's easy), and fitting the Introit-style psalm-tone to unseen text was a bit much for me; I've asked my betters to shush me lest I ruin something like that again, rather than realize I shouldn't blunder on, mea culpa.

High Mass, BTW, was unique in that it featured 2½ priests - Fr Holmes, the subdeacon, had another Mass to say elsewhere, and had to doff his tunicle and speed away after the Passion had been read, leaving Fr Terence Mary Naughtin O.F.M. Conv. (here to assist for Holy Week and Easter Week) to make do with Fr Rowe as deacon sine subdiacono!

Strange to say, singing Mass was much easier second time round! - especially as we psalm-toned not just the Tract, but the Gradual and Offertory as well. This left time to sing the superb Vexilla regis at the offertory, and the simple tone of the Stabat Mater at Communion: both are among my favourite hymns.

Oh, and at both Masses we sang "All glory, laud and honour" while the priest revested for Mass after the Procession, and at the second Mass we ended with "Hail Redeemer, King Divine". Fr Rowe had preached a fervorino, reminding us that the Procession with palms has no purpose other than to glorify the kingship and victory of God and His Christ, and our bearing the palms is to summon us to imitate the saints, oft portrayed (the martyrs in especial, as is most proper) holding the palm of victory - would that we may so walk as to persevere in this unto death, unto the gates of the new and eternal Jerusalem, that we may with all the angels and saints forever celebrate the triumph of Our Lord in heaven.

Serving a private Low Mass was a last delight today: it struck me how the Roman liturgy (since the solemn ceremony of Good Friday is sui generis, and not a Mass) uses today - and also the coming Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week - to offer the Sacrifice in special memory of the Passion, and hearing the appointed short Gospel of the Crucifixion and Death of Christ our God (St Matthew xxvii, 45-52) and the proper Last Gospel of His Entry into Jerusalem (St Matthew xxi, 1-9 - that of the Palms otherwise), after the earlier, longer ceremonies helped crystallize the importance of this day.

All Glory Laud and Honour

Neale's famous translation of Theodulph's great hymn always brings tears to my eyes, thinking of today's triumphant welcome given to Christ our King, and his fast-coming rejection, condemnation, insulting and death; hear the tune, read the words, and sing it to yourself courtesy of Cyberhymnal.

Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor!

Now I must fly: time to get ready to drive to Mass, and sing. We'll be having Solemn High Mass this morning, and in the afternoon, at Kelmscott, we'll do it all again with a Missa Cantata.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Daytrip to New Norcia

I decided (after Low Mass of St Joseph this morning, and a doctor's appointment, and some coffee and the newspaper, and...) to go for a drive out to New Norcia, that famous monastic settlement about 130km north of Perth. Upon arriving, I remembered that a relative of mine was out there too this weekend, and paid her a brief visit. My main aim had in fact been to look at their secondhand books, but these were pretty slim pickings as it turned out. I paid a brief visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and to the wonderworking image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, given by St Vincent Palotti to Dom Rosendo Salvado - which averted a bushfire in 1847, in the earliest days of the monastery; the event is still commemorated at the abbey in their Office each year - and said None in the church before I left. I must say, I find the abbey overcommercialized and not terribly prayerful: gawping tourists made even praying in the church a trial.

Ferial Mass

Owing to all the confusion over which Ordo to follow, we ended up having Low Mass of the feria (with commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows), and will do St Patrick after Low Sunday!

I was secretly glad (despite having said Office of the Saint); there were some gems in the Proper for Friday of Passion week: all the orations (vide infra); the phrase (Jer. xvii, 14) in the Epistle, Sana me, Domine, et sanabor: salvum me fac, et salvus ero: quoniam laus mea tu es ("Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed: save me, and I shall be saved: for Thou art my praise"); the Gospel pericope (St John xi, 47-54) setting the scene for Our Lord's Passion, since it details the conspiring of the chief priests and pharisees, their fear that the Romans will come to destroy the Temple and the nation - which in the end all their machinations only provoked, not prevented, O tragic treachery! - and the unconscious prophecy of Caiphas, that it is expedient for one man to die for the people, to which the Evangelist adds "he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God that were dispersed".

The orations:

Cordibus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, gratiam tuam benignus infunde: ut peccata nostra castigatione voluntaria cohibentes, temporaliter potius maceremur, quam suppliciis deputemur æternis. Per...

(Pour forth Thy grace into our hearts, we beseeech Thee, Lord, that we who refrain from sin by self-denial, may rather afflicted in time than condemned to punishment in eternity. Through...)

How appropriate a post-confession prayer is this collect! And for Our Lady of Sorrows, invoking with her all the Saints who have taken their stand beneath the Cross:

Deus, in cujus passióne, secúndum Simeónis prophétiam, dulcíssimam ánimam gloriosæ Vírginis et Matris Maríæ dolóris gládius pertransívit: concéde propítius; ut, qui transfixiónem ejus et passiónem venerándo recolimus, gloriosis meritis et précibus ómnium Sanctórum cruci fideliter astántium intercedéntibus, passiónis tuæ effectum felicem consequámur: Qui vivis et regnas...

(O God, in Whose passion the sword of grief did pierce the gentle soul of the glorious Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, that so might be fulfilled the word of thy Prophet Simeon: mercifully grant that we who here do call to mind the suffering whereby she was pierced, may by the glorious merits and prayers of all the Saints who have faithfully stood beneath the Cross, be filled with the blessed fruits of Thy passion. Who livest and reignest...)

Præsta nobis, misericors Deus: ut digne tuis servire semper altaribus mereamur; et eorum perpetua participatione salvari. Per...

(Grant unto us, merciful God, that we may deserve ever worthily to minister at Thine altars, and to be saved by our constant participation thereat. Through...)

This secret, too, admirably sums up what we hope to do and thus to gain from our attendance upon the Divine service, and the second secret reinforces the sentiments of the second collect:

Offerimus tibi preces et hostias, Domine Jesu Christe, humiliter supplicantes: ut, qui Transfixionem dulcissimi spiritus beatae Mariae, Matris tuae, precibus recensemus; suo, suorumque sub Cruce Sanctorum consortium multiplicato piissimo interventu, meritis mortis tuae, meritum cum beatis habeamus. Qui vivis...

(We offer unto Thee prayers and oblations, Lord Jesu Christ, humbly beseeching that we, who recall in our prayers the transfixion of the most sweet spirit of blessed Mary, Thy Mother, through the merits of Thy death and by the most pious multiplied intervention of her and of her holy companions beneath the Cross, may share the reward of the blessed. Who livest...)

The postcommunions emphasise well the hoped-for fruits of the Sacrament:

Sumpti sacrificii, Domine, perpetua nos tuitio non derelinquat: et noxia semper a nobis cuncta depellat. Per...

(May the protection of the sacrifice we have received not forsake us, Lord, but ever keep from us all that is harmful. Through...)

Sacrificia, quae sumpsimus, Domine Jesu Christe, Transfixionem Matris tuae et Virginis devote celebrantes: nobis impetrent apud clementiam tuam omnis boni salutaris effectum. Qui vivis...

Previous to the Mass, we had had Stations of the Cross, with the singing of the Stabat Mater, and constant reflection on the suffering of Him Who so loves man as to die for us sinners. It made for an excellent and healthful meditation, especially after having made my humble confession, and prayed the Rosary with some slight attention.