Friday, July 24, 2009

Placebo and Dirge

The perfect devotion for a cold rainy Friday, after watching some horror: sitting in my study, reading Vespers, then Matins (Nocturn II) and Lauds of the Dead - what our longfathers before us called Placebo and Dirge (Dirige) from the first antiphons of these Offices. It is not for nothing that the sacred liturgy bids us pray for the dead by putting on our lips first-person cries for mercy, and the anguish of Job. "Man, born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many miseries..." (Job xiv, 1 - the opening of the first Lesson of Nocturn II.)

But thanks be to God! "When the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law..." (Gal. iv, 4-5a) - here is the answer to the questionings of Job. The Hours of the Blessed Virgin go with the Office of the Dead very well: point counterpoint. Having read her Hours (but for Compline), the late evening hour was right for the thought of the last things.

And so, fortified, off to bed.

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