Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hope not Fear

Θλῖψις, thlipsis - "distress" (hardship, suffering, trouble, being hard-pressed): what a great word, rolling tripping off the tongue... it pops up in the readings at ordinary Mass this Sunday, the penultimate of the Church's Year of grace.

"Deliver us from all anxiety," as the priest prays at the altar!

The world will come to an end, we know not when; but this knowledge, combined with our apprehension of all the stupidities, cruelties, tragedies and violence in this and every age, ought not drive us to despair: for God the Lord holds all of man's broken history in His hand, and - being so powerful as to draw good even out of evil - is silently, secretly directing all things toward their fulfilment in Christ. Of ourselves, we would indeed succumb to despair if we were without faith (as Vatican II in one of its wiser passages affirms); but because as believers we are in Christ, we know that in Him is our only hope, a hope unshakeable - we must not be as the pagans who have no hope, and so wallow in every form of distraction to dull their sense of futility and ineluctable doom. Therefore, we ought live godly, sober and righteous lives, serving God above all and loving our neighbour for His sake, "alert not alarmed", keeping watch and vigil, not in dread but in the joyful expectation of the return of Christ in glory and power almighty.

(Some thoughts based upon Fr Greg's sermon this morning at Carmel.)


The music at Carmel was much as it always is: a (rather slow) hymn to start and end with; the Ordinary sung in Gregorian chant (but the Creed said by all); the nuns' singing the Responsorial Psalm, Alleluia verse, and Communion verse to some simple tone (Gelineau?); the Memorial Acclamation (that unfortunate innovation), "Great" Amen and Lord's Prayer sung also, and the rest of the liturgy said.

As is the custom, the chant for the Ordinary was taken from different Masses: the opening Kyrie and Gloria were short and syllabic settings, presumably for ease of singing and to avoid too much delay - as the nuns sing very slowly - while the Sanctus and Agnus Dei were more melismatic, being shorter texts able to be sung out with more complexity:
  • Kyrie from Mass XVI (for ferias);
  • Gloria from Mass XV (Dominator Deus, for simple feasts);
  • Sanctus from Mass IX (Cum jubilo, for feasts of Our Lady);
  • Agnus Dei from Mass IX also;
  • O sacrum convivium, in a simplified chant setting (I must get a copy!), sung after Communion - it made an excellent spur for meditation on the ineffable benefits of receiving Our Lord.
(These settings of the chants of the Mass I learnt first by ear through attendance at Mass at Carmel - only later, having to sing from a book at a Traditional Latin Mass, did I discover which Masses they came from.)

Yesterday was the feast of All Saints of Carmel, and to-morrow, All Carmelite Souls (transferred from to-day); next Saturday will be the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, and is Pro Orantibus day, when we all should pray for cloistered contemplatives. From the modern Carmelite Missal:

I will bring them to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; for my house is a house of prayer for all the peoples. (Is 56:7a,c)

Lord, may the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, and the prayers of all the Saints of Carmel help us to walk steadfastly in their footsteps, and by our prayers and good works ever further the cause of your Church. Through...

Lord, you are the glory of those who serve you. Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters, united in following Christ and his Mother by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel. In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you, their Creator and Redeemer. Through...

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