Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St Peter Canisius and the Sacred Heart

Delighted to learn of Br Paul's impending solemn profession, to be held on the feast of the Sacred Heart, I recalled that St Peter Canisius, yesterday's saint in the traditional calendar, had had a glorious vision of the Sacred Heart which the modern Office (celebrating him on the 21st of December) movingly recounts in his very own words as the second reading for his feast:

Before Saint Peter Canisius, who is deservedly called the second apostle of Germany, set out on his mission to that country, he received the Pope's apostolic blessing.  This was the occasion of an intense spiritual experience, which he describes in the following words:

'Eternal High Priest, in your immense goodness you moved me to seek confirmation of the papal blessing and success in carrying it out, from your holy apostles Peter and Paul... in the Vatican... [where] I felt your gracious presence and consolation, granted to me through their prayers.

'They gave me your blessing and confirmed my mission in Germany.  They seemed indeed to be promising their assistance to me as though to the apostle of Germany.  ... Lord,... you commended Germany to me... My desire was to live and die for Germany.

'Then it was as if you opened the heart in your most holy body to me, so that I could look right inside of it there before me.  You commanded me to drink from that source.  You invited me to draw the waters of my salvation from your fountains, you, my Saviour.  How strong at that moment was my desire that streams of faith, hope and charity might overflow from it into me.  I thirsted after poverty, chastity and obedience.  I begged to be washed clean all over and to be clothed and adorned by you.  After I had dared to approach your heart, so full of sweetness, there to satisfy my thirst, you promised me a robe to cover the nakedness of my soul.  It was to be a robe woven of three strands - peace, love and perseverance - qualities so fitting for this occasion of my vows.  With this garment of salvation to protect me, I grew confident that I would lack for nothing and all would turn out for your glory.'

If only we too would drink from the fountains of everlasting life welling up from the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus, being washed clean, and bedecked with the garment of righteousness!  But of course this is our very gift in the Sacraments of our salvation, our enduring and we pray increasing benefit from the prodigal outpouring of Divine grace that God sends down to renew the face of the earth, that is, our souls and bodies made temples of the Holy Ghost.  Confirm in us, Lord, what Thou hast wrought in us, and not as our sins deserve but as Thou hast promised!


The wonderful efficacy of the preaching of St Peter, being made fruitful by God's grace, is abundantly proven by the great numbers of Protestants that he confuted and converted, gently drawing back from error into the family of the Church even whole towns and districts.  Likewise, his Catechism benefitted many by confirming them in their grasp of our Holy Faith.  Graced by the Lord's Divine Love, his conciliatory tone, patience and joy in expounding the truths of religion, and avoidance of polemical attacks against the Protestant Reformers (since he considered that such harsh condemnations simply alienated Germans, who in most cases had been led astray without malice out of simple openness to the new ideas) endowed his work with appealing sweetness and unction.  Even the Church's stubborn opponents were compelled to acknowledge his role as the foremost agent of Catholic recovery and true reform in Germany, which he may almost be said to have saved from entire ruin and apostasy from the Faith.  Jungmann notes that down to the eve of Vatican II the 'general prayer' (Allgemeine Gebet) composed in 1560 by St Peter Canisius, "one single all-embracing and theologically excellent prayer" (The Mass of the Roman Rite, I, 490) was read by custom at all Masses in the majority of Germany, Austria and Switzerland:

Allmächtiger, ewiger Gott, Herr, himmlischer Vater! Sieh an mit den Augen Deiner grundlosen Barmherzigkeit unsern Jammer, Elend und Not. Erbarme Dich über alle Christgläubigen, für welche Dein eingeborener Sohn, unser lieber Herr und Heiland, Jesus Christus, in die Hände der Sünder freiwillig gekommen ist und sein kostbares Blut am Stamme des heiligen Kreuzes vergossen hat. Durch diesen Herrn Jesus wende ab, gnädigster Vater, die wohlverdienten Strafen, gegenwärtige und zukünftige Gefahren, schädliche Empörungen, Kriegsrüstungen, Teuerung, Krankheiten, betrübte, armselige Zeiten. Erleuchte auch und stärke in allem Guten geistliche und weltliche Vorsteher und Regenten, damit sie alles befördern, was zu Deiner göttlichen Ehre, zu unserm Heile, zum allgemeinen Frieden und zur Wohlfahrt der ganzen Christenheit gedeihen mag. Verleihe uns, o Gott des Friedens, eine rechte Vereinigung im Glauben, ohne alle Spaltung und Trennung; bekehre unsere Herzen zur wahren Buße und Besserung unseres Lebens; zünde an in uns das Feuer Deiner Liebe; gib uns einen Hunger und Eifer zu aller Gerechtigkeit, damit wir als gehorsame Kinder im Leben und Sterben Dir angenehm und wohlgefällig seien. Wir bitten auch, wie Du willst, o Gott, dass wir bitten sollen, für unsere Freunde und Feinde, für Gesunde und Kranke, für alle betrübten und elenden Christen, für Lebendige und Abgestorbene. Dir, o Herr, sei empfohlen all unser Tun und Lassen, unser Handel und Wandel, unser Leben und Sterben. Lass uns Deine Gnade hier genießen und dort mit allen Auserwählten erlangen, dass wir in ewiger Freude und Seligkeit Dich loben, ehren und preisen mögen! Das verleihe uns, o Herr, himmlischer Vater! Durch Jesus Christus, Deinen lieben Sohn, welcher mit Dir und dem Heiligen Geiste als gleicher Gott lebt und regiert von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit.

Here is an automatic translation I've tried to improve a little:

Almighty, eternal God, Lord, heavenly Father! Look with your eyes of gratuitous mercy at our sadness, misery and distress; have mercy on all Christian believers, for which your only-begotten Son, our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, into the hands of sinners came voluntarily, and shed his precious blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. On account of the Lord Jesus, gracious Father, turn from us well-deserved punishment, current and future threats, malicious outrage, war, arms, inflation, disease, affliction, miserable times. Also enlighten and strengthen for all, good spiritual and secular rulers and regents, so that everything they carry out, may lead to your divine glory, for our salvation, that the general peace and welfare of all Christendom might thrive. Grant us, O God of peace, a right association in the faith, without any division and separation; convert our hearts to true repentance and improvement of our life, kindle in us the fire of your love, give us a hunger and zeal for justice for all, so that we, as obedient children in life and death you were pleasant and wohlgefällig. We also pray as you desire, O God, that we should pray, for our friends and enemies, for the healthy and sick, for all saddened and miserable Christians, for the living and the dead.  To you, O Lord, be recommended all our activities and our trade  and our lives and dying. Let your mercy be here and by it grant that with all the elect we may enjoy in eternal joy and happiness to praise, honor and laud you! Grant this, O Lord, heavenly Father! Through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit the same God lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. 

Nova & Vetera Breviary

A free advertisement: very kindly, Nova & Vetera agreed to sell me just Volume II of their new edition of the 1962 Breviarium Romanum, for (oh dear, what a pity I didn't buy when the Aussie dollar was almost on par with the American) €99 (plus €10 for postage and handling), and their extremely smart and well-made product has just arrived - I paid them on the 13th inst., so it's taken but 15 days to get here from Germany.

I now, therefore, have a mismatched but perfectly serviceable set of the 1962 Breviary with the Vulgate Psalter - previously, my Volume II had the nasty Pius XII Psalter (I mean the translation, not the august deceased Supreme Pontiff!), and perforce I juggled both volumes in order to have St Jerome's incomparable version of the Psalms with the correct propers, this being particularly cumbersome and involved when Michaelmas came round with its proper Psalms...

My Volume I is the 1995 F.S.S.P. facsimile edition of the 1961 Dessain printing of the Breviary; both volumes are exactly the same in height and width (approx. 18 by 11 cm, or 7 by 4⅓ inches), but the F.S.S.P. Volume I is 4.5 cm thick, almost double the Nova & Vetera Volume II's thickness of 2.5 cm (c. 1 inch).  The difference appears to be that the N & V edition has thinner but no less sturdy paper.  Other sources I have consulted have remarked on the superior purity and uncorruptness of the liturgical text as reproduced in the N & V edition; certainly there are at least half a dozen very minor misprints in the F.S.S.P. edition (a letter missing at the end of a word or suchlike).

I would certainly recommend anyone wishing to pray the 1962 Breviary to purchase the Nova & Vetera edition!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy News: Solemn Vows

I am delighted to learn that a friend of mine, Br Paul Rowse, O.P., has been accepted to make solemn vows as a Dominican Friar on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the 19th of June this year.  Well I remember the Master of the Order clothing him with the white wool of St Dominic on Trinity Sunday 2003, marking his reception as a novice; while (owing to work commitments) I most likely, unfortunately, will be unable to attend the ceremony at St Dominic's, East Camberwell, in Melbourne, I do pray and give thanks to God that Br Paul may live and die a religious - and, one day, a priest - through his upcoming enunciation of his vow usque ad mortem, the formula of which would run as follows:

I, brother Paul Rowse, make profession, 
and promise obedience to God,
to blessed Mary, to blessed Dominic,
and to you, brother Kevin Saunders, 
Prior Provincial of the Province of the Assumption,
in place of brother Carlos Azpiroz Costa, 
Master of the Order of Friars Preachers
and his successors,
according to the rule of blessed Augustine
and the Constitutions of the Friars Preachers
that I will be obedient to you and to your successors,
until death.

The Dominican formula of solemn vows is notable in that it is an oath of obedience, since by promising to observe the rule and Constitutions of the Order it includes the avowal of poverty, chastity, and all else that a religious and a Friar Preacher must undertake to observe as a holocaust of himself to the Lord.  The vow is a free oblation to God, willingly laying aside things lawful in themselves that the great race may be run in liberty without hindrance, the better to serve the Lord and carry out His evangelical mission after His own model and that of His Apostles; and is at once also made to Our Lady - a consecration to and through her to the Lord - and an entrustment to the Apostolic Patriarch Dominic, the man of the Lord, to live after his pattern and so more closely, more surely and more sacrificially cleave unto Him, for His glory, for the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of souls.

The vow taken must be lived!  The religious life is defined as the state of acquiring perfection (that most high calling that all must strive to answer, but the vowed in a most strict way).  Please pray that Br Paul, and many more like him, may, following in the footsteps of Our Divine Master (himself the Model and engenderer of obedience, poverty and chastity in the service of the Father in the salvation of all), of Our Lady (and her unceasing Fiat) and of all saintly religious moved by the Holy Spirit, give themselves to God for His honour and glory and the salvation of mankind.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

St Mark and St Fidelis

Martyrdom and Eastertide go together: the Victory of Christ is the Triumph of the Martyrs.

Apostles and Evangelists in Eastertide, and Martyrs, too, have a special Common in the Breviary; for this reason, yesterday St Fidelis and to-day St Mark share the same versicle and Benedictus antiphon at Lauds; firstly, "Precious in the sight of the Lord, alleluia, is the death of His saints, alleluia" (Ps 115:6), then:

Filiæ Jerusalem, venite et videte Martyres cum coronis, quibus coronavit eos Dominus in die solemnitatis et lætitiæ, alleluia, alleluia.

(Ye daughters of Jerusalem, come and behold the Martyrs with the crowns with which the Lord crowned them on the day of solemnity and joy, alleluia, alleluia.)

- an exhortation to the Church militant and triumphant to rejoice in the endless victory the Martyrs have won by the grace of Christ, Who in crowning the Saints, does but crown His own gifts; an exhortation which mirrors and alludes to this text (Cant. iii, 11):

Egredimini et videte, filiæ Sion, regem Salomonem in diademate quo coronavit illum mater sua in die desponsationis illius, et in die lætitiæ cordis ejus.

(Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart.)

- which is held prophetically to refer to Christ, the true Solomon, that is, the King of Peace, and calls upon the Church to behold Him incarnate to save us, and risen again in victory on Easter morn.


While this day we pray in his Collect that St Mark's erudition may profit us - for his Gospel teaches us the doctrine of Christ our God - and his prayer ever defend us, yesterday's Collect is if anything more urgent and striking in its Counter-reformation stedfastness against Protestant evils, begging that, by the merits and intercession of so blessed a son of the Seraphic St Francis, having been graced with the beauteous palm of martyrdom and with the working of great wonders in the service of the propagation of the Faith, we too may by grace be strengthened in faith, yes, and in charity too, that we may merit to be found faithful servants of the Lord unto death:

O God, Who didst deign to beautify blessed Fidelis, his spirit on fire with ardor Seraphic, in the propagation of the true Faith with the palm of martyrdom and glorious miracles, we beg, by his merits and intercession so to be confirmed in faith and charity by Thy grace, that in Thy service we may deserve to be found faithful unto death.  Through...

Pericles for ANZAC Day

While walking through town away from the cenotaph, I had much in mind the immortal words attributed to Pericles, when making the funeral oration over the Athenian dead in 431 B.C., by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War (II, 43):

Each has won a glorious grave – not that sepulchre of earth wherein they lie, but the living tomb of everlasting remembrance wherein their glory is enshrined. For the whole earth is the sepulchre of heroes. Monuments may rise and tablets be set up to them in their own land, but on far-off shores there is an abiding memorial that no pen or chisel has traced; it is graven not on stone or brass, but on the living hearts of humanity. Take these men for your example. Like them, remember that prosperity can be only for the free, that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.

Let us now praise famous men

I walked to the war memorial to-day, and surveyed the concentric rows of wreaths laid there this morning; so many flowers, soon to wilt, fade and decay - cut down in their prime, as were so very many lives in war.

Some prayers: a De profundis for the dead, that they may rest in peace; a Pater noster for the advancement of the Kingdom, that a time may come for all swords to rest; and, yes, the royal anthem, God save the Queen, as a prayer for our temporal authorities and against those who would harm us...

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.

Since the Maori Wars in New Zealand, when some Australians crossed the Tasman to fight for the Empire, and the colonial contingents we sent to help defeat the fanatics of the Mahdi in the Sudan, the infamous Boxer Rebellion in China, and the Boers in South Africa, my countrymen have joined in battle.  Above all, our nation was blooded at Gallipoli (as every child learns in primary school), then in the killing fields of the Western Front, during the Great War - as our Prime Minister rebuked President Wilson's highflown rhetoric at Versailles, "I speak for 60,000 dead": a majority of all Australian war dead date from World War I.  

I have always thought, by the way, that the peace treaty with Germany was too gentle, and did not so much provoke as permit, first a breathing-space, and then a resumption of wrathful tendencies: the German army's orderly retreat from the battlefield gave rise to the vile "stab in the back" legend which allowed militarism to rise again, never having been slain, whereas an occupation and thorough reordering of society after invasion (as done in 1945) could have crushed it once and for all; similarly, Hindenburg, Ludendorff and the Kaiser should indeed as war criminals, whippers-up of malignant evils, and enemies of the public good, the people, and the peace of the world been hanged.  (A funny thing, how nearly all merchants of death, dictatorial rulers and their ilk live on, while the masses they drove to the slaughter perish.)  Similarly, the Rhineland ought have been annexed by France for all time, as a true wergild unable to be avoided as the monetary reparations were, they proving in the event to have been an illusory and harmful measure, and Belgium dissuaded from the illusion of neutrality which later betrayed her again.  And who is to say that a Germany thus punished would not have been spared its later and more dreadful devastation at the end of the Second World War?

I was glad to see in The Weekend Australian that Prime Minister Rudd, heeding the advice that whoso desires peace should prepare for war, is planning a large-scale long-term buildup of our armed forces in the face of current and anticipated geopolitical threats; and about time, too - the defence forces in Australia have historically been far too underprepared and poorly equipped, as is the case even nowadays, when we can hardly sustain our present overseas commitments, and the submarine fleet hasn't enough sailors to put to sea!  Between the Wars, Australia slumbered too long; while in hindsight it is now evident that Japan's aggression was unsustainable against the might of the United States, back in 1942, with the fall of all imperial outposts in South-East Asia to the Japanese prior to the American counterattack, Australia faced the awful prospect of invasion - the cabinet was warned by our military that a defensive perimeter could only be strung between Melbourne and Sydney, abandoning the vast majority of the continent.  Only geographic isolation and the intervention of the U.S. saved us, and not we ourselves.  As it was, so many of our troops fought, first in North Africa, then in Papua New Guinea (our territory at the time) and elsewhere, with many enduring defeat, captivity, maltreatment and death as after the fall of Singapore.

Since World War II, there have been combats in Korea, in Malaya, in Borneo, in Vietnam, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan (where our troops continue in harm's way), to say nothing of peacekeeping missions in hotspots around the world, as in East Timor and still to-day in the Solomon Islands.  Since Vietnam, over 100,000 Australian troops have served overseas.

It is good not to forget, too, that ANZAC Day commemorates our New Zealand brethren alongside of whom we fought and died.

We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Furthermore, why should we not pray for fallen enemies, and mourn their loss, and their widows and families and devastated lands?  How many German and Japanese conscripts died horribly for their masters' dreams of conquest? and how many Turks fell at Gallipoli defending their shores?

I am no militarist, but there is a time when wars must be fought lest our freedoms and liberties perish undefended (nothing to me seems more inane than foolish talk of war being in essence unjust - surely to fight against Hitler was absolutely justified!); yet of course the horrors of war, and those innumerable maimed, killed, bereaved, outraged, must not be forgotten, lest conflicts be multiplied without most necessary reason: certainly if possible all diplomatic solutions and preventative measures should be seriously tried before force be used; and it must never be forgotten that it is incumbent upon ourselves and our allies never to act immorally, lest the justice of our cause to be vitiated (I hold the disgraceful way cruel ill-usage, even torture, that very mark of bestial inhuman savagery, has been slyly legitimised in certain quarters in the U.S.A. to be wholly disgusting and deserving of condign punishment).  To avoid open conflict through craven capitulation, as I fear is happening in Pakistan at the moment as the Taliban openly take over more and more areas while the Pakistani army hangs back, is to abandon the clear duty of defending the defenceless against aggression and oppression.

While the idea of being a soldier holds no attraction for me, so I would not join up in peacetime, if war came, yes, I would enlist if my country needed me: one must do one's duty - and I guess that is why (there being no conscription in World War I) so many Diggers gave their all, not out of bloodlust but because a serious and harsh test fell upon them.  As is often said, courage, mateship and self-sacrifice are the virtues they displayed: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  (St John xv, 13.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St George's Day

"Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, / Endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won" was the Easter hymn of victory that I sang to-day; with Our Lord's Resurrection still the focus of all prayer, and ANZAC Day - the commemoration of soldiers fallen in the cause of right, as befits those who after the example of the Master disdained not to suffer and to die with courage and self-sacrifice out of mateship - but two days hence, how appropriate thus to welcome the memorial of the great martyr and trophy-bearer, St George, Patron of England (and thus of a part of my own parentage, and of Australia's ancestry).

Last year, when in Perth I was able to get to more or less daily Mass in the Traditional Rite (unlike here), I was able to blog about serving at the altar, as well as commenting on the truth behind the legend of St George, and giving some hymns for his feast - have a look back.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
Life is nought without thee, aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SS Soter and Caius

It was a delight to read Matins, Lauds and Prime this morning - beginning the day properly.  And after work and a coffee, the Little Hours, once around the Gorge (about 50 minutes) and Vespers.  Compline awaits my retiring to-night...

Why the obsession?  Because I seriously do believe one should live the liturgy of the Church.  The Office (new and old) has been the nourishment of my prayer life (apart from Holy Mass of course) for 15 years or more, since my early university days, and I hope it may be for many others a joy and a link to the truths of our Holy Faith, to the worship of Almighty God, to the cult of his saints, to the piety of our forefathers and to the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Psalms.

To-day we feast SS Soter and Caius, two early Martyr Popes.  Amusingly, the Breviary (following, I guess, the Liber Pontificalis) credits the former (who reigned c.166-c.174) with forbidding sacred virgins from touching the sacred vessels, and likewise prohibited them from exercising the office of thurifer!  A bloody good idea, and one that should be vigorously reënforced...
St Caius (r. 283-296) was a Dalmatian, of noble parents related to the family of the wicked Diocletian - that arch-enemy of Christ, whose name appears on every page of the Martyrology, yet was no martyr but their ravening persecutor and very dupe of Satan, whom he followed down to hell.  By the infamous cruelty of his distant relative Pope Caius too was crowned with martyrdom, along with his brother Gabinus - and both were buried in the same catacomb as St Soter, in the cemetery of Callixtus.

Celebrating the feast of martyrs during Paschaltide is a happy joy: the Martyrs stand in close company with the Lamb once slain Who lives now for ever and ever, and Alleluias of triumph resound as the Church lauds their sharing in the Easter Victory of her Divine Spouse.  The sacred Liturgy takes up a text even from the apocryphal Fourth Book of Esdras (ii, 35) to sing their blessedness, echoing in a different key both the traditional prayer for the dead and the texts of the Requiem Mass:

V. Lux perpétua lucébit Sanctis tuis, Dómine, allelúja.
R. Et ætérnitas témporum, allelúja.

(V. Light perpetual shall shine upon thy Saints, O Lord, alleluia.
(R. And an ageless eternity, alleluia.)

[Cf. Parati estote ad praemia regni, quia lux perpetua lucebit vobis per aeternitatem temporis. (IV Esdras ii, 35)]

May SS Soter and Caius pray with us and for us, that our part, too, may be among the saints in light.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

St Anselm's Day

The parents of St Anselm were Gundulph and Ermenberga.  These are rather unusual names for Italians - Anselm and his family were noble Lombards.  Transplanted to England, this erstwhile monk ruled (not without exasperating royal interference) and taught as a true bishop ought, fighting manfully against deviations from the Faith and combatting State attempts to suborn or strip away the freedom of the Church.

To-day is the 900th anniversary of his death: a century ago, St Pius X wrote an encyclical (Communium rerum) in praise of him, and earlier still he had been declared a Doctor of the Church by Clement XI.  This encyclical is astoundingly contemporary, in its description of modernism within and State persecution without as the current problems besetting Catholicism, along with the temptation to timidity that haunts mediocre churchmen, just as analogous pests wracked the Bride of Christ in Anselm's day; but it nonetheless inculcates confidence that the Enemy cannot destroy Christ's flock - rather the opposite! - and ends by invoking Anselm to pray with and for us:

13. For you are aware, venerable brethren, and you have often lamented it with Us, how evil are the days on which we have fallen, and how iniquitous the conditions which have been forced upon Us. Even in the unspeakable sorrow We felt in the recent public disasters, Our wounds were opened afresh by the shameful charges invented against the clergy of being behindhand in rendering assistance after the calamity, by the obstacles raised to hide the beneficent action of the Church on behalf of the afflicted, by the contempt shown even for her maternal care and forethought. We say nothing of many other things injurious to the Church, devised with treacherous cunning or flagrantly perpetrated in violation of all public right and in contempt of all natural equity and justice. Most grievous, too, is the thought that this has been done in countries in which the stream of civilization has been most abundantly fed by the Church. For what more unnatural sight could be witnessed than that of some of those children whom the Church has nourished and cherished as her first-born, her flower and her strength, in their rage turning their weapons against the very bosom of the Mother that has loved them so much! And there are other countries which give us but little cause for consolation, in which the same war, under a different form, has either broken out already or is being prepared by dark machinations. For there is a movement in those nations which have benefited most from Christian civilization to deprive the Church of her rights, to treat her as though she were not by nature and by right the perfect society that she is, instituted by Christ Himself, the Redeemer of our nature, and to destroy her reign, which, although primarily and directly affecting souls, is not less helpful for their eternal salvation than for the welfare of human society; efforts of all kinds are being made to supplant the kingdom of God by a reign of license under the lying name of liberty. And to bring about by the rule of vices and lusts the triumph of the worst of all slaveries and bring the people headlong to their ruin - "for sin makes peoples wretched" (Prov. xiv. 34) - the cry is ever raised: "We will not have this man reign over us" (Luc. xix. 14). Thus the religious Orders, always the strong shield and the ornament of the Church, and the promotors of the most salutary works of science and civilization among uncivilized and civilized peoples, have been driven out of Catholic countries; thus the works of Christian beneficence have been weakened and circumscribed as far as possible, thus the ministers of religion have been despised and mocked, and, wherever that was possible, reduced to powerlessness and inertia; the paths to knowledge and to the teaching office have been either closed to them or rendered extremely difficult, especially by gradually removing them from the instruction and education of youth; Catholic undertakings of public utility have been thwarted; distinguished laymen who openly profess their Catholic faith have been turned into ridicule, persecuted, kept in the background as belonging to an inferior and outcast class, until the coming of the day, which is being hastened by ever more iniquitous laws, when they are to be utterly ostracized from public affairs. And the authors of this war, cunning and pitiless as it is, boast that they are waging it through love of liberty, civilization, and progress, and, were you to believe them, through a spirit of patriotism - in this lie too resembling their father, who "was a murderer from the beginning, and when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar" (Ioan. viii. 44), and raging with hate insatiable against God and the human race. Brazen-faced men these, seeking to create confusion by their words, and to lay snares for the ears of the simple. No, it is not patriotism, or zealous care for the people, or any other noble aim, or desire to promote good of any kind, that incites them to this bitter war, but blind hatred which feeds their mad plan to weaken the Church and exclude her from social life, which makes them proclaim her as dead, while they never cease to attack her - nay, after having despoiled her of all liberty, they do not hesitate in their brazen folly to taunt her with her powerlessness to do anything for the benefit of mankind or human government. From the same hate spring the cunning misrepresentations or the utter silence concerning the most manifest services of the Church and the Apostolic See, when they do not make of our services a cause of suspicion which with wily art they insinuate into the ears and the minds of the masses, spying and travestying everything said or done by the Church as though it concealed some impending danger for society, whereas the plain truth is that it is mainly from Christ through the Church that the progress of real liberty and the purest civilization has been derived.

15. But with no less severity and sorrow have We been obliged to denounce and to put down another species of war, intestine and domestic, and all the more disastrous the more hidden it is. Waged by unnatural children, nestling in the very bosom of the Church in order to rend it in silence, this war aims more directly at the very root and the soul of the Church. They are trying to corrupt the springs of Christian life and teaching, to scatter the sacred deposit of the faith, to overthrow the foundations of the divine constitution by their contempt for all authority, pontifical as well as episcopal, to put a new form on the Church, new laws, new principles, according to the tenets of monstrous systems, in short to deface all the beauty of the Spouse of Christ for the empty glamour of a new culture, falsely called science, against which the Apostle frequently puts us on our guard: "Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ (Colos. ii. 8).

16. By this figment of false philosophy and this shallow and fallacious erudition, joined with a most audacious system of criticism, some have been seduced and "become vain in their thoughts" (Rom. i. 1), "having rejected good conscience they have made shipwreck concerning the faith" (I Tim. i. 19), they are being tossed about miserably on the waves of doubt, knowing not themselves at what port they must land; others, wasting both time and study, lose themselves in the investigation of abstruse trifling, and thus grow estranged from the study of divine things and of the real springs of doctrine. This hot-bed of error and perdition (which has come to be known commonly as modernism from its craving for unhealthy novelty) although denounced several times and unmasked by the very excesses of its adepts, continues to be a most grave and deep evil. It lurks like poison in the vitals of modern society, estranged as this is from God and His Church, and it is especially eating its way like a cancer among the young generations which are naturally the most inexperienced and heedless. It is not the result of solid study and true knowledge, for there can be no real conflict between reason and faith (Concil. Vatic., Constit. Dei filius, cap. 4). But it is the result of intellectual pride and of the pestiferous atmosphere that prevails of ignorance or confused knowledge of the things of religion, united with the stupid presumption of speaking about and discussing them. And this deadly infection is further fomented by a spirit of incredulity and of rebellion against God, so that those who are seized by the blind frenzy for novelty consider that they are all sufficient for themselves, and that they are at liberty to throw off either openly or by subterfuge the entire yoke of divine authority, fashioning for themselves according to their own caprice a vague, naturalistic individual religiosity, borrowing the name and some semblance of Christianity but with none of its life and truth.

30. They err greatly, therefore, who lose faith during the storm, wishing for themselves and the Church a permanent state of perfect tranquillity, universal prosperity, and practical, unanimous and uncontested recognition of her sacred authority. But the error is worse when men deceive themselves with the idea of gaining an ephemeral peace by cloaking the rights and interests of the Church, by sacrificing them to private interests, by minimizing them unjustly, by truckling to the world, "the whole of which is seated in wickedness" (I Ioan. v. 19) on the pretext of reconciling the followers of novelties and bringing them back to the Church, as though any composition were possible between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial. This hallucination is as old as the world, but it is always modern and always present in the world so long as there are soldiers who are timid or treacherous, and at the first onset ready to throw down their arms or open negotiations with the enemy, who is the irreconcilable enemy of God and man.

57. But if the erring continue obstinately to scatter the seeds of dissension and error, to waste the patrimony of the sacred doctrine of the Church, to attack discipline, to heap contempt on venerated customs, "to destroy which is a species of heresy" in the phrase of St. Anselm, and to destroy the constitution of the Church in its very foundations, then all the more strictly must we watch, venerable brethren, and keep away from Our flock, and especially from youth which is the most tender part of it, so deadly a pest. This grace We implore of God with incessant prayers, interposing the most powerful patronage of the august Mother of God and the intercession of the blessed citizens of the Church triumphant, St. Anselm especially, shining light of Christian wisdom, incorrupt guardian and valiant defender of all the sacred rights of the Church, to whom We would here, in conclusion, address the same words that Our Holy Predecessor, Gregory VII, wrote to him during his lifetime: "Since the sweet odor of your good works has reached Us, We return due thanks for them to God, and We embrace you heartily in the love of Christ, holding it for certain that by your example the Church of God has been greatly benefited, and that by your prayers and those of men like you she may even be liberated from the dangers that hang over her, with the mercy of Christ to succor us" (S. Anselm, "De nuptiis consanguinerorum," cap. 1). "Hence We beg your fraternity to implore God assiduously to relieve the Church and Us who govern it, albeit unworthily, from the pressing assaults of the heretics, and lead these from their errors to the way of truth" (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 31).

Apart from praising his learned writings and holy life, what else is there to say of this intrepid monk, abbot and Archbishop?  May he pray for us, and for Canterbury, that the pretenders to that venerable See cast away error and reconcile with Christ's Vicar.  It must be agreed by all that Canterbury and those apparently - for the moment - in communion with it (whatever that elastic term now signifies among Anglicans, a very Babel of confusion as they are) certainly could do with prayers put up for them in heaven!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

While I Was Away

You turn your attention elsewhere, and you miss all the news...

My congratulations, with assurance of prayers, to a priest who played an important role in my life, who has just been named (on the 16th of April, the Pope's 82nd birthday no less, happy birthday to him) as bishop-elect of Bathurst, N.S.W.: Fr - or rather now His Lordship-elect - Michael McKenna, a priest of Sale diocese currently based in Melbourne.  

Ad multos annos!

Return to the North

This week has been noteworthy for my resumed attendance at weekday Mass - something I didn't achieve during Lent!  I've been off-blog; the past few days have been pleasantly spent in Hobart, with some dear friends of mine.  One thing that has been on my mind (having sung along with it, in the vernacular, at Mass at Carmel) is the Easter Sequence, the Victimæ paschali laudes:

Victimae Paschali laudes immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves: 
Christus innocens Patri 
reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello 
conflixere mirando: 
dux vitæ mortuus 
regnat vivus.
Dic nobis, Maria, 
quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis 
et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
Angelicos testes, 
sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea: 
præcedet vos in Galilæam.
[Credendum est magis soli 
Mariæ veraci 
quam Judaeorum turbæ fallaci.]*
Scimus Christum surrexisse
 a mortuis vere: 
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended: 
combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain, 
yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary: say 
what thou didst see upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ's glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting; 
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ my hope has risen: he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!  
Amen.  Alleluia!

* Omitted since 1570.

What an extraordinary line: dux vitæ mortuus regnat vivus - "the leader of life, dead, reigns alive"! But better far than any commentary of mine is that given by the late John Paul II of happy memory, in his 1997 Urbi et Orbi address.


On my trip to and from Hobart, I had the chance to pass by Colebrook, though I was unable to obtain the key to open up Pugin's little masterpiece church (now being restored) of St Patrick.  However, this afternoon St Matthew's, Pontville, was unlocked, so I said some Office there, and a prayer for my godmother buried in the adjoining cemetery, plus one for "the Venerable Archdeacon Marum" whose remains lie interred before the high altar, as his memorial in the church porch proclaims.


In the State capital, I did some CD and secondhand book buying: Mexican Baroque: Music from New Spain, being recordings of sacred choral music, including a Mass, by Ignacio de Jerusalem and Manuel de Zumaya, as sung by Chanticleer (to go with a favourite CD of theirs I already have); two books about life in pioneer New Zealand, A First Year in Canterbury Settlement (first issued 1864; new edition, 1964) and Erewhon (first 1872; my copy, 1936 - a Penguin Books paperback, still with its original wrapper), both by Samuel Butler; Barbara Celarent: A Description of Scholastic Dialectic (1949) by the late great Thomas Gilby, O.P., he of Gilby-edition-of-the-Summa fame; and a rather racy biography of a notorious Nazi sympathizer, Unity Mitford: A Quest (1976; reprint, 1981), by David Pryce-Jones - something light for a change.  

(I ought mention I've also recently read a rather racier double biography, one of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas - Janet Malcolm's Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice; long ago I read, as the authoress reveals herself to have done, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, all unawares of who either lady was, or of their, ahem, closeness... It was pleasing to read that years after Gertrude's death, Alice was baptized a Catholic in old age; she spent the last decade of her life enduring poverty, but praying and suffering, hoping that perhaps by God's secret grace her erstwhile fellow Jewess would be found to have been saved.  Ms Malcolm is rather ignorantly flippant about this, I was sorry to note.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Martyr: St Hermenegild

On the 13th of April 585, after refusing to receive the Easter Communion at the hands of an Arian bishop, the heir to the throne of Spain was murdered on the orders of his father, the King.

It is a classic tale of family feuding, and as in any whodunnit, cherchez la femme!  In this case, there were two ladies involved: the prince's evil step-mother, the unlovely Goiswintha, fomented King Leovigild's anger; the prince's saintly wife, Ingund (or Ingunthis) - daughter of the Frankish King Sisebert I of Austrasia - was a stedfast Catholic despite the attempted suasions of her step-mother-in-law: and she, together with St Leander, Bishop of Seville (whose brother, St Isidore, later succeeded to that same see), had wrought her husband's conversion from the Arian heresy.  For these were the days of Visigothic Spain, when a Teutonic military aristocracy ruled the Romanized Spanish; and the Visigoths, prior to their irruption into the rich provinces of the Roman Empire, had been converted by Arian missionaries, not Catholics.

St Hermenegild's younger brother, Reccared (like him, a child of the King's first wife, Theodosia, who had died), had attempted to reconcile father and son during their previous feuds; but now it was too late.  Hermenegild, reconciled instead to thoughts of winning through to heaven, bowed his neck to the sword. Being slain rather than deny the Faith by sacrilegiously communing with a heretic, he won the crown of the everlasting kingdom, and reigns with Christ evermore.

(Hermenegild, spurning the promise of an earthly crown, triumphantly wins the crown of martyrdom, to the joy of the angels; his father laments, and the Arian bishop cowers away.)

From the truth thy soul to turn,
Pleads a father's voice in vain;
Naught to thee were jewelled crown, 
Earthly pleasure, earthly gain. 

Angry threat and naked sword 
Daunted not thy courage high; 
Choosing glory with the Lord, 
Rather than a present joy. 

Now amidst the Saints in light,
Throned in bliss forevermore; — 
Oh! from thy exalted height, 
Hear the solemn prayer we pour. 

Honor, glory, majesty, 
To the Father and the Son, 
With the Holy Spirit be, 
While eternal ages run. Amen.

(Hymn at Lauds, Nullis te genitor, by Pope Urban VIII.)

King Leovigild died the next year; Hermenegild's younger brother, Reccared, who succeeded as King of Spain, himself became a Catholic in 587, and by May of 589, at the Fourth Council of Toledo, the whole Visigothic nation abjured Arianism, and the great St Leander of Seville preached a famous sermon on "the triumph of the Church at the Conversion of the Goths".  Amazingly, even the Arian clergy converted, and were confirmed in their ministries!  All this, it is piously believed, was obtained by the celestial intercession of the royal martyr, whose glorious merits and suffrages won sweet grace from God.  Truly, Hermenegild was an immense treasure (Ermen Gild), for whose life the Lord paid a rich wergild: the gift of Faith to a whole people.

Pope St Gregory the Great, who was a friend of St Leander, having known him during his exile from Spain prior to his return in triumph, sings the praises of St Hermenegild in his Dialogues (III, 31).  It has been argued that the prince, having rebelled against his father, was no worthy martyr; but as St Gregory of Tours states, whatever his sins, they were blotted out by his suffering and martyrdom, whereas, if he had but accepted the Arian bishop's offer of Holy Communion, he would have been restored to his princely estate and reconciled to the King, yet at the price of abandoning the Catholic Faith: this he would not abandon, as the pearl of great price, and it was for this that he died a true martyr.

As for the martyr's widow and infant son, they had taken refuge in the Byzantine Empire, where they prospered; and his great-grandson returned to Spain to reign as King Erwig (680-687).

Deus, qui beatum Hermenegildum Martyrem tuum, cælesti regno terrenum postponere docuisti: da, quæsumus, nobis; ejus exemplo caduca despicere, atque æterna sectari.  Per...

(God, Who didst teach blessed Hermenegild Thy Martyr to esteem earthly things less than the heavenly kingdom: grant, we beg, unto us, that by his example we may despise things perishable and rather seek after things eternal.  Through...)

[BTW, caducus is a great word: tottering, falling, fallen, frail, vain, perishable...]

An Eightieth Anniversary - Missed

I've been idly speculating on what culinary specialities have marked the last days: I have certainly enjoyed hot cross buns at breakfast and/or lunch; and Good Friday marked the reappearance (after no breakfast, two buns only for lunch, and apart from that only cups of tea or coffee) of a family favourite, curiously otherwise only served on Christmas Eve - fish baked in individual ramekins, these having been greased with butter, and then the fish immersed in cream, with almonds and finely chopped onion, salt and much pepper on top. This morning, after Mass and prior to a good long walk around the Cataract Gorge up to Duck Reach and back, I had breakfast out, with coffee and a plate of mushrooms cooked in butter, salt and pepper, plus English muffins and a bit of English spinach (it is Easter Week, after all).


But I really meant to blog on an anniversary missed, which I only discovered to-day after reading Health, Wealth and Tribulation: Launceston's Cataract Gorge, a copy of which I bought this morning (at the café). Perhaps my being away to Hobart last Sunday had meant that I missed the significance of the date, but strangely the local papers apparently missed it too, and I certainly read Monday's news.

Of what the eightieth anniversary? Black Saturday, 6th April 1929: the Great Flood. Mention "the Flood" in Launceston, and anyone will know what happened that dismal day.

The rainstorm came on Wednesday 3rd April: such a deluge! 500 mm - 200 inches - of rain fell in the high country over the ensuing three days. Every river and stream in northern Tasmania swelled to bursting. Come Thursday afternoon, the dam above the mining town of Derby broke, and the raging floodwaters drowned fourteen. On Thursday evening, eight were drowned - seven of them children, six of them from one family - when their car plunged into the Gawler River when the driver failed to see in the rain and darkness that the bridge had been destroyed. God rest their souls.

On Friday, Launceston prepared for the oncoming flood down the North and South Esk Rivers; but most of the folk in lowlying Inveresk and Invermay, behind levee banks that enclosed their suburbs (drained swampland, actually below high tide level to this day), refused to evacuate despite warnings. The rivers rose and rose. At 11pm all power failed - the city's pride, its municipal power station at Duck Reach (established 1895) was submerged in the onrushing waters filling up the Gorge. About 4,000 cubic metres a second (140.000 cubic feet per second) was surging downstream. At 1am Saturday, the town clock began to ring continuously, the pre-arranged signal of disaster: the levees were overtopped, the suburbs flooded, and 4000 had to be rescued, first by cars, then by boats. Miraculously, no one perished; but many lost everything, and had no insurance.

Amusingly, in the aftermath, which was well-organized and funded by generous donations both locally and throughout the Commonwealth, many of those whose houses were condemned were temporarily relocated to what was unblushingly called a "concentration camp" at Elphin!

I must say I'm glad my sister has recently sold her home in Invermay and relocated to higher ground: the City Council has been ineffectually squabbling for years about fixing the levee banks, which are so decrepit as to be actually sliding into the river in places, and which one fears would not sustain a new flood threat some eighty years on. When New Orleans was devastated, I think many in Launceston felt vaguely worried. The Council, true to form, sent a fact-finding mission there to see what could be learnt about levee banks and what happens to them!

As it is, the Tamar (the estuary formed where the North and South Esk meet where the city lies) is filling so full of mud that I've never seen it so bad, and I grew up here: it certainly wasn't this bad 2 years ago. It ought be explained that the Tamar is tidal, with a range of over 3 metres, and the rivers bring down about 39,000 tons of silt every year, so without continual dredging it soon becomes a disgusting sight at low tide. Of course, a flood like the 1929 one would at least solve the mud problem...

Three Sermons

Fr Greg, the visiting Dominican at our local Carmel, has continued his masterly sermon series.  I cannot do them justice in extenso, but can summarize the burthen of his words.  

At the Easter Vigil, he impressed upon us what oft we neglect to note in the Gospel account: that the myrrhbearing women at the Tomb were amazed and terrified, not just by the Angel, but by the news of the Resurrection of Christ - for Easter, while joyous, should also amaze and alarm us.  After all, now that One has risen from the dead, our lives take on a totally different meaning: with eternal life now in prospect, we must needs reorder our affairs to take cognizance of this fact, and this will be no simple or painless task (as the lives of the Apostles, Martyrs, and all Christian Saints illustrates).  

On Easter morning, Fr's homily concerned the deepest truth of this Feast of feasts: that the Resurrection signifies the Father's Yes to Christ, His Yes to His Son's trust in Him, and therefore His Yes to all human hopes for deliverance, for life, for salvation.  Having had such an answer, what sure-founded joy is ours!

To-day, commenting on the Novus Ordo Gospel appointed, about the holy women seeing Our Lord, falling down before Him and clasping His sacred Feet, our preacher pointed out what he had once years before told me in pithy form: that the cure for all doubt and fear is worship and prayer.  (As he had put it, and as I ever remember it and repeat to others and pay heed to it, "If you lose your faith, the last thing you do is stop saying your prayers and stop going to Mass" - for that is precisely when you most need to pray and go to Mass!  True.)  

How do we have hope and trust and faith in Jesus Christ, in His salvation, in Him saving even us?  For we can feel unworthy of God's love - "As if that had anything to do with it," Fr commented forcefully: leaving unsaid what we ought ever recall,  that God's love is gratuitous and unmerited!  Or we may feel - in our Pelagian age - that we have no need of His salvation, which our goodness will deserve of itself, thank you very much, God perforce granting it, as too many suppose.  (O wretched deception and presumptuous heresy!  Salvation is unmeritable!)

We strengthen our faith and win against doubt and fear when we come to worship God at Mass, when we pray, when we contemplate Divine things.  The contemplative life is essential for our souls.  (I suspect the nuns well know the force of this: that's why they are in Carmel, for God's love and to save their souls, yea, and by intercession and example to help save men.)

As always, Fr Greg's homilies are deserving of praise, and I do wish he will one day publish them.  In the meanwhile, I will continue to note what I comprehend of them: but be mindful that "everything is received according to the mode of the receiver" - I do note them do with my emphases, in my language, with my editing, comments, revisions and excisions!  Poor Father...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Octave Office

The Office of the Easter Octave is very simple and straightforward.

All hymns, little chapters and short responsories are omitted.  A versicle is only used at Matins (as are the usual two long responsories each day, and the long-awaited return of the Te Deum of course).  (Prime and Compline still have their short lessons.)

Matins, after the Venite with Easter invitatory Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluja, has only one Nocturn of three psalms - Psalms 1, 2 and 3 - each with an appropriate antiphon drawn from the words of each psalm: Our Lord is heard saying "I am Who am...", "...my Father... gave me the nations... as an inheritance..." and "I slept... and rose again...".  What a joy indeed, that for these days alone Matins is reduced from nine to but three short psalms, those that begin the whole Psalter and in a special manner give witness to its Christocentric themes.  The three versicles alternating through the week refer to the Lord arising, He Who was crucified and appeared to Simon Peter, and to the joy of the disciples beholding the Lord again.  Each day, a homily upon the day's Resurrection Gospel is appointed, divided into three lessons (mainly from Pope St Gregory the Great; St Ambrose and St Jerome contribute a homily each).  The Easter Octave responsories deserve a whole entry for themselves...

Lauds and Vespers have the psalms of Sundays and feasts, naturally: for this whole week is Sunday, the Day of Resurrection.  While for the rest of Eastertide, the psalmody of each Hour will be recited under one antiphon, Alleluia, for the Octave, each psalm has an antiphon, all of them drawn from that part of the Vigil Gospel accounting the apparition of the angel at the Tomb (St Matthew xxviii, 2-5); each day, the Gospel Canticles have an appropriate antiphon from the Gospel of the day; but (at least insofar as the General Rubrics would have it), each day, and indeed at every Day Hour, the little chapter, hymn and versicle is replaced by the Hæc dies, the Easter cry of joy par excellence from Psalm 117, verse 24: "This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad".  The Collect follows in the usual manner; to be noted is the addition - at Lauds and Vespers only - of the double Paschal Alleluia to the Benedicamus Domino.

The Little Hours begin with the Deus in adjutorium, Gloria Patri and Alleluia again; but the psalms (those of Sundays and feasts: Psalm 53 and successive portions of 118 for Prime and the rest, while Compline has the traditional trio of 4, 90 and 133) are the same every day, and are recited without any antiphon (at Compline, to be sure, a quadruple Alleluia is inserted after them and before the Nunc dimittis immediately following).  Instead, after the Hæc dies, the usual Dominus vobiscum (Domine exaudi in solitary recitation or when there is no one present who is a deacon at least), Oremus, Collect, repeated Dominus/Domine, Benedicamus and Fidelium follow.  (As normally, the Collect is that of the day, except at Prime and Compline, which have their own fixed Collects.)

Prime again has its usual Chapter Office appended, and Compline its prefatory penitential rite and final Marian Anthem - now the Regina cæli.

Rubrical Conundrum

I have a rubrical conundrum that any readers may be able to help to puzzle out: my 1962 Breviary (a 1995 FSSP reprint of the 1961 Dessain edition) has, for Monday to Saturday in the Octave of Easter, a versicle to be said at Lauds (In resurrectione) and Vespers (Mane nobiscum) instead of the Hæc dies that is appointed for Easter Sunday; but in the General Rubrics of the Breviary, no. 205 specifies that versus dicitur... in festo et per octavam Paschatis in solo nocturno, which I take to mean that during the Easter Octave, a versicle is only said at the sole Nocturn of Matins, and not at Lauds nor at Vespers, and this would imply that the Hæc dies ought be said every day of the Easter Octave, even at Lauds and Vespers. 

Can anyone advise how to solve this contradiction between the Proper and the General Rubrics?

Easter Elevation Aspiration

Si consurrexistis cum Christo, quæ sursum sunt quærite, ubi Christus est in dexteram Dei sedens; quæ sursum sunt sapite, non quæ super terram.  Mortui enim estis, et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo.  Cum Christus apparuerit, vita vestra, tunc et vos apparebitis cum ipso in gloria. - "If ye be risen with Christ, seek ye the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right of God: savour the things that are above, not those that are upon earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ appears, who is your life, then you also will appear with Him in glory."  (Col. iii, 1-4)

This is a favourite text of mine, being the Easter Vigil Epistle in the Old Rite, and the Easter Day Epistle in the New!  I know it (in Latin) by heart; the above English is my translation.  (The whole of Colossians iii could well form a complete rule of life.)

But why this?  Because it leads into my change of Elevation aspiration; normally, adoring the Host and Chalice as they are successively elevated, I pray the Ave verum; but during Eastertide, the following verses of Ad cenam Agni providi instead:

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

(O true, worthy Victim, / By Whom Tartarus is smashed, / A captive people redeemed, / The rewards of life restored.)

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

(We beg, Author of all, / In this paschal joy, / From all motions of death / Defend Thy people.  Amen.)

[St Pius V breathed forth his pure soul to God while praying the last-quoted verse of this hymn.]

On the Resurrection of Christ

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  Glorify Him!

From the late mediæval Scottish poet William Dunbar (reading aloud may help to puzzle out the words so spelled):
Done is a battell on the dragon blak,
Our campioun Chryst confountet hes his force;
The yettis* of hell ar brokin with a crak,
The signe triumphall rasit is of the croce,
The divillis trymmillis† with hiddous voce,
The saulis ar borrowit and to the blis can go,
Chryst with his blud our ransonis dois indoce‡:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

[*gates; †tremble; ‡doth endorse]

Dungin* is the deidly dragon Lucifer,
The crewall serpent with the mortall stang;
The auld kene tegir with his teith on char†,
Quhilk in a wait‡ hes lyne for us so lang,
Thinking to grip us in his clows strang;
The mercifull Lord wald nocht that it wer so,
He maid him for to felye of that fang§:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

[*Beaten; †ajar; ‡Which in wait; §prize]

He for our saik that sufferit to be slane,
And lyk a lamb in sacrifice wes dight*,
Is lyk a lyone rissin up agane,
And as gyane raxit† him on hicht;
Sprungin is Aurora radius and bricht,
On loft‡ is gone the glorius Appollo,
The blisfull day depairtit fro the nycht:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

[*treated; †stretched; ‡Aloft]

The grit victour agane is rissin on hicht,
That for our querrell to the deth wes woundit;
The sone that wox all paill now schynis bricht,
And dirknes clerit, our fayth is now refoundit;
The knell of mercy fra the hevin is soundit,
The Cristin ar deliverit of thair wo,
The Jowis and thair errour ar confoundit:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

The fo is chaisit, the battell is done ceis,
The presone brokin, the jevellouris fleit and flemit*;
The weir is gon, confermit is the peis,
The fetteris lowsit and the dungeoun temit†,
The ransoun maid, the presoneris redemit;
The feild is win, ourcumin is the fo,
Dispulit of the tresur that he yemit‡:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

[*fled and banished; †emptied; ‡kept]
[For any who wish, I will supply a modernized version...]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

St Augustine on the Passion

Yesterday and to-day, the Church bids us read at Matins the commentary of St Augustine on verses of Psalm 63, which he rightly interprets in the context of the Lord's Passion, the suffering of the Saint of saints and the true and faithful Witness, the Prince of Martyrs: for "the New the Old reveals, the Old the New conceals".  Here are the extracts used on Good Friday and Holy Saturday (although I haven't been able to fill up a missing part of Lesson vi):

Good Friday

Lesson iv

You have protected me from the gathering together of malignants, and from the multitude of men working iniquity (Psalm 63:2). Now upon Himself our Head let us look. Like things many Martyrs have suffered: but nothing does shine out so brightly as the Head of Martyrs; in Him rather let us behold what they have gone through. Protected He was from the multitude of malignants, God protecting Himself, the Son Himself and the Manhood which He was carrying protecting His flesh: because Son of Man He is, and Son of God He is; Son of God because of the form of God, Son of Man because of the form of a servant: having in His power to lay down His life: and to take it again. (John 10:18) To Him what could enemies do? They killed body, soul they killed not. Observe. Too little therefore it were for the Lord to exhort the Martyrs with word, unless He had enforced it by example. 

Lesson v

You know what a gathering together there was of malignant Jews, and what a multitude there was of men working iniquity. What iniquity? That wherewith they willed to kill the Lord Jesus Christ. So many good works, He says, I have shown to you, for which of these will you to kill Me? (John 10:32) He endured all their infirm, He healed all their sick, He preached the Kingdom of Heaven, He held not His peace at their vices, so that these same should have been displeasing to them, rather than the Physician by whom they were being made whole: for all these His remedies being ungrateful, like men delirious in high fever raving at the physician, they devised the plan of destroying Him that had come to heal them; as though therein they would prove whether He were indeed a man, that could die, or were somewhat above men, and would not suffer Himself to die. The word of these same men we perceive in the wisdom of Solomon: with death most vile, say they, let us condemn Him; let us question Him, for there will be regard in the discourses of Him; for if truly Son of God He is, let Him deliver Him. (Cf. Wisdom 2:20,18.)

Lesson vi

For they have whet like a sword their tongues (Psalm 63:3). Which says another Psalm also, Sons of men; their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword. Let not the Jews say, we have not killed Christ. For to this end they gave Him to Pilate the judge, in order that they themselves might seem as it were guiltless of His death. For when Pilate said to them: You put him to death, they responded: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. [...] But if he is guilty because he did it though unwillingly, are they innocent who compelled him to do it? By no means. But he gave sentence against Him, and commanded Him to be crucified: and in a manner himself killed Him; ye also, O you Jews, killed Him. Whence did ye kill Him? With the sword of the tongue: for you did whet your tongues. And when did ye smite, except when you cried out, Crucify, Crucify? (Luke 23:21)

Holy Saturday

Lesson iv

There shall draw near a man to a deep heart, and God shall be exalted (Psalm 63:7). They said, Who shall see us? They failed in searching searchings (Psalm 63:6), evil counsels. There drew near a man to those same counsels, He suffered Himself to be held as a man. For He would not have been held except He were man, or have been seen except He were man, or have been smitten except He were man, or have been crucified or have died except He were man. There drew near a man therefore to all those sufferings, which in Him would have been of no avail except He were Man. But if He were not Man, there would not have been deliverance for man. There has drawn near a Man and a deep heart, that is, a secret heart: presenting before human faces Man, keeping within God: concealing the form of God, wherein He is equal with the Father, (Philippians 2:6) and offering the form of a servant, wherein He is less than the Father.

Lesson v

To what did they bring those their searchings, in which searchings they failed, so that even, when the Lord was dead and buried, they set guards at the tomb? For they said to Pilate, That deceiver; by this name the Lord Jesus Christ was called, for the comfort of His servants when they are called deceivers; they say therefore to Pilate, That deceiver said when yet living, After three days I will rise again: (Matthew 27:63-66) Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away and say to the people: He is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate saith to them: You have a guard.  Go, guard it as you know.  And they departing, made the sepulchre secure, sealing the stone and setting guards.

Lesson vi

They set for guards soldiers at the sepulchre. At the earth quaking, the Lord rose again: such miracles were done about the sepulchre, that even the very soldiers that had come for guards were made witnesses, if they chose to tell the truth: but the same covetousness which had led captive a disciple, the companion of Christ, led captive also the soldier that was guard of the sepulchre. We give you, they say, money; (Matthew 28:12-13) and say ye, while yourselves were sleeping there came His disciples, and took Him away. Truly they failed searching searchings. What is this that thou sayest, O unhappy astuteness? To what extent hast thou not abandoned the light of the counsel of piety, and have immersed thyself in the depths of cunning, that this thou sayest: Say, that is, you sleepers, his disciples came, and stole him away? Sleeping witnesses ye adduce: truly you yourself hast fallen asleep, that in searching such devices hast failed.