Saturday, May 22, 2010

First Vespers of Pentecost, O.P.

Using a nice mediæval Office has its pleasing surprises – such as tonight (it's but six o'clock and dark, for winter is here in Tasmania already, at the end of a sunny but freezing cold day of -1 to 12°C), when I first lit up the six candles atop the little book case before my prie-dieu, and readied myself to read First Vespers of this greatest feast, the Advent of the Holy Ghost: for it transpires that in the Dominican Breviary, both Vespers of Pentecost (and throughout its Octave) have but three psalms, not the usual five.  

In this, Whitsuntide parallels Easter Week according to the Rite of the Friars Preachers, when from Easter Sunday evening to Easter Friday evening, for those six days of the New Creation in Christ our Risen Lord, Psalms 109, 110 and 111 are read daily.  Just so, as I now discover, first this night we begin Pentecost with Psalms 145, 146 and 147 – for all these are Laudate psalms, and the Dominicans keep the common mediæval practice of singing only such psalms for first Vespers of all feasts (but including Psalms 112 and 116 first, to make up the usual five) – and then for the six Vespers of Whit Sunday through to Whit Friday evening, Psalms 109, 110 and 111 are sung each night.  Again we celebrate six days of the New Creation in God's Spirit!

I was very taken by certain significant lines in this Hour.  For a start, I give due thanks to the Holy Ghost for enlightening me (as I humbly hope He did) as to the deeper sense of the Little Chapter, Factus est repente (Acts ii, 2): for when we read that the Spirit "filled the whole house where the Apostles were sitting", do we not see that this "house" is the Church of the Living God, and that house only wherein sit "the Apostles" and their successors, the Pope and his brother bishops?  (The Breviary supplies the word Apostoli, "[the] Apostles", to make sense of this single verse; in the original, it simply says "they", evidently referring back two verses to Acts i, 26, which mentions the Apostles.)

Secondly, in the Vesper hymn Beata nobis gaudia, the Church sings in supplication, Te nunc, Deus piissime, Vultu precamur cernuo, Illapsa nobis cælitus Largire dona Spiritus – "Thee now, most kindly God, we pray Thee, bowing [Thy] Face down [to us], to grant unto us the infalling Gift of the heavenly Spirit" (or so I roughly read it).  Be it so!


Mark said...

The simply fact that you possess a Prie-Dieu makes me jealous!

Joshua said...

A nice old lady I know gave me one of hers - she had three!!!

Mark said...

Ah, she doesn't have a spare still does she? ;-p