Friday, February 29, 2008

Fire and Ice

No wonder it felt hot at work today... Perth's maximum temperature was 41.5 C!

Yet over back home in Tasmania, Mum tells me that Dad was out this evening picking the tomatoes lest they be ruined by the *frost* overnight - and my old haunt of Hobart shivered with an unseasonally low high of 13.5 C. It reminds me of wintry clear days long past down south, with the icy wind blowing down the Hobart streets off the Mountain.

Station at SS Cosmas & Damian

I've recently bought a nice old hand-missal, a 12th edition Abbot Cabrol type (circa 1949), with propers for Australia as well as for England, Scotland and Wales. It was $55 but I was glad to get it (a secondhand book dealer had been on the lookout for one for me). On Sunday I took it back to Mass with me - I say "back", for the text of the Ordinarium Missæ is so well-thumbed that its first owner, a Mr J. J. Doyle, certainly prayed with it at church day after day.

Tonight I took it back to Low Mass for the first time in 40-odd years. Fr Rowe had alerted me yestereven that Fr Shelton, P.P. of St Joseph's, Bassendean (who supplies for Fr Rowe every now and then) is starting up a Trad. Mass in his parish, and the first Low Mass was to be on at 7.30pm tonight.

After dinner (with a long enough gap to keep the fast), my housemate James and I drove over to hear Mass. there was enough time beforehand to pray the whole of that long prayer I like but rarely manage to say: the Prayer 'of St Ambrose' before Mass (actually, by John of Fecamp) normally broken up into bits for each day of the week. There were about a dozen locals in attendance, plus some ring-ins like James and myself, our fellow Latin-Mass-goer Troy (who served), Fr Rowe, and one of the Friars of the Immaculate. I understand that several of the men present will be training or helping train others to serve at Mass.

Fr Shelton is still a bit unsure about finding his place in the Missal and some other minor items (not to criticize, but because he turned the pages to read a second postcommunion, as per the rubrics, he then forgot to read the Oratio super populum, which is quite understandable if one is not au fait with the peculiarities of the Lenten ferial Masses), so Low Mass took about 40 minutes (there was no sermon). We sang three well-known ditties: "Hail, Redeemer, King Divine" at the start, "Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all" at the offertory, and a Marian hymn at the end.

Today is mid-Lent Thursday, and the orations of the Mass are, unusually, offered in honour of SS Cosmas and Damian, the titular saints of today's station church in Rome. As the Secret puts it, "In honour, Lord, of the precious death of the just, we offer that sacrifice from which all martyrdom hath drawn its source." May these holy unmercenaries pray for us! Also, a second collect, etc., was said in commemoration of St Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, whose feast day falls this day in leap years: the prayers, being quite recent, are unusual in their style and content, and worth pondering. So today we fêted three saints at the liturgy. The Introit is the (unusually) non-scriptural text "Salus populi ego sum", which recurs on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

St Photina, Woman of Samaria

Although it isn't heard till Friday in the old rite, those given the Novus Ordo benefitted this 3rd Lenten Sunday just past from the Gospel passage de Samaritana concerning Our Lord's encounter with the Samaritan Woman (St John iv, 5-42); in select parts of Spain those following the Mozarabic Rite heard these salvific words on the 2nd Sunday, as do the people of the Church of Milan in their own Ambrosian Rite; the Copts must wait till the 4th Sunday of their Lent.

While it seems that at the time of the saving appearance of Christ this woman was no lady (consider her five husbands plus a de facto), according to the Greeks she was later baptized and given the new name of Φωτεινη ("enlightened" - cf. Hebrews vi, 4), for Baptism is after all the great sacrament of illumination (hence its Patristic name of Φωτισμος), drawing one from the darkness of hopeless sin and error into the Christ-light of grace and truth. Furthermore, according to various accounts, she preached the Good News until she was martyred at Carthage or Rome (her head being kept as a relic, 'tis said, at St Paul's Outside the Walls). Thus the Byzantine Menaion and Traditional Roman Martyrology revere her as St Photini (in Russian, Svetlana) or Photina respectively.

While for reasons of some paucity of evidence her mention is not found in the present ordinary form Martyrology, she is still feasted throughout Christianity, and it seems to me intrinsically plausible that one so privileged as to converse pertly and yet fruitfully with Christ would in due season be baptized and saved.

Her commemoration in the Byzantine Rite occurs on the 26th of February (when first I read of her) and on the 20th of March (in common with the West), and again on the 5th Sunday of Easter in the Byzantine Rite.

Here is her icon, and here her Apolytikion (Dismissal Hymn):

Illuminated by the Holy Spirit,
All-Glorious One,
from Christ the Saviour
you drank the water of salvation.
With open hand you give it
to those who thirst.
Great-Martyr Photini,
pray to Christ
for the salvation of our souls.

Our Lord indeed was tired and thirsty when He sat down at Jacob's well, as He toiled for our salvation; thirstiest of all was He when He cried out in death upon the Cross, thirsting more for our souls than for succour; may such labours not prove for me in vain:

Quærens me sedisti lassus,
Redemisti crucem passus;
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oculi mei Sunday, Mihi autem Monday

I've just finished off my solitary portion of the fish curry I cooked up; who knows where the housemates have got to!

Earlier this evening I served Fr Rowe's Low Mass for the Feast of St Matthias. It was hot again [over 35° C], and so I was boiling in my cassock and surplice, but to serve at God's altar and see the consecration so close by is an inestimable honour and delight. I had offered to sing the Proper so we could have a Missa Cantata, as he often likes for feasts when Mass is in the evening, but he was tired from his trip to Bunbury yesterday arvo and today on Mass supply, and has my friend Justin's mum still to visit in hospital: oremus pro ea.

Since I'm back to saying and hopefully praying the modern Office, it was a startlement to have Mass of the Apostle, since I won't meet him in the Liturgy of the Hours till the 14th of May; also, his feast only falls on this day (instead of the 24th) in a bissextile or leap year.

I like how the classical Roman Liturgy fêtes the apostles, with Psalm 138:17 - Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eorum ("Yet to me exceedingly honourable are made Thy friends, O God: exceedingly strengthened is their princedom") - appointed for the Introit and Gradual, Psalm 44:17f - Constitues eos principes super omnem terram... ("Thou shalt constitute them princes over all the earth...") - for the Offertory, and St Matthew xix, 28 - Vos, qui secuti estis me, sedebitis super sedes, judicantes duodecim tribus Israël ("Ye who have followed Me shall be seated upon seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel")- for the Communion. It emphasises how the Apostles are constituted rulers over all the lands, as princes in Christ's new and eternal Kingdom; and while we customarily style SS Peter and Paul as Princes of the Apostles, even the replacement Twelfth, St Matthias, in stead of evil Judas, ranks with them as royalty.

(Excuse me while I pour a beer; I've just laid in a small supply of Orval Trappist ale, complete with the appropriate glass... Ad sanctum Matthiam! Yes, this one has the distinctive old socks smell...)

[I trust the monks will excuse me copying a picture not dissimilar to the one in front of me! After all, I am buying their holy product, doing my bit for the upkeep of monasticism in Holy Church.]

I went over the texts of the Mass while kneeling in the pew before togging up, since it is better to serve unencumbered by a book, and was struck by the curious phraseology of the Collect:

Deus, qui beatum Matthiam Apostolorum tuorum collegio sociasti: tribue, quæsumus; ut ejus interventione, tuæ circa nos pietatis semper viscera sentiamus. Per...

This must surely literally be rendered as - ! -

O God, Who didst join blessed Matthias to the college of Thine Apostles: grant, we beseech, that by his intervention, we may ever feel about us the bowels of Thy piety. Through...

While I rather like archaic turns of phrase, as should be obvious (I resolved from the start of this blog to post just what I pleased, even if it appear odd: if the cap fits, wear it), still I would usually baulk at saying something such as "I conjure thee by the bowels of Christ's compassion"!

As for Oculi... (I just love calling the Sundays by their Introits; a lovely medieval habit still kept up by our dear misguided brethren the Lutherans!) Yesterday, Fr Rowe, taking as his foundation the Gospel of the Sunday (St Luke xi, 14-28), preached on the attacks of the devils, and how the saints - as the Cure of Ars, and Padre Pio - were assaulted by them, and yet rather rejoiced in this, for it proved that they were not among those who, enthralled still by the world and the flesh, are not troubled by Satan, since he wickedly considers them bound over to him already. We must oppose the Satanic Non serviam with Servio (as appropriately is the motto of the adjacent Royal Perth Hospital), yea, with Our Lady's enduring Fiat: Fiat voluntas tua, Deus meus. The Epistle too (Ephesians v, 1-9) stands as a stark warning against giving in to the false standards of the present age, as to bad behaviour.

I did enjoy singing the Propers, even though they were hard, even after we'd practiced, and as regards their inspired texts especially perhaps worth noting is the Communion (Ps 83:4-5) - Passer invenit - besides the Tract (Psalm 122:1-3) and indeed all the rest of the service. I relish sung Mass, and hate to miss it on Sundays. Best of all, Fr Rowe, always waiting in the tribunal of penance before Mass, is a kindly confessor, and received my humble admission of guilt.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Truly he is worthy of his name, the Angel of the Church of Smyrna, Polycarp, for he bore much fruit by the grace of God our Saviour, and persevered unto death in bearing witness to him: thus he won the crown of life (cf. Apoc. ii, 8. 10). This great martyr of the early Church has long been one of my favourite saints.

Who could not be moved by the authentic record of his martyrdom, no less than by his own epistle to the Philippians, or indeed by the epistles sent to him and his church, among the famous collection of letters left us by St Ignatius of Antioch?

What, too, of those vignettes remarking his zeal for the truth and terror of heresy: his own account, given to and preserved by St Irenæus, of his master St John the Evangelist fleeing the bathhouse at Ephesus upon sighting a notorious Gnostic, “lest the walls collapse, for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within”; and the story of Polycarp himself, while at Rome to consult with the Pope upon the date for Easter, as a faithful disciple of St John, the evangelist of the true Incarnation and Passion, and first enemy of the spirit of Antichrist, rebuking proud Marcion the heresiarch, upon running into him – for, being conjured by the same to “recognize” him, Polycarp responded by saying “I recognize... the firstborn of Satan!” These texts, these words, these deeds, Divine Providence has preserved for us as precious souvenirs of the saintly first Christians.

While in the old rite (a.k.a. the extraordinary form) he is feasted on the 26th of January, in the new rite (the aptly named ordinary form) he is celebrated today, on the 23rd of February – in agreement with the Byzantine calendar.

All was presaged beforehand by St John the Divine, in his Epistle to the Angel of the Church at Smyrna, preserved for us as chapter ii, verses 8-11, of the Apocalypse (Revelation), and appointed nowadays as the first reading at Mass according to the postconciliar books:

“And to the angel of the Church at Smyrna write: Thus says the First and the Last, who was dead and is alive:
“I know thy tribulation and thy poverty, but thou art rich; and that thou art slandered by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
“Fear none of those things that thou art about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will haave tribulation for ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.
“He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

It is instructive to note that the Lord addresses the “angel” (the good bishop himself, surely) in the second person singular throughout, except for in the second sentence of verse 10, where reference is made to those members of the Smyrnæan Church who are later recorded as suffering for the Faith by the same Epistle (written by others of the same Church) that goes on to record at length the stirring martyrdom of St Polycarp.

The Roman Breviary and Missal give only a proper 3rd Lesson (not from his own writings, but merely a short biographical sketch, albeit by St Jerome) and Epistle (not the above passage, but I John iii, 11-16) respectively for him, taking the rest from the relevant common; the 1738 Paris Missal has the following proper orations:

Deus, cujus gratia beatum Polycarpum Pontificem tuum in sacerdotium elegit, doctrina ad prædicandum erudiit, potentia ad perseverandum confirmavit; da nobis ex ejus imitatione populum Christianum et instruere vivendi exemplo, et confirmare patiendo. Per…

(O God, Whose grace chose blessed Polycarp thy Pontiff for the priesthood, taught him doctrine for preaching, and strengthened him with power to persevere; give unto us from the imitation of him both to instruct the Christian people by the example of our living, and to strengthen them by our endurance. Through…)

Præsenti sacrificio, Domine, corda nostra purifica; et cum beato Polycarpo Martyre tuo atque Pontifice, tamquam pinguissimum nos holocaustum assume. Per…

(By this present sacrifice, Lord, purify our hearts; and, with blessed Polycarp thy Martyr and Pontiff, receive us as a most rich whole burnt offering. Through…*)

Pater Unigeniti et benedicti Filii tui Jesu Christi, da nos, quæsumus, in tribulatione patientes, partem capere cum beato Polycarpo in calice Christi tui, ad resurrectionem vitæ æternæ; ut te laudemus et glorificemus per sempiternum Pontificem Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat…

(Father of Thine Onlybegotten and blessed Son Jesus Christ, give us, we beseech Thee, in suffering tribulation, to take hold of a share with blessed Polycarp in the chalice of Thy Christ, for resurrection unto life eternal; that Thee we may laud and glorify through the everlasting Pontiff Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee liveth…*)

*Cf. St Polycarp’s own prayer at his martyrdom:

O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received our knowledge concerning thee, the God of angels and powers, and of the whole creation, and of all the race of the just who lived before thee,
I thank thee that thou hast deemed me worthy of this day and hour, that I should have my portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, unto the resurrection of eternal life, both of the soul and body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among these may I be received before thee this day as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, even as thou hast prepared and made manifest beforehand, and hast fulfilled, thou who art the unerring and true God.
On this account, and concerning all things, I praise thee, I bless thee, I glorify thee, together with the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ thy beloved Son, with whom to thee and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
(Martyrdom of St Polycarp, 14:1b-3)

The modern rite adapts this last prayer, and its source in the account of the death of St Polycarp, for the proper collect:

Deus universæ creaturæ, qui beatum Polycarpum episcopum in numero martyrum dignatus es aggregare, ejus nobis intercessione concede, ut, cum illo partem calicis Christi capientes, in vitam resurgamus æternam. Per.

(God of all creatures, Who didst deign to aggregate blessed bishop Polycarp to the number of the martyrs, grant unto us at his intercession, that, grasping with him a share of the chalice of Christ, we may rise again to life eternal. Through…)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Obœdientia et Pax

The Venerable Baronius, that faithful disciple of St Philip Neri, used always to kiss the foot of the statue of St Peter in the Vatican Basilica, in token of his entire submission to Christ's Vicar on earth, the Pope, saying as he did so, Obœdientia et pax ("Obedience and peace"). I invite all sons of the Church to do the same this day, the Feast of Peter's Chair.

Act of Faith

O my God, I believe in Thee, and in all that Thy Holy Church teacheth, for Thou hast said it, and Thy Word is true.

I also offer my congratulations to my former parish priest, the (now Most Reverend) Geoffrey Jarrett, who seven years ago today was consecrated Bishop of Lismore, N.S.W. - ad multos annos, Your Lordship!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ave Regina Cælorum

One delight of Lent, and from before Septuagesimatide since Candlemas, is the seasonal Marian anthem, Ave Regina cælorum, together with its ancillary versicle and collect. Here is its later, simple form:

(Hail, Queen of the Heavens!
Hail, Lady of the Angels!
Hail, Source, hail, Portal,
From whom to the world the Light hath risen!
Rejoice, Virgin glorious,
beautiful above all!
Farewell*, O truly lovely,
and for us graciously pray Christ.)

[*It appears that this anthem was first sung in the Office as an antiphon on the Feast of the Assumption, saluting Our Lady as the Virgo Assumpta, bright as the sun, fair as the dawn, passing beyond this mortal coil to live and reign forever with Christ. But it hymns her regarding her whole central role in the economy of salvation, making possible the saving Incarnation. She alone it was who has brought forth Emmanuel, God and Man, the one true Light to this darkened world. She is the branch of royal David's stem, whereon the Flower of salvation has blossomed, as Isaias sings. She is the unsealed fountain, the Garden enclosed, the royal portal through which only the chosen Prince may pass, without dishonour to her integrity, as Ezechiel in figures prophesied. She is the gate through which has passed He Who is the only Gate and Door to heaven. Therefore is she highly magnified! Truly God has cast the mighty from their seats, as when Satan was thrown down into hell after rebelling in the proud thought of his corrupted heart, and likewise He has raised up the lowly, exalting his Handmaid to Queen of all under God. May she pray for us!]

Indeed, the customary appended versicle of this fine song is close to my heart, seeing as I say it as part of my prayers upon arising (together with its elder brother, Dignare Domine die isto, sine peccato nos custodire, on which I blogged much earlier):

Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata - Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

(Deign me to praise thee, sacred Virgin - Give me strength against thine enemies.)

It has always interested me to note that one prays not for strength against one's own foes, but against those of the Immaculate: for those who are foes to her are truly foes to us her children, whereas those we regard as our own enemies may not rightly be so.

The collect, too, is instructive and edifying, and rightly asks - for is it not the pure exclamation of our wise Mother the Church? - for what God our Lord desires to grant:

Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostræ præsidium: ut qui sanctæ Dei Genetricis memoriam agimus, intercessionis ejus auxilio, a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. R/. Amen.

(Grant, merciful God, protection to our frailty: that we who keep the memory of the Holy Mother of God may rise again from our iniquities by the help of her intercession. Through the same Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.)

Here, from Edinburgh, is a vision of the anthem, versicle and collect being sung at the end of Mass, beginning during the reading of the Last Gospel (hence the genuflection) - here in W.A., we follow the contrary Australian custom, and listen to the Last Gospel read aloud, even at sung Mass, refraining from any music or singing:

Truly we pray aright when we invoke God the Father of mercies, praying that commemorating the all-holy, pure, spotless Theotokos, we may be raised up at her maternal, perpetual, and indeed universal intercession with the One Mediator, her Son the Lord Christ. Thus she is truly the Mediatrix of All Graces - for did God not give the world his Son, the Source of All Grace, only through her? - and how then shall we deny the much lesser truth that God, who delights to answer all prayers, would not ever grant her prayers for all, or, better, make use of her as his elect vessel and wholly-graced and inspired Handmaid (cf. Sr Luke i, 28. 38), distributing the graces of the redemption her beloved Son and His won for us, seeing as she is testified to by Scripture as blessed by all generations (St Luke i, 48), and truly so, as the Mother of Our Lord, ever holy because ever obedient, as firm in her Fiat as (excuse the comparison) the Dark One in his Non serviam? For she is ever opposed to the infernal serpent, whom by God's power triumphant in her she grinds under foot: so by her aid may we ask of God, as St Paul also interceded (and still intercedes): "Beat down Satan under our feet" (cf. Romans xvi, 20). Thus may Christ triumph in us his sinful members when by his grace we return from death to life, from sin's slavery to Christian liberty: "for freedom Christ has set us free" (Galatians iv, 31).

The Dominicans have an especially pleasant variant text and tune for this hymn to Our Lady, which on a time I have sung with them many a time.

"I'll sing a hymn to Mary, the Mother of my God..."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ghostly Counsel

Some helpful advice from a holy Franciscan to whom I have confessed:

Say three Hail Mary's each morning, begging for the grace to avoid deadly sin, and say another three at night, in thanksgiving for graces received and the preservation of one's soul from stain: one may add devoutly "By thy pure and immaculate conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy" (Per tuam puram et immaculatam conceptionem, O Maria, fac purum corpus meum et sanctam animam meam), while kneeling.

In obedience to Our Lady's desires at Fatima, pray the Rosary daily, and make sacrifices for sinners.

Practice such easy and hidden mortifications as: to prefer another's will to thine own; to choose to partake of something one does not like, or to take less of what one does like.

Advice received in the confessional - as, to pray the Rosary daily - partakes of a quasi-sacramental efficacy, and so is graced.

Go not from one priest to another, but prefer to confess to one's regular confessor, and inform him always if one has been shriven by another, and of any advice one may have received therefrom.

Strive to strengthen one's will; avoid near occasions of sin; have always a firm purpose of amendment.

Beseech God for all necessary graces unto salvation, for unto such prayers He delights to hearken.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The promise of heaven as reward for our labours in Christ is put before us today.

Of course, no natural works can ever merit a supernatural reward, but as members of the Body of Christ, His merits are our own, if we are indeed supernaturally united to Him, and so our good deeds, done for God's glory, inspired by His grace and perfected by the same, become supernaturally meritorious, and earn for us the immarcescible crown (I Peter v, 4) - an endless reward, to be ever with the Lord, a prodigal recompense for our sorrows, labours, and trials here in this passing life.

Our Lord's Transfiguration is not only His manifestation of His glory and majesty, to arm His disciples against despair at the sight of his fast-approaching Passion: it is His promise of what believers shall attain, if only, persevering to the end, they are saved.

We ought (as Fr Rowe preached today) frequently to repeat the prayer of St Peter, "Lord, it is good to be here" - that is, Lord, it will be good to be with Thee in heaven: grace me to attain it.

Just as last Sunday we were shown Satan's machinations, and forewarned of Hell, so today we glimpse Heaven, that last of the Last Things, toward which we should strive. As the first postulate of practical reason informs us - Eschew Evil, Seek after Good.

It is not for nothing that, besides the Synoptic Gospellers (St Matthew xvii, 1-9; St Mark ix, 1-9; St Luke ix, 28-36), St John alludes to this great theophany: "And we have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth" (i, 14), in words repeated at the end of every classical Roman Mass. St Peter, too, in his second "encyclical", speaks of this sacred doctrine, in words linking the Transfiguration (II St Peter i, 16-18) to our own deification (II St Peter i, 4):

II St Peter

1:1 Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord:
3 As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.
4 By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.
10 Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time.
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
16 For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness.
17 For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
18 And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.

On a somewhat lesser note, I close with mention of today's beautiful Introit, which we sang at Mass: "Reminiscere miserationem tuarum Domine..." (Remember Thy mercies, O Lord...), with its beautiful intonation and swelling notes. It reminds me of that other sentence of Scripture: "In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin" (Ecclesiasticus vii, 40). Would that I would! Thank God for confession and absolution, recently given and received, but always needed again... This life is a warfare: Remember thy mercies, O Lord.

After the end of Mass, we sang (perhaps more appropriate to last Sunday!) "Forty days and forty nights", whose words and stirring Germanic tune may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Invocabit me, & Our Lady of Lourdes

Work has been a real killer...

The Sunday "at the head of the forty days" was intituled of old Invocabit (me), from the opening of its Introit. (Curiously, while even among Traddies this has died the death, Lutherans still do so!) And how great it is that the Introit (Ps 90:15-16a, 1), the Gradual (Ps 90:11-12a), above all, the Tract (Ps 90:1-7,11-16), the Offertory (Ps 90:4-5a) and the Communion (ditto; and with which we sang further verses of the Psalm again) - every one of the variable chants of the Mass - should all come from that wonderful Compline Psalm, Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi, echoing the last words of the Gospel reading: "and behold Angels came and ministered to Him" (St Matthew iv, 11).

Psalm 90 Qui habitat.

1 He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High,
shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.
2 He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge:
my God, in him will I trust.
3 For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters:
and from the sharp word.
4 He will overshadow thee with his shoulders:
and under his wings thou shalt trust.
5 His truth shall compass thee with a shield:
thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
6 Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark:
of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand:
but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 But thou shalt consider with thy eyes:
and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou, O Lord, art my hope:
thou hast made the most High thy refuge.
10 There shall no evil come to thee:
nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
11 For he hath given his angels charge over thee;
to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear thee up:
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk:
and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
14 Because he hoped in me I will deliver him:
I will protect him because he hath known my name.
15 He shall cry to me, and I will hear him:
I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
16 I will fill him with length of days;
and I will show him my salvation.

This Psalm is indeed a word of hope, and I must recommend the great 17 sermons of St Bernard upon it: they are available in Latin here.

Since the people's Kyriales at the Pro don't contain Mass XVII, we sang the ferial Mass XVIII instead, so they could join in with the Ordinary, while we executed the Propers (lest we all die of oversinging, or of the M.C.'s wrath, we psalm-toned the Gradual and Tract). Curiously, it was decided to sing Psalm 129, the De Profundis, with the Offertory as antiphon... while at Mass's end, in anticipation of the next day, we sang the Lourdes Hymn, before Mass and the Asperges we led the congregation in James McAuley's "May this Lenten discipline", one of the last decent productions of Australian Catholic hymnwriters.

Fr Rowe gave us a sobering sermon on the three sources of temptation: "the lust of the flesh" (impurity), "the lust of the eyes"(avarice), "and the pride of life" (ambition) - I St John ii, 16 - and their respective contraries and cures: fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. He especially and forcefully counselled guarding oneself from the deluge of impurity now abroad, that vice and crime more answerable for the damnation of souls than any other, warning us of the awful truth that St Paul reminds us of: "Neither fornicators,... nor adulterers, nor the effeminate,... shall inherit the Kingdom of God" (I Cor. vi, 10-11).

And then, on Monday evening, we were able to sing a Missa Cantata for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Again, the propers of the Mass are most beautiful and apposite. While it would have been nice to sing Alme Pater, we went with Cum jubilo instead (that is, Mass IX, not Mass X), since again the people's Kyriales only have the latter. For the Offertory Motet, we rendered the Vespers hymn of the feast, and at Communion we sang the Magnificat interleaved with the Communion itself, finishing off after Mass with the Lourdes Hymn, of course. Fr Rowe being away preaching an Ignatian retreat somewhere in Sydney, Fr Holmes, a fine old Irish priest - a Camillan, who says Mass with effortless grace and devotion - stepped in, and gave us a gentle homily recounting his own pilgrimage to Lourdes, back in 1965.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Trinitati Gloria, Captivis Libertas

Christ's Triumph over Temptation

While having my confession heard by my ghostly father this day, he advised me to seek God's grace to conquer temptation, and in so doing imitate Our Lord God, Jesus Christ, Who remained night and day in prayer to His heavenly Father: for, though tempted by Satan forty days in the wilderness, He sinned not, but overcame all trials owing to His steadfast adherence [as man] to the Will of the Father [Whose Will is also His as God, since in the Trinity there is only one Divine Will]. Therefore, as penance he bade me read and reflect upon the Gospel of this the First Sunday of Lent (identical in both old and new rites, or rather forms of the one Roman Rite) - St Matthew iv, 1-11.

St Thomas Aquinas, I recalled while reading and thinking on the sacred text, avers that in this pericope we see how the machinations of the Devil are laid bare, for our instruction and forewarning. (The Common Doctor's own commentary on this passage can be found, in Latin, here; and of course he discusses the Temptation of Christ in the Summa Theologiae, III, 41 - most especially, in art.4, resp.)

First - as we know in our own lives - the crafty tempter proposes some seeming good within our power, such as, in our Lord's case. to turn stones into bread: which would seem innocent of harm, but in fact would have been incorrect, as a prostitution of wonderworking for menial and base ends conducing not to the furtherance of the Kingdom (whereas the miracles of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes were aimed at not so much sating the hunger of the many as shewing them Who it was that preached conversion to them). Second, the Evil One suggests some secretly prideful and presumptuous act, as to tempt God by calling for divine aid on the pretext of a twisted scripture. Third - here Satan uncloaks himself - he shamelessly calls us to do that which is most vile and base, as to commit devil-worship for the sake of filthy lucre and temporal sovereignty, or for whatever wrongful end.

Our Lord, however, defeats him who is a liar and murderer from the beginning by the force of the truth of God's word, in each case proving from the five books of Moses that the action proposed is contrary to faith and morals. Thus ought we depend more on God's word than on any fleshly food; thus ought we never place ourselves in some occasion of sin whereby we vainly put God to the test to see if He will save us from ourselves and our inclinations to evil;thus ought we above all remember at all times "The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve".

Redemption from the Slavery of Sin

I also reflected today on two Orders, their saints, and the liturgical collects thereof, being very pertinent to the theme of being loosed from the slavery of sin and made God's children and free: those relating to the Trinitarians and Mercedarians. Both religious societies were set up, in answer to heavenly insinuations, within a few decades of each other (in 1198 and 1218/1235 respectively), and for the same object, the ransoming and rescue of Christian men held captive by the Moors and Saracens.

The former was founded by SS John of Matha and Felix of Valois, upon reception of various signs and revelations from heaven, also shared by the great Pope Innocent III, who clothed them in their white habit marked with the red and blue cross previously shewn them between the antlers of a stag, and named them the Order of the Most Holy Trinity by reason of their tricolour vesture; their Order's motto is Trinitati Gloria, Captivis Libertas ("Glory to the Trinity; to Captives, Liberty"), or, as a prayer, Gloria tibi Trinitas, et captivis libertas ("Glory to Thee, O Trinity, and to captives, liberty!").

The latter, named in honour of Our Lady of Ransom or of Mercy, she who manifested the will of heaven to her chosen instruments St Peter Nolasco (together with, it is said, his confessor, St Raymond of Peñafort, O.P.) and King James of Aragon, was co-founded by these men; one of its first and most famous members was St Raymond Nonnatus, so called because delivered by caesarean section after his mother's death. St Peter Nolasco died while praying the 110th Psalm, at the verse Redemptionem misit Deus populo suo ("God hath sent redemption unto His people" ).

These saints are commemorated in the 1962 Missal with very apposite prayers, as follows:

St Peter Nolasco, Confessor, Mercedarian - 28th January:
Deus, qui in tuæ caritátis exémplum, ad fidélium redemptiónem sanctum Petrum Ecclésiam tuam nova prole fœcundáre divínitus docuísti : ipsíus nobis intercessióne concéde ; a peccáti servitúte solútis, in cælésti pátria perpétua libertáte gaudére: Qui vivis et regnas...

(O God, Who for an ensample of Thy charity, didst divinely teach holy Peter to make fruitful Thy Church with a new offspring, for the redemption of the faithful: by his intercession grant unto us, being delivered from the bondage of sin, to rejoice in the endless freedom of our heavenly fatherland. Who livest and reignest...)
St John of Matha, Confessor, Trinitarian - 8th February:
Deus, qui per sanctum Joánnem órdinem sanctíssimæ Trinitátis ad rediméndum de potestáte Saracenórum captívos cælitus institúere dignátus es: præsta, quæsumus; ut, ejus suffragántibus méritis, a captivitáte córporis et ánimæ, te adjuvánte, liberémur. Per Dóminum...

(O God, Who through saint John didst deign in heavenly manner to institute the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the redemption of captives from the power of the Saracens: grant, we beseech Thee, that at the intercession of his merits, we may by Thee be delivered from all bondage both of body and soul. Through...)
St Raymond Nonnatus, Confessor, Mercedarian - 31st August:
Deus, qui in liberandis fidelibus tuis ab impiórum captivitáte beátum Raymundum Confessórem tuum mirábilem effecísti: ejus nobis intercessióne concéde; ut a peccatórum vínculis absoluti, quæ tibi sunt placita, liberis méntibus exsequámur. Per Dóminum...

(O God, Who didst effect Thy blessed Confessor Raymond marvellous in the deliverance of Thy faithful from the capitivity of the impious: by his intercession grant us that, the bonds of sin being dissolved, with free minds we may perform those things which are pleasing unto Thee. Through...)
Our Lady of Ransom, or, of Mercy - 24th September:
Deus, qui per gloriosíssimam Fílii tui Matrem, ad liberándos Christi fidéles a potestate paganórum nova Ecclésiam tuam prole amplificáre dignátus es: præsta, quæsumus; ut, quam pie venerámur tanti operis institutricem, ejus páriter meritis et intercessióne, a peccátis ómnibus et captivitáte dæmonis líberemur. Per eúmdem Dóminum nostrum...

(O God, Who by the most glorious Mother of Thy Son didst vouchsafe to increase Thy Church with a new offspring for the redemption of Christ's faithful from the power of the heathen: grant, we beseech Thee, that as we piously revere the Institutrix of so great a work, by her equal merits and intercession, we may be delivered from all sins and the bondage of the devil. Through the same...)
St Felix of Valois, Confessor, Trinitarian - 20th November:
Deus, qui beátum Felícem Confessórem tuum ex erémo ad munus rediméndi captívos cælitus vocáre dignátus es: præsta, quæsumus; ut per grátiam tuam ex peccatórum nostrórum captivitáte, ejus intercessióne, liberáti, ad cæléstem pátriam perducámur. Per Dóminum...

(O God, Who by a heavenly inspiration didst deign to call blessed Felix Thy Confessor from the desert to the work of the redeeming of captives: grant, we beseech thee, that, by Thy grace, at his intercession, delivered from the captivity of our sins, we may be brought to our heavenly fatherland. Through...)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Devotions at the Pro

From 5.30pm onwards there will be Stations of the Cross, followed by Low Mass, and then a Eucharistic Procession to the Grotto of Our Lady, where the Rosary will be said before the Blessed Sacrament on the Grotto Altar, and Benediction given, in order to gain the special Lourdes indulgence.

*Update* I was dragooned into serving at the Marian/Eucharistic Holy Hour! And now my right knee is really sore (an old injury has flared up this past week). :-(

I stopped off after work at the Redemptorist Monastery to be shriven, and got to the Pro at 6.15pm, walking in just as Fr was arranging the chalice on the altar, being about to start Low Mass. After Mass (Lenten feria, with commemoration of St John of Matha), I was summoned to serve alongside Aaron (who'd served the Mass as he usually does): so, on with cassock and surplice, and on to light up all the candles on the altar, the big six and the two candelabras...

The Holy Hour began just before 7pm, with "O salutaris" at Exposition. Then, all taking up the Lourdes hymn, a Eucharistic procession went forth to the Grotto, with Henry carrying the umbrellino over the Blessed Sacrament.

The Grotto altar had been cleaned and dressed; we arrived as George was struggling to light the last of the candles there (again, big six and two candelabras). Then, Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes, another longer prayer to the same, Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, Prayers for the Pope's intentions, Litany of Loreto (chanted in Latin) and finally Benediction.

Next, back to the Pro (singing "Sweet Sacrament Divine"), and, once there, "Soul of my Saviour", Prayer for Conversion of Australia, a second Benediction (concluding with Reposition accompanied by Ps 116 with "Adoremus in aeternum", after the Divine Praises), and final hymn "O purest of creatures", concluding just before 8pm.

The Lourdes Holy Hour had been designated as one of our pre-WYD events, so it was good to say hi to some of our fellow-pilgrims-to-be afterward. Several of us then had dinner with Fr, making a pleasant end to a tiring but rewarding day.

Day of Ashes

Lent began, for me, with Office of Readings read in our chapel, followed by Lauds sung with the guys - our office hymn was "The glory of these forty days", with its stirring words. Then, off to work...

In the evening, Andrew, Justin and myself formed the choir for Fr Rowe's Missa Cantata, preceded of course by the blessing and imposition of ashes. Missa XVIII and Gregorian Propers - we only sang the "Emendemur in melius" sans Gloria, since there weren't that many to be ashed - with Offertory motet "Attende Domine et miserere", and the Communion sung with psalm-verses. For a recessional we sang James McAuley's "May this Lenten discipline", a favourite of mine.

Several of us got together to 'break' the fast with a (Lenten) meal afterwards.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fastnacht - Pancake Tuesday

Well, vale to carne for the next 40 days!

We had a feast of corned beef for dinner, followed by the obligatory pancake, and concluded with Compline. (I still have to say the Office of Readings before midnight comes and with it Lent.) I have been shriven previously, recently... Such a pity that the French term "Mardi Gras" (Fat Tuesday, signifying the last day to eat up foods once forbidden in Lent) has taken on the unhealthy connotation in Australia of the Sydney immoralists' parade.

It struck me today how disconnected we are in the Southern Hemisphere from the European connexion of the natural and supernatural seasonal cycles. The very word "Lent" derives from the old term for Spring, referring to the lengthening of the days as Summer approaches, but here in Australia the opposite is true. In other languages the word for Lent carries different connotations: τεσσαρακοστη in Greek, meaning the "fortieth" [day] before Easter, which was translated into Latin as "quadragesima", and then evolved into Italian (quaresima), Spanish (cuaresma), French (carême), etc.; or the very emphatic German term "Fastenzeit" - "fasting time".

Tomorrow even brings with it another Missa Cantata: 6.30pm at the Pro.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Twist on Quinquagesima

The Book of Divine Worship, that Catholic liturgical text drawing on Anglican sources, and allowed for use by those under the Pastoral Provision for former Anglicans in the United States, includes verbatim - as the Collect for the 7th Sunday after Epiphany - the BCP Collect for Quinquagesima. As it has been baptized, so to speak, or at the least been received into full communion, I have no hesitation in quoting what is a most appropriate prayer, given the Quinquagesima Epistle of I Corinthians xiii:
O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: Send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Missae Cantatae

Something of a record - I sang at two Missae Cantatae today!

At the Pro.

Firstly, the 9.15am Missa Cantata at St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth: Justin played the organ and led the singing of many of the ladies of the mixed choir - attempting the Gregorian Propers for the first time - plus myself (on and off I've been singing the chant since the mid-nineties, so tho' my voice is rather rough and note-imperfect, some knowledge and practice have helped me to improve a bit). We had little time for practice beforehand, unfortunately, as the ladies and I had each gone to confession first.

The programme:

Processional Hymn "On this day the first of days"
Gregorian Propers of Quinquagesima Sunday - incl. psalm verses with the repetition of the Communion antiphon
Credo I
Hymn for a Martyr "Deus tuorum militum" - at the Offertory, in honour of St Blaise, Bp & M, whose day this is*
Recessional Hymn "Faith of our fathers"

Father preached on spiritual blindness, and how we ought see the good in others and praise it, not criticize, criticize, criticize! We ought imitate one of the early bishop-martyrs, whose hands were amputated for smashing an idol of Jupiter the Romans wished him to worship, but by blessing with his bloodied limbs gave sight to a blind child, and, summoned by the very cruel persecutor to work a like miracle of healing, freely gave his blessing, made efficacious by Christ, and thus, repaying his enemy good for evil, obtained the sweetest triumph: his tormentor and family were converted, baptized, and themselves gladly died for Christ, so that persecuted and persecutor now reign together in heaven, Amen.

*Fr gave the customary blessing of throats after Mass: holding crossed candles (blessed previously) to the throat of each person, the priest prays, "Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo" (May God at the intercession of Saint Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil) and then blesses the recipient with the sign of the Cross.

At Kelmscott

Today was the first Sunday TLM at Good Shepherd Church, Kelmscott - from now and henceforth to be at 2pm (mainly Low Mass, with a sung Mass once a month or so). To celebrate, Fr began with a Missa Cantata - his second today, and ours too - Justin and I sang the Mass, with Rosemary assisting when she could (she was taking photos as well), and good congregational participation. Indeed, there was a good attendance - 90 people on a hot Western Australian afternoon - and more people than had been at the parish's regular early Mass. There really is a demand for the Extraordinary Form: Kelmscott exemplifies this, as the parishioners themselves had petitioned for it. How good, too, to remember their late Parish Priest, Fr Brunetti, who had always longed to restore the old Mass in his parish, but died in 2006: it is his old missal that now is and will be used at the altar each Sunday.

The Programme

Processional Hymn "Holy God we praise Thy Name"
Gregorian Propers of the Mass of Quinquagesima Sunday
Missa de Angelis (no Gloria, of course!)
Credo III
Solemn "Alma Redemptoris Mater" at the Offertory (yes, by now it should have been the "Ave Regina caelorum"!)
Hymn in honour of St Blaise* "Deus tuorum militum", and "Ave verum" at Communion
Recessional Hymn "Faith of our fathers"
Solemn "Te Deum" in thanksgiving for the return of the TLM

Fr preached a different sermon, on how we must ask for the grace to open our spiritual sight to behold the mysteries of the Mass that now we celebrate.

*Again, throats were blessed.

Afterward, two men fell into conversation with me, and it transpired they'd both tried their vocation at St Charles' Seminary in the early '60's, and were amazed to recognize each other after a long separation. One had travelled a long way to come to the Mass, and was much moved to finally come home to the Mass of his youth, candidly admitting that he had never liked the new Order of Mass in its abysmal English translation. Both had brought their old St Andrew's Daily Missals, and I shewed them mine, inherited from the mother of a friend. Both had sung the Ordinary, and one was pleased to test his memory of the opening lines of Low Mass with Fr Rowe. How many other Catholics have been in the desert these forty years and more, finding the new worse and the old better, deprived of and longing for the inheritance of their forefathers? Quoting the Pope, Fr Rowe had reminded us that what was holy and good can never cease to be holy and good, and hence the Mass was not somehow repermitted, but recognized as never forbidden - for how could it be?

Anyhow, I for one have had a busy weekend: three Missae Cantatae in two days. Phew!

Successful Novena

All prayers are answered - but the answer given may not be that solicited!

As St Ambrose warns us, "God often grants in His wrath what He withholds in His mercy"... For after all, has not God determined from all eternity what shall come to pass, by His secret and unsearchable decrees of Divine Providence and Predestination? What then of free will? - well, God is so great as to be able to create beings with free will, but of course He knows what decisions each and all shall freely make. What then of prayer? - as St Gregory observes, "God hath determined from all eternity that certain favours shall only be granted at the intercession of His saints" (whether on earth below or in heaven above, united as all are in the communio sanctorum). It is a marvellous property of God that He prefers to work through secondary causes, as in giving new creatures life, not by creating them ex nihilo, but by the agency of procreation; similarly, by prayer we assist in the ongoing work of creation, indeed of redemption, of recreation. We do not pray, Aquinas writes, so much as to change God's Will, as to change our will, that it may be conformed to the Divine Will: "Thy Will be done". We ask favours, then, confident that our Good God shall grant much more than we ask for or even imagine.

By the example of Our Lady and the Apostles, foregathered in the Cenacle at Our Lord's command, ere He ascended, to pray for and await in hope the coming of the Holy Ghost the Paraclete, we learn that a nine days' prayer is approved by the inspired Word as suitable for the beseeching great favours. For this reason, the Church commends the making of Novenas, not by any pretended efficacy of nine redoublings of prayer, but in holy imitation of the confident petition of the first believers, which was sealed and proven by the descent of the Divine Spirit at Pentecost.

Led by Fr Rowe, the Latin Mass parish has made a novena - to St Brigid, whose feast occurred recently - and today, the Novena having concluded, we learnt what success it has achieved: while not all details are yet settled, in principle St Brigid's, West Perth, will become the new home for the Latin Mass apostolate in the Archdiocese of Perth. St Brigid's is a handsome, well-equipped, and *much larger* church than the Pro., which has become too small for the burgeoning congregation hearing Mass therein. Deo gratias!

We thank St Brigid, ever enjoying the Beatific Vision, for having aided her clients with her powerful prayers, that the little ones of Christ here on earth, howsoever stricken and sin-stained, yet humble members of the suffering Body of Christ, the Church Militant, have been helped by one of the strong limbs of the Body of Christ in the Church Triumphant, to attain a favour - a great favour, conducing we trust to the achievement of their eternal salvation by reason of their greater and more convenient access to the Sacraments and Offices of Holy Mother Church.

Shakespeare in the Park

I caught up with a dear relative of mine, and some of her friends, this evening, for I joined them in King's Park to attend a play of Shakespeare, "As You Like It", which I hadn't seen before. It was good fun, especially as someone had had the amusing idea to camp it up and put the actors in 1960's outfits of the bizarrest! The Forest of Arden became a hippie commune, for instance - ROTFL. Good fun, and great to have a picnic beforehand, with some pleasant company, food and drink. Did I mention the ducks? - lots of local waterfowl (of which I'm very fond, whether alive and quacking, or roasted and carved) from nearby the pond and stream came sauntering around before sunset, obviously wishing to glean the scraps from all these people gatecrashing their park! I hope we didn't keep them up too late.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


My mate Justin is back (from holidays in Melbourne) and tells me: (a) how good it was to attend St Aloysius, Caulfield, where Frs Tattersall and McDaniel, FSSP, celebrate the TLM, and friends of mine, David and Jennifer, lead the excellent choir; and (b) how nice it was to sit in the pew there, hear Mass, and relax - since here, Justin is one of the principal singers and organists!

Since he's back, we didn't have to restrict ourselves to psalm-toning the propers anymore. Instead, today, starting just after 9am (a procession of quick confessions, including mine, caused the delay), we had the solemn blessing and distribution of candles, with that marvellous antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem", then a procession to Our Lady's Grotto and back, singing the Adorna &c. - how tired we were from singing and walking! - and then on with the Missa Cantata, with full Gregorian Propers, and the lovely Missa cum Jubilo (whose Sanctus and Agnus Dei are familiar to me from singing it with the nuns at the Carmel back home), plus Credo I, the solemn Alma Redemptoris at the offertory, the Vesper antiphons at communion, and hymns "Hail to the Lord Who comes" (while Fr vested for Mass) and "Mary Immaculate, star of the morning" (as the recessional).

Several texts of the Liturgy caught my attention - for example, the "Adorna" and the Magnificat antiphon "Hodie", both obviously from the Greek. Indeed, "Adorna thalamum tuum" is a translation of a troparion attributed to Cosmas the Hagiopolite: "Adorn thy bridal chamber, Sion, and receive Christ the King; embrace Mary, who is the gate of heaven, for she herself carrieth the King of glory of the new light; she remaineth a Virgin, bearing in her hands the Son begotten before the daystar, Whom Simeon receiving in his arms proclaimed Him to the peoples to be the Lord of life and death and Saviour of the world".

But especially I delighted in the inspired words of the Psalmist: "Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui: secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae: justitia plena est dextera tua" (We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple: according to Thy Name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth: full of justice is Thy right hand - Ps 47:10-11). These words are set so expressively for both Introit and Gradual, the Liturgy itself marvelling at the reception of Our Lord, Divine Mercy incarnate, the Right Hand of God, and likewise the perfection and fulness of justice, in the midst of the temple - the meeting of the God and Son with the God and Father, with God the Spirit moving the devout to come and worship: the Presentation is a Theophany, a revelation of the Trinity, and so a blessing unto all peoples. The collect well says, "Almighty eternal God, we humbly pray Thy Majesty: that, just as Thine Onlybegotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so may Thou make us to be presented unto Thee with purified minds. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. - Amen."

To return to the details: Justin and I were each paratus (i.e. in cassock and surplice) in the sanctuary, tho' he had to dash down the back to the organ for the hymns. I think it may be better to sing at the front, rather than down the back - I for one could hear the congregation joining in the chant very much more. It was moving to kneel at the Gospel side, holding my lighted candle during the Canon, and seeing Fr's face a picture of unselfconscious devotion as he lent forward to quietly speak the Words of the Lord to consecrate the Host and Chalice, then to look up at the elevated Species, worshipping, holding the candle high.

The only accidental drawback? Unfortunately, it was quite warm in church, and I for one was dripping with sweat. [The day's maximum temperature was 37°C.]

Fr Rowe reminded us (in his sermon) that the candle shews us how we ought live - for its flame points upwards, and it consumes itself as it burns brightly before men: so should we ever have thoughts directed toward God and heaven, so should we sacrifice ourselves in doing our duty and bearing witness to the Gospel in the world.

Candlemas is one of my favourite feasts, for its ritual and for its riches theological. Many threes crop up: God in Trinity, manifested as He Whose Temple it is, He Who is brought there to be presented to His God and Father, and He Who inspires the aged Simeon and Anna the prophetess; St Joseph, Our Lady, and the Infant Jesus - the Holy Family; and the candles, each of which is a triple unity of wick, wax, and flame.

Blessing, Procession and Mass ended at 10.45am. As I had to get back to collect my car with its new tyres before noon, I didn't stay on.

St Brigid, Virgin, 2nd Class Feast

My on-again, off-again use of the Roman Breviary continues... tonight, after Low Mass, I borrowed Fr Rowe's Breviary to pray Vespers, and so celebrated Vespers of St Brigid, that pearl of the Irish Church, firstfruits of the maidens of that land for Christ (the rest of the day I used the Divine Office, but will probably end with 1962 style Compline).

In the proper calendar for the dioceses of Australia, in the old rite, she merits a 2nd class feast; but while St Patrick's Day is still a solemnity in Oz, even in the Novus Ordo, his disciple, the Mary of the Gael, no longer has a place - so much for women's rights! Anyhow, at the TLM she displaced the (beautiful) proper Mass for St Ignatius, Bp & M, leaving him to be commemorated only.

On the spur of the moment, realizing that I had prepared a fair amount of curry earlier, I asked Fr to come join us for dinner, since I've many times benefitted from his generous invitations to join him and other friends for meals. To my surprise and relief, the tinned mackerel I'd curried Penang-style with various vegies tasted quite good! A Belgian beer (Leffe blonde) beforehand, fresh figs (brought by Fr) for dessert, several cups of tea afterward, and Cointreau on ice to finish made for a fine Friday feast.