Friday, July 31, 2009

Gradual Psalms

Praying the fifteen Gradual Psalms (so called because they mark the steps, as it were, of the pilgrims to the Temple of old; mystically, they signify the active life, the ascent of the soul toward God, and progress in the spiritual life) is an ancient, even a pre-Christian devotion - it is said that Holy Mary prayed them in this manner when she came into the Temple, she who is the model of all Christians and the image of Holy Church.

As it says in Psalm 83:6-8, Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te: ascensiones in corde suo disposuit,... ibunt de virtute in virtutem: videbitur Deus deorum in Sion (Blest the man whose help is from Thee: he hath prepared goings-up in his heart... they shall go from strength to strength: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion). All of Psalm 83 might well be read as a commentary on these pilgrim songs, going up to Jerusalem - that is, in this life, into Holy Church, an image and foretaste (being the Mystical Body of Christ) of our final goal, which is after death to enter Heaven.

Only he who is strengthened supernaturally by grace, beyond all human aid, can do so - his heart is prepared and he thereby prepares it to ascend: Sursum corda - Habemus ad Dominum. Ascending the fifteen steps, in faith and deed, now in mystery, in Holy Church united, God shall be perceived: just as one day, face to face, the Beatific Vision shall be seen, by those who by grace persevere unto the end. If even now we abide in faith, hope and charity, God is in our souls, and so the Kingdom of God - Heaven - is within (as Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity notes).

(Our Lady advancing by steps, signifying her utter dedication to God, inspired by the Holy Ghost, Who filled her with grace ever since her Immaculate Conception.)

By the early Middle Ages, these Gradual Psalms came to be recited in choir before Matins; St Pius V removed the obligation to do so out of choir, and St Pius X removed the remaining choral obligation (which was to say them on Wednesdays in Lent, except in Holy Week or on feasts of nine lessons). However, to pray them is of course laudable, and Pius V himself, in 1568, granted an indulgence to their use (originally equivalent to fifty days' canonical penance on the days prescribed in the Breviary for their use in choir, and forty days' otherwise, but increased to seven years' in 1932) - even to-day they are still explicitly indulgenced prayers. According to the Breviary, they are divided into three groups of five psalms, each group followed by a Pater, versicles and Collect.

In the Little Office, though the Dominican form includes them all, the Roman doesn't use the last three (Pss 131-133). To have the benefit of reading over the last three in particular, and of all fifteen together, I prayed them to-night, as Friday penance - but why not read them devoutly for whatever cause? (Navigate through the Officium Divinum site - they appear under Preces.)

Matters Jesuitical

Poor St Ignatius - with honourable exceptions, he can't be too pleased with his sons the Jesuits these last forty years... I think Jesuits are like the proverbial little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead: when they're good, they're very, very good, but when they're bad they're horrid!

I recall the Dominican joke: The Dominicans were established to defeat the Albigensian heresy, while the Jesuits were established to defeat the heresy of Protestantism - now, when was the last time you saw an Albigensian? (Dominicans speak of dealing with Jesuits under the heading of inter-faith relations.)

And of course, again with sterling exceptions (Fr Fessio over in the U.S., Fr Jordan in Brisbane, etc.), the Jesuit love-hate relationship with the sacred liturgy can best be expressed thus: "I'm as confused as a Jesuit in Holy Week" and "To Jesuits, if at the end of Holy Week no one has died, they've got through it well". While St Ignatius esteemed the Divine Office, and orders it be praised as one of his rules for thinking with the Church, famously he innovated by not requiring it of his new Society. One of the Popes commanded the Jesuits to observe the choral Office - the Jesuits thereupon offered many thousand Masses that this order be rescinded. It was: the Pope died. Do you see why I say the S.J.'s have a strange view of liturgy?

(Another rather cynical Pope candidly remarked, I hate the Society of Jesus - every time I name them, I am forced to bow my head.)

As Fr Faber wrote, in the spiritual life there is the method of obedience and the method of liberty - and, like St Philip Neri, whom St Ignatius compared to the church-bell, never entering himself but calling all others inside (into the religious life, especially in the Society of Jesus, to which order St Philip directed many aspirants), I am glad there are divers religious orders, each suited to certain persons, but feel I could never stand the Jesuit way: I prefer being led by the Spirit into the freedom for which Christ delivered us - as St Augustine said, Ama, et fac quod vis. (Of course, one must beware letting freedom degenerate into an excuse for licence.)

Back in 1999, I made the Thirty Days' Retreat in Melbourne, and I must say it did rather disrupt my prayer life.

But truly, what has abetted Hell has been the defection of too many Jesuits to the Enemy of the human race. Such blind guides belong not to the Society of Jesus, but to the Society of Judas! Among them are all those who have striven to ease consciences, especially of the powerful, by (for instance) helping persons avoid adhesion to the teachings of the Church on moral matters - some misused Aquinas to argue that abortion in the first weeks was licit, since the soul hadn't yet entered the body: I speak of Jesuits advising wealthy Bostonian Catholics in the 1950's. Others, again before the Council, performed sacrilegious experiments, weighing and examining Hosts before and after Consecration to see if the accidents really remained unchanged or not! And as for that pseudoscientist and artful dodger, Teilhard de Charlatan...

Still, just as a preacher once said on St Ignatius' feast, "Down with the Jesuits, down with the Jesuits, down with the Jesuits - cries Satan." Abusus non tollit usus - serving the Lord as they rightly should, as shock troops of the Pope, they are a mighty sword in the hand of the Church Militant.

St Ignatius, obtain that the spirit and fire thou didst bequeath thy sons be stirred up anew, to the greater glory of God, and the salvation of souls.

Perth, W.A. Latin Mass - August Bulletin

Fr Rowe asked me to put his monthly bulletin on my blog; here is the August edition (it makes me wish I could have such access to Mass and the rest as I used to in Perth!):


Month of the Assumption

ST JOHN’S PRO-CATHEDRAL, Victoria Ave, Perth

The Traditional Latin Mass times & schedule at the Pro-Cathedral: Masses on

Sundays- 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am with the rosary prayed before Masses.

Mass can be followed in Latin/English/Italian Missals available for use at the door.

Hymn books and purple Kyriales for sung Masses are available for use also.

SUNDAY August 2 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am 9th After Pentecost

Monday 3 7.45am Finding of the Body of St Stephen

Tuesday 4 7.45am St Dominic, Confessor

Wednesday 5 10.00am Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 8.45am – 9.45am

Our Lady of the Snows

Thursday 6 12.10pm TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD preceded by

Holy Hour and Benediction 11.00am – 12.00noon.

Friday 7 6.30pm St Cajetan, preceded by Holy Hour & First

Friday Benediction 5.30pm – 6.15pm

Saturday 8 9.00am St John Vianney & Blessed Mary McKillop & Benediction

SUNDAY August 9 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am 10th After Pentecost

Monday 10 7.45am St Lawrence, Martyr

Tuesday 11 6.30pm St Philomena, Preceded by

Devotions & Benediction 5.30pm – 6.15pm

Wednesday 12 10.00am Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 8.45am – 9.45am

St Clare of Assisi, Virgin

Thursday 13 12.10pm St Hippolytus & Cassian preceded by FATIMA DEVOTIONS

and Benediction 11.00am – 12.00noon.


Saturday 15 8.00am & 10.00am & 6.00pm ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED


SUNDAY August 16 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am 11th After Pentecost

Monday 17 5.30pm St Hyacinth, Confessor

Tuesday 18 7.45am St Agapitus, Martyr

Wednesday 19 10.00am Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 8.45am – 9.45am

St John Eudes, Confessor

Thursday 20 12.10pm St Bernard, Confessor

Friday 21 5.30pm St Jane de Chantal, Widow

Saturday 22 9.00am IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY then Benediction

SUNDAY August 23 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am 12th After Pentecost

Monday 24 7.45am St Bartholomew, Apostle

Tuesday 25 7.45am St Louis of France

Wednesday 26 10.00am Preceded by Holy Hour & Benediction. 8.45am – 9.45am

St Zephyrinus, Pope & Martyr

Thursday 27 12.10pm St Joseph Calasanctius

Friday 28 5.30pm St Augustine, Bishop

Saturday 29 9.00am Beheading of St John the Baptist

SUNDAY August 30 7.30am & 9.15am & 11.15am 13th After Pentecost

CONFESSIONS: Heard before Mass on Sunday, weekday Masses and after if necessary. Please make the effort to go to confession during the week so that those only able to make Sunday Mass can go then.

On Sundays please be there at least 10 minutes before Mass to go to confession otherwise may miss out.

SUNDAY MASS IN KELMSCOTT AT 2.00pm: Good Shepherd Church, 44 Streich Ave, Kelmscott

Also Mass on the feast of the Assumption Saturday 15th August at 12.00noon – Holy Day of Obligation.

MASS IN BUNBURY: St Thomas Church, Locke Street, Carey Park.

Sunday at 6.00pm: 16 August 09 Sunday 6 Sept 09 18 October 09

Monday: 17 August (8.00am) 7 Sept (8.00am) 19 October (8.00am)

Sunday 2nd August:Portiuncula Plenary Indulgence may be obtained, under the usual conditions,

to the faithful who devoutly visit a church and pray the Our Father and the Creed.

Fatima Devotions Thursday 13th August beginning 11.00am with Exposition and Benediction, rosary, litany & Fatima prayers, Mass at 12.10pm; continuing on the 13th of each month until October.

Feast of the Assumption Saturday 15th August 2009: Masses at 8.00am, 10.00am & 6.00pm at St John's Pro-Cathedral. Mass at 12.00noon at Good Shepherd Church, 44 Streich Ave, Kelmscott


Six Precepts of the Church: 1. Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. 2. Confess sins at least once a year. 3. Receive Holy Communion at least once during Easter season. 4. Observe the days of fast and abstinence. 5. Help provide for the needs of the Church. 6. Marry in a Catholic church.

Silent retreat in Toodyay, Sunday evening 4th October – Friday afternoon 9th October 2009.

Contact Fr Rowe for further details and to register for the retreat.

Daily Latin/English Missal for sale:Never been used. $100 see Fr Rowe

Book Barrow: 9 August after all Sunday Masses. (08) 9446-5069

Flowers for the Altar: If anyone has any spare flowers at home, please bring to the church so they can be arranged before Mass. Donations for flowers may also be placed in box on bookcase.

New Email addresses: If you wish to receive a copy of the bulletin and notices by email, please email the following address: Each month the notices will be emailed to you automatically. If you wish to contact Fr about any other matter use the following email address: Please use this email for all matters.

Seating at Sunday Masses: If possible, please always occupy the front pews close to the windows first, then the back pews. Be aware if you arrive late there are usually seats up the front so feel free to move up there. Each pew can comfortably fit four people so please move up to be courteous to others so they can find a space to sit.

Parking on Sundays in Mercedes College: Gates are locked after 11.15am Sunday Mass so make sure your car is out promptly. Please remember Mercedes College in your prayers and park courteously.


Please note that smoking is not permitted in Mercedes, and ensure that your children are under adult supervision on school grounds at all times.

Latin Mass Website:

Mantillas for sale: $12.00 available at the church from piety stall.

Holy water: Available from the sacristy, please bring a bottle and help yourself.

Toilets at hospital: facilities are open at Royal Perth Hospital in the main entrance and also next to the emergency entrance.


PO Box 337 NORTH PERTH W.A. 6906

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Officia Propria

Google Books gives access to all manner of curiosities - indulging myself, I did a search for Officia Propria, and found an 1824 edition of the special Breviary Offices proper to the Servite Order. They certainly went to town on things Marian, dolorous and otherwise: it seemed as if every feast of Our Lady had an Octave. Furthermore, each and every month, on the first unimpeded day, the Office of the Conception of the Virgin was to be used; on the second, that of her Most Holy Name; on the third, that of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites; on the fourth, that of St Philip Benizi; on all free Fridays, that of the Seven Sorrows; and of course on all Saturdays, that of Our Lady. In addition to various Servite saints and blessed, several with Octaves, one other feature was noteworthy: St John the Evangelist, being Mary's adopted child, and thus a most appropriate model for Servites, had his Office said on the first free day after each Ember Week. One wonders if the Servites in the nineteenth century ever saw a ferial day at all!

Here is the Collect for the Servite Office of St John Evangelist, used four times a year:

Excita, Domine, spiritum, quo Virginis filius Joannes illam dilexit, ut eo repleti studeamus amare, quam amavit, eidemque condolere, ut condoluit. Per.

(Stir up, Lord, the spirit, with which the Virgin's son John loved her, that filled with it we may study to love what he loved, and to feel the same griefs that he grieved. Through…)

I must admit, I have always rather liked picturing St John as Our Lady's chaplain, reading Mass for her as she knelt on a prie-dieu, saying her own Hours! Fr Faber repeats the pious notion that, by a miracle, from one Communion to the next the Host remained undigested within her breast, as once her Son did abide in her womb... Hmmm. The fifth Lesson at Matins alludes to God, Who maketh men of one mind to dwell together in a house (Deus qui inhabitare facit unius moris in domo - Ps 67:7a; quoted in the Rule of St Augustine), when speaking of St John receiving the Sorrowful Virgin into his home, following that heart-wrenching commendation from the Cross: they dwelt together, being of one mind and heart in God.

Chant Practice Resumed

I am a little late in noting this, but on Tuesday night we resumed our Gregorian chant schola-in-formation, and have agreed to continue to meet on Tuesdays (excepting the third Tuesday of each month), at 7.30 pm at St Francis, Riverside, for an hour's practice. Fr Allan has proposed, and we've gladly agreed, that we will work towards singing Benediction, and eventually Compline - which one day perhaps we can do in public on the Saturday evening, ad mirandum populi.

After a few scales, we went over the simple Kyrie (from Mass XVI), plus the Sanctus and Agnus Dei we'd learnt (from Mass XVIII), then the first verses of the Veni Creator, and the start of the Ubi caritas et amor. This done, Fr bade us listen to some recordings of monks singing the Introit Da pacem (with its opening leap of a fifth) of the 18th after Pentecost, and then the famed Gradual Christus factus est from Holy Thursday. This acted to spur us on; we then practised Psalm 133 (Ecce nunc benedicite, from Sunday Compline) and revised the Corpus Christi Magnificat antiphon O quam suavis (which to an experienced ear sounds awfully like both the Sanctus from the Missa de Angelis, and the Dominican anthem O lumen Ecclesiæ).

As we had begun with a prayer, an Our Father and some invocations of the saints, we closed with the Compline Responsory In manus tuas, as our prayer. As usual, we had the meeting after the meeting - some long discussions in the parish carpark afterward. It's good to talk with likeminded folk.

SS Abdon and Sennen - II

Another year is over... if interested, read what I wrote last year for the feast of the ancient Persian martyrs Abdon and Sennen.

Very little is known of them - oh, except that they died for the Faith of Christ, in true and unyielding witness to Him. It seems to me a good thing to celebrate such saints, about whom only what is essential is known: their perseverence to the end, by the grace of the Holy Ghost.

The Orthodox, too, hymn and feast these holy men, on this same date (the 30th of July) - but, in jurisdictions still adhering to the Julian calendar, this doesn't fall until the 12th of August according to the Gregorian calendar.

May they pray for us!

Here is the comment Dom Alban Butler makes about the marvellous constancy of the white-robed army of Christ's martyrs, in reference to these two saints:

The martyrs preferred torments and death to sin, because the love of God above all things reigned in their breasts. "We say we are Christians," says Tertullian; "we proclaim it to the whole world, even under the hands of the executioner, and in the midst of all the torments you inflict upon us to compel us to unsay it. Torn and mangled, and weltering in our blood, we cry out as loud as we are able to cry, That we are worshippers of God through Christ." Upon which Mr. Beeves observes, that no other religion ever produced any considerable number of martyrs except the true one. Do we ever read of any generation of men so greedy of martyrdom, who thought it long till they were upon the rack, and were so patient, so cheerful and stedfast under the most intolerable torments ? Socrates was the only philosopher that can be said to have died for his doctrine; and what a restless posture of mind does he betray, who was esteemed the best and the wisest of the heathens? With what misgivings, and fits, of hope sand fear, does he deliver himself in that most famous discourse, supposed to have been made by him a little before his death, about a future state? And neither Phaedo, Cebes, Crito, Simmias, nor any other of his greatest friends who were present at his death, durst maintain either his innocence, or that doctrine for which he died, in the Areopagus. With what reserve did Plato himself dogmatize concerning the gods whom he worshipped in public, but denied in private? How did he dodge about, disguise himself, and say and unsay the same excellent truths? Only the Christians suffered at this rate, and they held on suffering for several hundred years together, till they had subdued the world by dying for their religion. What could engage such a number of men in such a religion, and support them in it, in defiance of death in the most shocking forms, but evident truth, and a superior grace and strength from above?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Just arrived from an antiquarian bookstore in Germany: a 1939 edition (with binding a bit loose at the front and back) of the Officium parvum Beatæ Mariæ Virginis et Officium Defunctorum, cum Psalmis Gradualibus et Pœnitentialibus ac Litaniis Sanctorum e Breviario Romano excerpta - Latin only, printed at Ratisbon. It gives all these services in full, and, for Our Lady's Hours, prints them all out for the three 'seasons' - during the year, at Advent, and after Christmas. As an added bonus, it contains the special Office for All Souls Day.

This slim little volume (16 by 10 by 1 cm) I've acquired to have the Little Office and so forth in a neat hardback pocketbook - I currently keep the 1997 Carmel Books edition (paperback, slightly thicker and less tall) in my jacket pocket, but thought I should upgrade it. What would be nice would be a Vademecum Christianum, with Little Office, divers prayers, New Testament and Imitation of Christ all-in-one, but they're rare as hens' teeth, and very expensive.

I'll look at getting this otherwise very useful volume rebound... since I paid, ummm, oh dear, AU$85.13 for it, I think I ought treat it very carefully! But for to-night I'll use it to read Vespers.

Now, to acquire a real Book of Hours - that would really cost serious money...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saints o' the Day

Is it true, gentle readers all, that ye are displeased seeing I have posted less concerning the saints of late? The lessening of your visits here would seem to teach me this.

Well, this evening I've opened up my martyrologies, and behold!

To-day is the commemoration of the Seven Sleepers (secondary patrons of the Dormitionists), and of St Symeon Stylites (the Elder - referred to here), doyen of pillar-dwelling ascetics, to name but some of the hallowed men who fell asleep in the Lord on this great day.

Likewise, to-day died St Celestine I, he who defeated proud Nestorius the archheretic by the agency of the Council of Ephesus, declaring Mary Most Holy the true Mother of God (Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata: da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos; Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas hæreses sola interemisti). To-day also reposed in the Lord St Clement of Ochrid, Apostle of the Bulgarians.

To-day died many holy martyrs, such as five slain at Cordoba by the Moors during their fanatical rule in Spain; and five martyrs slain in Spain by the Communists during their fanatical rule in Spain: how times change... I also note a passionbearing nun, St Anthusa, whipped and exiled for her stedfastness in the cult of icons by Constantine Copronymous (aptly so-named: at his baptism, he crapped in the font, foretelling his later treatment of holy things), and two priests martyred (one in England, one in Wales) under wicked Elizabeth I (she who died, paranoid and alone, lying amongst her own ordure: departing thence to the stench of hell).

The white-robed army of martyrs praise thee, O God!

Last but first, comes St Pantaleon, martyr at Nicomedia in Bythinia, one of the holy unmercenaries, who has a commemoration at Lauds in the Breviary to-day:

Grant, prithee, God almighty: that, blessed Pantaleon Thy Martyr interceding, both from all adversities we may be delivered in body, and from depraved thoughts be cleansed in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Riverside Again

While I do far prefer the traditional rite of Mass, I can only get that once a month here in Tasmania (yay, next week Hobart again!) - a sad state of affairs, since apart from other problems I feel really put off daily Mass, which is bad I know (valuing the accidents over the substance). Having heard Mass this morning to St Francis, my home parish though I've rarely gone there for years and years, I was pleasantly surprised: Fr Allan is a gentle, pious priest and thus gave the liturgy its rightful aura of calm; he preached on the value of the Mass as the greatest prayer. (I estimate about 70 were at Mass.) I even enjoyed singing some of the hymns (from childhood, forgive me, I've liked the setting of Psalm 99 - "All the earth proclaim the Lord" by Deiss!) and the setting of the Ordinary: wonderful, too, to hear a sung Preface in the new rite at last. Getting away from diocesan self-satisfaction, footy-culture and smug mediocrity was good.

It was good, too, to speak afterward with some fellow parishioners I'd not seen for years, and for Fr Allan to say hello. Unfortunately, I was still put off by the thing that first drove me away from Riverside: the almost overbearing eagerness of sincere-minded folk there to smile, greet, and pester. I often feel alienated at Mass: the last thing I want is to be enveloped by suffocating caring and sharing - if I feel uncomfortable, shy, and at a loss, I would much prefer to be given some space. (That was why I sat right down the back!) Before even the procession had returned to the sacristy, a nice old lady was at my elbow enquiring if I'd like a cup of coffee afterward! I said "No," rather sharply, whereupon she wished me a nice holiday - thinking me a visitor en route elsewhere, rather than a parishioner who just wanted to be let be, so I could say my prayers after Mass. This was curmudgeonly of me I know.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

St Anne

While to-day is the feast of St James Matamoros, and commemoration of St Christopher the great martyr, to-morrow (but for it being Sunday) would be the feast of St Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin. As the Latin Mass community in Perth is still in process of moving to their new church of St Anne (the restoration of which has taken far longer than anticipated, for reasons beyond anyone's control), I offer the following apposite prayer, taken from an old edition of the Raccolta:

Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum, tua gratia sit mecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedicta sit Sancta Anna mater tua, ex qua sine macula et peccato processisti, Virgo Maria; ex te autem natus est Jesus Christus Filius Dei vivi. Amen.

(Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; may thy grace be with me. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is holy Anne thy mother, from whom, O Virgin Mary, thou didst come forth free from all stain of sin; then of thee was born Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. Amen.)

Commemoratio de omnibus Sanctis

(Please excuse the rather unorthodox Trinity depicted!)

One feature of the pre-1962 Little Office that I like is the Commemoration, at Lauds and Vespers, of all saints - which in a sense is a condensation into one collect (actually, two under one conclusion) of the six or so commemorations in the pre-1912 Breviary. I esteem it because it is an excellent general intercession, rather like the preces in fact; when praying Our Lady's Hours, I follow the '62 rules, but immediately after the Fidelium I then recite this Commemoration:

Aña. Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute.

(All ye Saints of God, deign to intercede for our and all men's salvation.)

V/. Lætamini in Domino, et exsultate, justi.
R/. Et gloriamini omnes recti corde.

(Rejoice in the Lord, and exult, ye just.
(And glory, all ye upright of heart. - Ps. 31:11)


Protege, Domine, populum tuum, et Apostolorum tuorum Petri et Pauli, et aliorum Apostolorum patrocinio confidentem, perpetua defensione conserva.
Omnes Sancti tui, quæsumus, Domine, nos ubique adjuvent, ut dum eorum merita recolimus, patrocinia sentiamus: et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus, et ab Ecclesia tua cunctam repelle nequitiam: iter, actus, et voluntates nostras, et omnium famulorum tuorum, in salutis tuæ prosperitate dispone: benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribue: et omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem æternam concede. Per Dominum...

(Protect, Lord, Thy people, and by Thy everlasting defence preserve them that trust in the patronage of Thy Apostles Peter and Paul, and the other Apostles.*
(May all Thy Saints, we beg, Lord, everywhere help us, that when we recall their merits, we may feel their patronage: both grant us peace in our times, and drive away all wickedness from Thy Church: dispose our way, acts and wills, and that of all Thy servants, in the prosperity of Thy salvation: repay our benefactors with everlasting good things: and give eternal rest to all the faithful departed. Through...)

It may be seen that these collects answer to seven petitions:
  1. for the patronage of SS Peter and Paul, and all Apostles;
  2. for the patronage of all Saints;
  3. for peace;
  4. against the enemies of Holy Church;
  5. for our salvation and that of all;
  6. for benefactors;
  7. for the dead.
[* This first prayer I said to-day while paying a visit to the Church of the Apostles in town, with a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a Rosary - then lighting some candles and some more petitions entrusting all and sundry to Our Lady, ut mos est.]

Yes, Father, No, Father...

Fr Mannes once told me that when he, as a young man, first discovered the Latin Mass, he thought the priests who said it very holy; but came to think them also quite eccentric!

(Given the appalling behaviour, strange beliefs and general rudeness of many self-consciously modern post-Vatican II priests, no wonder. But still...)

As any decent priest will tell you - Fr Terence laughingly agreed, I recall - if a Catholic is not "anti-clerical" in a certain sense, he has not been catechized properly. Of course, as St Francis did, one should kneel down and kiss the hands of a priest, venerating his sacred office as a sacramental icon of Our Lord; but one should also hold a healthy candid attitude toward priestly faults and foibles - after all, much harm has come through excusing, being blind to, and even covering over serious clerical misbehaviour, though I speak not of real sins here.

Bishop McKenna of Bathurst, whom I knew some years back while he was still a priest based in Melbourne, told how he rather liked the somewhat disconcerting way members of the Neocatechumenal Way (when do they ever finish their neo-catechumenate, I wonder?) combine very great respect for the priest qua priest, with a very no-nonsense sense of the unworthy priest qua Christian man. This is a healthy attitude.

One thing that hanging around clerical circles will quickly confirm, is that priests think themselves very hard worked - but (as any layman can testify) would struggle to answer the demands of a full-time job. As my mother once asked me, What do priests do all week? It is proverbial that priests come in two sorts: those who work (too much), and those who don't (work enough). All the balderdash I've heard about clerical burnout! The few priests actually in risk of such would be the last ever to complain of it. As one Dominican always said, when throwing himself down into a chair after dolce far niente, "Exhausted, absolutely exhausted!" - "Oh yes, Father..."

Amusing too is the wry witticism that the social teaching of the Church applies only ad extra: priests can be as Pharaoh to their volunteer labour force, demanding extra work of people who have full time jobs of their own, if not families also... a puissant superior attitude can be painful. What can also give a bad impression is when clergy too quickly withdraw from some parish function for a clergy-only dinner: by all means, priests need to catch up, unwind, and enjoy themselves, but it can be very rude if they rapidly disappear from the parish bring-a-plate potluck lunch only too obviously to attend a rather better-stocked table nearby.

What I am getting to is that no one can escape the spirit of the age, even if one thinks oneself quite counter-cultural... indulging in a neo-Gothic romantic dream is all very well, but then it's off to the restaurant café for a rather good lunch (as I did myself this morning). It is excellent to make great martinis, but with this ought go dedication to one's duties - and some traditionalist priests are curates del mondo, flitting about from one pseudo-recusant chapel to another, while perhaps neglecting day-to-day humdrum matters. People and parishioners begin to talk, to tote up the days of Father's days away, and to wonder what their frequency signifies. If Father has good reason - a sick relative, a call of mercy, his due holiday - then no matter; but if he be touchy and angry about inquiries, is that a sign of an uneasy conscience?

There can be the temptation for traddie clergy to enjoy saying Mass here and there, reliving the derring-do of the intrepid, stubborn few in the dark years of persecution after Vatican II (not yet entirely over), but if they have the cure of souls in a particular place assigned them, then Canon Law does require more than a minimum attendance upon pastoral duties in that locale. As one hard-working parish priest observed about a certain Latin Mass sayer he knew, "Father says Mass - and that's it."

I have great respect and love for priests, true fathers in God, the men who make prayer and sacrifice, Christ's ministers to us sinners: but a true friend has a right also to make known constructive criticisms - just as I try to open my own eyes to my own enormities, and somehow work out my salvation. Pray for priests, and pray for me.

Byzantine Origins?

Many of the longer non-scriptural antiphons and such of the Roman Rite, such as those appointed for Lauds and Vespers of the Octave Day of Christmas (used in the Little Office for Christmastide till the Presentation), are in fact translations from Greek troparia.

I wonder if Greek origins lie behind certain of the well-known Marian versicles (also used in the Little Office), such as Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata - Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos, or Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti - Dei Genetrix, intercede pro nobis, and Gaude, Maria Virgo - Cunctas hæreses sola interemisti in universo mundo: for the latter two seem to stem from parts of one of the Roman Matins responsories for the Annunciation, and this text itself seems to betray a Greek liturgical origin by its very floridity, although its roughly rhyming lines may instead shew it a native Latin composition (I give its verse in its older form, as preserved in the Dominican Breviary; the Roman now quotes St Luke i, 45 - Beata es quæ credidisti: quia perfecta sunt ea, quæ dicta sunt tibi a Domino):

R/. Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas hæreses sola interemisti,
quæ Gabrielis Archangeli dictis credidisti:
* Dum Virgo Deum et hominem genuisti,
et post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
V/. Gabrielem Archangelum scimus divinitus te esse affatum:
uterum tuum de Spiritu Sancto credimus imprægnatum:
erubescat Judæus infelix, qui dicit Christum ex Joseph semine esse natum.
* Dum Virgo Deum et hominem genuisti,
et post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
* Dum Virgo Deum et hominem genuisti,
et post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.

(R/. Rejoice, Mary Virgin, all heresies alone thou hast crushed, who believed the things Gabriel Archangel said, * When, a Virgin, thou brought forth God and Man, and after birth, inviolate thou remained a Virgin. V/. We know Gabriel Archangel to have spoken by divine agency to thee: we believe thy womb was impregnated by the Holy Ghost: may that unhappy Jew blush, who said that Christ was born of the seed of Joseph. * When, a Virgin, thou brought forth God and Man, and after birth, inviolate thou remained a Virgin. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. * When, a Virgin, thou brought forth God and Man, and after birth, inviolate thou remained a Virgin. )

Friday, July 24, 2009

Placebo and Dirge

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

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

And so, fortified, off to bed.

Baumstark's Laws of Liturgy

Anton Baumstark was a liturgical scholar of the old school, who did not believe that tinkering with the sacred cult was the proper concern of liturgists, but that on the contrary one ought be not master but student of the liturgy. (One may note in passing that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One Liturgist - Λειτουργὸς - as Hebrews viii, 2 attests.)

Famously, he formulated two laws describing the organic evolution of the liturgy over time: first, that on the most solemn days the most ancient and sober rituals tend to be retained; second, that over time, newer liturgical developments can tend to replace by degrees older features of the divine cult. For instance, until the post-Conciliar reforms, the Divine Office of the last three days of Holy Week, and of the whole of Easter Week, was marked by a simplicity of form unchanged for many ages - no hymns were sung, no short chapters read at the Day Hours, and so forth - this being an example of his first law. Contrariwise, the ancient Roman ferial Office has over time gradually been replaced by a multiplicity of saint's days, so that the weekly cycle of ferial Vesper hymns focussing on the Six Days of Creation are hardly ever sung through in one week, being replaced by hymns for the various occurring saints from their respective Common or Proper.

Baumstark's second law was well-explained by Jungmann, when considering the place of the Lord's Prayer, preces and Collect in the Divine Office. (I write here not of Matins, which was not generally read apart from Lauds - its union with the latter being the ideal, as even its name suggests.) According to mediæval testimony, at the Lateran Basilica the Lord's Prayer was said at the end of each Hour of the Office, with no collect at all appended. It is conjectured that this was the case especially if no priest were present (note here that monks, such as those who sang the Office at the Lateran, were originally unordained), and that in the remote past the Lord's Prayer was the normal conclusion of each Hour - a Collect proper to the day or time being added, at first to give greater solemnity, and then more and more often, so the Lord's Prayer became in the nature of a preface to it. (As the priest first said Dominus vobiscum before the Collect, the Collect itself savoured of things sacerdotal, and was only by degrees, it is argued, accepted as right for a layperson to say: and then it is prefixed with Domine exaudi instead.) The Benedictine and Dominican Breviaries still retain this characteristic pattern of Pater before Collect at the Day Hours.

However, in these, and in the Roman Breviary when the Lord's Prayer still rarely makes an appearance, the Pater noster is always preceded by a threefold Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. It is thought that this - like the Kyrie at Mass - was once a full litany (as in the Byzantine Rite), but over time was abbreviated to this simple form (St Benedict in his Rule terms it a litany). This litany before the Pater noster disappeared, only to be replaced, apparently under Celtic influence, with suffrages or preces recited after it - originally, these were a series of petitions, each followed by a versicle and response (usually from the psalms), but over time were reduced to a dialogic pattern of versicles and responses.

The Carthusian Breviary retained these long preces at all Hours; but outside that austere Order, it was felt increasingly that preces were not so appropriate to feast days, and so were restricted to ferias in various Breviaries, then were cut down in length (especially at the Little Hours), then were restricted to penitential days, and acquired a penitential sense - since one knelt to pray them, days when they were said were termed "kneeling days". By the mid-twentieth century, the Roman Breviary was being shortened by "simplification of the rubrics" - and the preces at the Little Hours, including the longer and more specialized ones at Prime and Compline, were finally abolished, while Lauds and Vespers only kept their preces on most Ember Days, plus ferial Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent and Lent. In the Roman Breviary, moreover, the Lord's Prayer, from being the original concluding prayer of prayers, had become considered as but part of these preces - and so was in essence discarded altogether from its ancient place.

In the Little Office of Our Lady (itself a pious addition to the daily Office, that became as it were a separate spin-off more suited to lay use because of its relative brevity, simplicity and devotional quality), until the last pre-Conciliar reforms what survived before the Collect of each Hour was not the Lord's Prayer at all, but rather the threefold Kyrie that itself had been a later preface to the Pater noster.

In a separate development, for long centuries (until the last changes under John XXIII before the Council) a Pater and later an Ave had been said as a preparation before each Hour (also a Credo at some Hours), and a Pater with versicle after it... and this, from being a pious custom lifting up the mind to God (as St Ignatius analogously directs before meditation) beforehand, and prolonging the official liturgical prayer, became a fixed devotion, part of the Office. The Lord's Prayer having disappeared from its first place in the Hours, it reappeared elsewhere, finally almost being removed entirely. (In the modern Divine Office, which in many ways represents a decided break with the traditional, organic development of the liturgy, the Lord's Prayer is said aloud, after some intercessions, and before the Collect, but at Lauds and Vespers only, for somewhat artificial reasons.)

As Jungmann summarizes Baumstark's second law, A becomes Ab, Ab becomes AB, this becomes (A)B and finally B alone remains - A being the original liturgical prayer, first b then B being the addition to it that gradually expands in importance until it takes its place entirely.

Another example of this law is the way that, while the more conservative Roman Rite Divine Office still largely consists of the recitation of the psalms, in the Byzantine Rite, the various Canons and divers troparia, kontakia and whatnot - liturgical hymns, of great dogmatic value - have so multiplied that it is they, not the psalms, that are the chief feature of the Hours: indeed, usually the kathisma(ta) or portion(s) of the psalms appointed are very hurriedly recited in monotone by a reader even in monasteries, so that the massed choirs can then break forth in magnificent chanting of the ecclesiastical compositions that now have pride of place; and in parish celebrations, very often the psalms to be recited are drastically pruned and abbreviated, being overshadowed by the more recent and popular elements of the services.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Laus Angelorum Magna

The Ambrosian Rite Divine Office, prior to its reform under St Charles Borromeo, contained a version of the Gloria in excelsis included in its morning Office of Matins and Lauds; for better or worse, it was removed in 1582; but here it is, as found in an 11th C. manuscript:

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te, hymnum dicimus tibi. Benedicimus te. Glorificamus te: adoramus te. Gratias tibi agimus propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens, Jesu Christe, sancte Spiritus. Domine Deus, Filius Patris: Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis: miserere nobis, subveni nobis, dirige nos, conserva nos, munda nos, pacifica nos. Libera nos ab inimicis, a tentationibus, ab haereticis, ab arrianis, a schismaticis, a barbaris: quia tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, in gloria Dei Patris cum sancto Spiritu in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee, a hymn we say to Thee. We bless Thee. We glorify Thee: we adore Thee. Thanks to Thee we give for Thy great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty, Jesu Christ, [and] Holy Ghost. Lord God, Son of the Father: Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Who sittest at the right of the Father, have mercy on us: have mercy on us, come to help us, direct us, preserve us, cleanse us, pacify us. Deliver us from enemies, from temptations, from heretics, from Arians, from schismatics, from barbarians: for Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord, Thou only art the Most High, Jesu Christ, in the glory of God the Father with the Holy Spirit unto the ages of the ages. Amen.)

Notice how this version of the Gloria in excelsis omits two phrases (Domine Fili Unigenite and the first Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis), while reordering certain phrases, and adding others... leaving aside the obviously added petitions ("have mercy on us, come to help us... deliver us... from barbarians"), it is closer in form to the original Greek form of this great doxology, which in the East in general is only used in the Divine Office, not in the Divine Liturgy. In particular, this Ambrosian Gloria mentions the Holy Ghost twice: once in the middle, with the Other Two Divine Persons, as the Byzantine recension does; and at the very end, with an added doxological conclusion, as if it took a cue from the Roman form of the Gloria.

The modern Ambrosian Rite Office now contains a revised version of this, slightly reordering words, omitting certain phrases (the rather un-politically correct "from heretics, from Arians, from schismatics, from barbarians" - a pity, since these are the four groups Christians do need to be delivered from!) and adding further versicles from the psalms (analogous to the last part of the Te Deum); this may be recited, pro opportunitate, on days when the Te Deum is not used, in its place (the Te Deum itself being a late interloper, only introduced at Milan in 1440):

Gloria in excelsis Deo, * et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te, hymnum dicimus tibi, * benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te.
Gratias tibi agimus propter magnam gloriam tuam, * Domine Deus, rex caelestis.
Deus Pater omnipotens, * Iesu Christe et sancte Spiritus.
Domine Deus, * Filius Patris
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, * suscipe deprecationem nostram;
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, * miserere nobis.
Miserere nobis, subveni nobis, dirige nos: * conserva nos, munda nos, pacifica nos.
Libera nos ab inimicis, * a tentationibus.
Quia tu solus sanctus, * tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus,
Jesu Christe, * in gloria Dei Patris cum sancto Spiritu.

Per singulos dies benedicimus te, * et laudamus nomen tuum in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi.
[Ps 144:2]
Dignare, Domine, die isto, * sine peccato nos custodire.
[ex Te Deum]
Benedictus es, Domine, * doce me iustitias tuas.
[Ps 118:12]
Vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum * et dimitte omnia peccata mea.
[Ps 24:18]
Eructabunt labia mea hymnum, * hymnum Deo nostro.
[Ps 118:171a; cf. 39:4]
Vivet anima mea et laudabit te, * et iudicia tua adiuvabunt me.
[Ps 118:175]
Erravi sicut ovis, quae perierat: * require servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus.
[Ps 118:176]
Cito anticipent nos misericordia tua, Domine,+ quia pauperes facti sumus nimis, * adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster. [Ps 78:8b-9a]
Benedictus es, Domine, Deus patrum nostrorum, * et laudabilis et gloriosus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
[Dan 3:52a]

(Glory in the highest to God, * and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise Thee, a hymn we say to Thee, * we bless Thee, we adore Thee, we glorify Thee.
Thanks to Thee we give for Thy great glory, * Lord God, heavenly King.
God the Father almighty, * Jesu Christ, and Holy Ghost.
Lord God, * Son of the Father,
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, * receive our prayer;
Who sittest at the right of the Father, * have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, come to help us, direct us: * preserve us, cleanse us, pacify us.
Deliver us from enemies, * from temptations.
For Thou only art holy, * Thou only art the Lord, Thou only art the Most High,
Jesu Christ, * in the glory of God the Father with the Holy Spirit.

(Every day we will bless Thee: and we will praise Thy name for ever; yea, for ever and ever.
Vouchsafe, Lord, this day, * to keep us without sin.
Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me Thy justifications.
See my abjection and my labour, * and forgive me all my sins.
My lips shall utter a hymn, * a hymn to our God.
My soul shall live and shall praise Thee, * and Thy judgments shall help me.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost: * seek Thy servant, because I have not forgotten Thy commandments.
Let Thy mercies speedily prevent us, Lord, + for we are become exceeding poor, * help us, O God, our saviour.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord the God of our fathers, * and worthy to be praised, and glorified unto the ages of the ages. Amen.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Return to the Basics

Sometimes, in the spiritual life, one is well advised to return to the basics.

That is, I think, what I've been doing: remembering Our Saviour's dying words of commendation, "This is thy Mother," I have returned to a stronger Marian devotion - not that I ignored the Holy Mother of God! - and readjusted my prayer life accordingly, according to the short formula of consecration ad Jesum per Mariam: "I am all Thine, and all that I have is Thine, O most loving Jesu, through Mary, Thy Holy Mother."

[It just struck me - in the framed painting of the Madonna and Child with St Philip Neri, that I have hanging here before me, is not St Philip gesturing with one hand to me, and with the other to Jesus and Mary? Is he not recommending me to them?]

For this reason, I feel that the daily recitation of her Little Office has borne fruit, focussing on a doable and beneficial cycle of psalms; and I resolve to be constant again in daily Rosary (something I've badly let slide) - as its Collect says, may we meditate on its mysteries, and obtain their promises. Meditation I need: the Rosary brings before one the central mysteries of our salvation. Little things, too, I aim at: not just the thrice-daily Angelus (as almost always), but a Memorare, a Sancta Maria succurre, and Our Lady's Litanies. Wearing the Scapular, carrying my Rosary with miraculous medal, trusting in the Blessed Virgin's tender care: this is right.

When all other help fails, Mary aids. "As a child has rest in its mother's arms, even so my soul."

I close with the Sancta Maria succurre miseris, since it isn't as well known as it ought be, considering how it is one of the major indulgenced Marian prayers; once attributed to St Augustine, it is now known to be part of a longer prayer by Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres; it occurs at first Vespers for sundry Marian feasts, and in mediæval times was the standard Magnificat anthem in the Hours of the Virgin:

Sancta Maria,
succurre miseris,
juva pusillanimes,
refove flebiles,
ora pro populo,
interveni pro clero,
intercede pro devoto femineo sexu.
Sentiant omnes tuum juvamen,
quicumque celebrant tuam sanctam commemorationem.

(Holy Mary,
succour the miserable,
help the fainthearted,
comfort the sorrowful,
pray for the people,
plead for the clergy,
intercede for consecrated women.
May all feel thine aid,
whosoever celebrate thy holy commemoration.)