Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Hobart Again

I really enjoyed my drive down the East Coast. Of course, first I went south to Campbell Town (and had an alright lunch there), but then I took the Lake Leake Highway, through the not terribly inspiring bushclad hills, and then out onto the coastal plans, astonishingly verdant for this time of year, north of Swansea. It was great to see the effects of rain in an area drought-stricken for years... though, now I think of it, it's been eight years since I was last anywhere near this part of Tasmania.

To-day has been quite hot - 25 degrees or so - and it was magic to come down to Swansea, stop the car, and walk down to the end of the jetty, with Oyster Bay spread out before me under a clear brilliant sky, and the Hazards on the horizon, outlining the great granite mass of the Freycinet Peninsula. A little while later, I found that the local Catholic Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was open (touchingly, they leave the key in the lock), and so I went in and read Matins, Lauds and Prime of the Blessed Virgin (better late than never). The Church is very small, but old, and obviously cared for; the parishioners only get Mass once a month.

I headed further south, enjoying the magnificent scene: the road running along the sea above a rocky shore rising abruptly from Oyster Bay, with the Peninsula, Schouten Island and Maria Island all gracing the horizon with their rugged mountainous outlines. Stopping very briefly at Triabunna and Orford, the great mass of lofty Maria Island presented an awesome prospect.

Then, on to Buckland in the interior, the road turning inland and upward at last: and, at Buckland, I stopt and prayed Terce at the Anglican Church of St John Baptist (built 1846) - for the east window is Catholic, being known as stained glass from Battle Abbey, established by William the Conqueror at Hastings, then looted by Henry VIII. Somehow, this fourteenth century stained glass escaped the Puritan iconoclasts, and ended up shipped out to colonial Van Diemen's Land...

I could clearly read the Latin inscriptions under the upper images of Our Lady and St John, either side of an image of the Crucifixion: S. Maria Deipara (Holy Mary Theotokos) and Scts Joannes (St John). The glass shews in the centre, lower down, the Baptist baptizing Christ, and on the left St John pointing to the Lamb of God, and on the right the head of the martyred John being given by a soldier to wicked Salome (an apt foreshadowing of the fate of Catholic property in heretical, Erastian England).

Now, having driven on over Break-me-head and Bust-me-gall Hills, and the even more strangely named Black Charlie's Opening (all very steep twisty roads originally opened up by convict chain gangs in the bad old days), and passed through Sorell, and over the causeways to Midway Point, I've finally come through the last range of hills and over the Derwent into Hobart.

It's been a rewarding drive; perhaps next time I'll leave earlier, and drive the whole East Coast, first passing through Scottsdale, then down past St Helens and St Mary's, over Elephant Pass... [Then again, maybe not on second thoughts!]

Down the East Coast

I love Saturdays. To-day in particular bodes well: I've been to Confession as usual, and am about to leave for Hobart, since to-morrow, the first Sunday of the month, we have a Missa cantata there; so I've packed the Liber Usualis, and will motor down south - but this time, I'm going to drive the long way round, via the East Coast, which should be fun. Better still, Monday is a public holiday (the bizarrely named Recreation Day), so I have a long weekend to spend as I choose.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Anglican Re-Ordination Prayer

Apparently, since 1998, a special prayer is added to the Catholic ordination rite administered to Anglican convert clergy, by order of the CDF; it is said before the Litany, and does not replace the ordination prayer itself. I found this quoted over at Damian Thompson's blog by one of his commenters:

Oratio ad gratias agendas pro ministerio ab electo in Communione anglicana expleto

[Prayer for giving thanks for the former ministry of the ordinand in the Anglican Communion]

Deinde omnes surgunt. Epsicopus, deposita mitra, stans manibus iunctis versus ad electum dicit:

[Then all rise. The bishop, having doffed his mitre, standing with joined hands, facing toward the ordinand, says:]

N., the Holy Catholic Church recognizes that not a few of the sacred actions of the Christian religion as carried out in communities separated from her can truly engender a life of grace and can rightly be described as providing access to the community of salvation. And so we now pray.

Et omnes, per aliquod temporis spatium, silentio orant. Deinde, manus extensis, Episcopus orat dicens:

[And all, for a certain space of time, in silence pray. Then, with extended hands, the Bishop prays saying:]

Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the X years of faithful ministry of your servant N. in the Anglican Communion [vel: in the Church of England], whose fruitfulness for salvation has been derived from the very fullness of grace and truth
entrusted to the Catholic Church. As your servant has been received into full communion and now seeks to be ordained to the presbyterate in the Catholic Church, we beseech you to bring to fruition that for which we now pray. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Populus acclamat:

[The people acclaim:]


Some Apposite Hymns

I've been thinking idly about what hymns would be good to sing to God at what one hopes may be joyful occasions soon to be seen: the reception of many Anglicans into full communion with the Holy See, in the unity of the Holy Catholic Church:

I note these are all by Anglicans or Catholics who were Anglicans!

Any comments or suggestions?

Mary's Prayers

It is important to note that news of the forthcoming Apostolic Constitution to provide for corporate reunion of such Anglicans as may accept it, was published on the 20th of October, which is the day after the modern Calendar's feast of St Paul of the Cross, who ever prayed for the conversion of England and passed this devotion on to his sons the Passionists, especially Bl Dominic Barberi, whose joy it was to receive Newman into the Church.

The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small" - it is the prayers of the saints in the Church Militant, Penitent and Triumphant that has won from God the gift of this day, and in the first place we must attribute this grant of prodigal mercy to Holy Mary, whose Dowry merrie England was, and is, and shall be. "Faith of our Fathers, Mary's prayers / Shall win our country back to thee" sang Fr Faber, over a century ago; and he was right.

That it may please thee to bring to a happy fruition the provisions now being made for corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Our Lady of Ransom, pray for us.

St George, Patron of England, pray for us.
St Alban, Protomartyr of Britain, pray for us.

St Thomas à Becket, pray for us.
St John Fisher, pray for us.
St Thomas More, pray for us.
Holy Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us.

St Augustine of Canterbury, Apostle of the English, pray for us.
All Saints of England and Wales, pray for us.

St Paul of the Cross, pray for us.
St Thérèse, pray for us.
Bl Dominic Barberi, pray for us.
John Henry Newman, pray for us.

Joy or Suspicion?

Catholic reactions - and indeed Anglican reactions - to Pope Benedict's fostering of corporate reunion may be said to fall into two types: transports of joy or murmurings of suspicion.

On the Anglican side, amongst Anglo-Catholics, especially within the Traditional Anglican Communion (which has already broken with Canterbury, and has been edging toward Rome for years), there has been rejoicing at this unprecedented invitation - but also, even amongst such people, there have been expressions of confusion and alarm: will we have to give up all we hold dear? will we perforce be driven from our churches and vicarages? will we really be welcome, or regarded with suspicion by Catholic liberals of the sort that still dominate in many if not most places? will our clergy be vetted and purged in an unfriendly way, and only maybe eventually will some be re-ordained? will these proposed Ordinariates be real dioceses, or just some sort of sop to placate those otherwise to be under firm control of some Latin rite bishop?

And amongst Catholics, while many are glad to hear of this call to unity, both Traditionalists and liberals are not entirely happy. Liberals, of course, are horrified at the idea of letting into their Church such out-and-out right-wing extremists, and are furious at the Pope (whom they loathe) upsetting their ongoing plans for taking over and dominating diocese by diocese, parish by parish. Of course, they, especially those amongst them who are bishops and priests, are precisely the reason Benedict has sought to provide a special, protected place for incoming Anglicans - because every man knows how the liberal English Roman Catholic establishment so shabbily treated many converts and would-be converts, especially Anglican clergymen, back in 1992 when the C. of E. permitted so-called women priests.

But Traditionalists - and I speak as one myself, albeit not of the wild-eyed Jansenist conspiracy theorist sort - have their own fears and suspicions. Will these Anglicans really convert? Will they embrace all Roman doctrine, or maintain black Protestant hearts? Will their Anglican-style doctrinal fuzziness end up subserving the liberal cause of watering down doctrine? Will their liturgies, too-hastily permitted to be maintained by an oversympathetic Vatican, prove to be a horde of unwelcome half-brothers and half-sisters to the dreadful Novus Ordo, full of ambiguity and even Protestant heresy? Will their married priests by their very presence be a standing insult to our celibate clergy - as Cardinal Humbert once said to the Greeks, will they run hot from bed to altar? Will these Anglican Ordinariates provide a congenial oasis for both converts and likeminded traditionalist Catholics, or will they prove a beguiling mirage, as barren and wasted as Novus Ordo Land?

Over at Sub Tuum, the Br Stephen (now a Cistercian, once an Anglican) offers sage and sane advice about these and many related issues.

He speaks of how the Anglicans are in the position of the Israelites, who, having groaned under Pharoah's bitter yoke, now rather unexpectedly have Moses tell them they can depart Egypt for some mysterious Promised Land, about which they know little. But as the Israelites long ago complained, Egypt wasn't that bad a place to live - what of its fleshpots, its garlic, onion and leeks? Traipsing forever through the desert sounds pretty dreary...

Br Stephen notes that, despite the fabulous Cecil B. de Mille moment of God's irruption into human events, the parting of the Red Sea and all that, most of the journey of the people called and chosen was marked by grumbling and nostalgia for Egypt - and, of the 600,000 on foot, only two, Joshua and Caleb, reached the Promised Land. What a glum parallel! - but to save even two souls alive is very great. While of course one wishes these new Ordinariates-to-be swell to bursting with incomers, they may not have many members.

Anglicans must needs seriously ask themselves, are they acting as the Rich Young Man, who heard the Call of Christ, Who looked at him and loved him, but instead refused and went away sad, "for he had great possessions" that he was unwilling to sacrifice even for the chance to come nigh unto the Lord as His disciple. Rather than suffer so tragic a fate, they ought, as Blind Bartimaeus, rejoice, and run after the Lord in the person of His Vicar: If to-day ye hear His Voice, harden not your hearts.

This wise monk also speaks of how staunch Catholics and converts (himself included) can have sour grapes about to-day's heretics and schismatics being given a Get-out-of-jail-free card, and access to the platinum club for superior persons, with privileges not accorded poor dumb ordinary Catholics. Some of us would far prefer to see such fastidious types, who've been hanging around the Church doors since Newman's day, forced to lick the dust and do cruel penance for their obstinacy, made to weep bitter tears and plead for mercy...

But of course this is a most repellent and unchristian revenge fantasy. Just because Anglicans historically have persecuted Catholics, and still can condescend to them, doesn't mean we should not welcome those persuaded of Anglican falsity and the fulness of Catholic truth with open arms.

Again, I was moved by what this monastic blogger wrote: we must not be as the elder brother of the Prodigal Son, affronted and miserably uncharitable, out of pure jealousy at the slaying of the fatted calf: for, after all, his wayward sibling had returned to life from the dead. Nor should we snipe like the labourers in the vineyard, angered that the johnny-come-lately's get the same coin for which we've toiled. Rather, we should remember the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep - and, I would add, recall that the angels in heaven rejoice at the conversion of anyone.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Psalms for Anglicans

Pray for corporate reunion - now, on the eve of this hoped-for day, prayers are needed more than ever. It will not have escaped Satan's notice that his enemy, the Pope, is busy about the work of Christ - so the enemy of mankind will be redoubling his efforts to sow doubt and mistrust and fear, as once so successfully he deceived our First Parents.

I suggest the three following Psalms are highly suitable to pray for and with such Anglicans as are now choosing to prepare themselves to come as a body into the Holy Catholic Church. These Psalms I have carefully selected from the Fifteen Gradual Psalms, or Songs of Ascents, which once pilgrims sang as they journeyed to Jerusalem to worship the Lord in His Temple, which Christians have ever adopted as speaking of our spiritual ascent unto God, coming nigh unto Him, on earth, by finding Him in His Church: Suscepimus, Deus, misericordia tua in medio templi tui - "We have received, O God, Thy mercy in the midst of Thy Temple".

Ant. THOU art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

PSALM 122. Laetatus sum.

I WAS glad when they said unto me, * We will go into the house of the Lord.
2 Our feet shall stand in thy gates, * O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city * that is at unity in itself.
4 For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, * to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.
5 For there is the seat of judgment, * even the seat of the house of David.
6 O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; * they shall prosper that love thee.
7 Peace be within thy walls, * and plenteousness within thy palaces.
8 For my brethren and companions' sakes, * I will wish thee prosperity.
9 Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, * I will seek to do thee good.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,* and to the Holy Ghost:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be*, world without end. Amen.

PSALM 126. In convertendo.

WHEN the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion, then were we like unto them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, * and our tongue with joy.
3 Then said they among the heathen, * The Lord hath done great things for them.
4 Yea, the Lord hath done great things for us already; * whereof we rejoice.
5 Turn our captivity, O Lord, * as the rivers in the south.
6 They that sow in tears * shall reap in joy.
7 He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth good seed, * shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,* and to the Holy Ghost:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be*, world without end. Amen.

PSALM 133. Ecce, quam bonum!

BEHOLD, how good and joyful a thing it is, * for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, that ran down unto the beard, * even unto Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing.
3 Like as the dew of Hermon, * which fell upon the hill of Sion.
4 For there the Lord promised his blessing, * and life for evermore.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,* and to the Holy Ghost:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be*, world without end. Amen.

Ant. THOU art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (S. Matt. xvi, 18a)

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Are not these eminently suitable to pray for those who now come on a journey of hope mingled with fear, fear of the unknown? But this journey leads to the Temple of the Living God, the True Church: "They will go from strength to strength: and unto the God of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion." (Ps 84(85):7, Prayer Book Version.)

And this journey is associated inescapably with love for and respect for the office of Peter, Christ's appointed Vicar until He come again to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. No one can or should come to Rome, unless he can say in heartfelt devotion, "Thou art Peter" - upon thee, Christ hath built His Church, and the gates of hell never shall prevail against it; for where all others have failed, Rome alone shall stand. Hence the antiphon suggested.

To this, as is meet, a plea for mercy, and the Lord's Prayer are appended; and such Collects as may seem apposite can be attached.

The Grace

Since the 1980 Pastoral Provision, and the subsequent drawing-up of the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship (published only in 2003), various Anglican prayers have been admitted, along with their pray-ers, into full communion with the Catholic Church. Especially considering the impending Apostolic Constitution on corporate reunion, it is good to consider some classic Anglican Use formulæ, and by them (or by any right and proper address) to pray God for His blessing on this great, fraught undertaking.

I think first of what is usually last - "the Grace" as Anglicans call it: that adaptation of St Paul's concluding benediction in II Corinthians xiii, 14 which, first introduced (try not to grimace) to end the Anglican Litany as read in Bad Queen Bess's chapel royal in 1559, found its way into the Elizabethan Prayer Book, was always used as the last prayer of Mattins, Litany and Evensong, and even to-day is widely used amongst all Anglicans, even those far from being High Church or liturgically-minded. In a way, it plays the part the Sign of the Cross can among Catholics.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost*, be with us all evermore. Amen.
[* "Spirit" in modern-language versions]

The only notable changes from the words of Scripture are the alteration from second person to first person plural ("you" to "us"), and the addition of "evermore". The Douay instead renders "charity" instead of "love", and "communication" instead of "fellowship", but such are verbal equivalents.

I believe that among the High it is customary to cross oneself at these words of the Grace, which so Apostolically beg the blessing of the Trinity.

Originally, it was said by the minister, all replying Amen, but it has become the practice for all to say it together.

This short prayer strikes me as excellent, and much to be commended to all.

Anglican and Lutheran Catholics?

I have been listening to podcasts of speeches at the recent Forward in Faith National Assembly in England - an assembly of Anglo-Catholic Anglicans who hold to what were but yesterday the unquestioned beliefs of mainstream orthodox Christianity, not too far from the Catholic Faith - and have been interested in the attitudes of the speakers to the recent announcement of an Apostolic Constitution to facilitate the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See.

As one remarked, this amazing invitation from Pope Benedict XVI is the holy grail of Catholic-minded Anglicans, something prayed for and hoped for since the Oxford Movement - but something that many thought would never come in their time (a bit like the Parousia!); hence, now it's here, many who hoped and prayed for this are as it were struck dumb, unsure if their hopes and prayers haven't been answered rather disconcertingly too soon...

The "Flying Bishops" (Church of England prelates who minister to such Anglican clergy and congregations that won't have "women priests"), and more particularly Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, had much to say worth pondering. Hepworth clearly has inside knowledge, since his pronouncements about what the impending Papal Bull will permit go far beyond what little information has so far been made public.

But I was also very interested in the presence of a Swedish Lutheran, Bishop Göran Beijer, who belongs to an analogous offshoot of the official Lutheran body in Sweden, the so-called "Mission Province" (note that, since the Porvoo Declaration, the C. of E. and the mainstream Scandinavian Lutheran denominations are in some sort of communion): he talked of how nowhere else in the world have more tradition-minded churchmen had to put up with female pastors for fifty years, female "bishops" as well, and soon an openly lesbian person as Lutheran Archbishop of Stockholm, while clergymen of the Established Church in Sweden are now to officiate at "blessings" of homosexual contracts (I cannot bear to call them marriages) - pretended rites that sacrilegiously simulate God's hallowing of what is accursed.

Beijer then opined, Is this decree of the Holy See something open to catholic-minded Lutherans, also? Now, of course revolting against liberal tyranny, a modern intolerance simulating broadmindedness but in fact inflicting corruption on faith and morals, is one thing, and praiseworthy in itself; but to come home to Rome requires not just such a negative judgement that the sad shenanigans of official Swedish Lutheranism prove it to be no part of the Christian church, (one that Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and just about every Protestant down to our own dark age would have made), but also the positive conviction, moved by the Holy Ghost, that therefore Lutheranism is radically defective, containing the seeds of its own downfall, and that the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church is in fact found in fulness in the Church of Rome, built on solid rock, on the faith of Peter which Christ has promised shall not fail, and which alone has stood firm where all other merely manmade structures have fallen, having been proven to have been founded on shifting sand.

Perhaps, having been driven from Swedish Lutheranism, some like Beijer may find that the answer to their dilemma lies in accepting Roman doctrine, which is to-day the only remaining Christian bulwark against accepting as moral what is complete moral turpitude: for it is obvious to thinking persons that all sins of the flesh are being proclaimed as good by so many for reasons of expediency, to satisfy their lusts, and this turning away from God, blaspheming His Name by daring as false prophets to call evil good, while pretending to be a Christian minister, as a ravening wolf drest as a sheep, can only lead to total apostasy and immorality.

Could this provision for Anglicans also fit some High Church Lutherans? If they will embrace the truth of the Catholic Faith, yes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Pertinent Prayer

To-day is the feast of the Holy Apostles Simon and Jude; the Anglicans have a most pertinent prayer for this day (based on Eph. ii, 20-21 & iv, 3; I Pet. ii, 5 & iii, 8), which I suggest should be prayed for the coming reception of their faithful remnant into communion with the Apostolic See:

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone ; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(This is the official Collect of the Prayer Book Society.)

In the Catholic Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship, this Collect is appointed for use on the Sunday closest to the 29th of June - for obvious reasons...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Compline and Benediction

To-night, our little new schola met again for its usual Tuesday session: first, practice; secondly, Compline chanted, then Benediction.

Tomight, we learnt the Introits for All Saints (Gaudeamus omnes in Domino) and All Souls (Requiem æternam), together with the Kyrie for Requiems; we sang them in the course of our Eucharistic Adoration.

After it all, I had a chat outside with some of my fellow chanters, telling them about the great experience of the Christus Rex Pilgrimage; I promised that next year I will try and organize to promote it, so it won't be just one man from Launceston going to it...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just for Nice

To borrow Fr Longenecker's expression, "just for nice" I've bought online (at a rather steep price) a matching Pars Altera for the Breviarium Monasticum, Pars Prima, I obtained so cheaply just last week. The clue was that the volume first obtained was printed by Desclée in 1953, was denotated the fourth edition, and was in handsome hardback octavo size (47 by 145 by 210 mm, or about 1.9 by 5.6 by 8.3 inches). Portable? well, maybe not, but eminently suitable for reference and devotion...

A Unique Pilgrimage

I am severely underqualified to write about Christus Rex - after all, there are those like Fr Tattersall et al. who have been involved since the beginning, nineteen years ago; and this year, I have just calculated, I scarcely walked half of it (about 45km as opposed to the full 91 or so).

I do look forward to doing the whole thing next year!

But as Simon, our Tasmanian organizer, tent-provider and old mate of mine put it, the Christus Rex Pilgrimage is unique in that it incorporates four features:

  • it is a pilgrimage, having been inspired by and based on the Paris to Chartres Pilgrimage;
  • it is a camping trip, in the great Aussie tradition thereof;
  • it is a retreat, with Holy Masses, Confessions, Office, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosaries, hymns and prayers, sermons and homilies;
  • it is a networking exercise, when Traddies old and new get together to exchange confidences and support each other.

Only in Australia would the pilgrims compete each year for the hill run (Fr Rowe was champion - of the children's race!), or repair to the local pub each night...

One good thing to note was how much the effects of WYD were in evidence: many, many young people, with WYD backpacks and other obvious paraphernalia from that great jamboree in Sydney with Pope Benedict.

For the record, the full route features about ninety kilometres of walking (over thirty on the Friday and Saturday, and about twenty-six on the Sunday, since the Pilgrimage reaches Bendigo mid-afternoon). The actual distance from Ballarat to Bendigo is 114 km, but it is impractical to spread the walk over four days, so a section of 26 km is bussed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Be a Pilgrim

Having lathered my face with pawpaw ointment (a dubious sunburn remedy I've invented), now at last I'm tucked up back in my own bed, after an incredibly action-packed two days.

Christus Rex - I almost didn't go after all. Having hurriedly packed after work and shot off to the airport, my plane was delayed. This meant that I missed the train I was to catch from Melbourne to Ballarat by ten minutes or so; it crossed my mind to ditch the pilgrimage, find a nice hotel and have a luxury weekend in Marvellous Melbourne instead, but then I remembered that Justin was to meet me at the train station in Ballarat, so I steeled myself to keep to our long-standing agreement.

I had to spend a tiring, boring, late evening hour and a half at Southern Cross Station (which is noisy and smelly), then take the 9.55 train to Ballarat; on board, I rested as best I could. Ballarat - reached at a quarter past eleven! The pilgrim volunteers understandably weren't willing to collect us at that hour, so Justin and I summoned a cab; the driver took us all over town, but the several places we tried were all shut for the night or booked out - luckily I recalled that Rosemary recommended the Mid-City Motel, which turned out to be open and available. We booked in after eleven thirty.

Justin (who had spent the evening refreshing his thirst in a local establishment) was hungry, so we set off for the golden arches of a certain family restaurant... since it was Saturday by the time we reached it, we broke our fast there. Then, back to our digs for lights out at 1 am.

We congratulated ourselves on a good night's sleep the next morning: both of us in our beds had been comfortable, we arose at a decent hour, had a hot breakfast, went for a walk around the block to make a visit at Ballarat Cathedral - we arrived during Mass, at the Agnus Dei, and adored for a space - had a coffee, and finally got collected, late that Saturday morning, by a kindly Christus Rex volunteer (who in ordinary life, it transpires, is a member of Parliament). It was Providence that so disposed the course of events, it seemed to us!

Justin and I arrived at Campbelltown nigh on noon. Solemn High Mass had just begun, in an idyllic outdoor setting, the altar protected by a canopy. I took the opportunity to have my confession heard in the adjacent hall: to my astonishment, the Gloria was still in singing when I came all absolved to Mass, since it had already started to be chanted when I went into the hall for confession!

Thus rightly prepared, I joined the pilgrim choir of thirty or so to sing the plainchant of the Mass (I left it to the experts to sing the polyphonic Sanctus and Agnus Dei, but did join in the Offertory Motet: Palestrina's Alma Redemptoris Mater for 4 voices). Mass was a Votive of the Blessed Virgin pro re gravi (on account of the pilgrimage), with second collect for pilgrims. (To jump ahead, on Monday morning the remaining pilgrims in Ballarat can assist at a sung Mass which will be a Votive in honour of St Raphael, whose feast was trumped on Saturday.)

How good it was to be at High Mass.

I met up with ever so many friends afterward, such as Rosemary, Fr Rowe (it's his 16th pilgrimage), John Mc., Aaron, Anthony, David, Tony, Simon...

Then began the afternoon walk (after lunch). Using the time to read first the Little Office, then the Office of the feast of St Raphael (excepting both sets of Vespers and Compline), I strayed from the front to the very tail of the pilgrim party and back again. There were about four hundred walking, so it was a long queue.

We stopped at a Catholic Cemetery to pray for the dead, and afterward to have afternoon tea; then we marched on, arriving at Newstead, our destination, a bit after 7 pm. In the fading light, tents were pitched, bags were located (for we'd carried our own day packs, but our other luggage was transported by the ever-helpful volunteer corps in a fleet of vehicles), and dinner was had. I had a prodigious appetite, and wolfed down a full plate. I was to join the blokes at the local pub, but suddenly felt so exhausted I turned in at about nine thirty. (Alas, one of the others in our tent snored nearly continuously all night!)

This morning, Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, I arose at 5.30 (!), freshened up, dressed, packed, took down the tent, had breakfast (porridge, fruit salad, two hard-boiled eggs, and coffee), and then with all the other pilgrims was driven in busses and other vehicles to our next starting point, where we began our march at eight. (The route is slightly too far to walk in three days, so part has to be omitted.)

Walking along, mingling with the pilgrims, still more friends turned up - Steve, Daniel, and many more.

Having stopped for morning tea and lunch, with sung Rosary and hymns along the way ("Faith of our fathers", "We stand for God", "Help of Christians, guard this land", the Lourdes hymn with twenty-odd verses, etc.), with our banners high - Papal flags, Australian flags, and the flags of the six States whence our different contingents came - we came at last through Bendigo, and arrived, footsore but elated, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, whose bells pealed out to greet us, shortly after 3 o'clock.

We circled the Cathedral chanting St Theodulf's masterly Gloria, laus et honor, before making the Act of Dedication to Christ the King on the Cathedral steps. At last, we entered our destination, singing "Holy God, we praise Thy Name".

Soon enough, the organ's boom was replaced with the chant of a forty-strong choir singing the Introit of the Solemn High Mass. I was pleased to see Fr Rowe was the celebrant. There were seven priests in choir, many servers, great clouds of sweet incense, a full nave: what a splendid liturgy. The choir sang the chant, together with a polyphonic Mass setting; it was moving to have Palestrina's Sicut cervus after making our general Communion, reflecting on Fr's admonition to sanctify ourselves, asking St Ignatius' question: "What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ in the future?" I offered my Communion for a special intention, ut unum sint.

Directly Mass ended with a thunderous "Hail, Redeemer, King Divine", I had to be off! Jennifer very kindly gave me a lift back to Melbourne, and dropt me off at the airport for my 8 pm flight. To cut a long story short, I arrived back at home at a quarter to ten.

It's amazing how much can be packed into two days.

Next year: the full pilgrimage, which entails arriving in Ballarat on Thursday evening, walking all day Friday and Saturday and for most Sunday, staying on in Bendigo for festive dinner and for Mass on the Monday with breakfast to follow... in fact, in 2010 the Monday will be All Saints and the Tuesday, All Souls, so it may be good to stay on for two days. God grant it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eve of the Pilgrimage... and a Real Gift

Pray for me...

To-morrow, after a full day at work, I must quickly collect my bits and pieces and rush off to the airport. Then, arriving at Tullamarine, I have to get the shuttle bus to Southern Cross Station, where I'll meet Justin. We then catch the train to Ballarat, arriving at a quarter to ten. Finally, we're to be met by some kindly volunteer who'll drive us to the pilgrim encampment at Smeaton (for the Pilgrimage itself will have begun to-morrow morning).

In the meanwhile, I've been beguiling myself with my latest acquisition - a real steal, kindly offered me below cost price by CG, an acquaintance of mine: a 1953 Breviarium Monasticum, Pars Prima (Advent to Whit Saturday), printed by Desclée. It's a large, hardback volume in excellent condition. While there seems to be not a single mark on it, the mark of its provenance is that it includes, at its end, the Proper Offices for Saints feasted in the American Cassinese Benedictine Congregation...

Next, I suppose I should obtain the matching second volume. Of buying books there is no end.

I close with a renewed request for prayers, just as I will hope to offer up my pilgrimage not just as some expiation for my sins (in union with Christ's Sacrifice, solely by the grace of His theandric merits) but in intercession for all men, and in thanksgiving to the Almighty for such great favours as He ever showers upon us. What a Pope we have been given, in this dark age; Benedict is shewing himself a most caring pastor after the Sacred Heart of the Good Shepherd, solicitous in calling home the scattered flock of our Saviour Christ. May the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy continue apace; may Christ's social Reign by our poor efforts, in His Providence, be restored - for atheism and intolerance grows apace. (Though, as a friend once said, if the worst comes to pass, at least we'll all be martyrs!)

Two blessings from Monastic Matins to finish:

A cunctis vitiis et peccatis
absolvat nos virtus sanctæ Trinitatis.

(From all vices and sins may the power of the Holy Trinity absolve us.)

In unitate Sancti Spiritus,
benedicat nos Pater et Filius.

(In the unity of the Holy Ghost, may the Father and the Son bless us.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Te Deum for the Pope's Anglican Outreach

"Let us give thanks unto our Lord God. It is meet and right so to do." As you have no doubt read elsewhere (thanks, Rob, for alerting me to the news!), His Holiness the Pope, ever solicitous for the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and seeking to gather all Christians into the one fold of the Redeemer (Whose Vicar he is), will shortly issue an Apostolic Constitution providing for the corporate reunion of Anglicans seeking to swim the Tiber and come home to Rome, setting up personal ordinariates for them, and allowing them concessions such as married priests and special liturgical arrangements...

(Fr Rutler offers concise and penetrating commentary on all this.)

While it is as yet early days, well we may pray that, at the intercession of soon-to-be Blessed John Henry Newman (whose petitions before the Most Highest may well have obtained this blessing from heaven), many Anglicans may find the consummation of all their hopes in the embrace of Holy Mother Church, for the salvation of their souls and the greater glory of God. Non nobis, Domine, non nobis: sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

Let us therefore sing Te Deum. I append the Anglican version thereof, with suitable prayers from their books; the Order is modelled on the service of thanksgiving for the Anniversary of Her Majesty's happy reign, but with rather different collects - the first, addressed to God who works such wonders, for "the Pope [my own inclusion!], our Bishops, and Curates, and the congregations committed to their charge" (which may be read as referring to Catholics and those-soon-to-be such); then one for the Anglican Use (as already present in the approved Book of Divine Worship); one for those to be ordained (since the Church will have to be careful in her choice of suitable candidates), one, the General Thanksgiving (with its proper insert referring to those who give thanks for benefits received); second-last, the famous and beautiful Prayer for Unity; and finally the all-purpose Actiones nostras (reminding us that without God's grace sustaining us, all is in vain):



WE praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubin, and Seraphin : continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Sabaoth ;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty : of thy Glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world : doth acknowledge thee ;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty ;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son ;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.

THOU art the King of glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man : thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death : thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the Glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants : whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

O LORD, save thy people : and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee ;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us : as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.


[The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.]

Let us pray.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

O Lord, save thy servants ;
That put their trust in thee.
Send unto them help from thy holy place.
And evermore mightily defend them.
Let the enemy have no advantage of them ;
Nor the wicked approach to hurt them.
O Lord, hear our prayer.
And let our cry come unto thee.

Let us pray.


ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels ; Send down upon the Pope, our Bishops, and Curates, and all Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace ; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.


O HOLY Ghost the Lord, who on Pentecost gavest the Church the gift of tongues that Christ might be known, loved and served by peoples of divers nations and customs : watch over the Anglican heritage within thy Church, we pray thee, that, led by thy guidance and strengthened by thy grace, that Use may find such favour in thy sight that its people may increase both in holiness and number, and so shew forth thy glory ; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Son, one God world without end.


ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church by the precious blood of thy dear Son ; Mercifully look upon the same, and at this time so guide and govern the minds of thy servants the Bishops and Pastors of thy flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred Ministry of thy Church. And to those which shall be ordained to any holy function give thy grace and heavenly benediction ; that both by their life and doctrine they may set forth thy glory, and set forward the salvation of all men ; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men ; particularly to those who desire now to offer up their praises and thanksgivings for thy late mercies vouchsafed unto them. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life ; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives ; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.


O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace ; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly Union and Concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one Hope of our Calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee ; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


PREVENT us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help ; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life ; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE GRACE (2 Corinthians 13:14)

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blessed is the Kingdom

Εὐλογημένη ἡ Βασιλεία τοῦ Πατρὸς ϗ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ϗ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος, νῦν ϗ ἀεὶ ϗ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.

Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever and unto the ages of the ages. Amen.
is the abbreviation for καὶ]

Thus begins the Divine Liturgy according to the Byzantine Rite, as the priest makes the sign of the Cross with the Gospel-book. Perhaps this is based on Tobit xiii, 1b: Εὐλογητὸς ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ζῶν εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ (Blessed be God that liveth for ever, and blessed be His Kingdom).

But note that the Kingdom is of the Three Persons of the Trinity. The Trinity is King!

At the Divine Liturgy, the second ecphonesis, and the well-known doxology after the Lord's Prayer, are almost the same in their proclamation: "For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever and unto the ages of the ages. Amen."

We in the West rarely call the Holy Ghost our King - but in the Byzantine Rite, every sacred act begins with a complex of prayers beginning with this invocation of the Holy Ghost, somewhat answering to the Latin Veni Sancte Spiritus: "O heavenly King, Paraclete, Spirit of Truth..."

Of course, in East and West and wherever Christians are found, we all pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father... Thy Kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven." (Pater noster... adveniat regnum tuum... sicut in cælo et in terra.) God the Father is King we know, for (as at the Mass in the Western recension of the Gloria in excelsis), in the Byzantine Rite, their equivalent Great Doxology - sung at their Lauds and other Hours - includes the words Κύριε βασιλεῦ, ἐπουράνιε Θεέ, Πάτερ Παντοκράτορ ("Lord King, heavenly God, Father Almighty"): which is simply a slightly different division of words to the Latin Rex cælestis, Deus Pater omnipotens ("heavenly King, God the Father Almighty").

And what of the Great Entrance? The sublime Cherubicon is chanted: "...let us receive the King of all, invisibly escorted by the Angelic orders." Whiles the oblations are processed, which shall soon be consecrated, and so are already types of the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest and people cry, "May the Lord our God remember us all in His Kingdom... Lord, remember me in Thy Kingdom" (quoting St Dismas, the Good Thief: most blessed thief, who even stole Paradise!). Here Christ, our King and our God, is confessed, just as He is at the opening of each canonical Hour, in a threefold cry based on Psalm 94:6 (compare its use at Matins in the West):

Come, let us worship and bow down to the King, our God.
Come, let us worship and bow down to Christ the King, our God.
Come, let us worship and bow down to Christ Himself, the King, our God.

No one can say that the Byzantine Rite omits homage to Christus Rex!

The Three Persons are each King: the Father is King, and the Son is King, and the Holy Ghost is King: but they are not Three Kings, but One King. (Cf. Athanasian Creed.)


The genius of the Latin Liturgy is to be found encapsulated in the conclusion of the standard Roman Collect: Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Addressing God the Father, we pray through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who with Him liveth and reigneth - as King - in the unity of the Holy Ghost, endlessly. Again, the Three are One King.

As for the Latin Mass, no less than in the Byzantine Rite, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed solemnly declares that Cujus [Christi] Regni non erit finis - "Of whose [Christ's] Kingdom there shall be no end". St Cyril of Jerusalem - in his mystagogical catechesis to neophytes - energetically declares, "If thou shouldst hear that Christ's Kingdom hath an end, then hate this heresy!" Similarly, by confessing that Christ sits at the right of the Father, in the Gloria in excelsis and Creed, we declare indirectly that Our Lord Jesus Christ shares in the Kingship of His Father.

The Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, and His perpetual Session at the right hand of God, ruling all things in heaven and on earth, is the proximate foundation of the feast of Christ the King (which was only belately inserted into the Liturgy in 1925) - not that Christ, the Incarnate Word, was ever not our Sovereign Lord, but that, having conquered sin, Satan, death and hell by His Resurrection, He returned in triumph to reign in heaven. There, invisibly maybe but very truly, He rules even this world, which is totally under His sway and the direction of His Providence; for the moment, as this the last age rapidly draws to its ineluctable Judgement and end, He permits men still to sin and waste time away; but the sands in the hourglass are running out. God has appointed a day when Christ shall return, "to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire". May He grant us the grace and mercy to stand and be saved on that Day! (The Neo-Gallican Missals and Breviaries were not far wrong when they marked the Octave Day of the Ascension by a special feast in honour of Christ's Return as our Dread Judge.)

How we ought then call on Him Who is the King of Glory! In the Office, the Te Deum includes the stirring words, Tu Rex gloriæ, Christe: Thou art the King of glory, O Christ. And in Lent, instead of Alleluia, is sung Laus tibi, Christe, Rex æterne gloriæ: Praise unto Thee, Christ, King of eternal glory. On Palm Sunday, we sing the hymn with the refrain Rex Christe, Redemptor: King Christ, Redeemer.

Finally, it ought go without saying - as well the early Christians and the pagan Romans knew - that to call Christ (or for that matter the Holy Spirit) "Lord" is to solemnly acknowledge that this Person is King and God, ranking with the Eternal Father.

Prayer of Dedication to Christ the King

The Breviary, in the selection of Preces Diversæ appended to it as part of the "excerpts from the Roman Missal", contains the following Act of Dedication to Christ the King:

Oratio ad D.N. Jesu Christum Regem

Domine Jesu Christe, te confiteor Regem universalem. Omnia, quæ facta sunt, pro te sunt creata. Omnia jura tua exerce in me. Renovo vota Baptismi abrenuntians satanæ ejusque pompis et operibus et promitto me victurum ut bonum Christianum. Ac potissimum me obligo operari quantum in me est, ut triumphent Dei jura tuæque Ecclesiæ. Divinum Cor Jesu, offero tibi actiones meas tenues ad obtinendum, ut corda omnia agnoscant tuam sacram Regalitatem et ita tuæ pacis regnum stabiliatur in toto terrarum orbe. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge Thee King of the Universe. All that has been created has been made for Thee. Exercise upon me all Thy rights. I renew my baptismal promises, renouncing Satan and all his works and pomps. I promise to live a good Christian life and to do all in my power to procure the triumph of the rights of God and Thy Church. Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer Thee my poor actions in order to obtain that all hearts may acknowledge Thy sacred Royalty, and that thus the reign of Thy peace may be established throughout the universe. Amen.

This is an excellent formula. Firstly, it states the truth that Christ is Lord and ruler of all - qui vivit et regnat, or as the Mozarabic Liturgy puts it, qui vivit et omnia regit, "Who liveth and ruleth all". Why? Because all that was made, was made by Him, the Word, and for Him (as St Paul teaches). Therefore, one submits to His most just rule and most gentle sway: and in doing so, ipso facto one renews one's Baptismal promises - turning to Christ, Who is the East; and turning away from Satan, spitting in his malevolent face! But in intending to live a good Christian life of moral virtue, one also intends not to hug oneself and forget one's neighbour - no, the blessings one all unworthy has received one hopes to bring to others, and in the present context that means advocating the truth about God's rights and those of His Church: for these being enforced, all men would profit. By uniting one's own sacrifices to the burning love of the Sacred Heart, and thus to Him Who is our Royal Priest and all-sufficient Sacrifice, we pray to advance the day when His Kingdom will come in all its fulness, and even now will extend itself insensibly throughout the needy world: for we have the unshakeable knowledge that in the end He will reign, putting all His enemies under His feet; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.


It is interesting that on the website of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (whence I obtained this text, to save having to type it out), the prayer is marked as to be concluded with a Pater, Ave and Gloria. Now, whence this common practice of saying that any special prayer with its own proper text ought be concluded with so many "standard" prayers?

It must date from when illiterate persons (e.g. lay brothers or the unlettered laity) were told that, instead of reading Latin prayers, they should in place thereof recite so many Pater's and Ave's (which were learnt in Latin, not in the vernacular, until the time of the Reformation at least): for example, lay brothers were to recite a specified number of these prayers while the choir monks sang Vespers; and the laity were told to say so many such orations in place of reciting the proper Latin prayer to which an indulgence was attached (e.g. a mediæval woodcut of the Five Holy Wounds urged good Christian folk to say five Pater's and five Ave's in honour of Our Lord's Sacred Wounds in His Hands, Feet, and Side).

The obvious example par excellence is the Rosary, where the 150 Ave's correspond to the 150 Psalms. Later examples include Novena prayers, often featuring nine Ave's (or some other number) to be said daily for nine days. As Novenas and other evening devotions came increasingly to take the place of public Vespers, something of the old practice of enjoining the laity to say so many common prayers in place of the Latin Psalms and so forth may have been passed on to these.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why Contemplata Aliis Tradere?

It is well known - or ought be - that the Dominicans have three mottoes, of which one is contemplata aliis tradere (quoting Aquinas). I have appropriated this as a worthy intention for this blog: to hand over to others what I've contemplated. Now, this ought be explored - for a start, of course, what is thought upon ought be true, and no delusion: that is why the shortest, and arguably the core motto of those Preaching Friars is Veritas, "truth" - which I would render in Aussie slang as Strewth, an abbreviated form of "God's Truth"!

As the Scriptures tell us, we ought contemplate the things above – Suspice cælum, et intuere: et contemplare æthera quod altior te sit (Job xxxv, 5) – which are invisible and eternal, not those all too visible, being terrene and transient – non contemplantibus nobis quæ videntur, sed quæ non videntur. Quæ enim videntur, temporalia sunt: quæ autem non videntur, æterna sunt (II Cor. iv, 18) – as the Apostle says. Again, as is said, we ought at least have the right eye upon things eternal, if we must needs suffer the left eye to look at what is passing.

Just as Moses was directed by the Lord to contemplate the Promised Land, a foreshadowing of heaven, from the mountain (a symbol of Christ) – Dixit quoque Dominus ad Moysen: Ascende in montem istum Abarim, et contemplare inde terram, quam daturus sum filiis Israël (Num. xxvii, 12) – and as Elijah directed his servant to contemplate the Sea, and sent him back seven times till he should see the cloud heralding the breaking of the drought (which is a type of the coming of Holy Mary, Stella Maris, from whom came Christ, bringing grace to men) – et [Elias] dixit ad puerum suum: Ascende, et prospice contra mare. Qui cum ascendisset, et contemplatus esset, ait: Non est quidquam. Et rursum ait illi: Revertere septem vicibus (III Reg. xviii, 43) – so ought we contemplate, and think on these great truths of the Incarnation and the promise of salvation in our Lord.

From contemplating the vanity and needless cares of all earthly works as did the Ecclesiast – Rursum contemplatus sum omnes labores hominum, et industrias animadverti patere invidiæ proximi; et in hoc ergo vanitas et cura superflua est (Eccles iv, 4) – and from contemplation of foolishness, we ought turn to wisdom, as did Solomon – Transivi ad contemplandam sapientiam, erroresque, et stultitiam (Eccles ii, 12).

Finally, from an abundance of contemplation, we should turn and pass on the fruits thereof to others, as did the Preacher – mens mea contemplata est multa sapienter, et didici (Eccles i, 16b); Cumque esset sapientissimus Ecclesiastes, docuit populum, et enarravit quæ fecerat; et investigans composuit parabolas multas (Eccles xii, 9) – he, being most wise, taught and spoke of what he had accomplished, and made many similitudes. For in considering and imparting such to others, they are aided, lest any be wanting in God's grace – contemplantes nequis desit gratiæ Dei (Heb 12:15a).

Day of Rest

I feel like one of the little old ladies that a friend described to me, who go to Mass every day, except twice on Saturdays - and never on Sundays! I've got into the habit of attending the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening, in other words. Weirdly, this makes Sunday a complete day of rest - even from the Eucharist. However, I can justify this by recourse to the Old Testament: did not the Israelites gather the manna daily, except that they had to harvest a double portion on Friday, as none dropt down on Saturday? Move the days ahead one pace, and it accurately alludes to present practice.

Next weekend, of course, I shall be footsore and weary, a pilgrim still miles away from Bendigo, but hopefully imitating St Dominic, who (like St Stephen of Muret), spoke ever to God or of God (ad Deum vel de Deo), as he went about doing good on his long apostolic journeyings. Converse with God is most acceptable, and converse about Him - spiritual conversation - is charity. Dominic would either profit his brethren and others by his discourses, or drop a little behind so as to give himself up to prayer and contemplation. The early Friars Preachers reported that when he did so, he frequently made the sign of the Cross, as if brushing flies from before his face - in the Australian bush this will definitely be necessary!

St Dominic of course famously had his friars wear boots - the shoeless Franciscans mocked them as soft-living "shod friars" - but he himself took them off when out in the country, so as to do penance by macerating his feet upon the sharp stones. He also had two favourite songs while walking: Ave maris stella, and Veni Creator Spiritus. This seems to have been a Dominican habit: just before he was slain, St Peter Martyr was walking toward Milan singing the Easter Sequence, Victimæ paschali laudes - but he only let one companion join in, for he foreknew of his impending assassination, and of the death therein of that fellow brother: together they sang, themselves to be paschal victims in witness to Christ.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dufay Mass, and a Motet

(Kyrie from Dufay's Missa "Se la face ay pale")

I have a CD of a vintage recording (directed by Planchart) of Guillaume Dufay's Mass "Se la face ay pale" - Jennifer told me the performance is a bit dated, but I rather like it. Anyhow, I've just ordered a CD of a different performance (directed by Binkley), which as a bonus comes with the chants, prayers and readings of the Nuptial Mass.

Why a Nuptial Mass? Because Dufay's famous Mass setting is the first cantus firmus Mass based on a secular chanson - Se la face ay pale is a rather predictable late mediæval love-song about suffering pangs of love for a puissant lady, complete with a play on words ("love", "bitter" and "sea" all sound much the same in French), which Dufay set to music in the 1430's - and it is thought this Mass was first sung at a royal or ducal wedding about 1450. With the passage of time, what would have fallen under the condemnation of Trent against sacred music making profane allusions is now quite acceptable!

Here is the text (the first part), with a rather clumsy translation:

Se la face ay pale,
la cause est aimer,
c'est la principale
et tant m'est amer aimer
qu'en l'amer me voudroye voir.

Or scet bien de voir,
la belle a qui suis
que nul bien avoir
sans elle ne puis.

If [my] face is pale,
the cause is love,
that is the principal,
and so bitter it is to love
that I want to throw myself into the sea [!].

Now she knows well,
the lady whom I serve,
that without her
I cannot be happy.

See what I mean about a rather ordinary collection of clichés? But the Mass is very beautiful.


As all men know, it is de rigueur to sing Ave Maria at a wedding: and I think this sentiment Catholic and orthodox, howsoever modern liturgists may complain, since after all the Orthodox sing a Megalynarion to the Mother of God just after the very Consecration at every Liturgy, and it seems strange at a wedding to make no plea whatsoever to Our Lady, who is our "most gracious advocate", as well as in her marriage to St Joseph a most holy model for all.

(Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin)

You'd think that at the Reform of the Liturgy some effort would have been made to add some reference in the marriage rites to Holy Mary and her most chaste spouse. But no: in fact, to add insult to injury, the modern recension of the Nuptial Blessing (to which two 1960's compositions have been added, as alternatives) dumps the reference to Rachel, Rebecca and Sarah, and the former final blessing, invoking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has been entirely removed from the Novus Ordo. So much for a return to the sources: out with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel.

The Introit, too, alluding to Tobias and Sarah, has been left out of the new Gradual. Only reference to our first parents Adam and Eve, and to Christ's mystical marriage to the Church, seem to have survived. Predictably, given the vast selection of readings that bemused couples must choose from, the readings from Tobit, or what St Paul says to the Ephesians, are left aside in favour of I Corinthians xiii, used shamelessly at both weddings and funerals (even dreadful Diana's).

Now, while singing Ave Maria is all very well, the Bach-Gounod, let alone the Schubert settings are so hackneyed and dripping with sugary sentiment as to be a bit vulgar. Better is a restrained, tasteful polyphonic setting. But I am amused to learn that my favourite Ave Maria, while attributed to Victoria, is in fact almost certainly a late forgery, which first appears in print in the 19th century, and has no manuscript evidence for it at all! At least it is good counterpoint, clear and devout, not too difficult for four voices to sing successfully.

Marital Musings

Just lately, my thoughts have turned to marriage (apparently the Christus Rex Pilgrimage, like Antioch youth groups of old, and the Catholic tennis clubs of yesteryear, is somewhat of an occasion of matchmaking!)... But of course, on this blog and for this demented soul, that means "thinking about the liturgy and rubrics of the rite of holy matrimony"... of which more anon.

Anyhow, earlier I teed up with my mate Justin to meet up this Friday evening at Southern Cross station in Melbourne, to catch the evening train to Ballarat - from whence we bachelors will, God willing, be collected and taken over to the pilgrim encampment en route to Bendigo. (Synchronicity: it transpires that he's busy this weekend with setting up for and singing at a wedding of a friend of his who's Russian Orthodox: a friend of mine was married in the Byzantine Rite, and it was a truly splendid and moving service.) After we arrive in Ballarat at a quarter to ten at night, all is in the Lord's hands; I note that Saturday is the feast of St Raphael Archangel, patron saint of those in search of a spouse. (For my directly contrary earlier thoughts on being a contented bachelor, see an earlier post.)

One thing I'm very glad of is that, unlike some devout young Catholics I know of the "golly-gee, have you heard of Theology of the Body?" variety (it is important, but not the be-all and end-all), I have never been afflicted by the modern mania for "discernment", which seems to mean thinking and praying ad nauseam, per omnia sæcula sæculorum, without ever coming to a definite conclusion. (My Mum tells of two dear old Presbyterian spinsters, who took such to extremes: seeking the Lord's will as to whether they ought purchase a piano, they persevered in prayer till they seemed to hear the tinkling of ivory keys! Such is my settled view of the overpious approach of some.)

One acquaintance of mine spent a decade or so "discerning" whether to join a certain Order - when he finally went and joined it, after years of pious fantasies, he gave it over within a month. Others have bizarrely "discerned", for years, whether or not to marry - when surely that is the lot of most mortals, and the problem is rather finding the other party to the wedding! Moral of the story: get going and don't dream. If you seek to be a priest, go to the seminary.

With marriage it is a little different of course: now, I don't at all think one should flirt, disport and consort with many and varied girlfriends ("partners", not in the business sense), although that is not at all the same as having many and varied female friends! It has always seemed to me that as an adult one shouldn't seriously "go out" with someone one would not contemplate in the end marrying: for, once one's through the puppy love stage of starry-eyed adolescence when holding hands and feeling all sappy is the go, being boyfriend and girlfriend should be but the prelude to courtship, then engagement, and a Christian marriage. Playing the field and playing around is sin that leads to hell.

The best recipe for marriage is to follow the example of happily married couples one knows. A prelate of my acquaintance told me that the best model for priests are such happy couples, just as happy couples find good models in contented priests: for the two vocations are in ways analogous and complementary, if they are lived well.

My dear friends, Ben and Jane, have an amusing tale of how they ended up marrying over fifty years ago: a lady friend of Ben suggested he ask Jane out; Jane was very dubious about this doubtful fellow, but finally couldn't make up any excuse and accepted his invitation; she had a happy time, but already had a good job and many funloving male friends and hadn't any great wish to settle down; insensibly they grew closer and more accustomed to one another; they went on a trip (staying separately course), in the course of which Ben proposed - Jane refused, saying it was all bosh and a romantic holiday fancy! - but a few months later, she rang him back and said, "Oh, all right". That's the secret of their success - that, and the very important fact that both were Catholics who practised their faith and shared a commitment to virtuous living. They also have a good sense of humour.

While who knows where love may turn up, all things being equal it is obviously better to marry a likeminded lady, herself a committed Catholic (and, please God, better than oneself, and so virtuous as to be a shining lamp to love and imitate in goodness), rather than fall into a mixed marriage. (An old priest hereabouts used to rail against "Mixed marriages and Mass missers"! But even non-Catholics used to seek his advice in their relationship troubles.)

Now, as I've said before, I don't believe in discernment, and am content as a bachelor to serve the Lord; but I have always thought that if little Miss Right comes along, it would be insulting to Him and to her to turn down an excellent alliance! (St Philip Neri had an analogous fate: while of himself he would have remained a simple single layman, he was ordered by his confessor to become a priest.)

As St Paul says, I have been speaking like a fool, but do bear with a little of my foolishness.