Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Off to the Christus Rex Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is for penitents: how convenient, then, that I'm about to head off to-morrow to catch up on penance by walking from Ballarat to Bendigo in the 20th annual Christus Rex Pilgrimage.  Along the way, I will also get to catch up with many friends, and to join in the sacred liturgy, so really I am very blessed.  If only I weren't so tired and so out of shape...

Oremus pro invicem.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Four Enemies of the Church

To my delight, I've finally found that mediæval compendium of liturgical lore, Durandus' Rationale of the Divine Offices online, in the original Latin; it contains many a treasure, but my eye fell upon this passage, in the midst of a laborious discussion of why Matins is composed of Nocturns:

Potest etiam dici, quod quatuor sunt Ecclesiæ hostes: superiores, id est, dæmones malignantes, inferiores, id est, homines adversantes: interiores: id est, concupiscentiæ carnales: & exteriores, id est, illecebræ sæculares. De primis inquit Apostolus: Non est vobis colluctatio adversus carnem, & sanguinem, sed adversus… spiritualia nequitia in cælestibus (Ephes. 6:12).  De secundis Psalmista: Supra dorsum meum fabricaverunt peccatores, prolongaverunt iniquitatem sibi (Ps 128:3).  De tertiis Apostolus: Caro concupiscit adversus spiritum: spiritus autem adversus carnem (Galat. 5:17).  De quartis Joannes: Nolite diligere mundum, neque ea, quæ sunt in mundo… quia quicquid est in mundo, aut est concupiscentia carnis, aut oculorum, aut superbia vita (I Jo. 2:15 & 16).
(For it is able to be said, that the enemies of the Church are four: those above, that is, ill-willing demons; those below, that is, men opposing her; those within, that is, carnal desires; and those outwith, that is, worldly enticements.  Of the first the Apostle saith: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against… the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”  Of the second, the Psalmist: “The wicked have wrought upon my back: they have lengthened their iniquity.”  Of the third, [again] the Apostle: “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh.”  Of the fourth, St John: “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world… For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.”)
—Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, lib. 5, cap. 3, n. 4

How true: Holy Church, and every Christian soul, is beset by wicked demons above and men below; tried by temptations of the flesh within and the gaudy pomps of the meretricious world without.

How, true, alas, it is, that men of the church have been so eager to give in to sins of utter filth and depravity, spreading a foul canker of rot through the very Body of Christ!  The interior enemy is perhaps the most insidious and dangerous.  What need have men or demons outside the Church to rail against her and attack her (though of course they do, and with renewed avidity) when it is the very viper in the bosom that strikes and wounds to the quick?  And in prosperous nations, materialism has lured very many of the once-faithful into practical atheism, worshippers of Mammon, not God at all.  Why go to boring old church, when one can go shopping?

It may be wondered why heretics and schismatics are not listed – but these are listed among the homines adversantes, the opposing men; and also, as a bishop pointed out to me long ago, all dissent and heresy begins in moral turpitude, among the concupiscentiæ carnales, nowadays just as in the days of lustful Henry VIII and Luther and all dissidents back to the Gnostics: for men prefer to change their religion rather than their sins, by declaring black to be white.  That is why "spirituality" is popular with the world: one can continue to live in unrepented sin if one dabbles in feng shui, but not if one commits oneself to Christ.  Pure religion and undefiled, requires moral adhesion, not rationalization of one's faults as not one's fault.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Catholic Books in Protestant Bookshop

Occasionally, I pop into Koorong books, which is some sort of Evangelical Protestant book outlet – sadly, since the sorry closure of Launceston's Catholic bookshop, the only resort for Christian books here bar the Internet (the same has happened in Hobart).  It is interesting for its large shelves of serious Biblical commentaries, including the series quoting from the Fathers, some of which I have purchased from time to time.  Now, as one may imagine, only modern Protestant tomes of a Reformed tone are there in the main (some very gauche, as for instance the "financial" section, which I imagine to contain motivational paperbacks expounding the prosperity gospel in gushing Yankee prose), but it is interesting to look over what can be found therein; I bought some good Chesterton there for example, of which more anon.

In any case, just to-day I turned up an inexpensive interlinear Bible there, which I hope (read with due awareness of its Protestant point of view) will stand as a helpful crib to my copies of the Greek New and Hebrew Old Testaments – though mindful of Trent, I do adhere to the Vulgate as a sure and trusty standard, with the Douay-Rheims as a painful translation thereof.

What again caught my attention was the small selection of Catholic classics that clearly hold an affectionate place among Christian classics, even for modern evangelical Protestants, maybe happy-clappy or otherwise, but from all I can see satisfyingly conservative on moral questions, unlike the self-murdering liberalism of Australian Anglicanism, the Uniting Church, and, sad to say, the run-of-the-mill deviations of Catholicism so commonplace in parishes.

Herewith, the authors and titles I spotted:
  • St Augustine's Confessions;
  • Chesterton's Heretics, Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man (the latter particularly interesting, as written after his reception into the Church);
  • a small work of Archbishop Fenelon;
  • The Little Flowers of St Francis;
  • Thomas à Kempis' The Imitation of Christ;
  • Br Lawrence of the Resurrection's The Practice of the Presence of God;
  • St John of the Cross' The Dark Night of the Soul;
  • St Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle.

It is interesting to see how three Carmelites feature very prominently in this list, as well as the ever-popular St Francis and followers.  Augustine, of course, has always been a favourite of Calvinists and Lutherans no less than of Catholics, and in this case for his pious introspection... and Fenelon, because of falling somewhat into bad odour during the Quietist controversy, though remaining quite a faithful Catholic, has perversely enough been ever since favoured by Protestants (and I suspect that the teaching of Br Lawrence has been welcomed among them for not dissimilar reasons, despite its impeccable orthodoxy, for just like de Caussade's writings, it is concerned with interior devotion); I once had a tiny nineteenth century American edition of Fenelon's works, but I can't find it and may have given it away.  The Imitatio, "that golden book" in Pius XII's lapidary phrase, has ever been popular among all manner of Christians for similar reasons, despite its robustly Catholic fourth book all about devotion to the Sacrament of the altar.  

The presence of Chesterton (alongside, it must be said, an overlong C.S. Lewis section – like Tolkien, his johnny-come-lately status as yester-day atheist, to-day theologian of "mere Christianity", horrid phrase, has never much appealed to me) is most intriguing, since in these works he writes more of dogma and doctrine, and especially as the prefaces of all three books, all of which I have bought therefrom, are perfectly open and honest about his eventual becoming a Catholic.

Pray all these saints and pious men (and Chesterton, too, whose cause is now being advanced at last) may by their words and prayers help bring souls to the Truth.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rubrical Query

If one says Compline, and wishes to add Compline of Our Lady (from her Little Office), does one first say the Marian anthem &c. at the end of Compline, and then add Compline de Beata, or does one interpolate the latter after the blessing and before the Marian anthem?

I came to think this may be the case because Compline of the Little Office, when given as an appendix in a Breviary, was given with neither a final blessing nor Marian anthem until the 1962 edition – yet did appear with such when printed as a standalone devotion.  This made me surmise that when the two Complines were said one after the other, the blessing and Marian anthem of the daily Office supplied for its little sibling as well.  It would certainly seem strange, strictly following the '62 rules, to sing Salve Regina twice in close succession...

I recently found that in the Carmelite Breviary, the following rubric appears after the blessing: Statim dicitur Completorium de beata Virgine, si dicendum sit, quo dicto (vel si dicendum non sit) data benedictione, statim dicitur Antiphona Salve Regina...  [It would appear to me that the second parenthesis is misplaced, and should have been after benedictione.]

Therefore, at least in the Carmelite Rite, Our Lady's Compline is interpolated between Compline of the day and the Marian anthem following.

However, the Roman and other Breviaries make no such note, and indeed have a seemingly contrary rubric to the effect that, after the Benedicamus Domino, Fidelium animæ is not said, but rather the blessing and Marian anthem follow immediately.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did the Josephite Postulator Snub the Pope?

St Mary of the Cross is canonized: alleluia! and may she pray for us!

But did her spiritual daughter, the Josephite sister who has been the postulator for her cause, deliberately refrain from kissing the Pope's episcopal ring?  I have been watching the live coverage on ABC24, and while each of the other five postulators clearly did so, so far as I could see – and the video will confirm this – Sr Maria Casey did not, although she seemed otherwise so friendly, patting His Holiness's hand as she did.

(UPDATE: I see that Terra over at Australia Incognita confirms this independently.)

(And one of the deacons at the throne noticed the Holy Father was none too pleased with the scarf-wearer.)

In Rome, such things are noted.  Was this a quite deliberate refusal to follow expected protocol, and "send a message" both to Rome and back home to the sisters in Australia?

On a similar note, only a late intervention by the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See obtained tickets to the canonization ceremony for the Australian seminarians in Rome: it appears the Josephites ignored them.

In Rome, such things are noted.


Let the Holy Father have the last word, in the pointed remarks made in his homily relative to St Mary:
“Remember who your teachers were – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” ... Despite many challenges, her prayers to Saint Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces needed to remain faithful to God and to the Church. Through her intercession, may her followers today continue to serve God and the Church with faith and humility!
I think certain ladies wearing secular clothes and pale scarves in place of their spiritual mother's brown habit could do with the hint: rediscover your charism, and through persevering prayer, be faithful to God and the Church with humility.

A final note: a retired Dominican of my acquaintance said of those religious sisters, once habited and convent-dwelling, now semi-retired, in secular clothes, living in suburban bedsits, that they have simply reverted to type – as homemakers.  Ouch!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Extra Nocturns for the Little Office

I continue to pray Placebo, Dirige and/or Exsultabunt – Vespers, Matins and Lauds of the Dead.  Alongside this, this week, I have had yet more consolation from singing the praises of the Blessed Virgin in her own Little Office.  This morning, it being her day of the week, I prefaced these devotions with some supererogatory items: some extra canticles and psalms in her honour.  

What psalms, what canticles?  The three psalms used in honour of Our Lady at Monastic Matins (which has twelve psalms, not just the nine to which the Roman Matins has been restricted for a hundred years) but not included in the Little Office – Ps 47, Magnus Dominus; Ps 84, Benedixisti Domine (used at Prime of Our Lady in the Roman Use, but not at all in the Dominican); and Ps 98, Dominus regnavit – and three canticles, the two latter being taken from the third Nocturn of Monastic Matins, while the first comes from Ambrosian Matins of Our Lady – the Canticle of Anna (I Kings ii, 1-10), Exsultavit cor meum; the Canticle of Ecclesiasticus (Ecclus xxxix, 17-21), Obaudite me; and the Canticle of Isaias (Is. lxi, 10-11 and lxii, 1-7), Gaudens gaudebo.

Interestingly, and conveniently, these two sets of three have each about the same number of verses as has each existing Nocturn, on average, of Matins of Our Lady; so, pro pia devotione, these could be substituted for the usual psalmody of a Nocturn.

Herewith, accompanied with antiphons, are these select and sacred hymns, inspired by the Holy Ghost Who illapsed upon the Virgin, filling her with unspeakable grace and conceiving within her the Word, making Him Flesh for our salvation; may they give joy to devout clients of the Mother of God:


Aña 1.  Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu inter mulieres.  Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.  (S. Luc. i, 28b & 38a)

CANTICUM ANNÆ – I Reg. 2, 1-10 [16 vv.]

Exsultavit cor meum in Domino, * et exaltatum est cornu meum in Deo meo;
Dilatatum est os meum super inimicos meos, * quia lætata sum in salutari tuo.
Non est sanctus, ut est Dominus, † neque enim est alius extra te, * et non est fortis sicut Deus noster.
Nolite multiplicare loqui sublimia * gloriantes;
Recedant vetera de ore vestro; † quia Deus scientiarum, Dominus est, * et ipsi præparantur cogitationes.
Arcus fortium superatus est, * et infirmi accincti sunt robore.
Repleti prius, pro panibus se locaverunt, * et famelici saturati sunt.
Donec sterilis peperit plurimos, * et quæ multos habebat filios, infirmata est.
Dominus mortificat et vivificat, * deducit ad inferos et reducit.
Dominus pauperem facit et ditat; * humiliat et sublevat.
Suscitat de pulvere egenum, * et de stercore elevat pauperem,
Ut sedeat cum principibus, * et solium gloriæ teneat.
Domini enim sunt cardines terræ, * et posuit super eos orbem.
Pedes sanctorum suorum servabit, † et impii in tenebris conticescent, * quia non in fortitudine sua roborabitur vir.
Dominum formidabunt adversarii ejus, * et super ipsos in cælis tonabit;
Dominus judicabit fines terræ, † et dabit imperium regi suo, * et sublimabit cornu christi sui.

Aña 1.  Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu inter mulieres.  Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.  (S. Luc. i, 28b & 38a)

Aña 2.  Hortus conclusus es, Dei Genitrix, hortus conclusus, fons signatus: surge, propera, amica mea, et veni!  (Cf. Cant. iv, 12; ii, 10b)

CANTICUM ECCLESIASTICI – Cap. 39, 17-21 [5 vv.]

Obaudite me, divini fructus, * et quasi rosa plantata super rivos aquarum fructificate.
Quasi Libanus * odorem suavitatis habete.
Florete flores quasi lilium, et date odorem, † et frondete in gratiam; et collaudate canticum, * et benedicite Dominum in operibus suis.
Date nomini ejus magnificentiam, † et confitemini illi in voce labiorum vestrorum, * et in canticis labiorum, et citharis;
Et sic dicetis in confessione: * Opera Domini universa bona valde.

Aña 2.  Hortus conclusus es, Dei Genitrix, hortus conclusus, fons signatus: surge, propera, amica mea, et veni!  (Cf. Cant. iv, 12; ii, 10b)

Aña 3.  Maria Virgo, lætare, quæ meruisti Christum portare, cæli et terræ conditorem, quia protulisti mundi Salvatorem.

CANTICUM ISAIÆ – Cap. 61, 10-11 et 62, 1-7 [15 vv.]

Gaudens gaudebo in Domino, * et exsultabit anima mea in Deo meo,
Quia induit me vestimentis salutis, * et indumento justitiæ circumdedit me,
Quasi sponsum decoratum corona, * et quasi sponsam ornatam monilibus suis.
Sicut enim terra profert germen suum, † et sicut hortus semen suum germinat, * sic Dominus Deus germinabit justitiam, et laudem coram universis gentibus.
Propter Sion non tacebo, et propter Jerusalem non quiescam, † donec egrediatur ut splendor justus ejus, * et salvator ejus ut lampas accendatur.
Et videbunt gentes justum tuum, * et cuncti reges inclytum tuum;
Et vocabitur tibi nomen novum, * quod os Domini nominabit.
Et eris corona gloriæ in manu Domini, * et diadema regni in manu Dei tui.
Non vocaberis ultra Derelicta, * et terra tua non vocabitur amplius Desolata;
Sed vocaberis Voluntas mea in ea, *et terra tua inhabitata,
Quia complacuit Domino in te; * et terra tua inhabitabitur.
Habitabit enim juvenis cum virgine, * et habitabunt in te filii tui;
Et gaudebit sponsus super sponsam, * et gaudebit super te Deus tuus.
Super muros tuos, Jerusalem, constitui custodes;  * tota die et tota nocte in perpetuum non tacebunt.
Qui reminiscimini Domini, ne taceatis, † et ne detis silentium ei, * donec stabiliat et donec ponat Jerusalem laudem in terra.

Aña 3.  Maria Virgo, lætare, quæ meruisti Christum portare, cæli et terræ conditorem, quia protulisti mundi Salvatorem.


Aña 1.  Favus distillans labia tua, Sponsa, mel et lac sub lingua tua: et odor vestimentorum tuorum sicut odor thuris.  (Cant. iv, 11)

PSALMUS 47 [13 vv.]

Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis, * in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
Fundatur exsultatione universæ terræ mons Sion; * latera aquilonis, civitas regis magni.
Deus in domibus ejus cognoscetur, * cum suscipiet eam.
Quoniam ecce reges terræ congregati sunt, * convenerunt in unum.
Ipsi videntes, sic admirati sunt, † conturbati sunt, commoti sunt; * tremor apprehendit eos.
Ibi dolores ut parturientis: * in spiritu vehementi conteres naves Tharsis.
Sicut audivimus, sic vidimus in civitate Domini virtutum, † in civitate Dei nostri: * Deus fundavit eam in æternum.
Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam, * in medio templi tui.
Secundum nomen tuum, Deus, sic et laus tua in fines terræ: * justitia plena est dextera tua.
Lætetur mons Sion, et exsultent filiæ Judæ, * propter judicia tua, Domine.
Circumdate Sion, et complectimini eam; * narrate in turribus ejus.
Ponite corda vestra in virtute ejus, * et distribuite domos ejus, ut enarretis in progenie altera.
Quoniam hic est Deus, Deus noster in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi: * ipse reget nos in sæcula.

Aña 1.  Favus distillans labia tua, Sponsa, mel et lac sub lingua tua: et odor vestimentorum tuorum sicut odor thuris.  (Cant. iv, 11)

Aña 2.  Fons hortorum, puteus aquarum viventium, quæ fluunt impetu de Libano.  (Cant. iv, 15)

PSALMUS 84 [14 vv.]

Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam, * avertisti captivitatem Jacob.
Remisisti iniquitatem plebis tuæ, * operuisti omnia peccata eorum.
Mitigasti omnem iram tuam, * avertisti ab ira indignationis tuæ.
Converte nos, Deus salutaris noster, * et averte iram tuam a nobis.
Numquid in æternum irasceris nobis? * aut extendes iram tuam a generatione in generationem?
Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos, * et plebs tua lætabitur in te.
Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam, * et salutare tuum da nobis.
Audiam, quid loquatur in me Dominus Deus, * quoniam loquetur pacem in plebem suam.
Et super sanctos suos, * et in eos qui convertuntur ad cor.
Verumtamen prope timentes eum salutare ipsius, * ut inhabitet gloria in terra nostra.
Misericordia et veritas obviaverunt sibi; * justitia et pax osculatæ sunt.
Veritas de terra orta est, * et justitia de cælo prospexit.
Etenim Dominus dabit benignitatem, * et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.
Justitia ante eum ambulabit, * et ponet in via gressus suos.

Aña 2.  Fons hortorum, puteus aquarum viventium, quæ fluunt impetu de Libano.  (Cant. iv, 15)

Aña 3.  Descendi in hortum nucum, ut viderem poma convallium, et inspicerem, si floruisset vinea, et germinassent mala punica, alleluja.  (Cant. vi, 10)

PSALMUS 98 [10 vv.]

Dominus regnavit: irascantur populi; * qui sedet super cherubim, moveatur terra.
Dominus in Sion magnus, * et excelsus super omnes populos.
Confiteantur nomini tuo magno, † quoniam terribile et sanctum est, * et honor regis judicium diligit.
Tu parasti directiones; * judicium et justitiam in Jacob tu fecisti.
Exaltate Dominum Deum nostrum, † et adorate scabellum pedum ejus, * quoniam sanctum est.
Moyses et Aaron in sacerdotibus ejus, * et Samuel inter eos, qui invocant nomen ejus;
Invocabant Dominum, et ipse exaudiebat eos; * in columna nubis loquebatur ad eos.
Custodiebant testimonia ejus, * et præceptum quod dedit illis.
Domine Deus noster, tu exaudiebas eos; † Deus, tu propitius fuisti eis, * et ulciscens in omnes adinventiones eorum.
Exaltate Dominum Deum nostrum, † et adorate in monte sancto ejus, * quoniam sanctus Dominus Deus noster.

Aña 3.  Descendi in hortum nucum, ut viderem poma convallium, et inspicerem, si floruisset vinea, et germinassent mala punica, alleluja.  (Cant. vi, 10)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stupid Rubbish about Mary MacKillop

Two things about the extremely poor coverage of Mary MacKillop's impending canonization have irked me:

  1. The complete failure to recognize that she is worthy of the honours of the altar, NOT because she opened schools, succoured the poor, etc. BUT because she worshipped God aright and therefore loved her neighbour as Christ loved us, obeying His command to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, possessing as she did the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, plus the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, all of them to an heroic degree.  Nothing imperfect enters heaven!  It is foulest Americanism, that detestable heresy akin to Pelagianism, to think a person is a saint because of their good works, howsoever many; one is a saint because of fidelity to grace.
  2. The complete failure of any Australians to recognize that she is not being canonized alone!  How typically insular, parochial, provincial and self-absorbed of us all to forget that at least one of the other four beati about to be promoted is arguably more important that she is: Br André, the miracle-worker of Montreal, who was instrumental in establishing there the far-famed shrine of St Joseph to which millions of pilgrims repair each year to beg for blessings, prayers that are oft heard and granted.
And to add a third point: she is more properly Bl (soon to be St) Mary of the Cross; to use her Scottish surname instead of her religious title simply reinforces the relentless secularization of her cultus.    As it is, the popular media seem only able to celebrate her as a nice lady who did good deeds, while pooh-poohing her miracles.  The running-dogs of the media among the liberal clergy and religious do the same.  There will not be any saints in Australia to follow her if we give in to this nonsense about bourgeois niceness as the be-all and end-all of holiness.  She strove for the perfection of sanctity, and stormed heaven: do people nowadays even think about such a concept?
Dear Mary, obtain of the Lord that the truth of thy sanctity be grasped by all hearts, that thy blessed example lead us unto Him, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, world without end.  Amen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Should there be a Sermon at Mass?

Whether there should be a sermon at Mass?

1. It would seem that there ought not be a sermon at Mass.  For at Mass the most holy Eucharist is consecrated, offered and received, as both Sacrament and Sacrifice; yet a sermon appertaineth neither to a sacrament, which worketh ex opere operato, nor to a sacrifice, which requireth but a priest to offer it and a victim to be offered.  Therefore there ought not be a sermon at Mass.

2. Furthermore, Our Lord Himself is the Eternal Word made incarnate, and it would seem superfluous and blasphemous to supplement the Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Word with a merely human word (sermo). 

3. Again, Our Lord at His last supper first consecrated the Eucharist and administered it to His disciples, and then gave His discourse by example and word afterward (cf. S. John xiii-xvii), “when supper was done” (S. John xiii, 2), and for the most part after saying, Rise, let us go hence (S. John xiv, 31), which doth answer to the dismissal at Mass, Ite missa est.  Therefore the sermon should only be preached after Communion, or, better still and more evangelically, after all of Mass is ended, and, moreover, after the priest has first washed the feet of all present, and, still further, only once a year on Maundy Thursday, and only in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, following this mandate of Our Lord in all particulars.

4. Moreover, at Mass the dispositive instruction is given in the first part, when the very words of the inspired Scriptures are read, God’s own revelation to His people: whether the Old Testament is read or not as a preface to what follows, first some writing of the Apostles or their Acts is read, and finally the Gospel as the pinnacle, being the very teaching of the Lord Himself.  It would therefore be wicked presumption for the priest to think to preach next, as if he were more important and his doctrine more clear than that of Christ, just as some Friars Minor think only to speak of Christ in passing ere they talk long of St Francis.  Rather, therefore, if any sermon be given, it ought be before all the readings, since the celebrant is neither the Christ, nor an Apostle, nor a Prophet, but only a mere man such as were the Gentiles before they received any revelation from God at all.  By extension, the sermon ought not be at Mass, but even before Mass.

To the contrary, Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God, as the Apostle says (Acts xiv, 21).

I respond, saying: many times the words of the preacher trouble his hearers, and it is in this manner that we pass through many tribulations before we enter upon the heavenly mysteries, which in this mortal life are the greatest foretaste and concealed presence of the kingdom of God.  Most wisely, then, Holy Church doth permit sermons to be preached.  Yet even in her practice it may be seen that she doth not favour them without limit or end.  It was attested by Sozomen in the fifth century that no one preacheth in Rome, let alone priests, and we should always look to the example of the Holy Roman Church, Mother of all the churches.  Moreover, of old only bishops were permitted to preach, which could not be unless preaching were not an unmitigated blessing.  St Augustine, when as yet but a priest, only preached because his bishop knew not Latin sufficiently to try the patience of his people.

1.  In reply to the first objection, while neither a sacrament nor a sacrifice necessarily requireth a sermon, neither absolutely excludeth being accompanied by one, if the sermon render those present more in need of the sacrament and more like unto innocent victims about to be slain.  Indeed, Our Lord came not to minister to the healthy but to the sick, and so it is providential that we be rendered sick of hearing the preacher’s words ere we receive the healing remedy in the sacrament; just as for those fainting by reason of lack of food, after hearing Our Lord’s sermon, He thereupon fed them miraculously, which was a type of the Eucharist.  Furthermore, we are told to offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice (Rom. xii, 1), as Christ offered Himself as a sweet savour and oblation unto God (Eph. v, 2), and to have the priest preach at one is to be made to feel a victim, which helps one unite oneself to the sacrifice about to be consummated.  This the Apostle exemplified when he preached so long that Eutychus fell out of the window and died (Acts xx, 9), before the breaking of bread (verse 10).  (For Eutychus is patron of those who hear sermons, as all men know.)

2.  To increase our desire to receive the Word Which alone can save us, we are made to wait for this by listening in the meantime to the word (sermo) of men, just as the despairing pagans of old groaned for thousands of years, listening to the inane babble of their pretended oracles and seers, before finally hearing of the Revelation of God in Christ; and this sufficeth to meet the second objection.

3.  The third objection is confuted as follows: the Last Supper occurred before the Crucifixion, whereas all Masses occur after the Crucifixion; hence Our Lord preached after Communion but before His Sacrifice on Calvary, whereas by symmetry a sermon at Mass would therefore be given after the Consecration but before the Communion.  Nonetheless, as this is the practice of the dissident Armenians (for their Patriarch preached at that part of the liturgy when he visited Melbourne), the Church Catholic and universal doth do otherwise, just as she rejecteth their peculiar use of wine unmixed with water.  Also, if the priest preached after Mass, no one would remain to hear him, which would frustrate the purpose of preaching as outlined in the reply to the first objection.

4.  As to the fourth objection, what was said at the end of the reply to the third objection doth also hold: for if the priest preached before Mass, no one would bother to come early, even if ever they did ordinarily.  This sufficeth to prove what was said in the response above.

— from the Summa Triviæ.

Sunday at Carmel

Back to Carmel for early Mass on Sunday morning, now Spring is here and daylight saving makes 7:30 am a more attractive time of day...

It was good to settle back into the way of things, and chant the simple syllabic Gloria in excelsis of Mass XV, plus the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Our Lady's Mass, Mass IX, Cum jubilo.  (It had never struck me before, but is it the nuns' ardent Marian piety that moves them to choose and sing those chants?)

The priest even chose to use the Roman Canon, so all was well.  (It is always consoling, once the sermon is done, to realize the celebrant is devout and no friend of strange innovations or rubrical anomalies: then one can settle down to pray without having to endure banalities and worse.)

A stray thought that may turn out to be from the Summa Triviæ: Why is there a sermon at Mass? To remind us "that through many tribulations we must reach the kingdom of God" (Acts xiv, 22).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Malum Cydonium: In Memoriam

In memory of Dad, I did what I hardly ever do – some gardening.  Having purchased a quince sapling the other day, to-day I planted it: Cydonia oblonga, var. Smyrna.  A quince, of course, is called in Latin "Cydonian apple".  Quinces are a favourite fruit of mine, for their aroma and taste... and Dad did love gardening.

Clementissime Domine - II

Herewith, the traditional Dominican recension of the votive antiphon for the dead, Clementissime Domine:

(Sorry about the poor quality, I'm not so adept at cutting and pasting.)

The text, in the traditional Dominican version, is as follows:

Clementissime Domine, qui pro nostra miseria ab impiorum manibus mortis supplicium pertulisti: libera animam ejus ab inferni voragine, et de ministris tartareis miserator absolve: et cuncta ejus peccata oblivione perpetua dele: eamque ad lucem tuam Angeli tradant, Paradisique januam introducant: ut dum corpusculum pulveri traditur, ad æternitatem perducant. Domine, miserere super peccatore.
(Most merciful Lord, Who on account of our misery hast borne at the hands of the impious the punishment of death: deliver his soul from the jaws of hell, and set it free from the ministers of Tartarus, Merciful One, and blot out all his sins in perpetual oblivion: and may angels deliver him into Thy light, and bring him into the gate of paradise: that while the little body is handed over to the dust, they may lead him into eternity.  Lord, have mercy upon a sinner.)

Officium Defunctorum

Over the past week since my father died, I've found such a help in the prayers of the Office of the Dead: the plaints of Job, the wavering between hope and fear, so well mirror one's own confusion and prayer.  (I compare it to the unhelpful modern Office, which is too happy by half: Glory be instead of Requiem, indeed!)

What has struck me about the Office of the Dead, or rather the Dirge and Placebo as mediæval Englishmen called it (Dirge from Dirige, the first antiphon of Matins, said as one with Lauds; and Placebo as the first word of Vespers), is how standardized it is: the Roman and Monastic Uses are identical in this respect; I have found in my Dominican Breviary but few differences; and having consulted the Carmelite, Carthusian and Ambrosian Breviaries available online via Google Books, in essence they are all the same.  (The Carthusians even used the same nicknames for the Hours of the Dead as the English did: Dirige for Matins, Exsultabunt for Lauds, and Placebo for Vespers.  In their case, however, they abbreviate by saying only one antiphon for the psalmody at each Nocturn and at the other Hours.)

Independently of one's grief or otherwise, I would commend praying some or all of the Office of the Dead on a semiregular basis (and many internet sites provide it even if you don't have it to hand in a book): it forms a most sobering meditation on the shortness and uncertainty of our life ere we shuffle off this mortal coil...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Clementissime Domine

Clementissime Domine, qui pro nostra miseria ab impiorum manibus mortis supplicium pertulisti: libera animam ejus de inferni voragine, et de ministris tartareis miserator absolve, et cuncta ejus peccata oblivione perpetua dele: eamque ad lucem sanctam angeli tradant, paradisique januam introducant: ut dum corpus pulveri traditur, ad æternitatem perducant. Domine, miserere super isto peccatore. Domine, miserere super isto peccatore. Domine, miserere super isto peccatore.
(Most merciful Lord, Who on account of our misery hast borne at the hands of the impious the punishment of death: deliver his soul from the jaws of hell, and set it free from the ministers of Tartarus, Merciful One, and blot out all his sins in perpetual oblivion: and may angels deliver him into holy light, and bring him into the gate of paradise: that while his body is handed over to the dust, they may lead him into eternity.  Lord, have mercy upon this sinner. Lord, have mercy upon this sinner. Lord, have mercy upon this sinner.)
— Antiphon, Carmelite Ritual*

[*The modern Dominican ritual retains this chant, with some minor verbal differences also found in mediæval sources: eam not eamque, tuam not sanctam, portam not januam, corpusculum not corpus – and with two major differences: the insistent threefold Dominemiserere of the Carmelites does not appear; and, very obviously and shamefully, the ancient words ministris tartareis, as an unacceptable reference to devils in this modern age, have been replaced by vinculis mortis, "the bonds of death".]

This anthem is interesting since it seems to compare with the well-known Offertory chant Domine Jesu Christe of the Requiem Mass, inasmuch as it, too, is addressed to Our Lord, and goes on to pray that the soul of the deceased be delivered from the pains of hell, and taken up to paradise by the holy angels.

I continue to pray for the repose of my father, Keith, who died one week ago to-day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Commendatory Prayer

The 1662 B.C.P. contains this very apt prayer for the dead – or so I read this "commendatory Prayer for a sick person at the point of departure", from the Order for the Visitation of the Sick.  Really, it teaches the doctrine of purgatory admirably: "that whatsoever defilements... being purged and done away", the soul of the departing person "may be presented pure and without spot before" God, Whom we supplicate to "Wash it... in the blood of that immaculate Lamb, that was slain to take away the sins of the world".  (Its last sentence is also a sober instruction for mourners.)  From this prayer I love to quote the words about "this miserable and naughty world": here "naughty" has its original, fuller, stronger sense of "bad and evil".
O ALMIGHTY God, with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons: We humbly commend the soul of this thy servant, our dear brother, into thy hands, as into the hands of a faithful Creator, and most merciful Saviour; most humbly beseeching thee, that it may be precious in thy sight. Wash it, we pray thee, in the blood of that immaculate Lamb, that was slain to take away the sins of the world; that whatsoever defilements it may have contracted in the midst of this miserable and naughty world, through the lusts of the flesh, or the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, it may be presented pure and without spot before thee. And teach us who survive, in this and other like daily spectacles of mortality, to see how frail and uncertain our own condition is; and so to number our days, that we may seriously apply our hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord. Amen.
For Dad, his withered body had become indeed an unhappy tumbledown prison; may his soul find mercy, that – laved in Christ's precious Blood, cleansed of all spots incurred through human frailty – he may rest in peace.

(The photograph is the last one I have of him, from his 84th birthday just a week or so ago.)

Dad's Funeral

Please pray with and for me and my family as we attend my father Keith's funeral to-day.
In paradisum deducant te Angeli: in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.  Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
May the angels lead thee into paradise: may the martyrs receive thee at thy coming, and lead thee into the holy city of Jerusalem.  May the choir of angels receive thee, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, mayest thou have eternal rest.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Time to be Born and a Time to Die

From the Homilies on Ecclesiastes of St Gregory of Nyssa:

Ecclesiastes says: There is a time to be born and a time to die. Right from the beginning he fittingly compressed this necessary etymological relation, bringing together death and procreation. For death necessarily follows upon birth and every birth ends in destruction.
There is a time, he says, to be born and a time to die. May we also receive the grace to be born at the right time and die at the opportune moment. For no one could assert that Ecclesiastes is here presenting this procreation as involuntary and death as spontaneous, as if such were the ordinary process of virtue. Neither the act of giving birth takes place by the will of the woman, nor is death subject to the free choice of those who must die. What does not depend on us cannot be reckoned as virtue or vice by anyone. Hence, it is necessary to inquire about what is the birth that happens at a right time and what is the death that comes at an opportune moment.
I believe that a birth is right and not out of its time when – as Isaiah says – someone has conceived out of the fear of God and through the travails of the soul in birth generates his own salvation. For we are in a certain sense our own parents, when through the good disposition of our soul and complete freedom of our will we form and generate and bring ourselves to the light.
We do this by the fact that we bring God into ourselves, having become children of God, children of virtue, and children of the Most High. On the other hand, we bring ourselves into the world out of due time and form ourselves in an imperfect and immature manner when there has not been formed in us the image of Christ, to use the words of the Apostle. For it is necessary that the man of God be without reproach and perfect.
If the manner in which we are born at the right time is evident, equally clear to all is the way we die at the opportune moment and the way every moment was in the eyes of Saint Paul opportune for a good death. For he cries out in his writing, pronouncing in a certain way an oath when he says: For your sake we are being slain all the day long. And we bear within our very selves the sentence of death.
Furthermore, the manner in which Paul dies each day is not obscure; he never lives in sin; he always mortifies the members of the flesh and ever bears within him the mortification of the body of Christ, for he is always crucified with Christ and never lives for himself but ever has Christ living in him. This in my opinion was the favourable death which was leading to true life.
In fact, he says: I will put to death and give life; in order that he may persuade others that it is really a gift of God to be dead to sin and to be alive in the Spirit. The divine word – precisely because he has put to death – promises to give life.

— St Gregory of Nyssa, In Eccl. 6 (PG 44:701-703); from Word in Season VIII.

(The Liturgy of the Hours appoints this passage for Tuesday of Week 7 in O.T., omitting the last sentence.) 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Death of My Father

Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of my father, Keith, who died at 11:30 this morning, the 1st of October 2010.  Please remember also my mother and family in your prayers.
Absolve, we beg, Lord, the soul of Thy servant Keith, that being dead to the world he may live to Thee: and the faults which by the frailty of the flesh he hath committed in human life, Thou wipe away of Thy most merciful pity.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
O God, Whose property it is ever to have mercy and to spare, bowing down we graciously pray Thee for the soul of Thy servant Keith, whom to-day Thou hast commanded to pass from this world: that Thou wouldst not hand him over into the hands of the enemy, neither wouldst Thou forget him for ever, but command him to be received by the holy Angels, and led to the homeland of paradise; that, since he hath hoped and believed in Thee, he may not endure the pains of hell, but may possess eternal joys.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
O God, Who hast commanded us to honour our father and mother: in Thy loving kindness have mercy on the soul of my father, and forgive him his sins; and bring me to see him in the joy of eternal glory.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
"The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day"
— II Tim. i, 18a.