Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yester-day was Friday and to-day, Saturday – according to my calendar from Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini!  Yes, it really did say the last five days of November ran Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Saturday.  Oh well.

Similarly, yester-day Lauds had five psalms and two canticles – because I read the psalmody of Lauds I before realizing it should have been Lauds II (with five different antiphons, plus Ps 50 and Is. xii, 1-6 instead of Ps 46 and I Par. xxix, 10-13), so before the little chapter I read the psalm and canticle and antiphons I'd missed.  Oh well.

Errare humanum est et confiteri errorem prudentis.  (To err is human and to admit the error is wise.)

To-day is St Andrew's Day, isn't it?  Third time lucky: I did remember to make a commemoration of Advent at Lauds.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cognovit bos possessorem suum, et asinus præsepe Domini sui

Coming to church for Advent Sunday Mass this morning, I took the opportunity to pray Matins (only three psalms, however) and Lauds (with Pretiosa); I was struck by verse 3 in the prophecy of Isaias, chapter i, the first nine verses of which are read as the first two lessons at Matins, each time ending with the special Dominican formula, Hæc dicit Dominus, for a reading from the prophets, taken from Is. xlv, 22a and other passages of Holy Writ; this verse, Isaias i, 3, is the last read in the first Lesson of Advent Sunday Matins:

Cognovit bos possessorem suum, et asinus præsepe Domini sui: Israël autem me non cognovit, et populus meus non intellexit. – Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Convertimini ad me, et salvi eritis.  R/.  Deo gratias.
(The ox hath known his owner, and the ass the manger of his Lord: but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood. – Thus saith the Lord God: Be ye turned back to Me, and ye shall be saved.  R/.  Thanks be to God.)

Is this not the Christmas story?  The ox and the ass indeed shall recognize their Master, when, as the Septuagint puts it, "Lord... in the midst of two animals thou shalt be known" (Κύριε... ἐν μέσῳ δύο ζῴων γνωσθήσῃ) – Hab. iii, 2 (LXX) – whenas Christ having taken flesh, being born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the city of David, of David's house and line (St Luke ii, 4), "born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David... laid in a manger" (St Luke ii, 11, 12b), in a manger "where oxen feed on hay", signifying by this that He is the Bread of Life, born for us in Bethlehem, the "house of bread",  – again, why in a manger laid? "because there was no room... in the inn" (St Luke ii, 7), that is, because "the world knew Him not: He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (St John i, 10b-11).  "For Israel hath not known me" (Is. i, 3), even though the chief priests and scribes knew by the prophets that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Juda (cf. St Matthew ii, 4-6).  

Rather, "the ox hath known his owner, and the ass the manger of his Lord" (Is. i, 3): imaged by these lowly beasts, the lowly shepherds and the gentile magi came unto His crib and bent their knees in homage: "falling down they adored Him" (St Matthew ii, 11).  But to as many as shall receive Him, shall turn to Him (moved by His grace, which He mercifully imparts), salvation shall be granted: truly, "Thus saith the Lord God: Be ye converted (or turned back) to Me, and ye shall be saved".

The second verse to catch my attention is one that St Paul himself quotes (Rom. ix, 29) when agonizing over the unbelief of Israel; it is Isaias i, 9, and is likewise, not accidentally, the last verse of the second Lesson at Matins of Advent Sunday, concluded by the same Hæc dicit Dominus:

Nisi Dominus exercituum relinquisset nobis semen, quasi Sodoma fuissemus, et quasi Gomorrha similes essemus. – Hæc dicit Dominus Deus: Convertimini ad me, et salvi eritis.  R/.  Deo gratias.
(Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a Seed, we would have been as Sodom, and we would be like unto Gomorrha. – Thus saith the Lord God: Be ye turned back to Me, and ye shall be saved.  R/.  Thanks be to God.)

What happened to Sodom? what to Gomorrha? "the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever" (Apoc. xiv, 11): they dwell among everlasting burnings (cf. Isaias xxxiii, 14).  Unless the Lord had left Israel a Seed, that is, the Son of David, the Son of God, "His Son, Who was made to Him of the seed of David, according to the flesh, Who was predestinated the Son of God" (Rom. i, 3-4a), this fate – eternal hell – would have befallen not Israel only, but all men.

In three whole chapters of his Epistle to the Romans (ix-xi), the Apostle lamented the blindness of his people, yet regarded this as mysteriously providential, that it has led to the ongoing conversion of the the Gentiles, till their fulness be gathered in (Rom. xi, 26), for that they did not recognize their Saviour Christ when He came, He Who is of their stock, "according to the flesh, over all things God blessed for ever" (Rom. ix, 5): but he recalls that in the end all Israel should be saved (Rom. xi, 27): for to the ancient chosen people of God, the Jews, "the gifts and the calling of God are without [His] repenting of them" (Rom. xi, 29), and likewise to the Gentiles called in this the last age, "have obtained mercy", in a strange manner, as it were "through their unbelief" (Rom. ix, 30): so that, to "as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name" (St John i, 12), whether Jew or Greek, slave or free.  

As the hallowed phrase puts it, "Thus saith the Lord God: Be ye converted (or turned back) to Me, and ye shall be saved".  God's plan is so infinitely deep and wise: all being in unbelief, He has mercy on all (cf. Rom. xi, 32): "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!" (Rom. xi, 33a).

Blessed be God for opening unto us the treasures of His word.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

1956 and earlier Dominican Office of St Catherine

St Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr, is ranked as the Protectress of the Order of Preachers, doubtless for her famed philosophical and theological prowess, whereby she confuted and converted pagan philosophers ere she was put to death for the Faith – first inventing the catherine wheel when a revolving wheel of fire, to which she was strapped, burst apart at her prayer and slew the impious spectators in its explosion (see the traditional hymn at first Vespers, given below).  Fireworks are dangerous.  After her pious death as a witness to Christ, her body was wonderfully translated to Mount Sinai (as the old hymn at Lauds mentions), where the piety of all succeeding ages has maintained a most notable monastery of monks aspiring to the angelic life, enclosing not only her sacred remains, but the formerly Burning Bush (or rather a scion sprung from its roots).  Mirabile dictu!

I was struck by the difference in the Office between my 1962 Dominican Breviary, and my 1956 Dominican Diurnal.  The '62 has St Catherine's feast to-day as of the 3rd class, with proper 3rd lesson and collect alone.  Yet the '56 gives it as a Totum Duplex, with proper psalm antiphon (only one, as is normal for festal Vespers), long responsory, hymn and Magnificat antiphon at first Vespers, five proper psalm antiphons, plus hymn and Benedictus antiphon at Lauds, and at second Vespers, a proper psalm antiphon (the first used at Lauds), the proper hymn repeated from first Vespers, and a proper Magnificat antiphon.  At first Vespers, as is normal, the Laudate psalms – Pss 112, 116, 145, 146, 147 – were appointed for use, with the Sunday psalms to be used at Lauds and the Vesper psalms to be taken from the Common of a Virgin.

It appears that worries about the entire historicity of St Catherine's life and death had whittled away this liturgical devotion.  The deletion of her proper liturgical texts is particularly savage given that they say nothing that piety and the general idea of her acknowledged martyrdom would contradict.  Matters reached such a pass after the Council that for a time she was even removed from the Missal, until the late John Paul II restored her feast as an optional memorial.  

How sadly prophetic the Magnificat antiphon the Dominicans sang at her first Vespers formerly: Inclita sanctæ Virginis Catharinæ solemnia suscipiat alacriter pia mater Ecclesia – "May our holy mother the Church uphold with alacrity the glorious solemnity of the holy Virgin Catherine."  Bare ruined choirs!

Herewith, the former Dominican Propers for the Office of St Catherine (I haven't translated the hymns, as they are rather lengthy):

Ad I Vesperas

Super Psalmos Aña.  Virginis eximiæ Catharinæ Martyris almæ festa celebrare da nobis, Rex pie, Christe.

(Grant us to celebrate the feast of the kind, wonderful Virgin Martyr Catherine, O merciful King, Christ.)

R/. Virgo flagellatur, crucianda fame religatur, carcere clausa manet, lux cælica fusa refulget: * Fragrat odor dulcis, cantant cæli agmina laudes. V/. Sponsus amat sponsam, Salvator visitat illam. * Fragrat odor dulcis, cantant cæli agmina laudes. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Fragrat odor dulcis, cantant cæli agmina laudes.

(R/. The virgin is scourged, loaded with chains, tormented with hunger: but while she remains shut up in prison a heavenly light shines round. * A sweet fragrance fills the air and the hosts of heaven are there singing praises. V/. The Spouse loves his bride and visits her as a Saviour. * A sweet fragrance fills the air and the hosts of heaven are there singing praises. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. * A sweet fragrance fills the air and the hosts of heaven are there singing praises.)


Catharinæ collaudemus
Virtutum insignia,
Cordis ei præsentemus
Et oris obsequia:
Ut ab ipsa reportemus
Æqua laudis præmia.

Fulta fide Catharina
Judicem Maximinum
Non formidat: lex divina
Sic firmat eloquium,
Quod confutat ex doctrina
Errores gentilium.

Victi Christum confitentur,
Relictis erroribus:
Judex jubet et crementur,
Nec pilis aut vestibus
Ignis nocet, sed torrentur
Inustis corporibus.

Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequaque altissimo,
Una Patri, Filioque,
Inclito Paraclito,
Cui laus est et potestas
Per æterna sæcula. Amen.
Ad Magnif. Aña.  Inclita sanctæ Virginis Catharinæ solemnia suscipiat alacriter pia mater Ecclesia.  Ave, Virgo Deo digna, ave, dulcis e benigna!  Obtine nobis gaudia quæ possides cum gloria.

(May our holy mother the Church uphold with alacrity the glorious solemnity of the holy Virgin Catherine.  Hail, Virgin worthy of God, hail, sweet and benign!  Obtain for us the joys which thou dost possess with glory.)

Ad Laudes

Aña 1.  Passionem gloriosæ Virginis Catharinæ devote plebs celebret fidelis, quæ sui memores Deo commendet meritis et juvet beneficiis.
Aña 2.  Post plurima supplicia Martyr alma ad decollandum est ducta: ad cælum tendens oculos, collum submittit gladio, orans dat gloriam Deo.
Aña 3.  Expecto pro te gladium, Jesu, Rex bone: tu meum colloca in paradiso spiritum, et fac misericordiam meam agentibus memoriam.
Aña 4.  Vox de cælis insonuit: Veni, electa mea, veni intra thalamum Sponsi tui.  Quæ postulas impetrasti: qui te laudant, salvi fient.
Aña 5.  Quia devota laudibus tui memoriam, Virgo, recolimus, o beata Catharina, ora pro nobis, quæsumus.

(May the faithful people devoutly celebrate the passion of the glorious Virgin Catherine, who commends by her merits and aids by her benefits those who remember her to God.

(After many sufferings the sweet Martyr was led to be beheaded: turning her eyes to heaven, bowing her neck to the sword, praying she gave glory to God.
(I await the sword for Thee, Jesus, good King: do Thou emplace my spirit in paradise, and grant mercy to those keeping my memory.
(A voice sounded forth from heaven: Come, my chosen, come within the bridal chamber of thy Spouse.  What thou askest thou hast obtained: they who praise thee, shall be saved.
(Since we devoutly recall thy memory, O Virgin, with praises, O blessed Catherine, pray for us, we beseech thee.)


Præsens dies expandatur
In ejus præconium,
Cujus virtus dilatatur
In ore laudantium,
Si gestorum teneatur
Finis et initium.

Imminente passione
Virgo hæc interserit:
Assequatur, Jesu bone,
Quod a te petierit,
Suo quisquis in agone
Memor mei fuerit.

In hoc caput amputatur,
Fluit lac pro sanguine:
Angelorum sublevatur
Corpus multitudine,
Et Sinai collocatur
In supremo culmine.

Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequaque altissimo,
Una Patri, Filioque,
Inclito Paraclito,
Cui laus est et potestas
Per æterna sæcula. Amen.

Ad Bened. Aña.  Prudens et vigilans Virgo, qualis es cum Sponso illo, qui te elegit de mundo, quam pulchra, quam mirabilis, quanta luce spectabilis inter Sion juvenculas et Jerusalem filias!  Thalamo gaudes regio, conjuncta Dei Filio.

(Prudent and watchful Virgin, of what kind art thou with that Spouse, Who chose thee from the world, how beautiful, how wonderful, with what light remarkable amongst the maidens of Sion and the daughters of Jerusalem!  Thou dost rejoice in the royal wedding chamber, united to the Son of God.)

Ad II Vesperas

Super Psalmos Aña.  Passionem gloriosæ Virginis Catharinæ devote plebs celebret fidelis, quæ sui memores Deo commendet meritis et juvet beneficiis.

(May the faithful people devoutly celebrate the passion of the glorious Virgin Catherine, who commends by her merits and aids by her benefits those who remember her to God.)

(The hymn is the same as that for first Vespers.)

Ad Magnif. Aña.  Ave, virginum gemma, Catherina: ave, sponsa Regis regum gloriosa: ave, viva Christi hostia!  Tua venerantibus patrocinia, impetrata non deneges suffragia.

(Hail, gem of Virgins, Catherine: hail, glorious spouse of the King of kings: hail, living victim for Christ!  Deny not thy impetrated suffrages to those revering thy patronage.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ditans Cantu Guttura

Fr Allan being prevented from officiating, instead of Compline and Benediction last night we held an informal chant practice session instead, which was quite handy.  It was good to go over a number of items, and a happy presage of Advent to begin with singing through the whole of "O come, O come, Emmanuel", with its plainsong melody – since it is the practice in the parish to use this every Sunday of Advent, most appropriately.  We also ran through Richard Proulx's settings of the Alleluia, Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen to this melody, which will be used at ordinary Mass in the parish this Advent.  

That done as a good vocal warm-up, we sang through the Lord's Prayer in both Latin and English, and then tackled a number of other familiar chants, paying attention to phrasing and meaning and all the little details that are good to reinforce, such as quietening and ending each phrase with a slight rallantando.  What better than to sing the Ave verum – in organum, with yours truly singing a fifth below the others (well, trying to), producing that barbarous sound?  If it can be done properly, the resonance and unusual sound it gives can be quite decent... when perfected.

We sang through the Salve Regina also, again paying attention to phrasing and expression, before tackling what we really needed to revise: the Nunc dimittis from Compline, since fitting its words to its proper Gospel canticle tone can be tricky.  This done, we ended with Kyrie eleison, as our prayer to the Lord in closing.  A good practice, and then farewell, with belated best wishes for the feast of St Cecilia, among whose clients we count ourselves and our little inchoate schola.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hymn to St Cecilia (Repost)

Didst thou thy God not hymn and psalm,
O blessed Virgin Martyr dear?
Alone in death with Christ, in calm
Thou didst not turn from purest prayer.

Sing out with radiant Spirits loud
The praise of Christ thy God and Lord!
His strength in thee did shame the proud,
When scorning death thy life outpoured.

How blest thou singest now inspired,
In heav'nly chorus virginal!
Live now with Christ in God, enchoired,
In fairest realm celestial!  

O spouse of Christ Who died for thee,
Maid slain for Him by cruellest sword,
O fame of Rome, fair Cecily,
Teach us to hymn th' Eternal Word.

In Him, God's Son, through Him, our King,
With gladdened hearts from sin set free,
By Light Divine may we e'er sing
As she did to God's Majesty:

Thou Might and Crown of saints above,
True Source of life, Blest Trinity,
Grant us the grace to praise Thy love
In heav'n with her eternally.  Amen.

(My own composition.)

I prefer to sing this to M.-A. Charpentier's tune for the Veni Creator, H.69 (transposed down from its original setting for high soprano).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

St Felix of Valois – Matins with the Company of Heaven

Having found online the Vitæ SS. Joannis de Mattha, et Felicis de Valois, &c., by that learnèd Franciscan Francis a S. Augustino Macedo,  published at Rome in 1660, I give both his splendid Latin description of the celestial Matins celebrated by Our Lady and all the company of heaven together with St Felix, and my poor rendering of what turned out to be a very difficult piece of prose:
Ædificato jam in Cervo frigido amplo Cœnobio, & frequenter habitato à fratribus, & noctes matutinis psalmis resonante, accidit, ut pulsantis negligentia æra Campanæ ea ipsa sacratiori nocte natalium Deiparæ anniversario pervigilio, penitus silerent.  Quamquàm hoc non negligentiæ, sed providentiæ assignandum videretur.  Qùi enim possent ea nocte fratres vigiliis assueti, tam profundè sopiri, quam Religio, vel insuetis reddit insomnem?  Vigilabat de more Felix, & quòd horas prævenire solitus, in chorum prior venerat.  Meliores ibi psaltes socios habuit.  Deipara Virgo è cœlo lapsa secum adduxerat cælites; ac ut habitus loco responderet, & ne concentus vocum à conspectu oculorum discreparet, cùm Virgo ipsa, tùm сomitatus solemnem Familiæ Crucem gestabat.  Eminebat Deipara, & nitida luce perfusa vincebat tenebras.  Et quasi expectasset, dum veniret Felix siluit, ubi is adfuit, voce suavissima præcìnuit Antiphonas.  Secuti sunt Angeli Sanctis intermixti.  Divisi in choros alternis canentes Matutinum cum Felice officium persolverunt.  Fuit hoc futuræ mortis præsagium; cantus ille Cygnæum quiddam præseferebat.   
([Pars II.] "Vita S. Felicis de Valois", Cap. VIII., p. 104f.) 
An ample monastery having been built at Cerfroid, both oft dwelt in by the brethren, and by nights having resounded with matins psalms, it happened, that by forgetfulness of the ringers the brass bell thereof, on that more sacred night vigil on the anniversary of the birth of the Mother of God, was wholly silent.  Although it may be seen that this was not out of negligence, but assigned by providence.  For wherefrom were the brethren, accustomed to vigils, able that night both deeply to be lulled to sleep, and by Religion, especially as they were accustomed to offer up sleeplessness?  Felix by custom kept vigil, and because he was wont to anticipate the hours, in choir first he worshipped.  There he had sweeter companion psalmists.  The Virgin Mother of God from heaven descended, with her she brought citizens of heaven; and that she correspond to the habit of the place, and lest the harmony of voices be different from what the eyes consider, as with the Virgin herself, so the solemn company wore the Cross of the Order.  The Mother of God became visible, and pouring forth brilliant light conquered the darkness.  And as if expected, when having come Felix was silent, where she was present, with a most sweet voice she sang the antiphons.  Angels intermixed with saints followed.  Singing, divided into alternate choirs, with Felix they discharged the office of Matins.  This was for him a presage of his impending death; it was as it were his swansong.
As mentioned below, this visitation, a foretaste of that perpetual canticle of praise sung before God and the Lamb, was vouchsafed St Felix of Valois within two months of his death: it was indeed his earthly swansong, but only as it were a clearing of his throat ere he joined for ever the choirs above.

May this consoling tale inspire us in our prayers, particularly when joining in the Prayer of the Church in her sacred round of liturgy, that, as Tertullian said, we may fit ourselves now for what we hope will be our endless employ hereafter.

St Felix of Valois

A charming tale told of St Felix (from the third lesson of his history, formerly read in the second nocturn of his feast):
Illústrem… a beáta Vírgine Matre favórem accépit ; dormiéntibus síquidem cunctis frátribus et ad matutínas preces in pervigílio Nativitátis Deíparæ média nocte recitándas, Deo sic disponénte, non surgéntibus, Felix, de more vígilans et horas prævéniens, chorum ingréssus, réperit beátam Vírginem in médio chori, hábitu cruce órdinis insigníto indútam, ac Cælítibus simíliter indútis sociátam.  Quibus permíxtus Felix, præcinénte Deípara, laudes divínas concínuit ríteque persólvit.  Et, quasi jam a terréstri ad cæléstem chorum evocarétur, instántis mortis ab Angelo cértior factus...
…he received an extraordinary favour from the Blessed Virgin Mary.  During the night watch on the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, while the brethren slept, and in the providence of God did not wake for midnight office, Felix who had been watching, as was his habit, in anticipation of reciting the Office, entered the choir.  There he found the Blessed Virgin in the middle of the choir, robed in the habit and cross of the Order.  Around her was a company of heavenly beings, clothed in similar attire.  Felix took his place among them, and as the Mother of God intoned the Office, sang with them and duly rendered praises unto God.  Then, as if already he was being summoned from an earthly choir to an heavenly one, an Angel informed him that death was at hand...
Having thus sung with Our Lady and the angels on the 8th of September, he passed to heaven, there to sing God's praises with them for evermore, on the 4th of November 1212.

I recall a like, if even more extraordinary story told of St Catherine of Siena: Our Lord was wont to appear to her, and would walk with her up and down her room while reciting the Breviary with her after the manner of a pair of religious – except that when it came to the doxology, she would bow to Him while He proclaimed, Glory be to the Father and to Me and to the Holy Ghost.

Psalmus contra Dæmones

While reading Matins (out of order) yester-day, I was delighted to come across Psalm 82, Deus, quis similis? (number 83 in the Hebrew) – which is a staunch imprecation against all Israel's enemies.  (Sadly, missing entirely the theme of spiritual combat this psalm presents, it is omitted from the modern Divine Office, lest it unsettle the comfortable.)  

Illuminated, I trust, by light from above, my mind grasped that this is not to be taken literally as a prayer prayed long past time against extinct foes, but against the "spiritual hosts of wickedness in the air": against demons, imps and devils.  As St Pio of Pietrelcina grumbled, "If you could see the devils, the sky would be black!"  And how apposite to rebuke them in the name of the Lord, as St Michael did, by scorning them with the names of the fallen foes of Israel, praying "Make them as the tents of Edom and the Ismahelites, as Moab, and the Agarens, Gebal, Ammon, Amalec, Philistines and the men of Tyre... as Assyria and the sons of Lot, as Madian and Sisara, as Jabin, and all their princes as Oreb, and Zeb, and Zebee, and Salmana!"  (Cf. Ps. 82:7-12.)

This list of jangling barbaric names represents how the ninefold hierarchy of the godly angels is perverted among the fallen into a Babel of foul pretended titles, such as that which the Bible designedly renders as "Lord of the Flies", a very apt piece of mockery.  

A moment's thought will shew that it is the fallen angels who hate God, and plot wickedness against His people, His saints (cf. vv. 3-4).  They want to destroy the new Israel of God, the Church, and to blot out the Christian name (cf. v. 5); they want to possess God's sanctuary (cf. v. 13).  They have made as it were a thieves' covenant to compass their futile objective (cf. 6), being an assembly of robbers, hating each other and themselves, warring against God and His Christ, in infernal rage, having no hope, and furiously contending against the ineluctable designs of Providence.

Deus meus, pone illos ut rotam: "My God, make them as a wheel" (v. 14) – for it is to God that we address our prayer to cast down the hellish horde, reminding ourselves that we are on the winning side if we on the Lord's side, and that the devils "believe, and tremble": for they know "that Thy Name is the Lord, Thou alone the Most High over all the earth" (v. 19).  Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.  Glory be to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Herewith, Psalm 82:

Deus, quis similis erit tibi? * ne taceas, neque compescaris, Deus:
Quoniam ecce inimici tui sonuerunt: * et qui oderunt te, extulerunt caput.
Super populum tuum malignaverunt consilium: * et cogitaverunt adversus sanctos tuos.
Dixerunt: Venite, et disperdamus eos de gente: * et non memoretur nomen Israël ultra.
Quoniam cogitaverunt unanimiter: * simul adversum te testamentum disposuerunt, tabernacula Idumæorum et Ismahelitæ:
Moab et Agareni, Gebal, et Ammon, et Amalec: * alienigenæ cum habitantibus Tyrum.
Etenim Assur venit cum illis: * facti sunt in adjutorium filiis Lot.
Fac illis sicut Madian et Sisaræ: * sicut Jabin in torrente Cisson.
Disperierunt in Endor: * facti sunt ut stercus terræ.
Pone principes eorum sicut Oreb, et Zeb, * et Zebee, et Salmana:
Omnes principes eorum: * qui dixerunt: Hæreditate possideamus sanctuarium Dei.
Deus meus, pone illos ut rotam: * et sicut stipulam ante faciem venti.
Sicut ignis qui comburit silvam: * et sicut flamma comburens montes:
Ita persequeris illos in tempestate tua: * et in ira tua turbabis eos.
Imple facies eorum ignominia: * et quærent nomen tuum, Domine.
Erubescant, et conturbentur in sæculum sæculi: * et confundantur, et pereant.
Et cognoscant quia nomen tibi Dominus: * tu solus Altissimus in omni terra.

And, in honour of our friends the incoming groups of Anglicans, here it is in the Prayer Book Version, according to the American recension (which is quite allowable for Catholics, being already in the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship) – I indicate with italicized bold text (for American only) and square brackets (for English differences) the very few differences between this and the English original, mainly in the proper names, and some three verbal divergences:

Psalm 83.  Deus, quis similis?

HOLD not thy tongue, O God, keep not still silence : refrain not thyself, O God.
2 For lo, thine enemies make a murmuring : and they that hate thee have lift up their head.
3 They have imagined craftily against thy people : and taken counsel against thy secret ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us root them out, that they be no more a people : and that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have cast their heads together with one consent: and are confederate against thee:
6 The tabernacles of the Edomites, and the Ishmaelites : the Moabites, and Hagarenes;
7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek : the Philistines, with them that dwell at Tyre.
8 Assyria also is joined with them : they [and] have holpen the children of Lot.
9 But do thou to them as unto the Midianites [Madianites] : unto Sisera, and unto Jabin at the brook of Kishon;
10 Who perished at Endor : and became as the dung of the earth.
11 Make them and their princes like Oreb and Zeeb : yea, make all their princes like as Zebah and Zalmunna [Salmana];
12 Who say, Let us take to ourselves : the houses of God in possession.
13 O my God, make them like unto the whirling dust [a wheel] : and as the stubble before the wind;
14 Like as the fire that burneth up the forest [wood] : and as the flame that consumeth the mountains;
15 Pursue them even so with thy tempest : and make them afraid with thy storm.
16 Make their faces ashamed, O Lord : that they may seek thy Name.
17 Let them be confounded and vexed ever more and more : let them be put to shame, and perish.
18 And they shall know that thou, whose Name is Jehovah : art only the Most Highest over all the earth.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birth-day Prayer

Jeremy Taylor provides this apt prayer to mark my day of birth; to which is subjoined a further:

A Prayer to be said upon our Birth-day, or Day of Baptism.

O blessed and eternal God, I give thee praise and glory for thy great mercy to me in causing me to be born of Christian parents.  Thou didst not allot to me a portion with misbelievers and heathen that have not known thee. Thou didst not suffer me to be strangled at the gate of the womb, but thy hand sustained and brought me to the light of the world, and the illumination of baptism, with thy grace preventing my election, and by an artificial necessity and holy prevention engaging me to the profession and practices of Christianity. Lord, since that, I have broken the promises made in my behalf, and which I confirmed by my after-act; I went back from them by an evil life; and yet thou hast still continued to me life and time of repentance; and didst not cut me off in the beginning of my days, and the progress of my sins. O dearest God, pardon the errors and ignorances, the vices and vanities, of my youth, and the faults of my more forward years, and let me never more stain the whiteness of my baptismal robe; and now that by thy grace I still persist in the purpose of obedience, and do give up my name to Christ, and glory to be a disciple of thy institution, and a servant of Jesus, let me never fail of thy grace; let no root or bitterness spring up and disorder my purposes, nor defile my spirit. O let my years be so many degrees of nearer approach to thee; and forsake me not, O God, in my old age, when I am grey-headed; and when my strength faileth me, be thou my strength and my guide unto death; that I may reckon my years, and apply my heart unto wisdom; and at last, after the spending a holy and a blessed life, I may be brought unto a glorious eternity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then may be added this thanksgiving:

O holy and almighty God, Father of mercies, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of thy love and eternal mercies, I adore and praise and glorify thy infinite and unspeakable love and wisdom, who hast sent thy Son from the bosom of felicities to take upon him our nature and our misery and our guilt, and hast made the Son of God to become the Son of man, that we might become the Sons of God, and partakers of the Divine nature; since thou hast so exalted human nature, be pleased also to sanctify my person, that by a conformity to the humility and laws, and sufferings of my dearest Saviour, I may be united to his Spirit, and be made all one with the most holy Jesus. Amen.

O holy and eternal Jesus, who didst pity mankind lying in his blood, and sin, and misery, and didst choose our sadnesses and sorrows that thou mightest make us to partake of thy felicities; let thine eyes pity me, thy hands support me, thy holy feet tread down all the difficulties in my way to heaven; let me dwell in thy heart, be instructed with thy wisdom, moved by thy affections, choose with thy will, and be clothed with thy righteousness; that, in the day of judgment, I may be found having on thy garments, sealed with thy impression; and that bearing upon every faculty and member the character of my elder brother, I may not be cast out with strangers and unbelievers. Amen.

O holy and ever-blessed Spirit, who didst overshadow the holy Virgin-mother of our Lord, and caused her to conceive by a miraculous and mysterious manner, be pleased to overshadow my soul, and enlighten my spirit, that I may conceive the holy Jesus in my heart, and may bear him in my mind, and may grow up to the fulness of the stature of Christ, to be a perfect man in Christ Jesus. Amen.

To God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the eternal Son that was incarnate and born of a virgin, to the Spirit of the Father and the Son be all honour and glory, worship and adoration, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ordo (1939) 2011

Thanks to one Rubricarius, I am to-day in receipt of a handsome, detailed, all-Latin Ordo for 2011.  Unfortunately, since in conformity with the 2007 motu proprio of our sovereign lord the Pope, I use the 1962 edition of the Breviary (whether Roman or Dominican), I therefore anticipate that this gift, based as it is upon the 1939 edition of the Roman liturgical books, will prove less useful to me than to others who continue to prefer the pre-Pius XII forms of the classical Roman Rite.  It will at the very least save me from such embarrassing errors as the one I made some weeks back, mistaking which Sunday it was!

(Furthermore, as I have never fathomed the intricacies of the double and semi-double rites and their various classes, to say nothing of the complexities of which and how many orations may or must be said at Mass on days of different rank, I am unable to intelligently critique this doubtless perfect product – sorry, R.)

I understand the strong desire to follow such earlier forms as arguably truer to the genius of the Roman Rite, since of course the immediately pre-conciliar abbreviation in particular of Matins on Sundays and many feasts, all formerly of nine lessons, to say nothing of the annoying changes made to Holy Week, or of many other points such as the almost total removal of the preces from the Roman Breviary, are deplorable, and were evidently intended as steps towards the wholesale liturgical reform that followed Vatican II; nonetheless, I prefer to pray the liturgical forms now officially in active use, whether modern or '62, rather than, say, the pre-Pius X Breviary with its far more traditional disposition of the psalms.  Indeed, some may think it already sufficiently eccentric of me to use the Dominican Breviary!

May I take this opportunity, however, to again thank my learnèd correspondent for sending me a gift I fear I have insufficiently praised: it is evidently a labour of love and patient scholarship.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belated Feast of St Albert the Great

The Dominican Breviary, unsurprisingly, provides a beautiful Proper for the feast of St Albert the Great on the 15th of November; pressure of work prevented me from doing more than praying the Day Hours yester-day, but that's life.

I always recall the moving homily of an elderly Dominican, Fr Hilary, who told of how Our Lady appeared to St Albert to reveal that God had gifted him with great understanding of all things – but that God's free gift would be withdrawn ere he died.  This sobering prophecy proved true: Albert was the stupor mundi, the wonder of the world, for his knowledge and skill in every field of science – he even built a greenhouse in Cologne and grew tropical plants, giving rise to the fable that he was a magician! – but, as he aged (for he lived a long life), he was afflicted with mental decay; and when one of the brethren came knocking at the door of his cell, asking for Albert, he replied in sad befuddlement, "Albert isn't here any more".

Such a great saint, and one who himself suffered such affliction, is apt to be invoked as patron of the elderly, especially those suffering from dementia and like conditions.  

St Albert, pray for us, and pray for them; pray for us that, if it please God we also suffer the mental and physical debilities of old age, we may have the strength to bear it, surrendering ourselves into the hands of the Lord Who loves us.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

St Jerome on This Sunday's Gospel

This Sunday is the Sixth after Epiphany – unused earlier in the year, because Easter was early, and slotted in now to fill up the number of Sundays after Pentecost.  The 1962 Breviary (both the Roman and the Dominican) supplies only one short Patristic passage, formerly the seventh Lesson at Matins and now the third, as a commentary on this Sunday's Gospel; so, having located a translation, I here append the opening of that pericope, and what St Jerome wrote of this, as given for the three last lessons of Matins prior to the late pre-conciliar reforms:
A Reading of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (13, 31-35)
At that time: Jesus spake this parable unto the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field.  And the rest.
A Homily of St. Jerome the Priest (Liber 2 Comment. in cap. 13 Matth.)
The kingdom of heaven is the proclamation of the Gospel, and that knowledge of the Scriptures, which leadeth unto life, and whereof it is said to the Jews, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.  Therefore is this kingdom like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed it in his field.  By the man that sowed it in his field, many understand to be meant the Saviour, because he is the Sower that soweth in the souls of believers; others understand every man that soweth good seed in his own field, that is, in himself and in his own heart. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.
Who is he that soweth, but our own mind and soul, which take the grain from preaching, and by nourishing it in the soil, cause it to sprout in the field of our own breast?  The preaching of the Gospel is the least of all doctrines.  He that preacheth, for his first lesson, God made man, Christ dead, and the stumbling-block of the Cross, receiveth at first but little credit.  Compare such teaching as this with the doctrines of the Philosophers, with their books, their magnificent eloquence, and their rounded sentences, and thou shalt see how the grain of the Gospel, when it is sown, is the humblest of all seeds. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.
But when the doctrines of men grow up, there is therein nothing piercing, nothing healthy, nothing life-giving.  The plant is drooping, and delicate, and soft.  There are herbs and grass whereof it may truly be said that the grass withereth and the flower fadeth.  But the grain of Gospel seed, though, when it was sown, it seemed to be the least of all seeds, when once it is rooted in the soul of man, or in the whole world, groweth not into an herb, but becometh a tree: so that the birds of the air (whereby we may understand, either the souls of believers, or the angelic powers bound to the service of God,) come and lodge in the branches thereof.  I consider that the branches of the Gospel tree, which groweth from the grain of mustard seed, are the divers developments of doctrine, on which the birds above mentioned find resting-places. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.
What St Jerome says is most wise: the Gospel message is the least of seeds, scandal to Jews, nonsense to Greeks, and yet the wisdom and the power of God: in Bl John Henry's words, "the stately tree rears itself aloft", and whereas the doctrines of men prove but low growths and feeble, the doctrine of Christianity is strong and magnificent in its reach.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

St Francis, pray for Suzie

Crisis!  Having been home this morning looking after one of our dogs, Suzie, who's had an operation and is now looking most wobegone, with big shaved patches displaying ugly looking stitched-up cuts (think "Frankenstein's dog"), I was called away from our fortnightly chant practice to help take her in to see the vet after hours, since there was some bleeding from her wounds.  I don't do blood.  I don't do suffering in dumb animals.  Well, some bandaging later, we've settled her down for the night, and will take her in to the vet again in the morning...

Dear Father was most understanding when my mobile went off in church (!), and suggested, good Franciscan that he was, that we pray St Francis to intercede for Suzie.  I must admit, I would have thought it otherwise somehow inappropriate to pray God for a sick dog, but realize now that that is quite wrong: God made all creatures, "beasts in their thousands on My hills", "all that moves in the field belongs to Me"; and the Missal does after all contain prayers against cattle plague.

St Francis, pray for all God's creatures, particularly Suzie.

The Five Bishops

English history recalls "the Seven Bishops" of the Church of England imprisoned and tried for seditious libel under James II; and the nine English nonjuring bishops – five of them from among the Seven – who refused to break their oaths to the same James II when he was driven from his throne, thus refusing to swear allegiance to the new monarchs William and Mary.

Now, we may celebrate five bishops, who have announced their resignation from the Church of England and their resolve to enter the Catholic Church under the provisions of Anglicanorum cœtibus:
  • the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet;
  • the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough;
  • the Rt Rev John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham;
  • the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes, emeritus Bishop of Richborough;
  • the Rt Rev David Silk, an emeritus assistant bishop of Exeter. 
Of these, four are or were so-called "flying bishops", Provincial Episcopal Visitors, ministering to congregations opposed to the pretended ordination of women; while the last is a surprising late entry, and a former Anglican Bishop of Ballarat (1993-2003).  The Diocese of Ballarat is known to be very High – a late friend of mine told me that, as there was no Benediction at the Catholic Cathedral, he went to Benediction at the Anglican one instead!

God speed the Ordinariates to be established in England (and in the rest of the U.K., above all in Scotland, where a faithful remnant of the Scottish Episcopalians, themselves descendents of the Nonjurors, has made application to come in), in Canada, in the U.S.A., and here in Australia – including the Torres Strait.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Pope Dedicates La Sagrada Família

As  I write, His Holiness has just begun the Mass of Dedication of that still-unfinished masterpiece, Gaudí's "Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family" in Barcelona.  Indeed, he will name it a Basilica.  What a rebuke to all who say regnare Christum nolumus, "we don't want Christ to reign", to see this amazing work of art, raised in honour of God, now solemnly blessed: a temple of expiation, indeed, wherein the Lamb once slain will stand upon the altar, making present His Sacrifice in reparation for all sin.

(The Mass is in an interesting combination of Catalan, Spanish and Latin.)

To think that many self-styled intellectuals petitioned for the Sagrada Família to be left unfinished - for to complete it would be an affront to secular Spain.  Just as during the Civil War, Catholics are to have no rights.  The building has always been a privately-funded undertaking, so how dare they try to stop people freely doing as they please!  Better the turban than the mitre?

Antoni Gaudí is now styled Servant of God: may God deign to glorify His servant if it be to His honour and will help forward our salvation, that the Church bravely militant here below may recognize him as a hero of the Church triumphant above, an artist-saint like the Blessed Antony of Fiesole, a.k.a. Fra Angelico.  "Beauty will save the world."

M. C. at Missa Cantata

M. C. at Mass! – I haven't done this since arranging a Requiem for Brett, God rest his soul; I well recall Fr Tattersall tapping the missal in annoyance when I hesitated, unsure whether yet to move it or not...  In any case, despite making many errors (it all seemed so simple when I skimmed through Fortescue-O'Connell-Reid, pp. 162-8), Fr Gerald (who only gets to say a Latin Mass once a month) seemed pleased to have someone at hand to help gently direct proceedings, as did the servers, and things did run a bit more smoothly, which is all one could ask for, given that is in fact what the M. C. ought ensure.

Once safely back in the sacristy, I did tease Fr by saying what a good omen it was that he sang the blessing, as only bishops do!  We could do with a good replacement very soon.  (Rubricarius will remind me for sure: did not the actual Missal published under Pope St Pius V command this very practice of priests singing the blessing? in that case, we had a Tridentine Mass in every respect.)

Looking over F.-O'C.-R. (is that the right abbreviation?) reminded me once again that I am a lector (I always think of the scene in The Madness of King George where one of that unfortunate monarch's indolent sons*, absurdly bewigged, powdered and attired, idly picks at one of the decorations he's wearing, and remarks, "I say, I'm a bishop!"): apparently, I could therefore sing the Epistle, omitting of course particular details reserved to subdeacons such as receiving a blessing from the priest; but I could hardly be both M. C. and take part as lector, since I would need to be in two places at once...
[* It was Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, for ever famous in the nursery-rhyme as "the grand old Duke of York", who was appointed Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück in 1764, aged less than a year old – by a strange arrangement, between 1648 and 1803, Catholic and Protestant prince-bishops alternately held the see and principality, down to its eventual suppression; Frederick was the last prince-bishop.  To answer the unspoken question, during each Protestant period, the Archbishop of Cologne had the cure of the Catholic souls; while the (Anglican) Frederick was technically head of the Lutherans there.  Weird.]
Being M. C., one is so caught up in supervising things that one can't pray the Mass as one would like.  At least when in the choir I was singing the Mass-texts, and otherwise attending to the Tremendous Sacrifice, kneeling.  Inwardly I did bemoan my lack of fear and trembling when I had perforce to stand by the Missal throughout the Canon, especially after the Consecration, when the Divine Victim lies upon the altar, and it would be preferable to lie prostrate in awe.  Later on I recalled, however, that "Emotion is not devotion" and obedience to one's duty (in this case, to turning the pages for the priest) is worthier far than pious passions which may well be pious piffle.

A side benefit of my trip from the north of the State to the south and back was the opportunity to pray the Office; only Vespers and Compline to go!  (I maintain my private practice of only reading three psalms at Matins, since doing so is preferable to not reading it at all, and I find reading all nine psychologically daunting and exhausting.)

Furthermore, in the car, apart from listening to News Radio, I could play some CD's: Palestrina on one, and Biber's Missa Alleluja with Schmeltzer's Vesperæ sollemnes on the other: marvellous.  The trip down began most appropriately with Palestrina's setting of that terrifying, yet oh-so-true Responsory from Matins of the Dead:
Peccantem me quotidie et non me pænitentem, timor mortis conturbat me, quia in inferno nulla est redemptio: miserere mei, Deus, et salva me.
(Sinning daily and not repenting, the fear of death troubles me, for in hell there is no redemption: have mercy on me, O God, and save me.)
How many souls at various times have struggled with precisely such a dilemma!  There but for the grace of God...  Only Divine grace, besought in prayer, can inspire the free will of man to turn from sinning and not repenting, that he may escape endless hell.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Embarrassing Error

"Last Friday was Good Friday; but, as this was overlooked, we will keep it next Friday" – so wrote Mgr Ronald Knox when in a fey mood, imagining the evil consequences of being without an Ordo.

I am without an Ordo.

And it transpires that the very nice calendar the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer sold me has a big error in it: this Sunday is the 5th after Epiphany.

(I forebear to write the words that come to mind, doubtless owing to incipient Tourette's Syndrome...)

Mea culpa.  I will correct my posts below...

Breviary Homily for 4th Sunday after Epiphany

Talk about the Breviary being, as its name implies, an abbreviated Office... while its prayers, hymns and psalms may not be, the Matins readings certainly are.  The dangerous practice of clipping away at the lessons used of old has had bad effects over the ages; how far the liturgy has fallen from the great lengthy extracts used during Advent at Cluny, where all of Isaias was read through within a week or so.  It was particularly foolish of the last pre-Conciliar liturgical reform to slice away the remaining Patristic texts almost to nothing on Sundays – no wonder the Council Fathers called for longer readings (and less psalms) at Matins!

Herewith, the third lesson for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany in the 1962 Roman and Dominican Breviaries:

Homily of St Jerome the Priest
The fifth sign He wrought, when going up into the boat from Capharnaum, He commanded the wind and sea.  The sixth, when in the region of the Gerasenes he gave power to the demons in the pigs.  The seventh, when entering into His city, he cured the second paralytic on a bed.  For the first paralytic is the son of the centurion.

And that's it.

For somewhat more than this barest of outlines, I turn to a 1953 Monastic Breviary and translate the rest of the extract from St Jerome's commentary:

For He Himself had slept: and they approached unto Him, and woke Him, saying: Lord, save us.  A type of this sign we read in Jonas, when amongst other perils, he himself was secure, and slept, and was awoken; and by the authority (imperio) and sacrament of His passion He freed those awaking Him.
Then arising He commanded the wind and sea.  From this place we understand, that all creatures know the Creator.  For what he rebuked, and what He commanded, knew the Commander: not according to the error of heretics, who believe that all things are ensouled, but according to the majesty of the Maker, of which amongst us we are insensible, of which they were aware.
Moreover, the men were amazed, saying: Of what sort is this man, for the wind and sea obey Him?  It was not the disciples, but the sailors, and others, who were in the boat, who marvelled.  If however some contentious man should wish that those, who were surprised, to have been the disciples: we will respond, rightly they are yclept men, who as yet knew not the power of the Saviour.

Now, this at least supplies some meat.

How stupid of the revisers not to take up the second passage as the most pregnant with meaning...

To Hobart, for the V Sunday after Epiphany

To-morrow I'll depart bright and early for the 200 km drive to Hobart, to assist at our monthly Missa cantata at the chapel of St Canice, which will be the Mass of the 5th* Sunday after Epiphany (prayers, Epistle and Gospel), combined with the Proper chants of the Mass of the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Dicit Dominus.

[* I am indebted to Rubricarius for gently correcting my mistake: having no Ordo to hand, I relied upon the calendar sold me by the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, which turns out to erroneously term this Sunday the 4th, not the 5th as it should be.]

Rubrical Query – II: An Answer

Eureka!  I have found it: in a pre-Pius X Dominican Breviary, it is noted that the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said before all the Hours of the Daily Office (whereas in the Roman Breviary, it is said after the Little Hours, and before the Martyrology at Prime), except that Compline of the Blessed Virgin is said after the blessing at the end of Compline of the Day, immediately before the Salve Regina, omitting therefore its usual final Ave.  (The Cistercian practice was the same.)

As I prefer to use the Dominican Breviary for sundry reasons, I can, if I wish, thus combine Compline of the Day with Compline of Our Lady, without having to repeat the Marian anthem &c.  Much better.

I must also thank Rubricarius for his help.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Onias and Jeremias: Saints Alive! Pray for us

The Dominican Breviary gives as its Matins lessons for to-day, Friday in the fifth week of October (so-called because, according to the '62 rubrics, the first week of November doesn't begin until the first Sunday thereof), a significant extract from II Machabees chapter xv, verses 12-14, 15-17 and 20-21.

(The Roman Breviary, which has longer Matins lessons, appoints more or less the same passage for to-morrow, divided into two lessons only, since the third will always be for a saint or for Our Lady on Saturday: II Machabees xv, 7-11 and 12-19.)

It is significant because it represents "a dream worthy of belief" (verse 11) that Judas Machabeus had, featuring both the saintly Onias, a former High Priest who had died, lifting up his hands in prayer for Israel, and also the great prophet Jeremias playing a mediatorial role: and what is this, but direct testimony to the intercession of the saints?  No wonder Luther had to seek a reason to reject the Scriptural authority of this book, which in chapter xii had already testified to prayer and sacrifice for the dead!

Herewith, the three lessons (the second and third being read together to-day, making room for the third hagiographical lesson in honour of St Martin de Porres):

First Lesson (II Mach. xv, 12-14)

From the second book of the Machabees.

Now the vision was in this manner: Onias who had been high priest, a good and virtuous man, modest in his looks, gentle in his manners, and graceful in his speech, and who from a child was exercised in virtues, holding up his hands, prayed for all the people of the Jews.  After this there appeared also another man, admirable for age, and glory, and environed with great beauty and majesty: then Onias answering, said: This is a lover of his brethren, and of the people of Israel: this is he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God. — But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.

Second Lesson (II Mach. xv, 15-17)

Whereupon Jeremias stretched forth his right hand, and gave to Judas a sword of gold, saying: Take this holy sword a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel.  Thus being exhorted with the words of Judas, which were very good, and proper to stir up the courage, and strengthen the hearts of the young men, they resolved to fight, and to set upon them manfully: that valour might decide the matter, because the holy city and the temple were in danger. — But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.

Third Lesson (II Mach. xv, 20-21)

And now when all expected what judgment would be given, and the enemies were at hand, and the army was set in array, the beasts and the horsemen ranged in convenient places, Machabeus considering the coming of the multitude, and the divers preparations of armour, and the fierceness of the beasts, stretching out his hands to heaven, called upon the Lord, that worketh wonders, who giveth victory to them that are worthy, not according to the power of their arms, but according as it seemeth good to him. — But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/.  Thanks be to God.

All Relics

Like Gollum, I consider some things very precious: such as my collection of second- and third-class relics.  Ever deserve they to be kissed and revered, for in doing so I pay veneration to the spirits of just men made perfect, one day to rise again in glory (may I be numbered amongst them), and ultimately refer all honour and glory to Him, our King Christ, Who elected them and made them holy by His most Precious Blood.

As a layman, of course, I can hardly lay claim to any great hoard of sacred remains: it would hardly be fitting if I had such; for Canon Law prescribes that a bishop's permission is needed for to have first class relics, I recall.  (Yet I knew a priest who kept relics of all the apostles in a shoebox under his bed!  And a former seminarian of my acquaintance had known "a corrupt nun at the relics' office" from whom he had obtained many valuable relics which he shouldn't have had.  But worst of all was the American seminarian in Rome who was dismissed in the late nineties for forging relics out of animal bones and selling them to gullible countrymen of his.)

The relics:
  • Of Bl Columba Marmion, abbot (feast day: 3rd Oct.) – attached to a holy card, a piece of cloth labelled "A piece of the Religious habit worn by Blessed Columba Marmion" (2nd class);
  • Of St Dominic, priest, founder of the Dominicans (4th Aug.) – attached to a holy card, a piece of cloth labelled "Cloth which has touched the Head of St. Dominic" (3rd cl.);
  • Of St Antony Mary Zaccaria, priest, founder of the Barnabites (5th July) – attached to a holy card, a piece of cloth labelled pannolino che toccò le ossa di S. Antonio M. Zaccaria (3rd cl.);
  • Of St Pio of Pietrelcina, priest, O.F.M.Cap. (23rd Sep.) – attached to a holy card, a piece of cloth labelled "third class relic" (3rd cl.);
  • Of St Martin de Porres, O.P. (5th Nov.) – attached to a holy card, a piece of cloth labelled "Linen touched to his body" (3rd cl.);
  • St Peregrine, priest, Servite (1st May) – attached to a medal, a piece of cloth labelled "relic" (prob. 3rd cl.);
  • St Catherine of Siena, virgin (30th April) – attached to a medal, a piece of cloth labelled reliquia (probably 3rd cl.);
  • St Faustina, virgin (5th Oct.) – attached to a holy card, a unlabelled piece of cloth (prob. 3rd cl.);
  • St Thérèse of Lisieux, virgin, O.C.D. (3rd Oct.) – attached to a medal, a small unlabelled piece of cloth (prob. 3rd cl.); and, attached to a holy card, a small piece of cloth labelled "cloth touched to relic of St Thérèse" (3rd cl.);
  • Bl Maria Sagrario of St Louis Gonzaga, virgin & martyr, O.C.D. (16th Aug.) – attached to a holy card, a small unlabelled piece of cloth (prob. 3rd cl.).
Out of curiosity I have compiled this list of these relics I have; they repose with icons, crucifix and candles on the makeshift altar (or, as the Russians would have it, in the "beautiful corner", the krasnyy ugol, красный угол) in my study, in front of my prie-dieu.  What prayer to pray?  That said by the priest when kissing the altar at the start of Mass, Oramus te, or, more anciently, Oro te - in either case, perhaps changing to the plural at the end to pray for all; or perhaps that used of old likewise at the farewell osculation of the altar; and of course the Collect for the feast of All Relics, observed in sundry places on this very day, the 5th of November:

Oramus [Oro] te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiæ hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum, ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea [nostra].  Amen.

(We [I] pray thee, Lord, by the merits of Thy Saints, whose relics are here, and of all the Saints, that Thou wouldst deign to forgive all my [our] sins.  Amen.)

Meritis et intercessionibus istorum et omnium Sanctorum suorum misereatur nobis omnipotens Dominus.

(By the merits and intercessions of these and of all His Saints, may the Lord almighty have mercy upon us.)

Auge in nobis, Domine, resurrectionis fidem, qui in Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis mirabilia operaris: et fac nos immortalis gloriæ participes, cujus in eorum cineribus pignora veneramur.  Per...

(Increase in us, O Lord, faith in the resurrection, Who dost work wonders by the relics of Thy Saints: and make us partakers of that immortal glory, a pledge of which we venerate in their ashes.  Through...)

St Martin de Porres

Martinus, filius Joannis de Porres, equitis Hispaniæ, et Annæ Velasquez, suffuscæ libertæ, Limæ in America meridionali anno millesimo quingentesimo [septuagesimo*] nono lucem aspexit  – "Martin, son of Juan de Porres, knight of Spain, and Anna Velasquez, mulatto freedwoman, at Lima in south America in the year 1579 [first] beheld the light": thus begins the third lesson at Matins for to-day in the Dominican Breviary, marking this fifth of November as the feast of St Martin de Porres proper to the Friars Preachers.  (In the modern liturgy, his feast has been moved to the third, the day of his death or rather of his birth into eternal light and life; but I do hope that, in Adelaide, Fr Mannes has offered Mass in his honour to-day.)

[* A strange oversight omits the word "seventy" from his date of birth, implying that he was born in Lima during the Inca Empire!]

Adopting for the moment my latest system of praying the Hours (reading only three psalms at Matins, as is done in the Dominican Breviary throughout Eastertide), which enables me, a reasonably busy layman, to gain most of the benefits of the Office, has indeed brought blessings, such as this holy memorial.  I was minded to reach for my second- and third-class relics, among which I have a holy card of St Martin complete with a piece of linen touched to his body: I paid due veneration to him through this.  How apt, given that in many places to-day is also the feast of All Relics...

St Martin famously wears a now-suppressed variant of the habit of the Blackfriars; pray for Dominican lay-brothers, that their vocation prosper and not perish, and that they get back their proper habit of the black scapular, taken from them on the pretext of equality...

St Martin, son of Spain and son of Africa, son of a gentleman and son of a slave, born and bred in the new conquests of Spain in South America, trained as a surgeon, but aspiring after holiness as a Dominican Tertiary, was in course of time admitted as a lay brother to the convent of the Friars Preachers in Lima, where he exercised a humble and holy ministry as a true servant to all, both within and outwith, to the fathers and to the slaves, to orphans and dumb animals, filled with prayer and working wonders on all sides.  All Lima lamented his passing: but with miracles he continues to coruscate and shine.  

I know a Dominican who owes his parents' meeting, his birth and that of his siblings, and his vocation, to an apparition of St Martin in Melbourne in the last fifty years: an event implicitly commemorated in the Wallace window at St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore.

Herewith, the Dominican Rite Proper for St Martin de Porres:

Officium (Ps. 91, 13-14)

Justus ut palma florebit: sicut cedrus Libani multiplicabitur: plantatus in domo Domini, in atriis domus Dei nostri.  Ps. 91, 2.  Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.  Gloria Patri…  Justus…


Deus humilium celsitudo, qui beatum Martinum confessorem tuum ad cælestia regna transire fecisti; ejus meritis et intercessione concede, nos ejus humilitatem ita imitari in terris, ut cum ipso exaltari mereamur in cælis.  Per…

Epistola (Phil. iii, 7-12)

Quæ mihi fuerunt lucra, hæc arbitratus sum propter Christum detrimenta.  Verumtamen existimo omnia detrimentum esse propter eminentem scientiam Jesu Christi Domini mei: propter quem omnia detrimentum feci, et arbitror ut stercora, ut Christum lucrifaciam: et inveniar in illo non habens meam justitiam, quæ ex lege est, sed illam, quæ ex fide est Christi Jesu: quæ ex Deo est, justitia in fide: ad cognoscendum illum, et virtutem resurrectionis ejus, et societatem passionum illius, configuratus morti ejus, si quo modo occurram ad resurrectionem, quæ est ex mortuis.  Non quod jam acceperim, aut jam perfectus sim: sequor autem, si quomodo comprehendam, in quo et comprehensus sum a Christo Jesu.

Responsorium (Ps. 20, 4-5)

Domine, prævenisti eum in benedictionibus dulcedinis: posuisti in capite ejus coronam de lapide pretioso.  V/.  Vitam petiit a te: et tribuisti ei longitudinem direum in sæculum sæculi.

Alleluia (Ps. 63, 11)

Alleluja, alleluja.  V/.  Lætabitur justus in Domino, et sperabit in eo: et laudabuntur omnes recti corde.  Alleluja.

Evangelium (S. Matt. xi, 25-30)

In illo tempore: Respondens Jesus dixit: Confiteor tibi, Pater, Domine cæli et terræ, quia abscondisti hæc a sapientibus, et prudentibus, et revelasti ea parvulis.  Ita Pater; quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te.  Omnia mihi tradita sunt a Patre meo.  Et nemo novit Filium, nisi Pater: neque Patrem quis novit, nisi Filius, et cui voluerit Filius revelare.  Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis, et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos.  Tollite jugum meum super vos, et discite a me, quia mitis sum, et humilis corde: et invenietis requiem animabus vestris.  Jugum enim meum suave est, et onus meum leve.

Offertorium (Ps. 91, 13)

Justus, ut palma florebit: sicut cedrus, quæ in Libano est, multiplicabitur.


Hanc hostiam, Domine, quam tibi in honorem beati Martini confessoris sacrandam offerimus, benignus suscipe; et præsta ut ejus pia intercessione, nobis effectum tuæ salvationis impendat.  Per…

Communio (S. Matt. xix, 28-29)

Amen dico vobis, quod vos, qui reliquistis omnia, et secuti estis me, centuplum accipietis, et vitam æternam possidebitis.


Cælestibus alimentis enutriti, supplices te rogamus, Domine Deus noster, ut beato Martino confessore pro nobis intercedente, tuis semper valeamus obedire mandatis.  Per…

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Any Coverage Yet of the Christus Rex Pilgrimage?

It's Thursday, I'm off work with a heavy cold, and while I try to rest and recuperate, I wonder: was, is, or will there be any coverage of the recent, highly successful Christus Rex Pilgrimage online?  I haven't seen any photos yet, apart from those I took myself - I foolishly thought I wouldn't need to take snaps at most of the celebrations since there were others who would do so.

So, what's going on?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Little Hours of All Souls in the Dominican Rite

Unlike in the Roman Breviary, in the Dominican the Little Hours for All Souls consist of the following: a silent sign of the Cross, then the festal psalms, that is, spread over Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, Psalms 53 and 118, the latter broken up into eleven parts, none with any doxology or Requiem, but with the antiphon Requiem æternam instead.  In contrast, the Roman Breviary, since the time of Pope St Pius X, appoints proper psalms for all these Hours, with no antiphon but the Requiem at the end of each psalm.  It may be seen that the Dominican practice more closely imitates the Office for the Easter Triduum.

At Prime alone, the Confiteor and Misereatur follow; at all the Little Hours, next is recited the versicles A porta inferi and Dominus vobiscum, with the Collect Fidelium and the concluding versicle Requiescant in pace.

At Pretiosa (answering to the second half, the so-called Chapter Office, of Roman Prime, after the Benedicamus Domino, and beginning with the Martyrology if in choir), to the contrary, all is done as on ordinary days, with even the Gloria Patri being used; while the proper Gospel passage appointed is taken from the Requiem Mass.  In the Roman Office, the corresponding part is drastically modified.

Finally, Compline is sung in its Sunday form, with no observation of All Souls whatsoever - whereas the Roman Compline for All Souls is conformed to the pattern of the day's other Hours, with proper psalms, entirely devoted to prayer for the dead.

It may be noted parenthetically that Dominican Matins, Lauds and Vespers for All Souls are utterly the same as their usual form – but for that the nine lessons at Matins are for this day wholly taken from St Augustine, and the final responsory, the fearful Libera me, is augmented with no less than five versicles, in true mediæval style.