Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breviarium O.Dorm.

Liturgical purists (some would call them other names) agree that Pope St Pius X, as well as mucking up the order of the Sacraments by putting First Communion before Confirmation, rather ruined the traditional cursus of the Holy Roman Church, by redistributing the Psalms in a manner wholly different to that previously used in the Divine Office.  It will therefore glad strict hearts to learn that (thanks to their extremely infrequent General Chapters, only held once all who were in holy religion at the last such had died) the Canons Regular of the Dormition, alone of all the Orders in the Church, maintain the pre-Pian weekly arrangement of the Psalter; well, more or less.

As is the case with the Order of Preachers, adherence to any and all lesser rules may be dispensed by a superior, that a given religious without hindrance may the better attain the goal of the Order: in the case of the Dominicans, preaching; in the case of the Dormitionists, sleeping.  But granted that all but the most proficient sleepers cannot remain the entire day and night unconscious, those who have withdrawn from the world may as well pray in their cells (there being little else to do), and therefore the Breviary exists.  Furthermore, as all men know, long prayers engender much sleepiness, and this  is accounted a godly virtue by these Canons Regular.  Thus, reading the Hours materially assists in advancing one's proficiency in the following of  the Regula Patrum Soporificum.

Now those Soporific Fathers three, back at the end of the twelfth century, already noted that the ancient Roman ferial Office, while satisfyingly, stupefyingly lengthy, unfortunately varied materially in length from day to day.  Therefore, while drawing up the plan of all the observances for their novus Ordo, duly approved by the then Pope, they made certain wise modifications in the rite of both Mass and Office, yet in a most traditional spirit.

The Fathers most wisely reordered the distribution of the Psalms, that each day’s Office have very nearly an equal length of psalmody.  They achieved this above all by swapping Tuesday’s Matins psalms with those of Thursday, and Wednesday’s with Saturday’s.  Other minor changes were made, and in particular Psalm 9 was divided into two parts, according to the Hebrew (perhaps to be attributed to those holy Canons' sojourn in Outremer, where many religious traditions interacted more readily).  

For the benefit of the curious, the exact disposition of the psalms is as follows: 
  • Sunday: Pss 1-3, 6-8, 9A-17, 19-20;
  • Monday: Pss 27-38;
  • Tuesday: Pss 68-79;
  • Wednesday: Pss 97-108;
  • Thursday: Pss 39-41, 43-49, 51-52;
  • Friday: Pss 80-88, 93, 95-96;
  • Saturday: Pss 53-61, 63, 65, 67. 
It will be seen that this admittedly drastic-seeming rearrangement is in fact far truer to the immemorial Roman Office than that made in 1911, above all by retaining the Matins psalms at Matins, avoiding the use of divisi, and keeping to the hallowed number of twelve psalms for this Hour, just as commended by an Angel to the Desert Fathers in the first ages of the Church.  (It is a Roman peculiarity to sing eighteen on Sunday, doubtless due to the relative brevity of most of those psalms compared to the average.)

Furthermore, to prevent the festal Office being all too short in comparison with the ferial, the Dormitionist Breviary took up the judicious arrangement of the Monastic Breviary, which provides twelve psalms for all feasts – although without adopting its other peculiarities.

Lauds, named for the famous Laudate psalms, the last three in the Psalter, has a fourth such: Psalm 116 (doubtless an echo of the Ambrosian Rite – one of the Fathers had returned from the East via Milan).  Another curious detail: Psalm 117 is sung at Lauds on Sundays, in place of Psalm 99 (which however takes its usual place on feasts), and not at Prime.  Otherwise, the psalms and canticles used at this Hour are the same as those of the Use of Rome.

Prime has a unique variant: not Psalm 53, but Psalm 18 is the first psalm, being therefore an exordium, as it were, to the great Psalm of the Law, of the contemplative life, Psalm 118, Beati immaculati in via.  Given the redistribution of the Matins psalmody undertaken at the foundation of the Order, it will be unsurprising that Psalms 21 to 25, plus also Psalm 26, are disposed somewhat differently to their manner of use in the post-Tridentine Roman Breviary: true, as is most appropriate, that great psalm of the Passion, 21, is used on Friday, and the Eucharistic 22 on Thursday (as in the Roman), but 23 is also allotted to Thursday, 24 is used on Monday, 25 on Saturday and 26 on Sunday – with none for Tuesday nor Wednesday!

Vespers, lacking Psalm 116, is supplied with the requisite five psalms per evening by the device of Psalm 113 being divided into two, as in the Hebrew: Psalm 113A, In exitu, is the last psalm of Sunday, while 113B, Non nobis, is the first of Monday Vespers.

Nothing need be said of Terce, Sext or None, as they simply employ the remainder of Psalm 118; and of course Dormitionist Compline has previously been surveyed in extenso.

In passing, it is right to note that, at Lauds and Vespers in their cells, these Canons Regular do read each day six commemorations or memorials, the better to adhere to the great exemplars of their peculiar charism, and – with the Collect of the Day – to mystically cleave to the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer:
  1. Of the Most Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ;
  2. Of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  3. Of St Lazarus Redivivus;
  4. Of the Seven Sleepers;
  5. For Rest;
  6. For the Living and the Dead.
It will be recalled that the Founders of the Dormitionists were Canons of the Holy Sepulchre ere they were as it were inspired to found a new Order, and rightly maintained their devotion to Christ's sacred repose for three days in the Tomb; and of course to this superadded like piety – in honour of His Mother's Dormition or falling asleep, under whose mantle they sought to rest; in honour of St Lazarus, resting for four days in his tomb; and in honour of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.  A prayer for the grace of sinless sleep, and a long survival from the Gallican Rite, imploring the saints' intercession for all the living and the dead foreknown to be elect, rounds out this set of six antiphons, versicles and collects.

Unusually (to post-mediæval minds) these are read after the Benedicamus Domino, or rather after the first Benedicamus; since after them, there is a second.  As in the Dominican Use, while the last Collect (in common with that of the day) has the full conclusion, the intervenient orations have the shorter (in the Roman Rite, the equivalents have none).

Herewith, their texts (again, as the Brev. O. Dorm. was last revised in the late eighteenth century, it employs the long ess, be it noted):
Aña. Qui expectant mortem et non venit, quaſi effodientes theſaurum, gaudentque vehementer, cum invenerint Sepulchrum.
V/. Factus eſt in pace locus ejus.
R/. Et habitatio ejus in Sion.
AD LAUDES: Or. Deus, qui per depoſitionem ſanctiſſimi Corporis Filii tui in Sepulchro, idem Sepulchrum ſanctificaſti, concede quæſumus, ut in hoc Sepulchro anima et corde habitemus. Per eumdem Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
AD VESPERAS: Or. Deus, qui nos ſancti Sepulchri Filii tui lætari facis honore, præſta quæſumus, ut in eodem ſepulti, mundo moriamur, et tibi ſoli vivamus. Per eumdem Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. In omnibus requiem quæſivi, et in hereditate Domini morabor.
V/. Et ſic in Sion firmata ſum.
R/. Et in civitate ſanctificata ſimiliter requievi.
Or. Veneranda nobis, Domine, illius diei memoria opem conferat ſalutarem, in qua ſancta Dei Genitrix mortem ſubiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quæ Filium tuum Dominum noſtrum de ſe genuit incarnatum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat per omnia sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Lazarus amicus noſter dormit: Eamus et nos, ut moriamur cum eo.
V/. Domine, ſi dormit
R/. Salvus erit.
Or. Deus, reſurrectio et vita, qui beatum Lazarum quatriduanum a monumento ſuſcitaſti: erige nos de tumulo peccatorum, ut mereamur adipiſci conſortia electorum. Qui vivis et regnas per omnia sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Dormierunt ſomnum ſuum.
V/. Dormitaverunt omnes.
R/. Et dormierunt.
Or. Concede, quæſumus, omnipotens Deus: ut ad meliorem requiem beatorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi exempla nos provocent; quatenus, quorum memoriam agimus, etiam ſomnum imitemur. Per Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Veniat pax; requieſcat in cubili ſuo qui ambulavit in directione ſua.
V/. Inſuper et caro mea
R/. Requieſcet in ſpe.  
Or. Omnipotens Deus, qui mundo creato ab univerſo opere tuo requieviſti et diem requiei pro omnibus creaturis ſanctificaſti: concede nobis ut, ab omnibus curis terreſtribus nos ſeponentes, tempora ſint tua protectione tranquilla, et requies hac in terra nos paret ad æternam requiem plebi tuo promiſſam in cælo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Retribuere dignare, Domine, omnibus nobis bona facientibus propter nomen ſanctum tuum requiem æternam.
V/. Exſultabunt Sancti in gloria.
R/. Lætabuntur in cubilibus ſuis.
Or. Omnipotens ſempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris ſimul et mortuorum, omniumque miſereris, quos tuos fide et opere futuros eſſe prænoſcis; te ſupplices exoramus; ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quoſque vel præſens ſæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore ſuſcepit, intercedentibus omnibus ſanctis tuis, pietatiæ tuæ clementia, omnium delictorum ſuorum veniam conſequantur. Per Dñm.

Blessings of the New Translation

I was lifted up this morning, when Fr Allan – who celebrates the Thursday Mass at Carmel – used the new translation from the Preface onwards, complete with the Preface for Martyrs II and the Roman Canon.  It was glorious to hear in English what I am used to in the Latin – since for many years I used to make up for the impoverished ICEL paraphrase by reading along in the original.  What a great blessing to be delivered from banality and feel the holiness of the Sacrifice so much more evidently manifest in the words of our prayers!  Deo gratias.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the Rule

Daily in their cells (should they perchance awake), the Dormitionists read extracts from the Regula Patrum Soporificum as part of their Office, that, better instructed in the observance of their peculiar charism, they may slumber like model religious.  Herewith, the usual course of readings:

Jube, Dñe, benedicere.
(Prithee, Lord, to bless.)
Regularibus somnis instruant nos Patres Soporificos.
(May the Soporific Fathers instruct us in regular sleep habits.)
Sequitur in Regula Patrum nostrorum Soporificum.
(It follows in the Rule of our Soporific Fathers.)
Primum bonum est requies somni, secundum quod dicitur, Si dormit, salvus erit. Ita instituimus ut omnes dormiant in dormitorio. 
(The first good is the rest of sleep, according to what is said, If he sleep, he shall be saved.  So we institute, that all should sleep in the Dormitory.)
Per singula lecta singuli dormiant, et singuli singulas cellulas habeant, et nequaquam duo in uno, sed singuli in singulis lectis quiescant.
(In single beds singly they should sleep, and singly single cells they should have, and never should two sleep in one, but let them singly in single beds rest.)
Maneant singuli in cellulis suis, sive dormientes sive in lege Domini meditantes sive horas canonicas dicentes.
(They should abide singly in their cells, whether sleeping or meditating on the law of the Lord or saying the canonical hours.)
Maneant singuli in cellulis suis, quia non inveniant alibi tantam pacem et quietem et somnum et requiem.
(Let them remain alone in their cells, for nowhere else will they find such peace and quiet and sleep and rest.)
Humiliter et honeste in dormitorio maneant. Suaviter requiescant, si cor suum non reprehenderit se. 
(They should abide in the Dormitory with humility and respect. They shall rest sweetly, if their heart does not reproach them.)
Nihil denique inhonestum aut indecens in dormitorio geratur ab aliquo, nec quispiam aliquem inquietare præsumat. 
(No one should do anything unseemly or disreputable in the Dormitory, nor should anyone presume to disquieten another.)
Super omnia et in omnibus requiescant in Domino semper, quia ipse est sanctorum æterna requies.
(Above all things and in all things they should rest always in God, for He is the everlasting rest of the saints.) 
Tu autem, Dñe, miserere nostri. R/. Deo gratias. 
 (—But Thou, Lord, have mercy upon us. R/.  Thanks be to God.)

It will be seen that these extracts offer a conspectus of Dormitionist spirituality.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Early to Rise...

Unlike those Dormitionists, I have been rising earlier than ever the past few days: for the first time in years, I've been going to daily Mass again.

I had best explain: I am not (it will no doubt be suspected) a fan of early rising; and, given the small number of priests based here in Launceston, and their propensity to schedule Mass at times inappropriate for full-time workers, the only Mass I can attend and still do my job properly is the the 7:30 am at the Carmelite Monastery.  For years, literally, I have toyed with the idea of getting up a precious half-hour earlier than my wont, and going to this Mass – but, until Monday, I had always just turned over and slept on instead.

I had also best explain that, given my strong preference for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, having mainly attended it for the better part of two years while in Perth, it has proven very difficult for me, psychologically, to face going even to Sunday Mass in the Ordinary Form: it has been a trial.

At the same time, I have wasted spiritually for want of the Eucharist.  My discipline of praying the Office has also slipt.  Getting back to what I've done for most of my adult life – going to daily Mass – (and, incidentally, having more time to read the Breviary) is just marvellous, thank God indeed.

I attribute this inspiration of my will, under God, to my Guardian Angel and, humanly, to a chance meeting I had while in Lismore the other week, when I paid a visit to the Carmel there, and profited from a spiritual conversation with the extern sister there: I thank her for her evidently potent and efficacious prayers!

Nine Months

Many monastics observed the Great Fast, from Holy Cross Day (14th September) until Easter; the Dormitionists, mindful of their own proper charism, observe instead the Great Sleep, from 25th March until 25th December – in honour of Our Lord's gestation, that initial kenosis when, as Holy Mother Church sings, Non horruisti Virginis uterum.

The synkatabasis of the Eternal Word!  First, He deigned to create the world – "By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made" – and this was His first act of condescension; then, "in the fulness of time", "the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us".  Mystery!  The everlasting Word is silent, an infans in utero ere He be born into this world a helpless babe, the Babe of Bethlehem.  And His embrace of the kenotic state entails His quest for the Cross, until, soul sundered from body, He is "free among the dead", going down to the Limbo of the Fathers, visiting all them that sleep...

Just so, in the Church to-day, Christ is present kenotically: for is He not the Prisoner of the Tabernacle, all too often betrayed once more into the hands of sinners, unworthy priests and communicants?  Yet He the Omnipotent is patient toward us, that we be converted and saved.  Now, in sleep we are most vulnerable; and so the better to imitate Christus Patiens, the Dormitionist brethren seek also to sleep on, and take their rest.

During the Great Sleep, these holy Canons Regular, utterly contemplative, endeavour in their mortal flesh to in a manner relive and experience something of this.  (At the least, they try each passing year to sleep in Christ during the Paschal Triduum.)

Nature confirms the reasonableness of this observance: for do not many of God's creatures lie dormant or hibernate, and do not many (such as toads) æstivate?  Reptiles brumate; wombats snuggle in their burrows; even little lizards sleep on warm rocks in the sun: "Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth... where thou liest in the midday" (Cant. i, 6a).  Birds enter into a nightly state of torpor: how much more should religious, seeking to imitate not birds that fly but the very wingèd angels, enter into a state of stupor.

I was minded to mention this sacred slumbering to-day, it being (in Australia) the Winter Solstice.

As a corollary to this devotion, whereby the Dormitionists focus ever more intently upon practising, even now, the eternal repose of the blessed, they are keenly concerned with prayer for the unborn, and for this end do unceasingly invoke the Holy Innocents, whose martyrdom is the enduring sign of the hatred of Satan and his minions for childhood, and above all the Holy Infant Jesus, to whom they have an especial devotion as the "Little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay", even as "the Redeemer in the Womb".

Dormitionists also love to consider the blessed repose of Limbo, that state of perfect natural happiness.  As one Dominican Father (an especial friend of the Dormitionist Order, a fellow-traveller therewith) liked to declare, how excellent that is!  What a consolation prize for missing out on baptism.

May all the unborn, all children, all the childlike, those in their second childhood, and those who as little children hope to enter the heavenly kingdom, alike sleep secure: that is their ardent prayer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Healthy Sleeping, Moderate Eating

“We will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep” (I Thess. iv, 12a): this being the counsel of the Apostle, I cannot but continue to spread the spread the good news about that most noble Order of Canons Regular, the Dormitionist: indeed, woe is me, if I do not.  For if to convert one sinner be a most worthy deed, what must it be to turn man’s mind to holy religion, toward embracing an utterly contemplative live, wholly oriented toward Him Who is the true East, the Eschaton, being both Alpha and Omega, by even now striving to sleep the sleep of the just, just as all the blessed do sleep in the Lord?

(Any inquiries may be left in the comment box.)

The bed, the prie-dieu, the study-desk, the dining-table...
all important facets of the Dormitionist charism.

These redoubtable religious sleepers-in-Christ, having chosen the better part (cf. St Luke x, 42), shall have a premier place and part in the Kingdom: for we, at “the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept” (I Thess. iv, 14b): no, as is only right, those who have striven to practise in this life what they hope to do for all eternity, shall by no means be the last and least to enter heaven.  If to desire a bishoprick is to desire a good work (I Tim. iii, 1), how much greater must it be to desire to be a holy religious? – indeed, a greater work in truth, since the religious life is the state of acquiring perfection, whereas the fulness of the priesthood is the state of acquired perfection (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, S.T., II-II, 184, 7).

Furthermore, as the Dormitionists in all humility cannot forebear to point out, their Order is clearly foretold in Holy Writ under the figure of Israel, and indeed most commended therein: “Lying down he hath slept as a lion, and as a lioness, whom none shall dare to rouse.” And Balaam was constrained by the Spirit of the Lord to continue, and to declare, “He that blesseth thee, shall also himself be blessed: he that curseth thee shall be reckoned accursed.” (Numbers xxiv, 9.)  Yea and amen, just as the Dormitionist Fathers are most potent sleepers-in-Christ, and thus deserving of all praise for fulfilling this meditative office vicariously on behalf of the whole Church, so those scoffing worldlings who would say unto them – as once the pagan sailor to Jonas, himself a type of the sleeping Christ (Jonas i, 6) – “Why art thou fast asleep?” do but risk the divine displeasure.

An inability “rightly to divide the word of truth” (II Tim. ii, 15) may be the fault that binds men in ignorance: for, while lazy slug-a-beds are rightly castigated, even in the very Scriptures, such carnal, fleshly slumber is utterly different from godly sleep, as is indicated in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins: “for all slumbered and slept” (St Matthew xxv, 5), the five wise and five foolish, and the different verbs distinguish the two – the former slept prepared for the Eschaton, that is, the Advent of the Bridegroom; while the latter did not.  This is plainly declared in the second Book of the Machabees: “they who [have] fallen asleep with godliness, [have] great grace laid up for them” (cf. xii, 45b).


Now, in order that the Dormitionist in his cell within his Dorter (Dormitory) may say with the Patriarch, “I awoke, and then fell asleep again” (Genesis xli, 21b), and dream sacred dreams, the better to fulfil his elected avocation, he ought most carefully maintain a proper diet.  It is known that the Apostle instructed Timothy, his fellow bishop, to take a little wine for his stomach and his debilities (I Tim. v, 23); and for utterly the same reason, some wine or beer, a hemina or so (howsoever much that is) as St Benedict suggests (cf. his Rule, chapter 40), should be imbibed to ensure placid slumbers.  Likewise, decent sleep requires, not a stodgy meal or gluttonous feast, but a temperate supper – else the overstuffed flesh will give rise to uneasy dreams.  Christus Somnifer, Christ the Bringer of Sleep and Sacred Dreams, visits not the couch of the intemperate.

For this reason, ere he sup within his cell on the meal passed through the trap-door (for the Dormitionists do not dine in a common refectory, only coming together in the church for their evening vigil Mass and Compline), it is the custom in the Order to read over again every time the following passage from Ecclesiasticus xxxi, 22-25:
Quam sufficiens est homini eruditio vinum exiguum! et in dormiendo non laborabis ab illo, et non senties dolorem. Vigilia, cholera et tortura viro infrunito, somnus sanitatis in homine parco: dormiet usque mane, et anima illius cum ipso delectabitur. Et si coactus fueris in edendo multum, surge e medio, evome, et refrigerabit te, et non adduces corpori tuo infirmitatem.
(How sufficient is a little wine for a man well taught, and in sleeping thou shalt not be uneasy with it, and thou shalt feel no pain. Watching, and choler, and gripes, are with an intemperate man: sound and wholesome sleep with a moderate man: he shall sleep till morning, and his soul shall be delighted with him. And if thou hast been forced to eat much, arise, go out, and vomit: and it shall refresh thee, and thou shalt not bring sickness upon thy body.)
The reader will be unsurprised to learn that, consequent upon the sage advice of this sapiential pericope, each cell has an attached vomitorium after the Roman mode (the ancients, they thought of everything).  Any errors in diet may thus decently be corrected, lest the Dormitionist charism be impeded.  How the wise Founders of the Order thought of everything!


(Photographs in this article are of Carthusian Charterhouses, sincee the Dormitionists do not yet permit photography, or "the production for pious ends of daguerreotypes and the like" – only two General Chapters, those of 1855 and 1931, have so far approved of this novelty; it is expected that the forthcoming General Chapter will give the necessary third approval.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nichols on Bulgakov on the Trihypostatic Divine Life

With quite some difficulty, for to comprehend the content, however lucidly put, is intellectually demanding, I have been reading Aidan Nichol’s book about the theology of the Russian Orthodox theologian Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944).  In doing so, I feel a little like St Jerome reading Rufinus’ presentation of the thoughts of Origen – without the sad breakdown of friendship consequent upon that, I hasten to add! for I was greatly pleased to meet the easily approachable and utterly unpretentious Fr Aidan some years ago, a man who carries his great learning with unassuming humility – since the somewhat unusual sophiological ideas of Bulgakov, even when presented most irenically, do sound more than a bit unorthodox to this rather rigid amateur theologian-cum-heresy-hunter.  

That said, this volume is a marvellously just and charitable presentation of the deep and difficult work of Bulgakov, a writer whom I have often wished to understand better with the aid of a sure and reliable guide: and in Fr Aidan, my prayer has been answered.  To shew how ecumenically his presentation has been received, his tome contains a Foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury (no mean Patristic scholar and theologian, howsoever some of his pronouncements on morals and ecclesiology may be viewed by Catholics) and a Preface by the noted Orthodox prelate, Bishop Kallistos Ware.  

For Trinity Sunday, I present some apposite extracts:

Who and what?
Th greatest of the names for God in the Old Testament is surely that found in the Book of Exodus, 3:14.  The Lord reveals his name to Moses as ‘I am He who is’.  Bulgakov begins his theology of the triune God from here.  As he points out, this divine name already implies that God is both a personal subject – ‘I am He’ – and has an objective nature – ‘who is’.  The distinction between being a subject, a ‘who’, and having a nature, a ‘what’, is of course something we are highly familiar with… In the Church’s tradition, the Tradition of the Fathers and the early Councils, we are told that the divine personality is three ‘hypostases’, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But we are also told that the divine personality has a single, unique nature, shared by no one else.  In God there is one being or nature – in Greek, the main language of the Fathers, one ousia.  In his single unique nature, God is the personal subject of a tri-hypostatic life.
The trihypostatic divine life
… Bulgakov wants to say something more about the three persons in God.  … he wants to introduce his theology of the three persons who are nonetheless one single personal being, our divine Creator.  The Lord God is supremely personal because he unites in himself all the modes in which the personal principle can find expression.  Not only ‘I’ but ‘thou’ or ‘you’ in the singular, and ‘he’, ‘we’ and’you’ in the plural.  The Father, for example, can say ‘I’ about himself, and ‘thou’ to, for instance, the Son.  And he can say ‘he’ of, for example, the Holy Spirit.  Then again, the Father and the Son can say ‘we’ together or the Father can say ‘you’ to the Son and the Spirit.  And this would work as well for any of the divine Three.  God is thus the fullness of personal awareness, a single personality in three mutually related centres.  From all eternity, he affirms himself in a Trinitarian fashion, which is to say not as a ‘unipersonal “I”’ but by the affirmation of each hypostasis in the others.  The divine personality realizes itself as the ‘source of self-renouncing love, entering into ecstasy [goes out of itself to find itself again] in another “I”’.

— Aidan Nichols, O.P., Wisdom from Above: A Primer in the Theology of Father Sergei Bulgakov (Leominster: Gracewing, 2005) 11 and 17.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Do I Do Penance or Not?

All men should do penance – myself not least.

Of course, Fridays not being solemnities are appointed days of penance by Holy Mother Church; and, in Australia, there is no obligation to fulfil this by abstaining from fleshmeat except on Good Friday (and also on Ash Wednesday), but some proportionate penance ought be done in order to fulfil this obligation.

That said, while on Friday I normally avoid eating meat in order thus to do an acceptable, traditionally hallowed penance of abstinence from flesh, but sometimes instead I spend some time in prayer – for a long time, I tended to say the Penitential Psalms for this purpose – if for whatever reason meat appears on the menu.

Now, in the more particular of the present case, do I or do I not need to do Friday penance this Friday?  Because, in the Office I pray, to-day is Ember Friday in the Octave of Pentecost, and is a first-class feast; but, as I have no 1962 Mass to attend, if I did go to church to-day it would be just a Friday in Ordinary Time (horrid term!).

As it is, while walking down to town earlier I used my new iPhone (free advertisement for Apple, please note – and yes, I use Apple for all my computing needs) to read Matins and Lauds according to the Roman Rite via Divinum Officium, that excellent website. Perhaps I'll say a bit more...  Hmmm, perhaps a Missa sicca... (I remember myself and a seminarian friend, years ago, who wickedly emailed our long-suffering theology lecturer to invite her to a pretend Dry Mass, complete with elevation of a "relic", actually an animal-bone: don't worry, it was all in good fun.)

It seems to me that I do follow the Extraordinary Form, so does that suffice to prove I'm not bound by the law of Friday penance to-day?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sacred Somniloquence and Sacred Somniloquy

Some amusing extracts from Robert Macnish's The Philosophy of Sleep (Glasgow: W.R. McPhun, 1834, 2nd ed.), pages 168f. and 182:
A case is related of an English clergyman who used to get up in the night, light his candle, write sermons, correct them with interlineations, and retire to bed again; being all the time asleep. The Archbishop of Bourdeaux mentions a similar case of a student, who got up to compose a sermon while asleep, wrote it correctly, read it over from one end to the other, or at least appeared to read it, made corrections on it, scratched out lines, and substituted others, put in its place a word which had been omitted, composed music, wrote it accurately down, and performed other things equally surprising. 
From what has been said of somnambulism, the reader will be prepared for phenomena equally curious as regards sleep-talking. Persons have been known, for instance, who delivered sermons and prayers during sleep; among others, Dr. Haycock, Professor of Medicine in Oxford. He would give out a text in his sleep, and deliver a good sermon upon it; nor could all the pinching and pulling of his friends prevent him. 
I am sure my friends the Dormitionists strive to out-do these performances.  I wonder if some of my Dominican friends do the same?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dormitionist Coat of Arms

Alongside its three mottoes – Requies (Rest); Dormire, Requiescere, Somniare ("To sleep, to rest, to dream", or, more poetically, "To sleep, perchance to dream"); and Dormire est orare – the Order of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that most retiring religious Order of Canons Regular contemplatives, is also blessed with   heraldic bearings most fitly representing its proper charism.  

Informally, these arms may be referred to as "black and blue and surrounded by spinning stars", but, as this seems somewhat unseemly in the vernacular, the correct blazon in the language of heraldry is instead "Party per pale sable and azure, a circle of seven mullets argent".  It will be at once evident how apt this is: for the black stands for sleep, the blue for Our Lady, and therefore the two together represent her in her Dormition, under which title she is primary patroness of this, her Order.

As for the seven stars, the three upper mark the Three Days' Sleep-in-Death of Our Lord in the Holy Sepulchre, while the four lower represent the four days St Lazarus (secondary patron of the Order) spent in the tomb; or again, all seven stars in a circle represent both the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, secondary co-patrons of the Order, and also that all seven days of the week, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Our Lord spent in the Tomb, and the Monday through to Thursday that it is posited Lazarus spent entombed, ought be consecrated to sleep: hence the term seven-sleeper, Siebenschläfer, for a zealous Dormitionist.

Again, as sable is related to Saturn, azure to Jupiter and argent to the Moon, there may be found in these arms an allusion to the myth of Endymion, at the behest of Selene lulled to endless sleep by Zeus or Jove; and sleep, as all men know, is somewhat related to a melancholy temperament, as represented by the influence of Saturn.  (It was, after all, common in mediæval times and the Renaissance to produce armorial bearings with such planetary and astrological significance.)

Sometimes – but by no means always – this shield may be accompanied by one or other of the Order's mottoes; and, especially in Baroque woodwork (as in the choir of Dormitionist churches), there may be carven supporters of the shield: to dexter and sinister, a bear and a cat, dormant (with head resting on fore-paws).

Brrrr: It's Cold

It isn't even 1°C yet, and it's nearly eleven o'clock in the morning!  The city is obscured by a thick blanket of fog.

Launceston in winter, especially due to the fog that hangs in the river valley, can be chill.

Even I've taken to wearing a jumper.

Walking up around the Gorge, deep in shade, with tendrils of mist hanging about, has been quite atmospheric...

Monday's temperature range was 0.3°C to 9.1°C; and Tuesday's: -1.1°C to 9.0°C (it only passed zero at 10am).

Meanwhile, high above, volcanic ash clouds from Chile are preventing most flights from reaching Tasmania.

Spare many prayers, moreover, for the people of Christchurch, again reeling after yet another powerful earthquake.  I mourn for that beautiful city.


P.S. The fog gradually cleared by noon, although the sky remained clouded over; at least, about three o'clock, the sun shone through for a time.  It reached just  8.0°C at four o'clock.  What a miserable chilly day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


In due remote preparation for the great feast of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, now rather under two months' hence (on the 27th of July), I first do encourage any and all who wish to keep the feast of "all the saints who are at Ephesus" (cf. Eph, i. 1), where the ruins of both their hiding-place and the later church built in their honour may be seen to this day, to note that, as this day is a feria in the Ordinary Form, and these Sleepers do in sober truth appear in the modern Roman Martyrology, it would be quite proper to have a priest celebrate a Votive in their honour.

Would-be Dormitionist Oblates, take heed!

Likewise, according to the 1962 Martyrology and Missal, this may licitly be done, saving only that there must be made a commemoration of St Pantaleon...

My ever-slumbering friends the Dormitionists have of course a great devotion to this sacred septemvirate of Christian youths, who outdid Epimenides in his slumbers, holy Rip van Winkles all, preserved, securely "hid with Christ in God", as once a hundred prophets of the Lord were secreted in caverns, safe from Jezebel's fury (cf. III Kings xviii, 4 and 13); and it is therefore unsurprising to find their liturgical calendar marked with this feast day of the Sleepers as a great solemnity, provided with a proper Mass, as given in the 1785 Missale O.Dorm. (hence the use of the long ess):
Miſſa Sanctorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi
Vade, populus meus, intra in cubicula tua; claude oſtia tua ſuper te, abſcondere modicum ad momentum, donec pertranſeat indignatio. (T.P. Alleluja, alleluja.) Ps. Et habebis fiduciam, propoſita tibi ſpe: et defoſſus ſecurus dormies. Gloria Patri. Sicut erat. Vade.
Gloria in excelsis.
Concede, quæſumus, omnipotens Deus: ut ad meliorem requiem beatorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi exempla nos provocent; quatenus, quorum memoriam agimus, etiam ſomnum imitemur. Per.
Lectio libri Regum.
In diebus illis: 
Elias perrexit in deſertum, viam unius diei. Cumque veniſſet, et ſederet ſubter unam juniperum, petivit animæ ſuæ ut moreretur, et ait: Sufficit mihi, Domine: tolle animam meam: neque enim melior ſum quam patres mei. Projecitque ſe, et obdormivit in umbra juniperi: et ecce angelus Domini tetigit eum, et dixit illi: Surge, et comede. Reſpexit, et ecce ad caput ſuum ſubcinericius panis, et vas aquæ: comedit ergo, et bibit, et rurſum obdormivit. Reverſuſque eſt angelus Domini ſecundo, et tetigit eum, dixitque illi: Surge, comede: grandis enim tibi reſtat via. Qui cum ſurrexiſſet, comedit et bibit, et ambulavit in fortitudine cibi illius quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus uſque ad montem Dei Horeb. Cumque veniſſet illuc, manſit in ſpelunca: et ecce ſermo Domini ad eum, dixitque illi: Quid hic agis, Elia? At ille reſpondit: Zelo zelatus ſum pro Domino Deo exercituum, quia dereliquerunt pactum tuum filii Iſraël: altaria tua deſtruxerunt, prophetas tuos occiderunt gladio, derelictus ſum ego ſolus, et quærunt animam meam ut auferant eam. Et ait ei: Egredere, et ſta in monte coram Domino: et ecce Dominus tranſit. Et ſpiritus grandis et fortis ſubvertens montes, et conterens petras, ante Dominum: non in ſpiritu Dominus. Et poſt ſpiritum commotio: non in commotione Dominus. Et poſt commotionem ignis: non in igne Dominus. Et poſt ignem ſibilus auræ tenuis. Quod cum audiſſet Elias, operuit vultum ſuum pallio, et egreſſus ſtetit in oſtio ſpeluncæ. Et ecce vox ad eum dicens: Quid hic agis, Elia? Et ille reſpondit: Zelo zelatus ſum pro Domino Deo exercituum, quia dereliquerunt pactum tuum filii Iſraël: altaria tua deſtruxerunt, prophetas tuos occiderunt gladio, derelictus ſum ego ſolus, et quærunt animam meam ut auferant eam. Et ait Dominus ad eum: Vade, et revertere in viam tuam per deſertum.
In deſertis habitabant torrentium, et in cavernis terræ, vel ſuper glaream. V/. Quibus dignus non erat mundus: in ſolitudinibus errantes, in montibus, in ſpeluncis, et in cavernis terræ.
TRACTUS (T. Sept. uſque ad Paſcha)
Si dormieris, non timebis; quieſces, et ſuavis erit ſomnus tuus. V/. Surge qui dormis, et exſurge a mortuis, et illuminabit te Chriſtus. V/. Ego dormivi, et ſoporatus ſum; et exſurrexi, quia Dominus ſuſcepit me.
Alleluja, alleluja. V/. Quod cum vidiſſent viri ſe in arcto poſitos (afflictus enim erat populus), abſconderunt ſe in ſpeluncis, et in abditis, in petris quoque, et in antris, et in ciſternis. Alleluja.
V/. Et deſcendens habitaverunt in ſpelunca petræ. Alleluja.
Sequentia ſancti Evangelii ſecundum Joannem.
In illo tempore:
Jeſus fremens in ſemetipſo, venit ad monumentum. Erat autem ſpelunca, et lapis ſuperpoſitus erat ei. Ait Jeſus: Tollite lapidem. Dicit ei Martha, ſoror ejus qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, jam fœtet, quatriduanus eſt enim. Dicit ei Jeſus: Nonne dixi tibi quoniam ſi credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Jeſus autem, elevatis ſurſum oculis, dixit: Pater, gratias ago tibi quoniam audiſti me. Ego autem ſciebam quia ſemper me audis, ſed propter populum qui circumſtat, dixi: ut credant quia tu me miſiſti. Hæc cum dixiſſet, voce magna clamavit: Lazare, veni foras. Et ſtatim prodiit qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes, et manus inſtitis, et facies illius ſudario erat ligata. Dixit eis Jeſus: Solvite eum et ſinite abire. Multi ergo ex Judæis, qui venerant ad Mariam, et Martham, et viderant quæ fecit Jeſus, crediderunt in eum. 
Penetrabo omnes inferiores partes terræ, et inſpiciam omnes dormientes, et illuminabo omnes ſperantes in Domino. (T.P. Alleluia.)
Pro honore beatorum famulorum tuorum Dormientium, hoſtiam, Domine, ſuſcipe benignus oblatam: ut hoc ſacrificio ſingulari, etiam nos requiem mereamur æternam. Per.
Multa corpora ſanctorum, qui dormierant, ſurrexerunt, et exeuntes de monumentis venerunt in civitatem, et apparuerunt multis. (T.P. Alleluia.)
Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: ut, quos tuis reficis ſacramentis, intercedentibus beatis ſeptem Dormientibus, tibi etiam placitis ſomnis dignanter tribuas deſervire. Per.
In English translation:
Mass of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
OFFICE [i.e. INTROIT] (Isaias xxvi, 20; Job xi, 18)
Go, my people, enter into thy chambers, shut thy doors upon thee, hide thyself a little for a moment, until the indignation pass away. (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. And thou shalt have confidence, hope being set before thee, and being buried thou shalt sleep secure. Glory be… As it was… Go, my people… 
Gloria in excelsis...
Concede, we beg, almighty God: that the example of the blessed seven Sleepers of Ephesus may summon us to a better rest; that we may even imitate their repose whose memory we keep. Through...
EPISTLE (III Kings xix, 4-15a)
A Lesson from the Book of the Kings.
In those days:
Elias went forward, one day's journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord, take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers. And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat. He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb. And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave: and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way through the desert.
GRADUAL RESPONSORY (Job xxx, 6; Hebrews xi, 38)
They dwelt in the desert places of torrents, and in caves of earth, or upon the gravel. V/. Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.
TRACT from Sept. until Easter (Proverbs iii, 24; Ephesians v, 14b; Psalm iii, 6)
If thou sleep, thou shalt not fear: thou shalt rest, and thy sleep shall be sweet. V/. Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee. V/. I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me.
ALLELUIA (I Kings xiii, 6)
Alleluia, alleluia. V/. And when the men saw that they were straitened, (for the people were distressed,) they hid themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in dens, and in pits. Alleluia.
2nd ALLELUIA (P.T) (Cf. Judges xv, 8b)
V/. And going down they dwelt in a cavern of the rock. Alleluia.
GOSPEL (St John xi, 38-45)
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to John.
At that time:
Jesus groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him, and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews, who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him. 
OFFERTORY (Ecclesiasticus xxiv, 45)
I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth, and will behold all that sleep, and will enlighten all that hope in the Lord. (P.T. Alleluia.)
For the honour of thy blessed servants the Sleepers, Lord, benignly accept the offered host: that by this one sacrifice, we also may merit eternal rest.  Through.
COMMUNION (Cf. Matthew xxvii, 52b-53)
Many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs came into the city, and appeared to many. (P.T. Alleluia.)
Bowing low we pray thee, almighty God: that we, whom thou refreshest by thy sacraments, by the intercession of the blessed seven Sleepers, thou also mayest grant worthily to serve thee by pleasing sleeps. Through.
It will be seen that the chants of the Mass refer to the various incidental details in the legend of the Seven Sleepers, while the Epistle and Gospel refer to Scriptural types and foreshadowings of them: to Elias, hiding in a cave from wicked Jezebel; and to St Lazarus, who slept four long days in a cave in the earth ere his return to this mortal life, to the end that those beholding him should be converted and saved.

In German lands, the weather on the Sleeper's feast day, the 27th of July, is held to be a herald of the weather to be expected for the next seven weeks: hence the special devotion attached, even to-day, to Siebenschläfertag.  Be prepared for it!

Snowy Mountains

One pleasure of the austral winter is the sight of snow on the high peaks: flying back into Launceston on Thursday I was able to catch a glimpse of snow on the Great Western Tiers (the escarpment descending from the Central Plateau), and, the last few days having been mainly fine, cool and clear, the sight of white snows shining from afar on two of the three eastern heights visible from home, Mount Barrow and Ben Lomond (the latter an alpine plateau containing the second-highest peak in the State) has been delightful – apparently, it's been one of the best start-of-season snowfalls in decades, and the skiing should soon begin.  Only Mount Arthur, northernmost and lowest at 1188 metres, showed but a tiny scatter of snow.

I drove up to the top of Trevallyn Hill on Friday, and took these (rather poor) images of the two snowclad giants:

Mount Barrow, 1413 m high and about 46 km away

Ben Lomond, maximum height 1570 m and about 50 km away

Because of snowfall in the highlands, and down to lower altitudes in the North-east (dusting Scottsdale and other towns), there are floodwaters from snowmelt coming down some of the rivers, and so the Cataract Gorge is in flood again already, as the Trevallyn dam's impoundment is reduced to its minimum level to cope with this influx.  I had a pleasant walk through the Gorge yester-day, and a coffee, enjoying the spectacle of the onrushing torrent.

24th Anniversary

I was baptized, confirmed and houselled on Pentecost Sunday, 1987.

Each year, I keep the anniversary on the feast day rather than the actual date (which was the 7th of June); and I pray the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to have mercy on me a sinner and fill me full of gifts and graces, that I may be saved.  What a backslider I've been!  Thank God for confession.

For all God's goodness, unmeritable and unrepayable, I say a heartfelt Gloria Patri; for that most precious gift of divine faith infused into my soul, whereby I cannot but believe, I repeat the Apostles' Creed; for all needful petitions, Kyrie eleïsonPater and Ave.

I implore, too, the intercessions of St Joshua (my namesake), of St Stephen (my confirmation saint) and of St Sabbas (patron of this blog).

To-day I served Mass at my local parish (looking across from the north side of the sanctuary toward the southern, where the font stands in which I was made a Christian).  By order of the Bishops, the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers have now come into use from this day onwards, so we were treated to the Roman Canon in a faithful, reverent version – and the sermon was all about the Canon too, as a gift of the Spirit itself, re-gifted us in this form!

Very kindly, Father made mention of this significance of this feast for me; of your charity, dear reader, I beg you to spare a pray for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gates of Horn and Ivory

It is, of course, quite licit to pray to dream.  "To sleep, perchance to dream..."  It is, furthermore, only rational to pray not to be deceived, but rather to be enlightened by one’s dreams – to pass through the gate of horn, not of ivory.
Two gates the silent house of Sleep adorn;
Of polish'd ivory this, that of transparent horn:
True visions thro' transparent horn arise;
Thro' polish'd ivory pass deluding lies.    
—Virgil's Æneid 893ff., as translated by Dryden.
The ancients spoke of Sleep (Somnus, or Hypnos) as the son of Night (Nox, or Nyx), and as having three sons, being metaphorically Dreams (Somnia, or Oneiroi): Morpheus, standing for true dreams; Phobetor, representing for fearful dreams and nightmares; and Phantasus (Phantasos), personification of fantasies.  Now, dreams may arise from merely natural causes; or may be caused, directly or indirectly, by God or the devil.

As the Dormitionists aver, following a curious Renaissance treatise expressed in such quaint terms, when in the Land of Dreams, sleeping the sleep of Endymion at the command of Father Jove while loving Selene smiles down, trust Morpheus always, sometimes heed the warnings of Phobetor, but never believe the fancies of Phantasus — that is, sleeping the sleep of the just at God's behest under the care of Holy Mary, trust in truthful dreams, with discernment discover any warnings that appear in frightening form, but fly dreams that are improper or merely fanciful. 

Aquinas, quoting from Numbers 12:6, and thereby alluding to its use as the Introit for the Dormitionist Mass for the gift of dreams, poses the question in his Summa Theologiæ, II-II, xcv, 6, Is it licit to seek for such?  He distinguishes as becomes a Scholastic, answering that 
...dreams are sometimes the cause of future occurrences; for instance, when a person's mind becomes anxious through what it has seen in a dream and is thereby led to do something or avoid something: while sometimes dreams are signs of future happenings, in so far as they are referable to some common cause of both dreams and future occurrences, and in this way the future is frequently known from dreams. 
...sometimes the inward cause of dreams regards the body: because the inward disposition of the body leads to the formation of a movement in the imagination consistent with that disposition; thus a man in whom there is abundance of cold humors dreams that he is in the water or snow: and for this reason physicians say that we should take note of dreams in order to discover internal dispositions.  
The spiritual cause is sometimes referable to God, Who reveals certain things to men in their dreams by the ministry of the angels, according to Numbers 12:6, "If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream." 
Accordingly we must say that there is no unlawful divination in making use of dreams for the foreknowledge of the future, so long as those dreams are due to divine revelation, or to some natural cause inward or outward, and so far as the efficacy of that cause extends.
This testimony was vital to the Dormitionist Order (always glad of Dominican support), when the Council of Trent was rooting out abuses of the Holy Mass: for, by demonstrating from Holy Writ and the Summa that there is a godly and devout use to be made of dreams, and that therefore one may licitly pray for them, the Dormitionist Mass for the gift of dreams was allowed to remain in their Missal, while many other pretended Masses for this and that were expunged from other Mass-books.

However, the better to guard against possible misuse or lapse into superstition, it was directed by three successive General Chapters (those of 1555, 1636 and 1703) that the Mass for the gift of dreams may only be used once a month, unless there be a grave cause (such as an impending General Chapter), and only with the permission of the local superior (the Somniac); furthermore, before its celebration, the celebrant must kneel and pray the psalm Miserere, the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, and thrice repeat the admonitory antiphon Nisi ab Altissimo fuerit emissa visitatio, ne dederis in somnia cor tuum (“Except it be a vision sent forth from the most High, set not thy heart upon dreams”).  For the same reason, the rather quaint and curious (some would say theologically dubious) mediæval orations of the original Mass were replaced with the undoubtedly orthodox Collect, Secret and Postcommunion of the Holy Ghost, together with His Preface, for the avoidance of all error.

It may be asked, Why was it needful to await the decree of three General Chapters in this matter?  The answer is that, like the younger Dominican Order, the Dormitionists are serious about democratic decision-making.  Indeed, they take it further: no decisions at all may be made unless passed by three General Chapters; and these are held but once a sæculum – an old Roman measure of time (once used to determine when to hold the ancient Secular Games), adapted by these prudent Canons Regular to signify that a new General Chapter may only be held once all who were in holy religion at the time of the last, are dead.

This wondrously wise arrangement effectually prevents hasty decision-making.  For example, the impending thirteenth General Chapter (expected to be summoned almost daily, given that the renowned Somniator Canon Serapion, the last living Dormitionist who remembers the twelfth, held in 1931, is presently in a coma, aged 106) will, it is confidently expected, at last approve the insertion of the word “Immaculate” before “Conception” in the Missal and Office, given that this measure was passed unanimously in both the twelfth and the eleventh, held in 1855.

Similarly, the brethren look forward with expectant relief to at last having permission to use “steam locomotives and other mechanical conveyances” (for they are currently restricted to horse-drawn transport and sailing ships for travel to the General Chapter) and “the electric telegraph and suchlike apparatus” (which, it is understood, includes wireless internet); but it will not be till very late this century, once not only the forthcoming thirteenth, but the succeeding fourteenth General Chapter (it is hoped) give final approval to the resolution of 1931 that the feasts of the Sacred Heart and Christ the King be inserted in the Missal (last published, 1785).

For the same reason, it will be at the thirteenth General Chapter (perhaps this year, perhaps next) that the Dormitionist Canons will consider their response to Vatican II – a discussion which will no doubt rely upon the hermeneutic of continuity espoused by (and be of interest to) Pope Benedict XVI – but any decisions proposed will not be made law in the Order until two more General Chapters have agreed thereto, sometime in the twenty-second century, or perhaps just in time for the millennium of the Order.  Won't that be nice?

The Order of the Dormition believes most staunchly in the suffrages of the dead: for they hold the majority of votes, as it were.  (Only the very first, the Most General Chapter of 1199, held by the triumvirate of the Soporific Fathers, Founders under God of the Order, had plenary power, conceded by Pope Innocent III, to determine the Rule, once for all.)

Before, then, giving the Proper of the Mass for the gift of dreams, it ought be mentioned that the General Chapter is attended by the most proficient sleeper (and therefore, most usually the Somniac himself, or else one of the senior somniferous Canons) from each Dorter or Dormitory, according to the principle that these are best suited to maintaining the primitive charism of the Order, and by gathering them together to conserve and protect the same by wise legislation, “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” and “your old men shall dream dreams”, that is, receive supernatural guidance – and therefore  it is customarily prayed for the good success of the General Chapter, that the capitulars indeed will dream dreams.  Is not that what is to be expected of any General Chapter?

The Order is, therefore, a perfect somnocracy.

(Again, note that the 1785 Missale O.Dorm. employs the long ess.)
Miſſa pro gratia ſomniorum
Veni Creator Spiritus…
Aña. Niſi ab Altiſſimo fuerit emiſſa viſitatio, ne dederis in ſomnia cor tuum. (iij)
Audite ſermones meos: ſi quis fuerit inter vos propheta Domini, in viſione apparebo ei, vel per ſomnium loquar ad illum. (T.P. Alleluja, alleluja.)
Ps. Propheta qui habet ſomnium, narret ſomnium: et qui habet ſermonem meum, loquatur ſermonem meum vere.
Gloria Patri… Sicut erat…
Deus qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illuſtratione docuiſti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta ſapere, et de ejus ſemper conſolatione gaudere.  Per… in unitate ejuſdem…
Lectio libri Regum.
In diebus illis:
Apparuit autem Dominus Salomoni per ſomnium nocte, dicens: Poſtula quod vis ut dem tibi. Et ait Salomon: Tu feciſti cum ſervo tuo David patre meo miſericordiam magnam, ſicut ambulavit in conſpectu tuo in veritate et juſtitia, et recto corde tecum: cuſtodiſti ei miſericordiam tuam grandem, et dediſti ei filium ſedentem ſuper thronum ejus, ſicut eſt hodie. Et nunc Domine Deus, tu regnare feciſti ſervum tuum pro David patre meo: ego autem ſum puer parvulus, et ignorans egreſſum et introitum meum. Et ſervus tuus in medio eſt populi quem elegiſti, populi infiniti, qui numerari et ſupputari non poteſt præ multitudine. Dabis ergo ſervo tuo cor docile, ut populum tuum judicare poſſit, et diſcernere inter bonum et malum. Quis enim poterit judicare populum iſtum, populum tuum hunc multum? Placuit ergo ſermo coram Domino, quod Salomon poſtulaſſet hujuſcemodi rem. Et dixit Dominus Salomoni: Quia poſtulaſti verbum hoc, et non petiſti tibi dies multos, nec divitias, aut animas inimicorum tuorum, ſed poſtulaſti tibi ſapientiam ad diſcernendum judicium: ecce feci tibi ſecundum ſermones tuos, et dedi tibi cor ſapiens et intelligens, in tantum ut nullus ante te ſimilis tui fuerit, nec poſt te ſurrecturus ſit. Sed et hæc quæ non poſtulaſti, dedi tibi: divitias ſcilicet, et gloriam, ut nemo fuerit ſimilis tui in regibus cunctis retro diebus. Si autem ambulaveris in viis meis, et cuſtodieris præcepta mea et mandata mea, ſicut ambulavit pater tuus, longos faciam dies tuos. Igitur evigilavit Salomon, et intellexit quod eſſet ſomnium: cumque veniſſet Jeruſalem, ſtetit coram arca fœderis Domini, et obtulit holocauſta, et fecit victimas pacificas, et grande convivium univerſis famulis ſuis.
Vidi ſomnium, a Deo facta ſunt iſta. V/. Recordatus ſum ſomnii quod videram, hæc eadem ſignificantis: nec eorum quidquam irritum fuit.
Alleluja, alleluja. V/. Dixitque ad eos: Audite ſomnium meum quod vidi. Alleluja.
Semel loquitur Deus, et ſecundo idipſum non repetit. V/. Per ſomnium, in viſione nocturna, quando irruit ſopor ſuper homines, et dormiunt in lectulo. V/. Tunc aperit aures virorum, et erudiens eos inſtruit diſciplina.
V/. Somnium vidi, quod perterruit me: et cogitationes meæ in ſtrato meo, et viſiones capitis mei conturbaverunt me. Alleluja.
Sequitur ſancti Evangelii ſecundum Matthæum.
In illo tempore:
Ecce angelus Domini apparuit in ſomnis Joſeph, dicens: Surge, et accipe puerum, et matrem ejus, et fuge in Ægyptum, et eſto ibi uſque dum dicam tibi. Futurum eſt enim ut Herodes quærat puerum ad perdendum eum. Qui conſurgens accepit puerum et matrem ejus nocte, et ſeceſſit in Ægyptum: et erat ibi uſque ad obitum Herodis: ut adimpleretur quod dictum eſt a Domino per prophetam dicentem: Ex Ægypto vocavi filium meum. Defuncto autem Herode, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in ſomnis Joſeph in Ægypto, dicens: Surge, et accipe puerum, et matrem ejus, et vade in terram Iſraël: defuncti ſunt enim qui quærebant animam pueri. Qui conſurgens, accepit puerum, et matrem ejus, et venit in terram Iſraël. Audiens autem quod Archelaus regnaret in Judæa pro Herode patre ſuo, timuit illo ire: et admonitus in ſomnis, ſeceſſit in partes Galilææ. Et veniens habitavit in civitate quæ vocatur Nazareth: ut adimpleretur quod dictum eſt per prophetas: Quoniam Nazaræus vocabitur.
Et erit in noviſſimis diebus, dicit Dominus, effundam de Spiritu meo ſuper omnem carnem: et prophetabunt filii veſtri et filiæ veſtræ, et juvenes veſtri viſiones videbunt, et ſeniores veſtri ſomnia ſomniabunt. (T.P. Alleluja.)
Munera, quæſumus, Domine, oblata ſanctifica: et corda noſtra Sancti Spiritus illuſtratione emunda.  Per… in unitate ejuſdem… 
Prefatio de Spiritu Sancto. 
Expoſito digno fide ſomnio, per quod univerſos lætificavit. (T.P. Alleluja.)
Sancti Spiritus, Domine, corda noſtra mundet infuſio: et ſui roris intima aſperſione fœcundet. Per… in unitate ejuſdem…
And, in English:
Mass for the Gift of Dreams  
Miserere (Psalm 50)
Veni Creator Spiritus...
Ant., thrice: Except it be a vision sent forth from the most High, set not thy heart upon dreams. (Cf. Ecclus 34:6b, 7a)
OFFICE (Numbers xii, 6b; Jeremias xxiii, 28a)
Hear my words: if there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream. (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream: and he that hath my word, let him speak my word with truth. Glory be… As it was… Hear my words…
O God, Who taught the hearts of the faithful by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, grant unto us in that same Spirit to relish what is right, and ever to rejoice in His consolation.  Through… in the unity of the same…
EPISTLE (III Kings iii, 5-15)
A Lesson from the Book of Kings.
In those days:
And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, saying: Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee. And Solomon said: Thou hast shewn great mercy to thy servant David my father, even as he walked before thee in truth, and justice, and an upright heart with thee: and thou hast kept thy great mercy for him, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a child, and know not how to go out and come in. And thy servant is in the midst of the people which thou hast chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, and discern between good and evil. For who shall be able to judge this people, thy people which is so numerous? And the word was pleasing to the Lord that Solomon had asked such a thing. And the Lord said to Solomon: Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life or riches, nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern judgment, behold I have done for thee according to thy words, and have given thee a wise and understanding heart, insomuch that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee. Yea and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee: to wit riches and glory, as that no one hath been like thee among the kings in all days heretofore. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts, and my commandments, as thy father walked, I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awaked, and perceived that it was a dream: and when he was come to Jerusalem, he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered holocausts, and sacrificed victims of peace offerings, and made a great feast for all his servants.
GRADUAL RESPONSORY (Judges vii, 13a; Esther x, 4b-5)
I dreamt a dream, God hath done these things. V/. I remember a dream that I saw, which signified these same things: and nothing thereof hath failed.
ALLELUIA (Genesis xxxvii, 6)
Alleluia, alleluia. V/. And he said to them: Hear my dream which I dreamed. Alleluia.
TRACT from Septuagesima till Easter (Job xxxiii, 14-16)
God speaketh once, and repeateth not the selfsame thing the second time. V/. By a dream in a vision by night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, and they are sleeping in their beds. V/. Then he openeth the ears of men, and teaching instructeth them in what they are to learn.
2nd ALLELUIA in Eastertide (Daniel iv, 2)
V/. I saw a dream that affrighted me: and my thoughts in my bed, and the visions of my head troubled me. Alleluia.
GOSPEL (St Matthew ii, 13b-15 and 19-23)
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time:
Behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child. Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by prophets: That he shall be called a Nazarene.
OFFERTORY (Acts ii, 17)
And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord,) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (P.T. Alleluia.)
Sanctify, we beg, Lord, the offered gifts: and by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, amend our hearts.  Through… in the unity of the same… 
Preface of the Holy Ghost. 
COMMUNION (II Machabees xv, 11b)
He told them a dream worthy to be believed, whereby he rejoiced them all. (P.T. Alleluia.)
May the infusion of the Holy Ghost, Lord, cleanse our hearts: and by the inward sprinking of His dew may they be fruitful.  Through… in the unity of the same…
It will be seen how the appointed lessons concern the dream of Solomon and the dreams of St Joseph, models of the sort of dreams that are truly sent from God.  Thus far the Mass for the gift of dreams — which is said, unlike the Mass for sleep, in red vestments, to rightly honour the Holy Ghost.