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.

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