Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mozarabic Wednesday

Place yourself at Toledo: in the cathedral’s Mozarabic Rite chapel the faithful, silent, stand; silently, at this penitential season, the priest and his ministers advance to God’s altar; still without speaking, the priest bows awhile in prayer, then ascends the altar steps, kisses it, and goes to stand at his seat, where at length he first opens his mouth and salutes the congregation.  All attend to the readings that now begin.  A lector reads out the first lessson at the lectern; after he finishes, another takes his place.  The Old Testament lessons ended, the choir chants; a third lector reads the Epistle.  Next the deacon, with cerifers and thurifer, proceeds to the lectern to read the Gospel, first saluting the people (who stand in reverence), then censing the sacred volume.  The deacon having ended, then the priest having preached, again the choir sings God’s praises.  Next would come the offering of the Sacrifice…

But let us at the least unite ourselves to the Mass at Toledo by some participation in the Service of the Word, before in prayer making a spiritual communion as our devotion suggests.

In the second lesson, to-day we leap ahead to Moses in his forty-day fast atop Mount Sinai in presence of the Lord God Almighty – clearly chosen in allusion to our own Lenten fast, which we undertake that, freed somewhat from earthly food and drink, we may thirst after spiritual nourishment, and so seek the Lord Who draweth nigh.

After this passage the choir sings the first of the Threni, the songs of lamentation sung by Holy Mother Church in this time of penance, adapting the words of mourning of the prophet as he wept tears over the ruin of Jerusalem, that we might weep for our sins, unworthy sinners that we are.  As Our Lord warned, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”  Mourn, priest and people!


Wednesday in the first week of Lent
Feria IV in prima hebdomada Quadragesimæ 

Sapiential Lesson: Proverbs 13,22-14,11
Historical Lection: Exodus 34,27-34
Threni: Cf. Lamentations 1,1: Jeremias 9,1;14,17; Lam. 2,19;1,5; Jer. 5,6
Apostle: James 1,22-25
Gospel: St John 1,29-34
Laudes: Psalm 70,23a.22a 

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

A Lesson from the Book of Proverbs. R/. Thanks be to God.

The good man leaveth heirs, sons, and grandsons: and the substance of the sinner is kept for the just. Much food is in the tillage of fathers: but for others it is gathered without judgment. He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes. The just eateth and filleth his soul: but the belly of the wicked is never to be filled. A wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish will pull down with her hands that also which is built. He that walketh in the right way, and feareth God, is despised by him that goeth by an infamous way. In the mouth of a fool is the rod of pride: but the lips of the wise preserve them. Where there are no oxen, the crib is empty: but where there is much corn, there the strength of the ox is manifest. A faithful witness will not lie: but a deceitful witness uttereth a lie. A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: the learning of the wise is easy. Go against a foolish man, and he knoweth not the lips of prudence. The wisdom of a. discreet man is to understand his way: and the imprudence of fools erreth. A fool will laugh at sin, but among the just grace shall abide. The heart that knoweth the bitterness of his own soul, in his joy the stranger shall not intermeddle. The house of the wicked shall be destroyed: but the tabernacles of the just shall flourish.
R/. Amen.

A Lesson from the Book of Exodus. R/. Thanks be to God.

In those days: 
The Lord said to Moses: Write these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant. And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them. And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord in mount Sinai. And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face. But when he went in to the Lord, and spoke with him, he took it away until he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel all things that had been commanded him.
R/. Amen.

It happened, after Israel was led captive, and since Jerusalem was desolate, Jeremias the Prophet sat weeping and lamenteth this lament before God, and said:
V/. Who will give water to my head, and open a fountain of tears to my eyes, that I will weep day and night for wounds of my soul?
V/. I will pour out tears like water before the face of my God; I will lift up my hands to God for the remedy of my sins.
V/. On account of the multitude of my iniquity, for my transgressions are multiplied.

The Epistle of the Apostle James to the Twelve Tribes. R/. Thanks be to God.

Dearly beloved:
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.
R/. Amen.

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

A Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to John. R/. Glory to Thee, O Lord.

The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.
R/. Amen.

My lips shall greatly rejoice, when I shall sing to thee. * And my soul which thou hast redeemed.
V/. For I will also confess to thee thy truth with the instruments of psaltery, O God, I will sing to thee * And my soul which thou hast redeemed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mozarabic Tuesday

Place yourself at Toledo: in the cathedral’s Mozarabic Rite chapel the faithful, silent, stand; silently, at this penitential season, the priest and his ministers advance to God’s altar; still without speaking, the priest bows awhile in prayer, then ascends the altar steps, kisses it, and goes to stand at his seat, where at length he first opens his mouth and salutes the congregation.  All attend to the readings that now begin.  A lector reads out the first lessson at the lectern; after he finishes, another takes his place.  The Old Testament lessons ended, the choir chants; a third lector reads the Epistle.  Next the deacon, with cerifers and thurifer, proceeds to the lectern to read the Gospel, first saluting the people (who stand in reverence), then censing the sacred volume.  The deacon having ended, then the priest having preached, again the choir sings God’s praises.  Next would come the offering of the Sacrifice…

But let us at the least unite ourselves to the Mass at Toledo by some participation in the Service of the Word, before in prayer making a spiritual communion as our devotion suggests.


Tuesday in the first week of Lent
Feria III in prima hebdomada Quadragesimæ 

Sapiential Lesson: Proverbs 6,1-8
Historical Lection: Genesis 12,1-20
Psallendum: Psalm 132,1-2
Apostle: James 1,13-21
Gospel: St John 1,15-28
Laudes: Psalm 62,4.5-6 

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

A Lesson from the Book of Proverbs. R/. Thanks be to God.

My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, thou hast engaged fast thy hand to a stranger. Thou art ensnared with the words of thy mouth, and caught with thy own words. Do therefore, my son, what I say, and deliver thyself: because thou art fallen into the hand of thy neighbour. Run about, make haste, stir up thy friend: give not sleep to thy eyes, neither let thy eyelids slumber. Deliver thyself as a doe from the hand, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler. Go to the ant, O sluggard, and consider her ways, and learn wisdom: which, although she hath no guide, nor master, nor captain, provideth her meat for herself in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
R/. Amen.

A Lesson from the Book of Genesis. R/. Thanks be to God.

In those days: 
the Lord said to Abram: Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father's house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed. So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him: Abram was seventy-five years old when he went forth from Haran. And he took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all the substance which they had gathered, and the souls which they had gotten in Haran: and they went out to go into the land of Chanaan. And when they were come into it, Abram passed through the country into the place of Sichem, as far as the noble vale: now the Chanaanite was at that time in the land. And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him: To thy seed will I give this land. And he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And passing on from thence to a mountain, that was on the east side of Bethel, he there pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east; he built there also an altar to the Lord, and called upon his name. And Abram went forward, going, and proceeding on to the south. And there came a famine in the country; and Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there: for the famine was very grievous in the land. And when he was near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife: I know that thou art a beautiful woman: and that when the Egyptians shall see thee, they will say: She is his wife: and they will kill me, and keep thee. Say, therefore, I pray thee, that thou art my sister: that I may be well used for thee, and that my soul may live for thy sake. And when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians saw the woman that she was very beautiful. And the princes told Pharao, and praised her before him: and the woman was taken into the house of Pharao. And they used Abram well for her sake. And he had sheep and oxen, and he asses, and men servants and maid servants, and she asses, and camels. But the Lord scourged Pharao and his house with most grievous stripes for Sarai, Abram's wife. And Pharao called Abram, and said to him: What is this that thou hast done to me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? For what cause didst thou say, she was thy sister, that I might take her to my wife? Now, therefore, there is thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharao gave his men orders concerning Abram: and they led him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
R/. Amen.

R/. Behold how good and * How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. 
V/. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron: * How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity.

The Epistle of the Apostle James to the Twelve Tribes. R/. Thanks be to God.

Dearly beloved: 
Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man. But every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. Then when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death. Do not err, therefore, my dearest brethren. Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creatures. You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. Wherefore casting away all uncleanness, and abundance of naughtiness, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
R/. Amen.

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

A Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to John. R/. Glory to Thee, O Lord.

John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me. And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
R/. Amen.

Lord, thee my lips shall praise. * Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.
V/. Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness: and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. * Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mozarabic Monday

Lent in the Mozarabic Rite really begins on the Monday after the 1st Sunday, since that Mass is still festal, its chants adorned with manifold alleluia.  The old Spanish Lent, therefore, was as it were a tithe of the year.  Now, picture the scene.

Place yourself at Toledo: in the cathedral’s Mozarabic Rite chapel the faithful, silent, stand; silently, at this penitential season, the priest and his ministers advance to God’s altar; still without speaking, the priest bows awhile in prayer, then ascends the altar steps, kisses it, and goes to stand at his seat, where at length he first opens his mouth and salutes the congregation.  All attend to the readings that now begin.  A lector reads out the first lessson at the lectern; after he finishes, another takes his place.  The Old Testament lessons ended, the choir chants; a third lector reads the Epistle.  Next the deacon, with cerifers and thurifer, proceeds to the lectern to read the Gospel, first saluting the people (who stand in reverence), then censing the sacred volume.  The deacon having ended, then the priest having preached, again the choir sings God’s praises.  Next would come the offering of the Sacrifice…

But let us at the least unite ourselves to the Mass at Toledo by some participation in the Service of the Word, before in prayer making a spiritual communion as our devotion suggests.

Today, Lent opens with a splendid contrast: despite Wisdom’s warnings, transpires the Fall of Man – but “the time to have mercy has come” and, being reminded that “blessed is the man that endureth temptation”, we next hear with inexpressible joy of the Incarnation of the Word, come to deliver and save! “All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him.”


Mass of the Fast of Monday opening Lent
Missa jejunii de II feria inchoante Quadragesimæ 

Sapiential Lesson: Proverbs 2,1-9
Historical Lection: Genesis 3,1-19
Psallendum: Psalm 101,14-15
Apostle: James 1,1-12
Gospel: St John 1,1-14
Laudes: Psalm 21,24.27 

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

A Lesson from the Book of Proverbs. R/. Thanks be to God.

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and wilt hide my commandments with thee, that thy ear may hearken to wisdom: Incline thy heart to know prudence: for if thou shalt call for wisdom, and incline thy heart to prudence: if thou shalt seek her as money, and shalt dig for her as for a treasure: then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and shalt find the knowledge of God.  Because the Lord giveth wisdom: and out of his mouth cometh prudence and knowledge.  He will keep the salvation of the righteous, and protect them that walk in simplicity.  Keeping the paths of justice, and guarding the ways of saints.  Then shalt thou understand justice, and judgment, and equity, and every good path.
R/. Amen.

A Lesson from the Book of Genesis. R/. Thanks be to God.

In those days:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?  And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.  And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death.  For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.  And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.  And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou?  And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.  And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?  And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.  I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.  To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee.  And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.  Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth.  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.
R/. Amen.

R/. Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion: * For it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come.
V/. For the stones thereof have pleased thy servants: and they shall have pity on the earth thereof. * For it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come.

The beginning of the Epistle of the Apostle James to the Twelve Tribes. R/. Thanks be to God.

James the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.  My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.  But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind.  Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is inconstant in all his ways.  But let the brother of low condition glory in his exaltation: and the rich, in his being low; because as the flower of the grass shall he pass away. For the sun rose with a burning heat, and parched the grass, and the flower thereof fell off, and the beauty of the shape thereof perished: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive a crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.
R/. Amen.

The Lord be ever with you. R/. And with thy spirit.

The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to John. R/. Glory to Thee, O Lord.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
R/. Amen.

Ye that fear the Lord, praise him: * In the midst of the church. 
V/.  They shall praise the Lord that seek him: * In the midst of the church.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Psalms of the Passion: A Lenten Devotion

We have mediæval warrants for considering Psalms 21 to 30, verse 6 (in the Vulgate and Septuagint enumeration) as Psalms of the Passion, eminently suitable as prayers for the days of Lent, and especially for Fridays, for Passiontide, and of course for Good Friday.  (In that spirit, I prayed them this morning.)

According to Honorius of Autun, Gemma animæ, Liturgica, cap. 83: De tragœdiis:
“Decem namque psalmos, scilicet a Deus meus respice usque In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum cantavit, et sic expiravit.”  [“For He sang ten Psalms, that is, from the Deus meus respice to In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum, and then died.”]

And likewise in Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, lib. 6, cap. 77, n. 11:
“Quia vero Christus in cruce pendens prolixe oravit decantans decimos Psalmos scilicet: Deus, Deus meus, respice in me, usque ad: In te Domine speravi, cum pervenisset ad locum illum: In manus tuas Domine, illo dicto emisit spiritum”. [“For truly Christ hanging on the cross abundantly prayed singing ten Psalms, that is: God, my God, look upon me, until: In thee, Lord, have I hoped, when he had come to that place: Into thy hands, Lord, having said that He gave up the ghost.”]

The Passion Psalms, or Psalms of the Passion, consist of Psalms 21 to 30:1-6.  These ten psalms have in total 151 verses, which may be divided into three “hours” (so named for the three hours Christ hung on the Cross), equivalent in length to three nocturns as at Matins, consisting of the 53 verses of the first three psalms (Pss 21-23), then the 55 verses of the next three psalms (Pss 24-26), then the 43 verses of the last four psalms (the three full Psalms 27-29, plus the six opening verses of Ps 30).  By analogy with the practice during the Paschal Triduum, none of the psalms would be said with Gloria Patri.

Not all these psalms refer directly to Christ's Passion: for mingled with such prophecies as in Psalm 21 “All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head; He hoped in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he delighteth in him” (verses 8 and 9) – evidently representing the very words of the bystanders and the proud, cruel Scribes and Pharisees as they mocked at Christ Crucified – are foretellings of His Resurrection (Psalm 29, verse 4 and 6: “Thou hast brought forth, O Lord, my soul from hell... In the evening weeping... and in the morning gladness”) and Ascension (Psalm 23, verses 3 and 7: “Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in his holy place?... the King of Glory shall enter”), the salvation of the world and the conversion of the Gentiles (“All the ends of the earth... shall be converted to the Lord” – the same psalm, verse 28), and the singing of His glories down all following ages.

Christ, innocent as he was, was made sin for us, as the Apostle dares to declare: in this spirit we read “The sins of my youth and my ignorance do not remember... pardon my sin for it is great... forgive me all my sins” (Psalm 24, verses 7, 11 and 18) – Christ, the sinless Man, suffers vicariously to expiate the crimes of sinful men; for He alone, being God, is able to offer Himself as an atoning sacrifice.  Again, he declares against the detestable “council of vanity... the doers of unjust things... the assembly of the malignant... the wicked” (Psalm 25, verses 4 and 5) – against Caiaphas and the corrupt members of the Sanhedrin who manipulated the crowd and Pilate to procure His death, for He recognizes their sin, “who hated Me without a cause” – but nonetheless after first praying “Deliver Israel, O God” (at the end of Psalm 24).

Many more such insights may be derived from praying over the Psalms of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ; may the Holy Ghost illuminate the minds of those who do so, and inspire their wills to do good!

But to return to the mechanics of this devotion: again by following the custom of the Office for Good Friday, to these Passion Psalms may appropriately be added certain preces said kneeling, consisting of the antiphon Christus factus est, a silent Pater noster, the Miserere (with its 20 verses) said in a low voice, and the collect Respice quæsumus Domine, without Oremus and with its conclusion Qui tecum vivit also said silently.

Similarly, for due preparation of mind and heart, let these Passion Psalms be prefaced by a silent Pater noster, Ave Maria, and, Credo, as would be done at Prime traditionally (and at the other Little Hours but for the Credo) – for we ought turn to God our Father, as Christ did in His Passion; and we ought ask Mary His Mother stand by us, as she did Him; and confessing our faith to be the Faith of the Church, we firmly testify that Christ truly “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried”, thus directing our attention to these truths.

Such an arrangement of preparatory prayers, then psalmody followed by preces, exactly answers to the arrangement of the Little Hours during the Triduum.  Similarly, in length, the Passion Psalms almost exactly totals the psalmody of Terce, Sext and None during the Triduum, which totals 144 verses.

Praying the Psalms of the Passion, we of course begin with the fourth – “My God, My God…” (St Matthew xxvii, 46 and St Mark xv, 34) – and end with the last of the Seven Words Christ uttered upon the Cross – “Father, into thy hands…” (St Luke xxiii, 46).

When we pray in Psalm 21 “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and thou hast brought me down into the dust of death” (verse 17), we are saying with Christ, “I thirst” (St John xix, 28).

In the Lord’s Prayer (as prefaced to them, and also prayed after them, as is fitting), we declare “we forgive those who trespass against us” – just as Christ prayed in the first of His Seven Last Words: “Father, forgive them…” (St Luke xxiii, 34). 

In the Angelic Salutation (as seems right to repeat ere we begin these holy psalms), we confess that Christ’s Mother is ours also, as we fly to her for refuge, confiding in her prayers: and this answers to Our Lord’s third Word spoken from the Cross: “Woman, behold thy son… Son, behold thy mother” (St John xix, 26f); and this corresponds to the words of Psalm 26 “For my father and my mother have left me” (verse 10).  For St Joseph his putative earthly father having predeceased him, and Christ enduring the anguish of feeling that God His Father has forsaken Him in this His most bitter Passion, despite knowing that He remaineth with Him in truth, as declared in Psalm 22 – “For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me” (verse 4) – He confessed that His most holy Mother, herself standing by in fellow suffering, beholding Him, her innocent Son, die an infamous death, was therefore also being taken from Him – yet He by His power gave her a new child, and, in the person of the Beloved Disciple, made her to be the spiritual mother of all who will be reborn in baptism. 

In the Apostles’ Creed, we declare our belief in “the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting” – which corresponds to that joyful declaration of Christ to the Good Thief, “Amen I say to thee, This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise” (St Luke xxiii, 43), just as we say at the end of the same Psalm 26 “I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord” (verses 13 and 14).  O good thief, whose last robbery was the greatest: who while thyself crucified as a malefactor, stole the gift of life eternal, and dying won entrance into paradise!  May our lot be as thine, sinners as we are. 

Finally, in concluding this devotion of the Passion Psalms, having prayed the prayer of Christ hanging three hours upon the Cross, we confess as Christ did, “It is consummated” (St John xix, 30).



Pater noster, Ave Maria, et Credo, secreto.

Incipiunt psalmi passionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Hora Prima

Psalmus 21 [34 vv.]

Deus, Deus meus, réspice in me: * quare me dereliquísti? longe a salúte mea verba delictórum meórum.
Deus meus, clamábo per diem, et non exáudies: * et nocte, et non ad insipiéntiam mihi.
Tu autem in sancto hábitas, * laus Israël.
In te speravérunt patres nostri: * speravérunt, et liberásti eos.
Ad te clamavérunt, et salvi facti sunt: * in te speravérunt, et non sunt confúsi.
Ego autem sum vermis, et non homo: * oppróbrium hóminum, et abjéctio plebis.
Omnes vidéntes me, derisérunt me: * locúti sunt lábiis, et movérunt caput.
Sperávit in Dómino, erípiat eum: * salvum fáciat eum, quóniam vult eum.
Quóniam tu es, qui extraxísti me de ventre: * spes mea ab ubéribus matris meæ. In te projéctus sum ex útero:
De ventre matris meæ Deus meus es tu, * ne discésseris a me:
Quóniam tribulátio próxima est: * quóniam non est qui ádjuvet.
Circumdedérunt me vítuli multi: * tauri pingues obsedérunt me.
Aperuérunt super me os suum, * sicut leo rápiens et rúgiens.
Sicut aqua effúsus sum: * et dispérsa sunt ómnia ossa mea.
Factum est cor meum tamquam cera liquéscens * in médio ventris mei.
Aruit tamquam testa virtus mea, et lingua mea adhæsit fáucibus meis: * et in púlverem mortis deduxísti me.
Quóniam circumdedérunt me canes multi: * concílium malignántium obsédit me.
Fodérunt manus meas et pedes meos: * dinumeravérunt ómnia ossa mea.
Ipsi vero consideravérunt et inspexérunt me: * divisérunt sibi vestiménta mea, et super vestem meam misérunt sortem.
Tu autem, Dómine, ne elongáveris auxílium tuum a me: * ad defensiónem meam cónspice.
Erue a frámea, Deus, ánimam meam: * et de manu canis únicam meam:
Salva me ex ore leónis: * et a córnibus unicórnium humilitátem meam.
Narrábo nomen tuum frátribus meis: * in médio ecclésiæ laudábo te.
Qui timétis Dóminum, laudáte eum: * univérsum semen Jacob, glorificáte eum.
Tímeat eum omne semen Israël: * quóniam non sprevit, neque despéxit deprecatiónem páuperis:
Nec avértit fáciem suam a me: * et cum clamárem ad eum, exaudívit me.
Apud te laus mea in ecclésia magna: * vota mea reddam in conspéctu timéntium eum.
Edent páuperes, et saturabúntur: et laudábunt Dóminum qui requírunt eum: * vivent corda eórum in sæculum sæculi.
Reminiscéntur et converténtur ad Dóminum * univérsi fines terræ:
Et adorábunt in conspéctu ejus * univérsæ famíliæ géntium.
Quóniam Dómini est regnum: * et ipse dominábitur géntium.
Manducavérunt et adoravérunt omnes pingues terræ: * in conspéctu ejus cadent omnes qui descéndunt in terram.
Et ánima mea illi vivet: * et semen meum sérviet ipsi.
Annuntiábitur Dómino generátio ventúra: * et annuntiábunt cæli justítiam ejus pópulo qui nascétur, quem fecit Dóminus.

Psalmus 22 [9 vv.]

Dóminus regit me, et nihil mihi déerit: * in loco páscuæ ibi me collocávit.
Super aquam refectiónis educávit me: * ánimam meam convértit.
Dedúxit me super sémitas justítiæ, * propter nomen suum.
Nam, et si ambulávero in médio umbræ mortis, non timébo mala: * quóniam tu mecum es.
Virga tua, et báculus tuus: * ipsa me consoláta sunt.
Parásti in conspéctu meo mensam, * advérsus eos, qui tríbulant me.
Impinguásti in óleo caput meum: * et calix meus inébrians quam præclárus est!
Et misericórdia tua subsequétur me * ómnibus diébus vitæ meæ:
Et ut inhábitem in domo Dómini, * in longitúdinem diérum.

Psalmus 23 [10 vv.]

Dómini est terra, et plenitúdo ejus: * orbis terrárum, et univérsi qui hábitant in eo.
Quia ipse super mária fundávit eum: * et super flúmina præparávit eum.
Quis ascéndet in montem Dómini? * aut quis stabit in loco sancto ejus?
Ínnocens mánibus et mundo corde, * qui non accépit in vano ánimam suam, nec jurávit in dolo próximo suo.
Hic accípiet benedictiónem a Dómino: * et misericórdiam a Deo, salutári suo.
Hæc est generátio quæréntium eum, * quæréntium fáciem Dei Jacob.
Attóllite portas, príncipes, vestras, et elevámini, portæ æternáles: * et introíbit Rex glóriæ.
Quis est iste Rex glóriæ? * Dóminus fortis et potens: Dóminus potens in prælio.
Attóllite portas, príncipes, vestras, et elevámini, portæ æternáles: * et introíbit Rex glóriæ.
Quis est iste Rex glóriæ? * Dóminus virtútum ipse est Rex glóriæ.

Hora Secunda

Psalmus 24 [23 vv.]

Ad te Dómine, levávi ánimam meam: * Deus meus, in te confído, non erubéscam.
Neque irrídeant me inimíci mei: * étenim univérsi, qui sústinent te, non confundéntur.
Confundántur omnes iníqua agéntes * supervácue.
Vias tuas, Dómine, demónstra mihi: * et sémitas tuas édoce me.
Dírige me in veritáte tua, et doce me: * quia tu es, Deus, salvátor meus, et te sustínui tota die.
Reminíscere miseratiónum tuárum, Dómine, * et misericordiárum tuárum, quæ a sæculo sunt.
Delícta juventútis meæ, * et ignorántias meas ne memíneris.
Secúndum misericórdiam tuam meménto mei tu: * propter bonitátem tuam, Dómine.
Dulcis et rectus Dóminus: * propter hoc legem dabit delinquéntibus in via.
Díriget mansuétos in judício: * docébit mites vias suas.
Univérsæ viæ Dómini, misericórdia et véritas, * requiréntibus testaméntum ejus et testimónia ejus.
Propter nomen tuum, Dómine, propitiáberis peccáto meo: * multum est enim.
Quis est homo qui timet Dóminum? * legem státuit ei in via, quam elégit.
Ánima ejus in bonis demorábitur: * et semen ejus hereditábit terram.
Firmaméntum est Dóminus timéntibus eum: * et testaméntum ipsíus ut manifestétur illis.
Óculi mei semper ad Dóminum: * quóniam ipse evéllet de láqueo pedes meos.
Réspice in me, et miserére mei: * quia únicus et pauper sum ego.
Tribulatiónes cordis mei multiplicátæ sunt: * de necessitátibus meis érue me.
Vide humilitátem meam, et labórem meum: * et dimítte univérsa delícta mea.
Réspice inimícos meos quóniam multiplicáti sunt, * et ódio iníquo odérunt me.
Custódi ánimam meam, et érue me: * non erubéscam quóniam sperávi in te.
Innocéntes et recti adhæsérunt mihi: * quia sustínui te.
Líbera, Deus, Israël, * ex ómnibus tribulatiónibus suis.

Psalmus 25 [12 vv.]

Júdica me, Dómine, quóniam ego in innocéntia mea ingréssus sum: * et in Dómino sperans non infirmábor.
Proba me, Dómine, et tenta me: * ure renes meos et cor meum.
Quóniam misericórdia tua ante óculos meos est: * et complácui in veritáte tua.
Non sedi cum concílio vanitátis: * et cum iníqua geréntibus non introíbo.
Odívi ecclésiam malignántium: * et cum ímpiis non sedébo.
Lavábo inter innocéntes manus meas: * et circúmdabo altáre tuum, Dómine:
Ut áudiam vocem laudis, * et enárrem univérsa mirabília tua.
Dómine, diléxi decórem domus tuæ, * et locum habitatiónis glóriæ tuæ.
Ne perdas cum ímpiis, Deus, ánimam meam, * et cum viris sánguinum vitam meam:
In quorum mánibus iniquitátes sunt: * déxtera eórum repléta est munéribus.
Ego autem in innocéntia mea ingréssus sum: * rédime me, et miserére mei.
Pes meus stetit in dirécto: * in ecclésiis benedícam te, Dómine.

Psalmus 26 [20 vv.]

Dóminus illuminátio mea, et salus mea, * quem timébo?
Dóminus protéctor vitæ meæ, * a quo trepidábo?
Dum apprópiant super me nocéntes, * ut edant carnes meas:
Qui tríbulant me inimíci mei, * ipsi infirmáti sunt, et cecidérunt.
Si consístant advérsum me castra, * non timébit cor meum.
Si exsúrgat advérsum me prælium, * in hoc ego sperábo.
Unam pétii a Dómino, hanc requíram, * ut inhábitem in domo Dómini ómnibus diébus vitæ meæ:
Ut vídeam voluptátem Dómini, * et vísitem templum ejus.
Quóniam abscóndit me in tabernáculo suo: * in die malórum protéxit me in abscóndito tabernáculi sui.
In petra exaltávit me: * et nunc exaltávit caput meum super inimícos meos.
Circuívi, et immolávi in tabernáculo ejus hóstiam vociferatiónis: * cantábo, et psalmum dicam Dómino.
Exáudi, Dómine, vocem meam, qua clamávi ad te: * miserére mei, et exáudi me.
Tibi dixit cor meum, exquisívit te fácies mea: * fáciem tuam, Dómine, requíram.
Ne avértas fáciem tuam a me: * ne declínes in ira a servo tuo.
Adjútor meus esto: * ne derelínquas me, neque despícias me, Deus, salutáris meus.
Quóniam pater meus, et mater mea dereliquérunt me: * Dóminus autem assúmpsit me.
Legem pone mihi, Dómine, in via tua: * et dírige me in sémitam rectam propter inimícos meos.
Ne tradíderis me in ánimas tribulántium me: * quóniam insurrexérunt in me testes iníqui, et mentíta est iníquitas sibi.
Credo vidére bona Dómini * in terra vivéntium.
Exspécta Dóminum, viríliter age: * et confortétur cor tuum, et sústine Dóminum.

Hora Tertia

Psalmus 27 [12 vv.]

Ad te, Dómine, clamábo, Deus meus, ne síleas a me: * nequándo táceas a me, et assimilábor descendéntibus in lacum.
Exáudi, Dómine, vocem deprecatiónis meæ dum oro ad te: * dum extóllo manus meas ad templum sanctum tuum.
Ne simul trahas me cum peccatóribus: * et cum operántibus iniquitátem ne perdas me.
Qui loquúntur pacem cum próximo suo, * mala autem in córdibus eórum.
Da illis secúndum ópera eórum, * et secúndum nequítiam adinventiónum ipsórum.
Secúndum ópera mánuum eórum tríbue illis: * redde retributiónem eórum ipsis.
Quóniam non intellexérunt ópera Dómini, et in ópera mánuum ejus * déstrues illos, et non ædificábis eos.
Benedíctus Dóminus: * quóniam exaudívit vocem deprecatiónis meæ.
Dóminus adjútor meus, et protéctor meus: * in ipso sperávit cor meum, et adjútus sum.
Et reflóruit caro mea: * et ex voluntáte mea confitébor ei.
Dóminus fortitúdo plebis suæ: * et protéctor salvatiónum Christi sui est.
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine, et bénedic hereditáti tuæ: * et rege eos, et extólle illos usque in ætérnum.

Psalmus 28 [10 vv.]

Afférte Dómino, fílii Dei: *afférte Dómino fílios aríetum.
Afférte Dómino glóriam et honórem, afférte Dómino glóriam nómini ejus: * adoráte Dóminum in átrio sancto ejus.
Vox Dómini super aquas, Deus majestátis intónuit: * Dóminus super aquas multas.
Vox Dómini in virtúte: * vox Dómini in magnificéntia.
Vox Dómini confringéntis cedros: * et confrínget Dóminus cedros Líbani:
Et commínuet eas tamquam vítulum Líbani: * et diléctus quemádmodum fílius unicórnium.
Vox Dómini intercidéntis flammam ignis: * vox Dómini concutiéntis desértum: et commovébit Dóminus desértum Cades.
Vox Dómini præparántis cervos, et revelábit condénsa: * et in templo ejus omnes dicent glóriam.
Dóminus dilúvium inhabitáre facit: * et sedébit Dóminus Rex in ætérnum.
Dóminus virtútem pópulo suo dabit: * Dóminus benedícet pópulo suo in pace.

Psalmus 29 [15 vv.]

Exaltábo te, Dómine, quóniam suscepísti me: * nec delectásti inimícos meos super me.
Dómine, Deus meus, clamávi ad te, * et sanásti me.
Dómine, eduxísti ab inférno ánimam meam: * salvásti me a descendéntibus in lacum.
Psállite Dómino, sancti ejus: * et confitémini memóriæ sanctitátis ejus.
Quóniam ira in indignatióne ejus: * et vita in voluntáte ejus.
Ad vésperum demorábitur fletus: * et ad matutínum lætítia.
Ego autem dixi in abundántia mea: * Non movébor in ætérnum.
Dómine, in voluntáte tua, * præstitísti decóri meo virtútem.
Avertísti fáciem tuam a me, * et factus sum conturbátus.
Ad te, Dómine, clamábo: * et ad Deum meum deprecábor.
Quæ utílitas in sánguine meo, * dum descéndo in corruptiónem?
Numquid confitébitur tibi pulvis, * aut annuntiábit veritátem tuam?
Audívit Dóminus, et misértus est mei: * Dóminus factus est adjútor meus.
Convertísti planctum meum in gáudium mihi: * conscidísti saccum meum, et circumdedísti me lætítia:
Ut cantet tibi glória mea, et non compúngar: * Dómine, Deus meus, in ætérnum confitébor tibi.

Psalmus 30:1-6 [6 vv.]

In te, Dómine, sperávi non confúndar in ætérnum: * in justítia tua líbera me.
Inclína ad me aurem tuam, * accélera ut éruas me.
Esto mihi in Deum protectórem, et in domum refúgii: * ut salvum me fácias.
Quóniam fortitúdo mea, et refúgium meum es tu: * et propter nomen tuum dedúces me, et enútries me.
Edúces me de láqueo hoc, quem abscondérunt mihi: * quóniam tu es protéctor meus.
In manus tuas comméndo spíritum meum: * redemísti me, Dómine, Deus veritátis.

Hic finiunt psalmi passionis.


Omnes geneflectunt.

Aña.  Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.

Pater noster totum secreto.

Psalmus 50, mediocriter tamen voce. [20 vv.]

Miserére mei, Deus, * secúndum magnam misericórdiam tuam.
Et secúndum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum, * dele iniquitátem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitáte mea: * et a peccáto meo munda me.
Quóniam iniquitátem meam ego cognósco: * et peccátum meum contra me est semper.
Tibi soli peccávi, et malum coram te feci: * ut justificéris in sermónibus tuis, et vincas cum judicáris.
Ecce enim, in iniquitátibus concéptus sum: * et in peccátis concépit me mater mea.
Ecce enim, veritátem dilexísti: * incérta et occúlta sapiéntiæ tuæ manifestásti mihi.
Aspérges me hyssópo, et mundábor: * lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
Audítui meo dabis gáudium et lætítiam: * et exsultábunt ossa humiliáta.
Avérte fáciem tuam a peccátis meis: * et omnes iniquitátes meas dele.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: * et spíritum rectum ínnova in viscéribus meis.
Ne projícias me a fácie tua: * et spíritum sanctum tuum ne áuferas a me.
Redde mihi lætítiam salutáris tui: * et spíritu principáli confírma me.
Docébo iníquos vias tuas: * et ímpii ad te converténtur.
Líbera me de sanguínibus, Deus, Deus salútis meæ: * et exsultábit lingua mea justítiam tuam.
Dómine, lábia mea apéries: * et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam.
Quóniam si voluísses sacrifícium, dedíssem útique: * holocáustis non delectáberis.
Sacrifícium Deo spíritus contribulátus: * cor contrítum, et humiliátum, Deus, non despícies.
Benígne fac, Dómine, in bona voluntáte tua Sion: * ut ædificéntur muri Jerúsalem.
50:20 Tunc acceptábis sacrifícium justítiæ, oblatiónes, et holocáusta: * tunc impónent super altáre tuum vítulos.

Oratio sine Oremus:

Respice, quaesumus Domine, super hanc familiam tuam, pro qua Dominus noster Jesus Christus non dubitavit manibus tradi nocentium, et crucis subire tormentum:
et conclusione Qui tecum vivit cum Amen totum secreto.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

St Matthias

This being a bissextile (or leap) year, the feast of St Matthias falls on, not the 24th, but the 25th of February, at least according to my 1962 Dominican Breviary. To-day being a Saturday, I was able to mark this feast with a sleep-in, before hurrying to morning Mass (OF and therefore ferial), and - in order to keep my determination to read the whole daily pensum of the Office - spent some time before and after Mass in reading from Matins to Terce. The major half of the Hours done, time to go to town, read the newspaper, and have brunch as is my wont: the second coffee awaits, and a salmon omelette is on its way...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sentire cum Ecclesia

St Benedict ordains that each monk shall have a book for Lenten reading assigned him by the Abbot (RSB xlviii, 15-16), who is ensure that he reads it (cf. RSB, xlviii, 17-20) and take it from him if he doesn't, giving him some work to do instead (RSB, xlviii, 23)!

In quibus diebus Quadragesimæ accipiant omnes singulos codices de bibliotheca, quos per ordinem ex integro legant; qui codices in caput Quadragesimæ dandi sunt.

In these days of Lent let each receive a separate book from the library which they shall read through continuously from beginning to end; these books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.

Rule of St Benedict, xlviii, 15-16

Having no Abbot (and being no monk), yet heeding the spirit of this advice, it seemed best to "think with the Church" by turning to two notable authors: St Thomas Aquinas and Pope Benedict XVI.  (As mentioned earlier, I will also be reading more of Holy Writ, God willing.)

My plan, therefore, is to read through both Meditations and Readings for Lent, a compilation of short (approximately 2 page) extracts from the writings of St Thomas Aquinas, published by Sheed & Ward back in 1937, then reissued in the seventies (I have the 1979 reprint); and Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth, Part II: Holy Week, from the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.  I've at least begun doing this over these first three days of Lent.

Dear reader, what is your Lenten reading plan?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Matins in Bed

One should pray in secret, lest any merit thereof be lost; then again, to share a little of my simple, eccentric joys is the purpose of this blog, as I seek to "psalm wisely", and to speak of matters that may edify, all self-congratulation being excluded, is surely permissible; especially when the matter speaks more of human weakness, and a hesitant step, than of any amazing ascetical feat.

To confess, then: I read Matins and Lauds in bed ere I arose this morning; and the half-hour I spent on this from six o'clock onwards (the sky still dark outside at the start, lightening as I ended) was a most pleasing blessing, a grace more than any self-merited benefit.  In this practice, I followed the good example of an old friend of mine, Bernard, whom I met with in Melbourne last month: he told me long ago that that was his rule, in order to begin the day with prayer in the only time available.  In considering this, let not the perfect be the enemy of the good!  Of course, to arise and pray is better than to lie in bed to do so; but to do so at all is better than not to do so at all.

Nocte surgentes [well, sort of] vigilemus omnes, 
Semper in psalmis meditemur, atque
Viribus totis Domino canamus 
Dulciter hymnos.

Of the various Matins psalms, I particularly like those read on Wednesday, so it was a pleasure to pray Pss 44, 45, 47, 48 and 49.

Then, of course, off I went to Mass at Carmel, to be marked with the blessed ashes and so begin the Christian warfare of Lent, strengthened by the Sacrifice offered and Sacrament received.  So many sins to expiate, so many vices to conquer, so many virtues to gain...

Thus Returns...

What to title this post?  "Attack of the Ruddbot"?  "The Ruddbot Strikes Back"?

No, I thought of an antique illustration of London in flames beneath an anarchist airship raining bombs upon the helpless populace – captioned "Thus returns Hartmann the Anarchist" (from E. D. Fawcett's 1893 novel Hartmann the Anarchist; or, The Doom of the Great City) – as the best, most apt image of the impending return to Australia of our just-resigned Foreign Minister, the aforementioned Ruddbot (as his pointy-headed character was satirized) who, coveting the Prime Ministership taken from him by his former Deputy, seeks to represent himself as the innocent, much-wronged white knight, alone able to deliver the nation and the Party from threats internal and external... when he himself is such a threat!  "Fair is foul, and foul is fair."

Narcissism, or Asperger's?  Rudd returns, declaring he had to resign since Gillard had no confidence in him - when in reality the lack of confidence was the other way around.  Our late F.M. (and still earlier P.M.) returns bearing gifts – gifts he no doubt wishes to share with us poor souls, groaning under Gillard's hapless rule; gifts including, as Blind Freddy would know, a nice knife in the back for her, one bad turn deserving another (as Saruman said).  Dear Kevin is known to present an oh-so-nice public persona, while being notoriously foul-mouthed and bad-tempered in private, brow-beating all and sundry (which goes a good way to explaining why he was dumped by his colleagues in favour of Julia Gillard back in mid-2010).

The Parliamentary Labor Party will meet on Monday morning to vote on the leadership thereof, and thus select he or she who would be the Prime Minister, if the shaky coalition of Labor plus cross-benchers and the Greens hold together much longer.  Surely Rudd can't win?  But Gillard is sorely wounded already in any case.  Would Rudd himself resign from Parliament?  Or take to the backbench (as Keating did to Hawke), there to carp and criticise and still further destroy?  But Kevin Rudd now reminds me far more of another former Labor leader, Mark Latham, whose love for the Party turned to hate, than of Paul Keating, a man much his superior in every respect.

I suspect that Rudd is indeed mad and self-centred enough, as proven by his destructive campaign of leaks against Gilllard during the last Federal Election and ever since, especially in the last weeks leading up to this strike against her, to destroy the Labor minority government if he fail to win back the Prime Ministership.  Better that all go down in flames to Hades, than his backstabbing successor stay in power!  

The same could happen if, as seems less likely, he surprises Gillard and wins the ballot: for there is at least one Labor M.P. on record as declaring repeatedly that, rather than have Rudd back as P.M., that M.P. will resign forthwith, bringing on the collapse of the Labor government and an early election. (However, I have since read that this threat was conveniently withdrawn only last week.)

We are left with the grossly disedifying spectacle of Gillard and Rudd locked in suicidal combat, tearing apart the Government in the process.  Narcissistic power-plays, ending in anarchy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lenten Lectiones

And now for something completely different for Lent…

According to the Mozarabic Rite (celebrated daily in one place only in the whole world, the Capilla Muzarabe at Toledo Cathedral), during Lent, Mass begins in sober, solemn silence: the priest and his ministers advance to the altar, he bows before it in silent prayer, then ascends to and kisses it, before going to the chair, where he salutes the people, saying Dominus sit semper vobiscum (“The Lord be ever with you”), to which the response is the expected Et cum spiritu tuo (“And with your spirit”).

Immediately, a lector begins the first of four lessons from, successively, the sapiential books, the historical books, the Epistles, and the Gospels.  Mass in Lent thus commences as it did in Africa at the time of St Augustine, before any entrance chant was yet sung.  The presence of two Old Testament lessons also bears testament to remotest antiquity – just as, in the Byzantine Rite, the lessons at Mass of the Presanctified during Great Lent are from Genesis and Proverbs; just as, in the time of St Ambrose, Genesis and Proverbs were the books from which the daily Lenten lessons read for catechumens came.

When the title of each of the first three lessons is read, the congregation replies Deo gratias; instead of saying so at the end of each readings, instead they say Amen.  There is no psalm or chant between the first two lessons, neither is there between the last two; instead, there is a Psallendum (“that which is to be psalmed”), rather like a Gradual, between the Old Testament and New Testament lessons – except on Wednesdays and Fridays, when instead the Threni (“Laments”) are sung, similar to the Roman Tract, but with texts taken mainly from Jeremiah, Lamentations and Job – and, after rather than before the Gospel (one of the ancient Councils of Toledo having moved it), the Laudes (“Praises”) are sung, answering to the Roman Alleluia, except of course omitting that joyful word itself during this penitential season.

Of course, the Gospel is pronounced by the deacon (who goes to the lectern accompanied with candles and incense), he first declaring Dominus sit semper vobiscum, then censing the Gospel-book; and the people standing, responding to his reading its title, crying Gloria tibi, Domine.  The Gospel ended, they cry again Amen.  Then comes the homily, and the Laudes.

During Lent (whose ferial Masses, in the Mozarabic Rite, commence with Missa jejunii de Feria II inchoante Quadragesimæ “the Mass of the fast of Monday opening Lent”, after the first Sunday of Lent, since that Mass is still festive, and which may be conveniently considered to end on Wednesday of Holy Week, ere the special liturgies of the Paschal Triduum begin), the sapiential lesson is taken from either Proverbs or Ecclesiasticus, but not chosen, it seems, in any particular order.

However, the historical lessons are, it seems, a selection taken in sequence from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings – from Creation to the Destruction of Jerusalem.  The tale of man’s continual backsliding, his temporary repentances and oft-resumed sins, reaches its peak when God’s anger against man’s wickness issues in the burning of His holy temple.

The four main Catholic Epistles are read over: first James, then 1 & 2 Peter, and finally 1 John.  This is a well-nigh continuous reading, as is that of the Gospel according to St John.

I once used these passages as my Lenten reading at morning meditation, and thought to provide the same daily this Lent, as something different, but indisputably Catholic.  The modern edition of the Mozarabic Lectionary, the amusingly-named Liber Commicus, follows the Neo-Vulgate; not having a faithful rendering of it in English to hand, I instead employ the Douay-Rheims, that “useful crib to the Vulgate” as Mgr Ronald Knox once joked about the Greek New Testament!  In its now-curious archaic sound, its painful adherence to the letter of its source, it no doubt parallels the odd sound and obscurity of the Old Latin version of the Scriptures still in vogue in the glory days of the Mozarabic Rite, before the Muslim conquest, and the coming of the Roman Rite to Spain as the Reconquest proceeded.

Therefore, each day from Monday in the first week of Lent to Wednesday in Holy Week, God willing, I will post these ferial lessons (in the process mulling over them myself), that such wisely appointed passages of Holy Writ, selected long ago by the ancient Church of Spain, may continue, God willing, to enlighten hearts. “Wisdom, let us attend!”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Domina nostra Cervicalis

A correspondent - himself a devout oblate of the Order of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary – begs to remind me of the pious custom obtaining amongst those Canons Regular, whereby the brethren, ere they seek repose, recommend themselves to the Most Holy Mother of God, in very truth throwing themselves upon the mercy of her who is Queen and Mother of Mercy,  as they fall down and prostrate themselves (or at the least lie themselves down) by imploring Our Lady of the Pillow (cervícal) to help, defend, succour, aid and rest them:

Sub tuum cervical confugimus, Sancta Dei Genitrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, ut bene requiescamus, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

It may not be doubted that this anthem is of the remotest antiquity, and goes far toward proving the evangelical origins of the Dormitionists, entirely oriented as they are toward winning through to heaven, to eternal rest, a foretaste of which they, all unworthy, do enjoy so blessedly even here on earth.  So may they, and we with them, rest in peace, "both now and ever and unto the ages of the ages".  Sicut in cœlo, et in terra! – Grant it, O Lord!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Work has been good but very tiring this week, so it was great to sleep in this morning!  At length, I proceeded down town, and enjoyed coffee... several coffees... at my favourite eating place while reading my way through The Weekend Australian.  My outlook on life thus refreshed with prognostications of the coming overthrow of our Prime Minister, it was time for lunch: a nice rare scotch fillet, with café de Paris butter, french fries and a light salad.  This delicious dish reminded me of a very pleasant meal I ate in Wellington in January last year: the same main, with entree of salad niçoise and a nice aperitif before that.

Coming home, I found my aunt and uncle just arrived, and it was good to chat together, they having spent the morning calling in on friends (one in hospital); after their brief visit, time for some needed but unwanted work repotting a few plants; while they were still here, I even gathered a few of this year's potato crop (kipflers), and with Uncle I admired the fruit developing on the quince tree I planted in memory of my late father soon after his death.  The rest of my time I spent reading and writing on liturgical topics (my blogging being nothing to my own ongoing explorations), till now, after a not-so-good supper, I settle down for some television while internetting on my laptop.

I am so lucky! such are my easy relaxations, while in other countries every manner of vileness is being perpetrated – outright massacres in Syria*, cruel tortures in sundry benighted lands, and so ad nauseam.  My own little life is safe and secure, it seems, but how can that be fair when others fare so ill?  Lord, grant mercy and justice.

[*A chilling thought: during my own lifetime, there have been many genocides committed: in Cambodia, in Bosnia, in Rwanda... and add to that the ongoing abortion holocaust in this and many other countries.  Wilful murder is a crime crying out to heaven for vengeance – how long, O Lord?]

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Ineffectiveness of Preaching

Reading a little about the Servant of God Cardinal Merry del Val, I was led on to some details about the pontificate of Benedict XV ("he was a saint, but he didn't know it", as the wry Roman joke runs – or, as it says in full, "Pius X was a saint, and he knew it; Benedict XV was a saint, but didn't know it; Pius XI wasn't a saint, and he knew it; Pius XII wasn't a saint, but he didn't know it!" - not that I don't dispute the last verdict).

All this introduced me to the extraordinary encyclical Humani Generis Redemptionem of 1917, which was concerned with the ineffectiveness of preaching!  Yes, even ninety-five years ago, the Pope candidly declared that, despite the great numbers of preachers, their preaching was largely in vain, given the evils daily increasing everywhere, whereas the Apostles by their preaching had converted the Roman Empire and beyond: hence the preaching of the latter was efficacious, rather than useless as so much modern preaching is.

Here then, Venerable Brethren, is a burden added to the other misfortunes of these times, with which, more than any one else, We are tried. For if We look around us and count those who are engaged in preaching the Word of God, We shall find them more numerous perhaps than they have ever been before. If on the other hand We examine the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, We shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.

The causes of these evils are varied and manifold: no one, however, will gainsay the deplorable fact that the ministers of the Word do not apply thereto an adequate remedy. Has the Word of God then ceased to be what it was described by the Apostle, living and effectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword? Has long-continued use blunted the edge of that sword? If that weapon does not everywhere produce its effect, the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the Gospel who do not handle it as they should. For no one can maintain that the Apostles were living in better times than ours, that they found minds more readily disposed towards the Gospel or that they met with less opposition to the law of God.

— Benedict XV, Humani Generis Redemptionem, 2-3.

I recommend reading the whole short encyclical; but the serious declarations he makes about the solemn duty of bishops to permit only those possessing the gratia prædicationis to preach, and the sinfulness of neglecting this, certainly deserve to be given wholehearted assent. True preaching must advance the kingdom of God, by bearing fruit in souls unto everlasting life. Spreading error, or even merely entertaining without converting the listeners, is worse than useless. Certainly Benedict XV did not mince words about true and false preaching, and the dreadful decline engendered by the latter. Homilies and sermons should be powerful instruments, not pointless exercises in futility. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Chalice, Not Cup

All the local clergy have accepted with alacrity, or in some cases resigned themselves to using, the new translation; one, however, still has "issues" with "them big words" – and, to the irritation of yours truly (a self-confessed pedant), insists on saying "cup" not "chalice" in the Eucharistic Prayer. (He was not best pleased when I coughed significantly at this mistake...)  Other words, too, seem beyond him or at least repugnant: "oblation" becomes "offering", "clergy" morphs into something along the lines of "those who minister to your Gospel" (not that that is quite grammatical in itself).

One wonders why a priest would avoid the word "clergy" – self-hatred? unmanly desire to approximate his priesthood to the good works of some religious sister? – but so it is, at least in E.P. II, since in E.P. III he appears comfortable with it.  So many shibboleths!  Yet why worry over such words, when he is seemingly happy to pray that "we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life" and other such learnèd phrases?  (To be fair, I quite understand when the words "In a similar way" are omitted, since this phrase sounds lame in English, despite being a logical rendering of Simili modo.)

The other little passage that troubles Father refers to "my sacrifice and yours", and I recall that he usually made up his own version of it, the Orate fratres, even when the old translation was still around... defective theological training must be to blame: he did attend the Melbourne seminary in the bad old days before daily Mass was re-introduced (yes! believe it or not!) and the teachers still taught that the real presence ceased when Mass ended (a military chaplain, one Fr Paul, told some years back of how, as a seminarian then, he complained to the Rector about such teaching – and was forced to apologise to his lecturer for daring to doubt him).  The nasty ICEL paraphrase of old, and the errors spread throughout the seventies and eighties, still have potency...