Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Fr Allan being away on holiday, it was just a little group of five parishioners that gathered for our fortnightly chant practice last night – but I think we enjoyed ourselves.  It being Eastertide, but also the eve of ANZAC Day, we added both the Regina cæli and the Introit of the Requiem Mass to our usual repertoire; we sang Compline as usual, then knelt to sing the Requiem for all our fallen soldiers.  Afterward, a good chat and something to drink...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Benedict and Konrad

So far as I know, no one* has compared the pontificate of Benedict XVI to the chancellorship of Konrad Adenauer, but it struck me this morning that such a comparison is a fruitful one.

[* I discovered late yester-day that my insight is not a new one: Bruce Walker discussed this seven years ago!]

To start with, both men are devout Catholics! - one from Bavaria, one from the Rhineland.  Secondly, both men endured the Nazi dictatorship - Benedict as a young man, Adenauer as a man in his late fifties and sixties.

Thirdly, both men came to high office somewhat unexpectedly, and late in life, after their earlier careers - Benedict had been a university professor prior to his appointment as Archbishop aged 52, followed by his transfer to Rome and lastly his election as Pope aged 78, something quite unexpected (and hardly dared hoped for by many); Adenauer, having had a long career as Mayor of Cologne, could have been expected to enjoy his retirement when Hitler fell (he'd spent the twelve years of the Third Reich narrowly avoiding execution), but instead formed the CDU, chaired the constitutional convention, and then, aged 73, became the first Chancellor of post-war (West) Germany, a post he held until he retired, aged 87.

Adenauer was famously known as Der Alte, "the Old"; he presided over the rebuilding of a shattered nation, and the "economic miracle" that transformed Germany - her economy continues strong to-day.  Many have commented on the grandfatherly quality of our dear Pope; none I've heard have named him Der Alte, but they would be right in saying it, with all the specifically German connotations attached: for Konrad Adenauer remains the best-regarded Chancellor, given all his achievements.

We already see Benedict referred to as the Pope of Christian Unity, given his initiatives to bring back "groups of Anglicans" and, please God, the SSPX.  May Pope Benedict "repair what is shattered, for it sways" (Ps 59(60):4b), that is, rebuild Mother Church, broken as she is by the misdeeds of the past decades: God send him new saints such as St Francis and St Ignatius to assist him.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sink the Slipper?

Is the centenary of the Titanic's sinking not rather over-exploited?  That doomed vessel seems to sink every hour on the hour, such are the endless films, documentaries and dramas about it crowding our televisions and cinema screens.   But in Canberra, other ships seem to be taking on water, listing more and more every passing moment...

In charity to our Prime Minister, she does seem (poor cow) possessed of the most terrible run of bad luck. Brown having decided to retire at least spares her his sanctimonious weekly lectures (in return for Green support in Parliament), but instead she will have ex-teacher Milne in to raspily castigate her each week in his place, as if Gillard were still Julia the schoolgirl; and what benefit will accrue? With Brown out of the way, at the next election the Green vote will be bereft of his drawing power, and commentators aver in amaze that Abbott could win the holy grail of a Senate majority - so no benefit at all to our beleaguered P.M.

While she also needs support, lest she loose majority support in the House and therefore Government, from two independent M.P.'s, Oakeshott (that smiling "useful idiot", to use the customary phrase) and Windsor (who is far more shrewd), who have said that unethical behaviour could cause them to change their votes, yet at one and the same time she is stuck both with Thomson, one of her own party, very much tainted with the odium of corruption in his former union (a person or persons unknown having cunningly misused his union credit card to purchase the services of ladies of the night, or so Thomson has pleaded, he doubtless instead being at the side of his then-pregnant wife; police and similar investigations continue in two States and federally into this and much else alleged against him), and with Slipper, who deserted his own Liberal National Party to gain the Speakership, thus shoring up the Government's numbers – and who I read to-day in the newspapers is about to be prosecuted for harassing and propositioning a young male staffer with lewd messages and massages and worse.

Slipper, readers may recall, is a member and indeed an ordained priest of the Australian branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion - ordained, one assumes, by John Hepworth, who has recently resigned as head thereof, but, so far as I understand, is Archbishop of their Australian church.  As Hepworth has made public allegations of appalling sexual abuse inflicted upon himself by Catholic priests living and dead, it would seem that Hepworth - if he is still in charge of Slipper and other members of his flock - has a duty to instigate his own investigation into these accusations.

Who will sink Slipper? and will the Government turn out to be but rearranging the deck-chairs on board the ship of state?  The Titanic sank within 3 hours of scraping alongside an iceberg; how much longer will Gillard remain afloat?  If she loses the confidence of the House – and the Speaker may well be constrained to resign, given these latest grave accusations against him, further threatening her razor-thin majority – there could be a General Election sooner rather than later.  Polling suggests that Labor would indeed be sunk to the bottom of the sea.


UPDATE: Sunday afternoon, 22nd April 2012

Slipper has "stood aside" as Speaker until the criminal allegations against him – that he misused certain perquisites of office – are decided; he denies all allegations against him, both criminal and civil (those of harassment, not to say perversion).  The Labor deputy Speaker will take his place, he will remain away from Parliament: this means that, saving the deputy Speaker's casting vote, left and right, Government (and supporters) and Opposition (plus Wilkie), are tied.  No doubt the Opposition will continue to hammer the Government over the stench arising from Slipper and Thomson's alleged misdemeanours.  The ship of state remains above the waterline – just.


UPDATE: Monday, 23rd April 2012

Archbishop Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (no longer Primate thereof, but still the Ordinary of its Australian arm) has asked Peter Slipper to "stand down" as a priest under his authority, stating that he asks this in sorrow – as Slipper and his wife are friends of his – but that Slipper must now face a canonical investigation into the serious moral accusations against him.  Apparently Slipper has been a deacon in the TAC since 2003, and a priest since 2008, but only licensed to celebrate Mass in private – whatever that means.  I must say, it puzzles me!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Endless Alleluia

Whilst in this vale of tears Kyrie eleison is our song, in heaven for ever down all the ages of the ages we shall cease not from singing Alleluia to God the Lord.

Those holy souls the Dormitionists know this well, for at all Hours of their Office they cry Kyrie ere the Lord's Prayer they pray; but, so great is their wordless, inexpressible, unquenchable joy at the Resurrection, Christ's triumph and ours in Him, that they "make all things new" by devoting their Paschal Hours to some foreshadowing of that endless Alleluia sung by those in endless rest above.

The Monastic Office, as is well known, only follows that of Rome for the Easter Triduum, when no hymns are sung, and from Easter Sunday onwards reverts to its usual use of hymns, little chapters and whatnot, liberally adorned with the Easter cry of Alleluia, Praise the Lord; the Roman Breviary and kindred Uses such as the Dominican, however, retain for the Easter Octave an ancient form of solemnity, joyful indeed, but as with the Triduum still laying aside hymns and capitula, in place thereof repeating Hæc dies - "This is the day the Lord hath made".

The Dormitionist Breviary takes up, extends, and in a manner simplifies further the manner of simply celebrating Easter without hymns and short readings from Scripture at the Hours, by inserting yet more cries of jubilation – the ineffable Alleluia, again and again - and prolonging the time for special forms of the Hours over the whole of Eastertide, not just the Octave.  For as Augustine notes, when our joy soars beyond all form of words, then truly we sing with jubilation, crying Alleluia.

Therefore, during Paschal Time, Matins begins, as in other Uses, with the Invitatory Alleluja, alleluja, * Alleluja to garland the Venite.  There is no hymn, but at once another threefold Alleluia is read as the antiphon for the psalmody (12 psalms daily, more on Sundays, as previously noted).  The versicle after the repeated antiphon concludes the psalms is Christus resurrexit a mortuis, alleluja - Primitiæ Dormientium, alleluja – evidently chosen on account of the last word, "of the Sleepers".

Three passages from St Paul, himself a witness to the Resurrection "last of all, out of due time" are read daily, as encapsulating the doctrine of the Resurrection as Dormitionists especially view it: I Corinthians xv, 1-6; Romans vi, 3-8; and Colossians iii, 1-4 (†).  Rather than reading from the Fathers about so great a mystery, the Canons prefer to listen to the inspired preaching of the Apostle himself, eagerly repeating his words each passing day of Eastertide.

But most notably, after each Lesson is found one of the great liturgical treasures of the Order, which are together the justly famous three Alleluiatic Responsories, the first sevenfold, the next ninefold, and the last fortyfold:

R/. i. Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja, * Alleluja.
V/. Alleluja, alleluja, * Alleluja.

R/. ii. Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja,  * Alleluja.
V/. Alleluja, alleluja, * Alleluja.

R/. iii. Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja;  * Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.
V/. Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.  * Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.  * Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.
R/. Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja;  * Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja; alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.

Endless Alleluias indeed...

How repetition thus aids in attaining the special charism and grace proper to the Order, of repose in Christ – hence the proverbial expression, "From A to Z", or, in its older wording, "From A's to Z's".

It will be noted that the fifty-six Alleluia's of these three Alleluiatic Responsories equate to the fifty-six days of Eastertide, from Easter Sunday to Whit Saturday inclusive.  Many mystic reasons are adduced for this, but clearly the profound Scriptural significance of each of the numbers added together, of seven, of nine, and of forty, is sufficiently obvious?  Dormitionist novices are oft told to meditate on these numbers and their sum in order to achieve the grace of sleep in Christ.

To conclude Matins, of course the Te Deum (or "tedium" as one impatient priest refers to it, a shrewd insight shewing how all unawares the Dormitionist charism has spread everywhere through the Church as a most subtle fragrance or odour) next is prayed, and then the sacerdotal versicle preceding Lauds (a feature of non-Roman mediæval Uses, be it noted): Mortui enim estis, alleluja – Et vita vestra est abscondita cum Christo in Deo, alleluja (Col. iii, 3).  The Dormitionist Canons, following the lead of the Beloved Apostle when in exile on Patmos, love to prostrate as if dead before the Living One, imitating now what they hope to be evermore, "hid with Christ in God".

Lauds – and for that matter, all the Little Hours and Vespers (Compline always excepted) – is celebrated in a typically Paschal fashion.  The psalms of this and the other Day Hours are sung under one antiphon, a triple Alleluia (recalling, however, that by "sung" is meant "form the words upon the lips silently", as only Compline is sung in common in the Order, the rest being said whenever the brethren may happen awake in their respective cells, much psalmody being soporific and therefore dear to those who seek for rest, as all men, especially priests and religious, know).

As previously mentioned, the Dormitionists prolong the peculiar forms of the Easter Octave Hours, by continuing to omit capitulum, hymn and versicle throughout Paschaltide. In their stead, directly the psalmody is concluded with the repeated antiphon (for they always "double" antiphons, a primitive practice revived, no doubt owing to their example, in more modern times throughout the Roman Office), instead of the expected Hæc dies, instead, as a better expression of unfathomable rejoicing at the stupendous mystery, a fourfold Alleluia is uttered.  Vespers is the magnificent exception, the noble fortyfold Alleluia's of the third Matins Responsory instead being repeated, almost ad infinitum it may be said (scoffing worldlings would mistakenly add, et ad nauseam).

At Lauds and Vespers, the Easter antiphon for the Gospel Canticle is a ninefold Alleluia (found in Monastic Breviaries only as the first antiphon at Lauds of Low Sunday); after this, or directly the fourfold Alleluia is ended at Prime, Terce, Sext and None, follows the invariant Kyrie and Pater noster, with Collect and so forth – for, howsoever long we rejoice in Christ, we remain yet in the prison of our body, still in the midst of this miserable and naughty world, and so must fall to petition and prayer after exulting in the Lord and His victory.

So, too, after the Benedicamus Domino (with double alleluia on all days of the Octave, and on other Eastertide Sundays and feasts at Lauds and Vespers, and single alleluia on ferias, as in the Dominican Breviary), at those two greater Hours come the daily memorials and prayers in commemoration of the Holy Sepulchre, of the Dormition, of  St Lazarus, of  the Seven Sleepers, for Rest, and for the Living and the Dead that together constitute the staple of Dormitionist piety (with alleluias attached during all Easter Time, of course).  Then Benedicamus is repeated (another mediæval survival), this time unadorned as at the Little Hours; and so the Hours of Lauds and Vespers end.

All that remains to be noted is that, at Compline, the Canons together sing a triple Alleluia indeed as the psalm antiphon, but otherwise content themselves with the same responsory, versicles, Nunc dimittis antiphon and Marian anthem  as always, simply adding alleluias to these as done in more well-known Breviaries.

Simple calculations will demonstrate that thus the Dormitionist Breviary repeats Alleluia three hundred-odd times a day during all of Paschal Time.  It will be evident, therefore, why these good but ever-fatigued, absolutely exhausted Canons have a strange aversion to saying the Regina cæli...


† The three Matins Lessons are, in English:

From the first  Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.

Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures: and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures: and that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/. Thanks be to God.

From the Epistle to the Romans.

Brethren: Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/. Thanks be to God.

From the Epistle to the Colossians.

Brethren: Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. — But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.  R/. Thanks be to God.

[The third Lesson is shortened on account of the long Responsory that follows.]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Bunny

This morning, I took two visitors (my aunt, and a mutual friend from overseas) to the local farmers' market; this evening, having made use of some of the produce thereof, I dished up a nice rabbit stew, which seemed tasty enough.  The rabbits are farmed, not wild-shot (my uncle told me that the latter, to be found up at the Great Lake, would be more flavoursome).  Herewith, the recipe, based on my own very hazy notions of what to do with the ingredients (all of which came from the market, excepting wine, onion and salt already in the kitchen, plus thyme picked from the garden):


50g butter
1 kg rabbit forequarters
1 onion, finely diced
1 bunch baby leeks, washed and diced
1 bunch heritage carrots in various colours, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bunch baby parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large handful of fresh thyme shoots
1 cup white wine (semillon sauvignon blanc)
generous pinch of salt

1. In a fry pan, successively melt sufficient butter wherein to saute first the rabbit, then the onion, then the leeks, then the carrots and parsnips.

2. Put each sauteed foodstuff into a slowcooker or large ovenproof casserole with snug lid.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and add the liquid to the rest of the ingredients, throwing in the thyme leaves (stripped from the shoots) and seasoning.

4. Cook for hours at low temperature in slowcooker or oven until the rabbit comes away from the bones.

5. Serve with plenty of mashed potato (a little salt and cream stirred through the latter) and a glass of white wine.

Serves 3 or 4.


I just recollected that Tolkien tells (in The Lord of the Rings, Book Four, Chapter IV: "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit") how hobbits on the lam fix coneys: catch and dress two small rabbits, and simmer them in water scented with foraged bay-leaves, thyme and sage over an open fire.  Sam remarks that he would would want stock, onions, turnips, carrots and famously potatoes – the latter a trifle anachronistic for Middle Earth, one might think, but then the Númenóreans of old were famous navigators – but made do with what he could scrounge, and what Gollum could catch.  Now I think of it, I could have used home-grown sage and bay-leaves, but no matter.

(Of course, on Easter Sunday itself we all dined on roast lamb, and have partaken of rather too much chocolate all the days since.)

Easter Prayer

St Pius V died with these words of the Eastertide Breviary hymn upon his lips:

Quæsumus, Auctor omnium,
In hoc paschali gaudio,
Ab omni mortis impetu
Tuum defende populum.

(He of course used the pre-Urban VIII traditional Latin version; but quæritur - did he, as Pope, continue to say the Dominican Breviary, or did he perforce use the Roman Breviary as Bishop of Rome?)

This is, I trow, an excellent prayer, excellently englished as follows:

Paschal triumph, paschal joy,
Only sin can this destroy:
From the death of sin set free
Souls reborn, dear Lord, in thee.

To this stanza, of course, the paschal doxology is customarily attached:

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui surrexisti a mortuis,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

Or, in the vernacular:

Hymns of glory, sons of praise,
Father, unto thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to thee
Ever with the Spirit be.

These two stanzas are frequently on my lips in Paschaltide.

Saturday after Low Sunday

Not last Saturday, it being Holy Saturday, nor this Saturday, being Saturday in the Octave of Easter, but next Saturday, the first free Saturday of Eastertide, the Dormitionists keep the feast of the Most Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  (In Poland, it was kept of old on the second Sunday after Easter, but, as with other such pious Polish devotions, that is flagrantly unliturgical and much to be deprecated!  Whatever next, a change to Low Sunday? Or a novena of the Passion for Easter Week?)

Their brothers in holy religion, the Dominicans and Franciscans, also observed this feast in Poland of old; and the forefathers of the Dormitionists, the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, ere they died out, did too – but of course it is most probably the case that it was they who brought that devotion to Poland, rather than some obscure Polish mystic to them (how inappropriate would that be, really! whereas the Poles are a godly Catholic people always glad to accept strange, I mean, new, devotions, legitimately proposed).

This feast is very dear to Dormitionists, since daily and nightly ever resting in the Lord, looking forward to eternal rest by striving now to imitate Christ buried in the tomb, the Dormitionists seek to repose heart and soul in His Holy Sepulchre, dead to the world, obeying the Apostle's injunction "for you are dead: and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii, 3) - just as the Secret and Postcommunion of this Mass pray God to grant.

Each day in their Office the Dormitionists repeat those prayers at Lauds and Vespers, and at Mass, they ever keep the Holy Sepulchre before the eyes of their hearts – for in their oratories, the altar is particularly reverenced and regarded as the throne and sepulchre of the Lord, Who after all is as it were the "Prisoner of the Tabernacle", as His Most Sacred Body reposes therein, as once It did in death, but now gloriously alive for evermore. Just so, in imitation of Him, the holy martyrs sleep on and take their rest, in the form of their sacred relics, beneath the altars of Christians (cf. Apoc. vi), where the very recess in which their remains are solemnly entombed is called a sepulchre, and in course of the rite of dedication of an altar this “tomb is sealed”.  Thus the altar-sepulchre helps engender a devout focus on eternal rest.

I do not recall if I have previously given the texts for the Mass of the Holy Sepulchre, but seek to-day to remedy this lacuna; for convenience, I supply the texts alongside my own English version, but quoting from the Dominican version, as being in fact identical to that in the Dormitionist Missal (but for certain spelling differences in the latter, such as the use of the long ess):

[(Mass) of the Most Holy Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ]

Officium. Isaiæ 11, 10.
In illa die erit radix Jesse, qui stat in signum populorum, ipsum gentes deprecabuntur. Alleluia, et erit Sepulchrum ejus gloriosum. Alleluia. Ps. 45, 5. Fluminis impetus lætificat civitatem Dei: sanctificavit tabernaculum suum Altissimus. Gloria Patri. In illa die.

[In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, alleluia, and his Sepulchre shall be glorious. Alleluia. Ps. The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle. Glory be… As it was… In that day…]

Domine Jesu Christe, qui pro nobis mortem subire, et in Sepulchro depositus tertia die resurgere voluisti, concede famulis tuis, ut qui sepulchri tui memoriam recolimus, Resurrectionis quoque gloriæ participes esse mereamur: Qui vivis.

[Lord Jesus Christ, Who for us didst deign to endure death, and, deposited in the sepulchre, to rise again the third day, grant unto Thy servants, that we who recall the memory of Thy Sepulchre, may also deserve to be sharers of the glory of the resurrection.  Who livest…]

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.
Act. 13, 16a. 26-31.
In diebus illis:
Surgens Paulus et manu silentium indicens ait: Viri fratres, filii generis Abraham, et qui in vobis timent Deum, vobis verbum salutis hujus missum est. Qui enim habitabant Jerusalem et principes ejus ignorantes Jesum et voces Prophetarum quæ per omne Sabbatum leguntur, judicantes impleverunt: et nullam causam mortis invenientes in eo, petierunt a Pilato, ut interficerent eum. Cumque consummassent omnia, quæ de eo scripta erant, deponentes eum de ligno, posuerunt eum in monumento. Deus vero suscitavit eum a mortuis tertia die: qui visus est per multos dies his, qui simul ascenderant cum eo de Galilæa in Jerusalem: qui usque nunc sunt testes ejus ad plebem.

[A Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.

[In those days:
[Then Paul rising up, and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God, to you the word of this salvation is sent. For they that inhabited Jerusalem, and the rulers thereof, not knowing him, nor the voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath, judging him have fulfilled them. And finding no cause of death in him, they desired of Pilate, that they might kill him. And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, taking him down from the tree, they laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him up from the dead the third day: Who was seen for many days, by them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who to this present are his witnesses to the people.]

Job 3, 21-22.
Alleluia, alleluia. V/. Qui expectant mortem et non venit, quasi effodient thesaurum, gaudentque vehementer cum invenerint Sepulchrum.
Joan. 20, 4.
Alleluia. V/. Currebant duo simul, et ille alius Discipulus præcucurrit citius Petro, et venit prior ad monumentum. Alleluia.

[Alleluia, alleluia. V/. They that look for death, and it cometh not, are as they that dig for a treasure: And they rejoice exceedingly when they have found the Grave.
[Alleluia. V/. They both ran together, and that other Disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. Alleluia.]

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
Lucæ 24, 1-12.
Una Sabbati valde diluculo venerunt mulieres ad monumentum, portantes, quae paraverant, aromata, et invenerunt lapidem revolutum a monumento, et ingressæ non invenerunt Corpus Domini Jesu. Et factum est, dum mente consternatæ essent de isto, ecce duo viri steterunt secus illas in veste fulgenti. Cum timerent autem et declinarent vultum in terram, dixerunt ad illas: Quid quæritis viventem cum mortuis? Non est hic, sed surrexit. Recordamini qualiter locutus est vobis, cum adhuc in Galilæa esset, dicens: Quia oportet Filium hominis tradi in manus hominum peccatorum, et crucifigi et die tertia resurgere. Et recordatæ sunt verborum ejus. Et regressæ a monumento nuntiaverunt hæc omnia illis undecim et cæteris omnibus. Erat autem Maria Magdalene, et Joanna, et Maria Jacobi. et cæteræ, quæ cum eis erant, quæ dicebant ad Apostolos hæc: et visa sunt ante illos sicut deliramentum verba ista, et non crediderunt illis. Petrus autem surgens, cucurrit ad monumentum, et procumbens vidit linteamina sola posita et abiit secum mirans, quod factum fuerat.

[The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

[On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles. And these words seemed to them as idle tales; and they did not believe them. But Peter rising up, ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid by themselves; and went away wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.]
[I believe...]

Offertorium. Ps. 41, 5.
Transibo in locum Tabernaculi admirabilis usque ad domum Dei. Alleluja.

[I shall go over into the place of the wonderful Tabernacle, even to the house of God. Alleluia.]

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 Dominum nostrum.

[O God, Who by the deposition of the most holy Body of Thy Son in the Sepulchre, didst sanctify that same Tomb, grant we beg, that in this Sepulchre we may dwell in heart and soul. Through the same our Lord…]

Communio. Sap. [Prov.] 8, 34.
Beatus qui audit me et qui vigilat ad fores meas quotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei. Alleluja.

[Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. Alleluia.]

Deus, qui nos sancti Sepulchri Filii tui laetari facis honore, præsta quæsumus, ut in eodem sepulti, mundo moriamur, et tibi soli vivamus. Per eumdem Dominum.

[O God, Who dost make us to rejoice in honouring the holy Sepulchre of Thy Son, grant we beg, that buried in the same, we may be dead to the world, and live to Thee alone.  Through the same our Lord…]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Holy Saturday in the Dormitionist Order

Three General Chapters must each affirm any alteration to the Rule, customs or rites of the Canons Regular of the Dormition (and those of their sisters in holy religion, the Dormitionistine Canonesses); and, since all who were in holy religion at the time of the last General Chapter must have gone to their reward ere a new General Chapter may be summoned, it will be unsurprising to learn that the questionable modifications to the Sacred Liturgy otherwise effected throughout the Roman Church have not yet even been discussed by the Dormitionists.

Given the well-known criticisms of those first fruits of the liturgical reform that are the new rites of Holy Week, it seems to this scribe and friend of their Order rather unlikely that any great changes to their Missal will be considered at their upcoming General Chapter (for Canon Serapion, last survivor of those alive at the Chapter of 1931, expired at this year's Paschal Vigil just a few days ago, its very protracted length constituting the Last Rites for him – a circumstance of which I have just been informed, prompting these reflections), especially given the well-known latitude, not to say favour, extended by the present Sovereign Pontiff to the venerable liturgical forms of old.

What venerable, what lengthy rites?  Amongst the Dormitionists, the Vigil of Easter has always been maintained as indeed the Vigil of all Vigils: for not only have they kept it always in the evening, having retained the ancient custom of evening Mass, they have retained on this night of nights the primitive custom of the Roman Church, whereby each of the twelve prophecies is read first in Latin, then in Greek, to total twenty-four passages of Holy Writ.  (It will be thus evident why Canon Serapion expired.  As Dom Odo Casel dropt dead after singing the Exsultet, so to go to God at the Paschal Vigil is to indeed be united ever to the Paschal Mystery.)

However, in other respects the Dormitionist Holy Saturday service is somewhat simpler, for they have something of the Carthusian simplicity about their sober liturgical practices, as is only to be expected of an enclosed contemplative Order, not given to gaudy show.  As should be obvious, for instance, their oratories have no font, and therefore there is no blessing thereof: instead, the last of the prophecies concluded, the Litanies of the Saints are begun forthwith.  (During these, the celebrant prostrates as if dead, the Litanies prayed by all from memory in a low, procumbent mumble.  Once the words Peccatores, te rogamus, audi nos are said, the priest thus addressed arises and retires to the sacristy to change his purple vestments to white for Mass.)

But, far more startlingly to the uninitiated, as with the Carthusians, there is no Easter fire, no reed, no Paschal Candle, nor Exsultet – no gaudy show.  Instead, the great length of this Vigil is occupied with “searching the Scriptures”.  In this, these retiring Canons in their humility act as their brothers the Carthusians, and as did the lesser churches of Rome, in the ages before the privilege of having their own Paschal candle was extended to them by Pope Zosimus – for, all Easter baptisms being carried out by the Supreme Pontiff at St John Lateran, there and there alone were Candle and Font once blessed.

There are a few unusual practices to remark upon during this beginning of the solemn Paschal liturgy: just as on Good Friday according to their Missal, neither Flectamus genua nor Levate are said, and for utterly the same reason – as is the custom in the Order, the Canons in choir lie prostrate throughout, and so ’twould be superfluous and ridiculous to bid them bend the knee and then arise.  Furthermore, what in the older Roman Rite were the eleventh and twelfth prophecies are read in reverse order, so that Nabuchodonosor rex (Dan. iii, 1-24) is read in Latin and Greek before Scripsit Moyses (Deut. xxxi, 22-30) is: in this way, just as after the first eight lessons (four in Latin, four in Greek) there occurs a canticle or Tract (Cantemus Dño), and likewise after the middle eight another (Vinea facta est), so too the last eight conclude with a Tract, Attende cœlum.

Attentive students of symbolism will at once remark upon the wise ordering of these pericopes, gathered into three sets of eight: for eight is the number of the Resurrection, and three that of the prefatory Three Days’ Rest in the Sepulchre, or again of the three ages of the spiritual life, from purgative via illuminative unto unitive, as Christ’s Resurrection grace produces.  Again, if the three Tracts be numbered with all the Lessons, we have three times nine, nine being the number of choirs of the Angels, who ever do worship and laud the Trinity, the Three Persons in One God; or, if with each eight lessons the four collects accompanying are enumerated, we have three times twelve, but I digress.  (The Summa Triviæ supplies further details on these and related points.)

There remains little else to remark upon, for the Easter Mass that begins as the Litanies end is the same as that otherwise celebrated throughout the Roman Church down to modern times, save for those peculiarities of the Dormitionist Ordo Missæ discussed elsewhere.  Of course, on this night there is no Introit – the last cadences of the Litany supply it – nor Creed, nor Offertory, nor Agnus Dei, nor Communion antiphon: for all these are later additions to the venerable solemnities, and (as Baumstarck noted) on days of the greatest solemnity, the most ancient rites are most faithfully preserved.  Mindful, too, of the more primitive practice, the Dormitionists alone of all in Western Christendom celebrate no Vespers at all on this holy night (for the short Vespers otherwise inserted into the Mass on Easter Eve are a later invention).  Instead, as is their peculiar wont, they proceed at once to Compline.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Tuesday Compline and Benediction

It was good to be at church last night, to sing and worship and share Easter cheer.  Just a small flock gathered (some singers being away), but that included our priest of course, and also Bp Robarts of the TAC, waiting on the doorstep of the Church as it were (no offence intended!) as he awaits news from Rome of the establishment of the Australian Ordinariate.  The good bishop was edifying as always, when, during our time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he set us an example of prayerful intercession extempore, or rather ex abundantia cordis tui, as Fr Allan put it when asking him to do so beforehand.  For the record, it being Easter week, the Sanctissimum was brought forth while we sang Victimæ paschali laudes (I was assisting Fr as thurifer meanwhile), and after It had been returned to the tabernacle at the end, we concluded with O filii et filiæ.  It is good to gaze upon the Risen Christ.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creeping to the Cross, Sleeping in modo Crucis

While these days the Church speaks of Good Friday’s afternoon Liturgy as the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion, and, in older times, named it (when held in the morning) the Mass of the Presanctified, after the last part of its fourfold structure, the English mediæval tradition, as late as Bad King Henry, referred to it instead as the Creeping to the Cross – a ritual that Henry VIII, even in his bloated, raddled old age insisted on performing, a vestige of his full-blooded Catholicism that all the Zwinglian plottings of Cranmer his heresiarch had not yet extirpated, just as he maintained the Mass until his death, whatever of his break from Rome.

It will therefore be unsurprising to find such eager adherents of traditional practices as the Canons Regular of the Dormition do maintain precisely this title for their early evening capitular worship in the stript, bare choirs of their secluded oratories: for, remaining prostrate in mournful, penitent adoration, if not yet quite entirely reposing in the Lord, they do creep unto the Cross, hardly daring even to rise to their knees, such penitent sinners do they in their continual compunction accuse themselves of being!

Of course, the first part of their Good Friday service begins identically to that practiced immemorially in the West, save for that peculiarity whereby (like certain Franciscans) their conventual Mass is always Low, without song or note.  The celebrant advances to the altar, then prostrates himself to the ground, as do all the canons in choir; he alone, however, presently rises, as he must needs do to fulfil his duty, rather wishing that, if not the servant of his brethren for the moment, he too could rest in peace as they will throughout this most solemn act, as on all days in their Dorter or Dormitory.

He reads the traditional Lessons, Tracts and St John’s Passion; he reads the Solemn Intercessions; then comes the Creeping to the Cross.  The brethren, in imitation of the once-slumbering disciples, have rested for an hour; now, they will creep unto Calvary’s Tree, in mystery to kiss as repentant Magdalene did the Blood, as it were, streaming down that bitter wood.  Ecce lignum Crucis!

As in the Carthusian Rite, the Creeping begins with the antiphon Nos autem gloriari oportet – “But it behooveth us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified to us and we to the world”.  Indeed, the procumbent brethren, each canon regular stretched forth in modo Crucis, already represent this deep wish, this truth.  The priest having brought forth the Crucifix, and laid it upon the altar steps, he throwing himself down before it then crawled unto its foot and kissed it, saying secretly what each succeeding adorer shall likewise repeat: Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

The brethren then having at length (indeed, given all their prostrate creeping, at great length) completed their most humble Creeping to the Cross on hands and knees – a ceremony all the more impressive for the greatly yawning silence in which it transpires – it remaineth for their solemn adoration to be consummated in the Missa Præsanctificatorum, in the manner proper to the Order.

First, repairing to the sacristy, the canon celebrant attireth himself in chasuble; then, the server meanwhile arranging and lighting the candles, he brings in the chalice to the altar, and mixes wine and water therein without (however) any blessing thereof, before returning to the lowest step and there bowing low (the brethren remaining as if already dead in Christ, he praying for a like grace) and says the usual ancient apologia, Deus qui non mortem.  In like manner, at Paris, and in the priories of the Carmelites and Dominicans of old, the Confiteor and other preparatory prayers were said ere the Mass of the Presanctified was embarked upon.

The Blessed Sacrament has been kept in the usual tabernacle, as is also the Carthusian practice, and therefore there is no lugubrious funereal procession to the altar of repose to fetch It forth.  Instead, an Offertory anthem is recited – Hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis datur, dicit Dñs: hoc facite in meam commemorationem (St Luke xxii, 19b)– and forthwith, the Host is brought forth and laid upon the corporal, the priest making a double genuflection on this most sacred day.

There is prayed as usual Dirigatur Domine, In spiritu humilitatis, and Orate fratres, but of course no Veni sanctificator omnium; just as there is no Secret nor Preface on Good Friday, nor is the Canon read.  Instead, having first washed his hands saying the usual Dele Dñe (“Delete, Lord, all my iniquities, that I may be able worthily to handle Thy mysteries”), the priest thereupon elevates the Sanctissimum, praying – as do all Dormitionists – Pie Jesu Domine, dona nobis requiem.

This done, the Lord’s Prayer, with its usual preface and following oration (this, the Libera, still silent, as amongst the Premonstratensians), is read, but without any Pax nor Agnus Dei; the Host is broken into three, figuring forth the Death of the Lord, and a particle thereof dropt into the chalice (sanctifying, but not consecrating the watered wine therein, as the Summa Triviæ rightly notes) without form of words.  Immediately he communicates himself with the Host and drains the chalice, saying Corpus D.N.J.C. custodiat me in requiem æternam. Amen.  O most fervent petition!

Performing the ablutions as is customary, reciting secretly the Order’s proper prayer of the Nunc dimittis, without the doxology, the celebrant completes the Mass of the Presanctified and retires from the altar – there being, as is traditional, no general communion on this day, whenas only faithful Mary and John stood ’neath the Cross, types of the Church and the Priest, while all the apostles (here represented by the procumbent Canons) hid themselves for fear of the Jews.

Having crept to the Cross, meanwhile, the assembled brethren rest as if dead, recalling ever the words of the Risen and Glorious Christ to that same Apostle John, who “fell at His feet as if dead”: “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One: I died, and behold, I am alive for ever more, and I have the keys of Death and of Hell.” (Apoc. i, 17f.)

Let this be our own recollection, as we return in our imagination from the oratories of the Dormitionist Order, and now rejoice this Eastertide.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Paschal Mystery – Melito of Sardis

The Paschal Mystery, or, rather, the mystery of the Pascha or Passover, is a term often used since its revival in liturgical and theological circles in the last hundred years, but is first found in the famous homily On Pascha of Melito, Bishop of Sardis (who died about 180) – a homily only rediscovered in 1940, being found among ancient papyri as once Moses was found amongst the bullrushes.  Strangely, while the old Catholic Encyclopedia names him a saint, whose feast falls on the 1st of April, neither my old nor my new Martyrology includes him in the list of saints.  (Readers of Greek may consult Μελίτωνος Περὶ Πάσχα.)

What does he consider this mystery to be? He names it "the mystery of the passover, which is Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen." (On Pascha, 65.)

I was struck by the similarities between the mediæval Victimæ Paschali and the Peri Pascha of the Early Church: both focus upon Christ, the Lamb of God, striving by paradox to unfold the unfathomable mystery of the Lord's Passion.  Let the following extracts from Melito be considered and prayed over, in our continuing worshipful celebration of Easter:

1. First of all, the Scripture about the Hebrew Exodus has been read and the words of the mystery have been explained as to how the sheep was sacrificed and the people were saved.

2. Therefore, understand this, O beloved: The mystery of the passover is new and old, eternal and temporal, corruptible and incorruptible, mortal and immortal in this fashion:

3. It is old insofar as it concerns the law, but new insofar as it concerns the gospel; temporal insofar as it concerns the type, eternal because of grace; corruptible because of the sacrifice of the sheep, incorruptible because of the life of the Lord; mortal because of his burial in the earth, immortal because of his resurrection from the dead.

4. The law is old, but the gospel is new; the type was for a time, but grace is forever. The sheep was corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible, who was crushed as a lamb, but who was resurrected as God. For although he was led to sacrifice as a sheep, yet he was not a sheep; and although he was as a lamb without voice, yet indeed he was not a lamb. The one was the model; the other was found to be the finished product.

5. For God replaced the lamb, and a man the sheep; but in the man was Christ, who contains all things.

6. Hence, the sacrifice of the sheep, and the sending of the lamb to slaughter, and the writing of the law–each led to and issued in Christ, for whose sake everything happened in the ancient law, and even more so in the new gospel.

7. For indeed the law issued in the gospel–the old in the new, both coming forth together from Zion and Jerusalem; and the commandment issued in grace, and the type in the finished product, and the lamb in the Son, and the sheep in a man, and the man in God.

8. For the one who was born as Son, and led to slaughter as a lamb, and sacrificed as a sheep, and buried as a man, rose up from the dead as God, since he is by nature both God and man.

9. He is everything: in that he judges he is law, in that he teaches he is gospel, in that he saves he is grace, in that he begets he is Father, in that he is begotten he is Son, in that he suffers he is sheep, in that he is buried he is man, in that he comes to life again he is God.

10. Such is Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.

66. When this one came from heaven to earth for the sake of the one who suffers, and had clothed himself with that very one through the womb of a virgin, and having come forth as man, he accepted the sufferings of the sufferer through his body which was capable of suffering. And he destroyed those human sufferings by his spirit which was incapable of dying. He killed death which had put man to death.

67. For this one, who was led away as a lamb, and who was sacrificed as a sheep, by himself delivered us from servitude to the world as from the land of Egypt, and released us from bondage to the devil as from the hand of Pharaoh, and sealed our souls by his own spirit and the members of our bodies by his own blood.

68. This is the one who covered death with shame and who plunged the devil into mourning as Moses did Pharaoh. This is the one who smote lawlessness and deprived injustice of its offspring, as Moses deprived Egypt. This is the one who delivered us from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, from death into life, from tyranny into an eternal kingdom, and who made us a new priesthood, and a special people forever.

69. This one is the passover of our salvation. This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people: This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac, and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph, and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb, and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.

70. This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.

71. This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent. This is the one who was born of Mary, that beautiful ewe-lamb. This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice, and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night; the one who was not broken while on the tree, who did not see dissolution while in the earth, who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.

Victimæ Paschali

Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended; combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ's glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting,
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen: he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!

Amen. Alleluia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Triumph, Easter Joy

Every Easter blessing to all readers!

I've just returned, refreshed and uplifted, from the Easter Vigil at St Francis, Riverside, my parish (indeed, where I was baptized and confirmed).  Daylight saving having ended, it was already darkening into night as the Easter fire was kindled (yours truly again looking after the "smoking handbag" as one wry Dominican calls it) just after six o'clock; Exsultet sung, readings read, psalms chanted (mirabile dictu, in between thurifying I had to sing one myself), Baptismal vows renewed, Sacrifice offered, consecrated and received, all concluded by a quarter to eight – including a most uplifting fervorino delivered after the Prayer after Communion by our special guest in choir, Bishop Robarts of the TAC, keeping Easter Vigil with us and our parish priest, his "mentor" in the process of reception into full communion with Rome, as he and his little flock await the official word from Rome on the date of commencement of the Australian Ordinariate.  The packed church gave him an ovation.

The only person not entirely delighted by the music, incense and all else was – of all people! – my dear Mum, who had come along unawares of Father's liking for incense and my willingness to accommodate him: she said (as only one's mother would do to a grown man) that I had smoked the place out far too much and had been very naughty: LOL.  The irony is that I have a particularly poor sense of smell and, while I can enjoy the sight of the smoke as it "from the censer curling rise[s]", I could hardly smell it at all myself, and certainly never once coughed nor spluttered in that sillly way some people do: yet the vapours would surely have been most potent in their effects on me, which just goes to show...

A special blessing had been to have my confession heard before Mass; my penance, the beautiful words of the Victimæ Paschali laudes, the Easter Sequence:

Victimæ paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitæ mortuus, regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?

Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
præcedet suos in Galilæam.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex, 


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Evening Offering of Incense

The Copts still maintain, as an important part of their daily liturgy, the offering of incense at morning and evening; indeed, their Eucharistic Liturgy cannot be celebrated if the offering of incense is omitted, if I recall correctly.  Just so, the idea of a Byzantine Rite Divine Liturgy without incense is almost a contradiction in terms, and is rightly reprobated when Romanizing Uniates attempt such practices – let them conserve their own tradition.

How unfortunate, then, that nearly all Masses, OF and even EF, are celebrated without incense.  Here in Australia (apart, strangely, from the censing of the coffin at funerals), the use of incense at the ordinary Sunday Mass in parishes would be very rare, almost a prerogative of cathedrals; liturgical minimalism and the strange modern mental problem of pretended allergy to incense (never mentioned during the Reformation debates about its use in worship) have driven holy smoke from our sanctuaries.

Very fortunately, then, at my parish church of St Francis, Father determined to pull out all stops for Holy Thursday, and to have incense – and, thanks be to God, when I was called upon to be the thurifer all went very well (since I have a fear of doing so, owing to general clumsiness and the strange ability to extinguish the smoking censer all too rapidly).

In the lead-up to the erection of the Australian Ordinariate, Bp Robarts of the TAC attended our Mass in choir (hence this was the first time I've ever censed an Anglican, as was the courteous thing to do).  As well as that uniquely unexpected detail, it being Holy Thursday there was the final procession to the altar of repose, for which I walked backwards at the head of the procession, censing the Blessed Sacrament all the while.

Carrying in the swinging thurible, assisting as the priest puts on incense again and then censes the altar, taking the thurible back to the sacristy (affording a nice vantage-point for the Mass), adding an extra coal to the three lit before Mass, bringing the censer back to the sanctuary that Father may cense the Gospel ere he read it, again returning to the sacristy and adding another coal, assisting in the sanctuary for the blessing of incense and subsequent censing of oblations, altar, priest, those in the sanctuary and all the faithful, then remaining at the lowest step during the Roman Canon to offer incense in adoration at the Elevation – it was marvellous to be thurifer, and gave a special delight to one of the best Holy Thursdays I can recall.

(The Mozarabic series for Lent has now ended; Holy Thursday in that Rite has a similar fourfold series of readings, true, but I was defeated by the Gospel, which is a combination of all four Gospel accounts of the Passion.  It's translation must remain for next year...)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mozarabic Wednesday - Holy Week

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.


Wednesday in Great Week
Feria IV in hebdomada maiore

Sapiential Lesson: Sirach 46,6-21
Historical Lection: 2 Kings 5,1-14
Threni: Lam 1,12;4,11-13;1,16; Jer 9,18; Lam 1,22
Apostle: 1John 5,5-15
Gospel: Matthew 26,2-16
Laudes: Psalm 17,2b-3a

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

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

Jesus [i.e. Josue] called upon the most high Sovereign when the enemies assaulted him on every side, and the great and holy God heard him by hailstones of exceeding great force. He made a violent assault against the nation of his enemies, and in the descent he destroyed the adversaries. That the nations might know his power, that it is not easy to fight against God. And he followed the mighty one: and in the days of Moses he did a work of mercy, he and Caleb the son of Jephone, in standing against the enemy, and withholding the people from sins, and appeasing the wicked murmuring. And they two being appointed, were delivered out of the danger from among the number of six hundred thousand men on foot, to bring them into their inheritance, into the land that floweth with milk and honey. And the Lord gave strength also to Caleb, and his strength continued even to his old age, so that he went up to the high places of the land, and his seed obtained it for an inheritance: that all the children of Israel might see, that it is good to obey the holy God. Then all the judges, every one by name, whose heart was not corrupted: who turned not away from the Lord, that their memory might be blessed, and their bones spring up out of their place, and their name continue for ever, the glory of the holy men remaining unto their children. Samuel the prophet of the Lord, the beloved of the Lord his God, established a new government, and anointed princes over his people. By the law of the Lord he judged the congregation, and the God of Jacob beheld, and by his fidelity he was proved a prophet. And he was known to be faithful in his words, because he saw the God of light: and called upon the name of the Lord Almighty, in fighting against the enemies who beset him on every side, when he offered a lamb without blemish. And the Lord thundered from heaven, and with a great noise made his voice to be heard. And he crushed the princes of the Tyrians, and all the lords of the Philistines:
R/. Amen.

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

In those days:
Naaman, general of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable: for by him the Lord gave deliverance to Syria: and he was a valiant man and rich, but a leper. Now there had gone out robbers from Syria, and had led away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited upon Naaman's wife. And she said to her mistress: I wish my master had been with the prophet, that is in Samaria: he would certainly have healed him of the leprosy which he hath. Then Naaman went in to his lord, and told him, saying: Thus and thus said tile girl from the land of Israel. And the king of Syria sad to him: Go, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and tell changes of raiment, and brought the letter to the king of Israel, in these words: When thou shalt receive this letter, know that I have sent to thee Naaman my servant, that thou mayest heal him of his leprosy. And when the king of Israel had read the letter, he rent his garments, and said: Am I God, to be able to kill and give life, that this man hath sent to me, to heal a man of his leprosy? mark, and see how he seeketh occasions against me. And when Eliseus the man of God had heard this, to wit, that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent to him, saying: Why hast thou rent thy garments? let him come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus: and Eliseus sent a messenger to him, saying: Go, and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thee shalt be clean. Naaman was angry and went away, saying: I thought he would hare come out to me, and standing would hare invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me. Are not the Abana, and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean? So as he turned, and was going away with indignation, his servants came to him, and said to him: Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, surely thou shouldst have done it: how much rather what he now hath said to thee: Wash, and thou shalt he clean? Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times: according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child, and he was made clean.
R/. Amen.

O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.
V/. The Lord hath accomplished his wrath in me, he hath poured out his fierce anger on account of all my iniquities.
V/. Therefore do I weep, and my eyes run down with water: because
the voice of lamentation is heard over me.
V/. For my sighs are many, and my heart is sorrowful.

The First Epistle of the Apostle John. R/. Thanks be to God.

Dearly beloved:
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth, that Christ is the truth. And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God, which is greater, because he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth in the Son of God, hath the testimony of God in himself. He that believeth not the Son, maketh him a liar: because he believeth not in the testimony which God hath testified of his Son. And this is the testimony, that God hath given to us eternal life. And this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life. He that hath not the Son, hath not life. These things I write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence which we have towards him: That, whatsoever we shall ask according to his will, he heareth us. And we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask: we know that we have the petitions which we request of him.
R/. Amen.

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

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

At that time:
You know that after two days shall be the pasch, and the son of man shall be delivered up to be crucified: then were gathered together the chief priests and ancients of the people into the court of the high priest, who was called Caiphas: and they consulted together, that by subtilty they might apprehend Jesus, and put him to death. But they said: Not on the festival day, lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people. And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And Jesus knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. For she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memory of her. Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him.
R/. Amen.

I will love thee, * O Lord, my strength.
V/. The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. * O Lord, my strength.