Monday, July 30, 2012

Domina nostra a cruce australi

I was musing – as one does – about how to put "Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross" into Latin; and I recalled that St Mary of the Cross is not called in that language Sancta Maria Crucis, but Sancta Maria a Cruce.

Hence, on the analogy of the UK's Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Ordinariatus Personalis Dominæ nostræ Walsinghamensis, it seems to me that the Latin title for the Australian Ordinariate should therefore be Ordinariatus Personalis Dominæ nostræ a Cruce Australi (perhaps without capitalizing "Southern Cross").

Please correct me if I am wrong!

Also, I recall that, while in the Diocese of Toowoomba – the only part of Australia having Our Lady of the Southern Cross as Patroness – her feast is kept on the 1st of September, even the latest Australian edition of the modern Missal contains no notice of this, no proper Mass, nothing.  Will the Australian Ordinariate also feast Our Lady a cruce australi on the 1st?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mass at SS Ninian and Chad for the 7th Sunday after Trinity

A West Australian friend has been attending Sunday Mass at the Principal Church of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for the last several weeks, ever since the happy day of the reception into full communion of many incoming Anglicans, and the ordination to the priesthood of their leader the new Ordinary, Monsignor Harry Entwistle, in Perth last month.

For all interested readers, then, here is an account – extracted over the telephone – from my correspondent (who is himself a former Anglican, and thus particularly sympathetic to the Ordinariate) of Mass in Perth this morning.

The Church of SS Ninian and Chad (which I have peeped into myself some years ago) is quite small; it was full for the 9.30 am Sunday Mass, which means a congregation of perhaps seventy.  As well as the recently-arrived Ordinariate members, quite a number of other Catholics were in attendance, including (I am told) some familiar faces from my years in the West.

As should be expected, Mass began with full-throated hymn-singing (Patrimony! Catholics can’t sing like that!), and the music was excellent throughout, including the organ-playing.

Mass was conducted in the Ordinary Form, with two notable (approved) additions: the Collect for Purity at the outset (between the salutation and the Penitential Act, I understand), and the Prayer of Humble Access at Communion (just before “Behold the Lamb of God”, at the place when the priest says a private prayer for worthy reception).

[From what I am given to understand, this use of these two prayers is a preparation for using the Anglican Use Mass as given in the Book of Divine Worship, and is thus wholly appropriate and right.]

For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with these prayers, here are their texts, as given in the Catholic Book of Divine Worship for the Anglican Use:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
Mgr Entwistle remarked at the very good bunfight afterward (Patrimony!) that to Anglican laity, the use of those two prayers are the sine qua non of Anglican liturgy, and I think I may as an interested observer agree: the first is of course Sarum, and the second is Cranmerian but certainly orthodox.

One tiny variant was also quietly pleasing: whether “official” or not, the congregation very devoutly said “And with thy spirit” throughout, and who can but applaud this?

The readings were taken from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (the so-called Ignatius Press Lectionary); apparently the ACCA has been using the RSV for some years prior to the establishment of the Ordinariate in any case.  The sermon was good, solid, and of fair length – more Patrimony!  (If Catholics can’t sing, neither in the main can the average Catholic priest preach, after all – this is my own wry observation – so may these good people diffuse their gifts widely and quickly…)

The prayers of intercession were not, as I had surmised, recited using the Anglican Prayer for the Church.  As I have said, only two prayers from the Anglican tradition supplemented the liturgy.  The celebrant said the Roman Canon on this Sunday, but I am informed that he has used other Eucharistic Prayers from the Roman Missal on other days.

There were two servers, and incense was used – this being the first time in my friend’s experience of attending Ordinariate Masses there.  Why so?  SS Ninian and Chad being a very small church in truth, the sanctuary is not suited to large services, and this accounts for the restrained but reverent liturgical style there – in such a small church one cannot expect the sort of liturgical pageantry that larger churches can put on.  In other words, SS Ninian and Chad is not the Brompton Oratory!

Mass was, of course, said ad orientem, and everyone knelt for Communion at the rail.  My friend was careful to remind me that Communion was given in Both Kinds, and that the chalice was administered by being held to each communicant’s lips, in the usual Anglican fashion, so that the communicants did not themselves handle the chalice.  This would be entirely new to average Catholics!

(Since at present the Monsignor is the only priest of the Ordinariate – though I hear that ordinations in Melbourne, Queensland, Adelaide, and so forth will occur fairly soon, as least as regards the first city named – it has seemed prudent to use the Ordinary Form, just slightly supplemented, rather than the Book of Divine Worship’s Eucharistic liturgy, the only other approved Anglican Use Mass at present, since if a local diocesan priest has to say Mass while Entwistle is off on Ordinariate business around Australia, it would be difficult for such a supply priest to celebrate a liturgy to him unknown.)

The Ordinariate is still but newly-born; the Ordinary has very slender resources, and so matters will progress slowly at first.  One might say that Our Lady of the Southern Cross indeed holds a precious infant in her arms – one of Our Lord’s youngest brethren, still literally infans, unable to speak (having no website for the moment)!  We know that she will dearly care for this her latest adopted child.

Given this, it is unsurprising that these recently-arrived Ordinariate members have been happily received by the wider Archdiocese of Perth, and feel very much welcomed.  Holy Mother Church rejoices in these members now fully united to her!

Our Lady of the Southern Cross, pray for them, pray for more to join them, and pray for us.

Ancient Dominican Sequence of Our Lady

 Bl Humbert of Romans, 5th Master General of the Dominican Order, explained why Our Lady is specially honoured on Saturday, and even cited the Sequence then sung at Mass on Saturdays; hereunder, my translation:

From The Exposition of Master Humbert on the Constitutions of the Friars Preachers.

XXIV. Why the Sabbath is attributed to the Blessed Virgin.

And it is expedient not to be ignorant why those who are devout to the Blessed Virgin honour her more on Saturday than on another day.

[i] Therefore it must be attended to that on the Sabbath day it is said that the Lord rested: also, he rested in her as if in his tabernacle.  Thus the Sabbath and the Virgin accord, for the Saturday is the time, and she is the place, of the rest of the Lord.

[ii] Also, on the Sabbath the work of creation was completed, or, of nature: while in her was completed the work of re-creation, or, of grace.  Bernard [says]: In thee and through thee, Most Benign, the hand of the Creator hath re-created whatsoever it had created; therefore she and the Sabbath accord in this manner of completion.

[iii] Also, the Sabbath day was blessed above the other days, whence Genesis 2 [says]: The Lord blessed the seventh day; also, she is blessed above all women.

[iv] Also, the Sabbath day was holier than the rest, whence also in the same [chapter it says]: And he hallowed it.  And she is holier than everyone.  Wherefore it is fitting that the one blessed above others and holier than all is more specially to be honoured on the blessed day and on the holier day.

[v] Again, as the Sabbath day is mid-way between the Day of Venus [Friday] which is that of suffering, and the Lord’s Day which is the day of joy, and neither is anyone able to pass from that day of suffering to the day of joy, unless through the Sabbath day; so neither from the suffering of this world to the joy of heaven is anyone able to pass, unless by the Mediatrix of the world herself.

[vi] Again, as the Saints say, the others failed [in faith] on the Sabbath day, she stood by her faith.

[vii] Again, the Sabbath day is filled by her doing many miracles, and coming to the aid of men, as the example is given by John Beleth, of a certain icon of her, whose veil was lifted up on the Sabbath day.  And there are many others similar.

These therefore are the seven reasons why it is we serve her more on the Sabbath day, doing devoutly and solemnly her whole Office in the church.

Then even in the office of the church is sung a certain sequence of her proper to the Saturday, in which the preceding reasons are touched on why Saturday is more specially attributed to her:

Jubilemus in hac die
Quam Reginæ cœli piæ
Dicavit Ecclesia.

Hæc est dies in qua sua
Vota tibi, Virgo, tua
Reddit hæc familia.

Omne sæculum, omni die
Servi Virgini Mariæ:
Sed in hac devotius.

In hac psallas, in hac ores,
In hac laudes et labores,
Et cantes jucundius.

Virgo quæ non habet parem
Diem sibi singularem
Non injuste vindicat.

O quam digne sibi dari
Diem hunc et consecrari
Res inspecta prædicat!

Hodiernæ lux diei
Dies fuit requiei
Plasmatoris omnium.

Sic quievit in Maria,
Dum ipsius in hac via
Virgo fit hospitium.

Cunctæ tunc sunt creaturæ
Factæ dum opus naturæ
Complet Deus hodie.

Universa tunc refecit,
Dum in Matre qui nos fecit
Complet opus gratiæ.

Dies olim benedicta,
Dies quoque sancta dicta
Fuit ista septima.

Quam benedicta dicaris
Scimus, Virgo singularis,
Et quam sis sanctissima.

Dum transis ad gaudiosum
Diem, relinquens pœnosum,
Dies est hæc media.

Hæc de pœnis nos educit
Mediatrix, et adducit
Ad superna gaudia.

In hac die dum desperat
Grex pusillus qui tunc erat
Fidem tenet firmius.

In hac die suspirantes
Ad se, seque deprecantes
Obaudit frequentius.

Veneremur ergo, fratres,
Ut sanxerunt sancti patres,
In hac die Virginem.

Exorantes ut conducat
Nos hic, et tandem perducat
Ad illam dulcedinem.  Amen.


Let us rejoice on this day
Which to the pious Queen of heaven
The Church hath dedicated.

This is the day on which their
Vows to thee, Virgin, this
Thy family pays.

Every age, every day
The Virgin Mary is served:
But on this more devoutly.

On this thou sing’st, on this thou pray’st,
On this thou praisest and labourest,
And chantest more happily.

The Virgin who has no peer
To this singular day she herself
Not unjustly lays claim.

O how worthy to be given to herself
This day and to be consecrated
The thing viewed preaches!

The light of today’s day
Was the day of rest
Of the Maker of all.

So he rested in Mary,
When in this way of he himself
The Virgin was made the host.

Then all creatures were
Made when the work of nature
God finished today.

Then all things were re-made,
When in the Mother he who made us
Completed the work of grace.

The day once blessed
And the day called holy
Was the seventh one.

How blessed thou art called
We know, singular Virgin,
And how thou art most holy.

When thou passest to the day
Of joy, relinquishing suffering,
This day is in the middle.

This from pain us led
The Mediatrix, and brought us
To supernal joys.

On this day when despaired
The little flock, she was then
Holding more firmly to faith.

On this day those sighing
To her, and praying to her
She hears more frequently.

Let us revere, brethren,
As hallowed the holy fathers,
On this day the Virgin.

Praying that she conduct
Us here, and at length lead us
To her delight.  Amen.

Expositio Magistri Humberti super Constitutiones Fratrum Prædicatorum, XXIV. (Quare sabbatum attribuitur Beatæ Virgini). Opera de Vita Regulari, ed. J. J. Berthier O.P., Rome: A. Befani, 1889, Vol. II.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What River is That?

Heard by some seminarians on the same bus as that carrying the Australian bishops to St Paul's outside the Walls, during their last ad limina visit to Rome: "What river is that?" – as the bus carried them over one of the Tiber bridges.

The Rhine flows into the... what?

So much for our successors of the Apostles having even a merely natural level of ordinary education.

Quo vadis indeed!

(Surely Cooees has better sources than I – why haven't they picked this up?  How slack.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Spiritual Life: An Exchange

My post about how a rule of prayer may assist in the spiritual life has given rise to further discussion; I have excerpted and edited the following, hoping that this may be helpful to other readers also:

From a correspondent:
My problem has always been trying to live a spiritual life and my agonies over the [respective benefits of the] Ignatian/Carmelite meditation style as against the prayer of the Divine Office and trying to live out one or the other. …
Good people and saints seem to divide between the psychological feats of Ignatian meditation and the simple recitation of the Office…

… on the division between meditation and the liturgical life: briefly, I am hopeless at the former and far prefer the latter.  I admire meditation, but Vespers is… more my cup of tea.  That is why I may attend Mass at the local Carmel, but read my own Breviary there, rather than meditate as do the nuns.

[I recall also the words of Fr Faber, in the notes of his about St Philip Neri which I posted long ago, to the effect that there are two schools of spirituality, the school of captivity and the school of liberty – the former I tend to equate with rigorously enforced methods of meditation (such as that of St Ignatius); the latter, with the older tradition centred on liturgical prayer, which ought naturally inflame the mind and heart to rise upwards (so I consider the Sacred Liturgy a school of Christian liberty).]

A correspondent:
My problem is that, for me, meditation seems too self centred and too much of me, me, me and mine and the focus seems always to be on me and my spiritual life. 
[In contrast, the] Sacred Liturgy lifts us up and pushes us towards and into God's Glory Bright.  We join the saints, angels and the powers around the throne and what can be better?  Surely better than going on about me, my sins, my weaknesses and my ideas… that's how it strikes me and yet most traditional Catholics will tell you: Divine Intimacy (published by TAN) and The Exercises (as if there was nothing except St Ignatius).

I second your thoughts regarding Ignatian meditation versus the liturgy...

But, when you immediately speak of the Sacred Liturgy uplifting us to God, then you reveal just as immediately that the Liturgy accomplishes the right orientation of your mind, in the very way that counter-reformation meditative practices at their best try to achieve: for mental prayer is nothing other than "lifting heart and hands to God in heaven".

St Teresa of Avila wrote of a nun who could only repeat the Lord's Prayer, and thought herself entirely useless at prayer beyond that – but shrewd St Teresa descried that this nun in fact was lifted to the heights simply by saying the Our Father, and was far more advanced in prayer than many an earnest meditating sister.

If I may be so bold as to say, I find in the Breviary and Mass that in saying the one and joining in the other I am lifted up (a very few micrometres above earth!) - so for me, the best meditation is to join in the liturgy.  I suspect it may be similar for you. 

All unawares we are "meditating", and guided in such by the Prayer of the Church, which is far more efficacious by its very nature than any private devotion.

My schooling in spirituality was in a Dominican sensibility, which rightly fears too much Jesuitical busy-ness (though I have done the Thirty Days' Retreat): so, while the Exercises and that Carmelite work are all delightful and most beneficial to many, they are not so to me.

Just so St Philip Neri simply said his Mass and Breviary (raised to the heights all the while) and never practised Ignatian meditation (though he was a friend of St Ignatius), because the Holy Ghost gave contemplation to him "direct" - to the extent that his Mass took three hours, and he had to read his Office with others lest he simply float away.

I am no St Philip, but I do feel a strong affinity to him and his school, which was at once very 16th C. and yet of the primitive Church of the first ages.  After all, if Mass and the Psalms will not carry us up to God in prayer, what on earth will?

… don't feel bad about "not meditating" - I would argue that in your prayer you probably already are, since it directs you so toward God in heaven.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Rule of Life

Any advice on the liturgical and spiritual life for a confused convert layman? – such was the burden of an email I received this morning. Now, as a confused convert layman myself, I will dare to tender such advice as I may have to give; though I am very conscious that in doing so I may not be very helpful at all, at least thinking about this question has reminded me to lift my own game and try harder.  After all, as St Augustine notes, if we do not ever strive harder, we begin to fall backward.  The way to heaven is narrow, though it is a sure way, for Christ is our Way, our truth, our life.

First, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” and again, “For freedom Christ hath set us free”.  Therefore as regards the spiritual life, there ought be a great spirit of Christian freedom, but of course guided by the Holy Ghost “into all truth”, that “Christ may be all in all”.  Remember, sin is mean and repetitive and numbing and enslaving – while grace gives the power freely to do all manner of good things, just as the Spirit suggests to true, free, Christian men.

Hence, when a layman considers what steps he may take when seeking how better to live a spiritual and liturgical life, he must be guided in his counsels by the virtue of prudence (his baptized mind being secretly enlightened by the Holy Ghost, of course).  When doing so, he will happily and freely conform himself to the wise guidance of Holy Mother Church – particularly in the matter of liturgical worship.  But of course there are many Rites throughout the Church, and within the one Roman Rite, the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms…

That said, I can only speak from my own experience, and recommend what seems to me sensible – let readers draw from it whatsoever may help them, being guided by the Spirit to wisely discern what is useful.  Hence, I must begin at last to make suggestions, explaining that, while at University, in a first flush of convert enthusiasm, I drew up a list of religious exercises to undertake, from which I draw what I am writing now.  Any such a rule of life provides a useful reference whereby to measure one’s fidelity to prayer – certainly each man should compose his own, wisely and prudently.

It goes without saying, of course, that first and foremost one must strive to live a moral life: every man must ever attend to that duty, and hie him to the confessional when he fail in it, honestly and frankly telling all, and trusting in the priest to assist him with ghostly counsel.  (I recommend frequent and regular confession: fortnightly or weekly.)  But related to this is the need seriously to reflect upon one’s behaviour, and more particularly at the close of each day: this is the so-called examination of conscience, which is undertaken, liturgically speaking, at Compline, just before saying the Confiteor (and likewise, though perhaps with not so much time to reflect, at the outset of Mass).

Mention of Mass reminds me of an adage I learnt long ago: “I will always be thankful for the Mass, and put the Mass first in my life.”  If only I had ever heeded these words!  The Mass is Calvary made present, in all its power: at Mass we assist in offering up the Sacrifice of the Divine Victim, “for all the living and the dead, / for our poor lives so badly led”.  As the fruit of the Sacrifice we receive the Sacrament, His very Body and Blood, uniting us to Him Who is the Food of life eternal. As if this were not enough, at Mass one also hears the Scriptures read and sermons preached, commemorates the saints, and lives out the liturgical year.  It is indeed the “source and summit” of the spiritual and liturgical life.  Any pretended devotional life that is not focussed on the Mass is vain.

Therefore, while of course always attending Sunday Mass and Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, we should make a serious effort, according to our state of life, our abilities and obligations, to attend Mass also on weekdays, at least on the greater feasts and during Lent.  (I am aware that not every Mass is so conducted as to be entirely and perfectly beautiful in its revelation of its inner mysteries: let a choice be made, where possible, of the most devout celebration thereof, that attendance may edify, not dishearten, the congregant.)

I can testify to the blessings accruing from frequent attendance at Mass. To arise early and attend Mass before work (or better still, being able to sleep in and hear Mass after work!) really does pay off.  Quite apart from anything else, to have a quiet half-hour or so to focus on the “one thing necessary” is a blessing that very few in our manic age ever get.  Never underestimate the good that comes simply from such peaceful time in church with the Lord, in Holy Church assembled.

After Mass, for such as wish to conform their devotion to the Sacred Liturgy, comes recitation – or, better, participation in the public celebration – of some portion of the Divine Office.  Prudence is required in determining what is feasible and of spiritual benefit: for nothing is truly beneficial if it interferes with the duties of our life, or is too difficult given all the circumstances: so if saying the Office privately is difficult or a strain, at least attend its solemn public celebration when offered.

Of course, all things being equal, attendance at Vespers (and Benediction) is most uplifting (two saints as different as St Ignatius and St Philip Neri agree on that); but likewise privately praying some part or form of the Hours is essentially to pray the Psalms, those divine compositions of the Holy Ghost whereby God praises Himself and teaches us how to pray, oft-times setting before us the very sentiments of Christ (as proven by the references He made to the Psalms, and the way the Psalms are very often rightly understood as being His own meditations or illustrations of His life, death and resurrection).

A truly lucky soul is he who lives near a monastery, who can visit there and assist at the Office; but even a man alone, reading some of the Breviary or Little Office or whatnot, is participating in the liturgical worship of the Church.  I have in the past lived where I could participate in the Hours even daily, lucky me; nowadays, I sing and serve at fortnightly Compline and Benediction – or sometimes, as on my recent weekend in Sydney, attend solemn Vespers.

Some people find praying the Office much easier than others, of course: and if this form of prayer seems difficult and unhelpful, one should change to some other.  But, given the email I received about how to cultivate a liturgical and spiritual life, I assume that such as would ask such a question will have some impulse toward use of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours.  Learning how is of course a more complex matter!

Given work commitments, I must confess that at present I usually say Lauds, and that’s about it; when my devotion and discipline have been stronger, I have been able to recite the Day Hours of the Breviary; and in former times, when I prayed in English not Latin, for some years I read the whole modern Divine Office daily, changing over eventually to the Roman Breviary (but after all, I was a student, with plenty of time on my hands – what Dominicans call “sacred leisure”).

[Selecting and buying a useful edition of the Office is another matter again: luckily, these days several forms are available online.]

If I were married, let alone had children also, I suspect that I would have even less time to spare: but then again, I know an older couple who have been Franciscan Tertiaries for many years, and certainly say Vespers together every evening, if not more also.  In any case, how good and pleasant a thing it is dwell in unity, and to sing God’s praises: let each man determine what he may be capable of in this respect, and strive with a glad heart to do so.

Leaving aside the Office, let us never forget to turn to Holy Mary: and at the least I would most strongly recommend invoking her by saying the Angelus, a good, short devotion that contains an abundance of treasures (as I once wrote about at some length on this blog).  If one is also able to say the Rosary, then do so, Amen!  After all, to meditate on the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and on the life of His Holy Mother, is surely a most excellent undertaking, very meritorious and very fruitful.

As a priest I know (now Bishop of Bathurst) insisted, devotion to Our Lady is not an optional add-on extra, but an essential part of the Christian spiritual life – for did not Christ love His Mother?  And did not he commend us all (in the person of the Beloved Disciple) to her, as he hung dying on the Cross?  Therefore ought we entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, for she is closest of all the Saints to her Divine Son, and most intent upon aiding all those her children to come nigh unto Him.

To other aspects of one’s day: dedicate oneself, one’s life and labours to God, as by saying the Morning Offering or any other such prayer, just as, at eventide, we should cast our eye back over the day, examining our conscience and asking forgiveness for aught done amiss.  What the Morning Offering?  Simply the dedication of all one’s thoughts, words, works and sufferings to God, through, with and in Christ – with the attached intention to “gain every virtue and merit [and indulgence] I can”, “in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world”.  For such as pray Prime, the Collects Domine Deus omnipotens and Dirigere et sanctificare equate to this Offering (both being in fact indulgenced separately, even to-day).

Whether we eat, whether we drink, we ought do so to the glory of God, and begin with grace, that is, a prayer of blessing, “for all things are sanctified by the word of God and prayer”, and likewise end with thanksgiving, giving thanks, gratias agens.  For all is grace, as St Thérèse avers.  I still remember the late emeritus Archbishop of Hobart, Dr D’Arcy, teaching me the short forms Benedictus benedicat (“May the Blessed One bless”) and Benedicto benedicatur (“May the Blessed One be blessed”) for grace before and after meals.  In his immortal words, “Benedicere takes the dative”…

In sum, I suggest daily, inasmuch as one can do so, to attend Mass, pray some part of the Office, say the Rosary and the Angelus, say grace before and after meals, start the day with the Morning Offering, and end it with an examination of conscience.

Pepper one’s devotions also with whatsoever other prayers appeal: I could suggest all manner of such, but for brevity merely refer to making Acts of Faith, Hope, Charity and Contrition (the latter in particular whenever conscious of sin), lifting one’s heart and mind to God in short aspirations (“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”), and saying the De profundis daily for the dead – plus the Miserere for one’s sins.  Worship the Sacred Heart!  Invoke one’s patron saint!  Say litanies!  Meditate!


The danger with giving advice is that one doesn’t know when to stop.  But I feel I must also offer the following counsel: one must feed one’s faith, and not be an adult with but a childish grasp of sacred doctrine – yet one must also remain childlike in one’s absolute faith in God.  Hence, spiritual reading is most necessary – by which I refer to all sorts of reading about true orthodox religion: reading the Bible, reliable works of theology suited to one’s comprehension, spiritual writings, saints’ lives…  St Philip Neri in particular recommended that his penitents hear many sermons and read many accounts of the lives of the saints.

There are good Catholic periodicals that one can subscribe to also.  And of course there are any number of worthy blogs, ahem, to ever read for one’s spiritual profit…

But beware, and flee like the plague, bad books!  St Alphonsus tells us that one bad book can ruin a monastery: how terrible it is, then, if an innocent layman should take up a heterodox tract, and have his mind polluted.  Having a strong grasp of the faith includes having the sense to fly heresy, and not to tolerate it even for an instant.


On Fridays, do penance (pray, give alms, abstain from fleshmeat) – in England and Wales, the traditional discipline has been restored, but those in other countries (such as Australia) can choose for themselves, always remembering that the responsibility to do penance is not light, even according to modern Canon Law: I would certainly confess it as a sin if I omitted to do so on Friday.  How convenient, then, to make sure one customarily goes to Confession on Saturday (the usual day priests make themselves available to hear confessions).

If possible, find a congenial prayer group to attend: for “it is not good for man to be alone”.  It is hard indeed to live a Christian life in this scoffing age; we all need to support each other in our life of faith.

Once a year or more, strive to make a retreat, or in some other way to intensify one’s spiritual life.  For instance, I have walked the Christus Rex pilgrimage from Ballarat to Bendigo for a few years now (while the Paris to Chartres proved a little too taxing for poor old me).  Unfortunately, I haven’t made a proper retreat for too long…

Finally, in all these matters, find if at all possible a wise and trustworthy priest to consult.  I am but a confused convert layman myself, after all.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Up-to-date Vesting Prayers

The Carolingians had a prayer for the priest to say when combing his hair before Mass – for long hair was then in fashion, even for the clergy.  But to-day's priest, while generally spared the bother of combing lengthy locks (long hair being so seventies; and the few still stuck in the seventies tend to be old enough to have lost theirs in any case), faces other fashion problems while vesting.

For a start, the priest oft-times takes off his watch (I noticed Fr Paul doing so) when he goes to say Mass: something about not having any secular accessory visible I suppose.  Strange; for priests rarely remove their shoes and socks.  In any case, Fr Paul recommended to me that a liturgist really ought draw up a prayer for the taking off the wrist-watch (or, for more genteel priests, the fob-watch).  Luckily, he knew whom to consult:

Remove from me, O Lord, all bounds of time and space: that I may (as the angels) in Thy presence ever abide.

(The first line sounds like an allusion to Dr Who, but no matter.  After all, according to the mediævals, time doesn't pass during Mass, or at least you grow no older and your life is not shortened at all.)

But wait!  What of that clangorous pest, the mobile phone?  (That's "cell phone" for you foreigners.)  Poor Fr Terence once admitted his sounded while he was saying Mass!  (I hope he didn't answer it, let alone disjoin his fingers to do so.)  For utterly the same reason as the watch, the dratted phone must be removed or at least silenced, and with a prayer to avert disaster:

Silence, O Lord, all earthly pomps and vanities: that I may hear ever resounding the angelic trump announcing Thy coming Judgement.

Thirdly, that accountrement of Ordinary Form liturgy, the lapel microphone, likewise needs to prayed over if not exorcized, thus:

Magnify, O Lord, my voice to sing Thy praise, that it sound as the blast that blew the walls of Jericho flat.

That should well empower the sort of celebrant who likes to project his voice right manfully... alas.

I trust these orations may assist the devotion of many a celebrant.  Could a correspondent (Dominican if possible) assist in rendering them into God's own Latin?

Busy, Busy, Busy

A busy day at work (the photocopier in particular caused me no end of grief), a rush home to pack, then off to the airport... the flight was delayed... finally, off to Melbourne, then another wait there before the Sydney plane departed... no lift available, so I took the (very expensive) airport train to Central Station... a confused wander around finally led me to the taxi stand, and (more than twenty dollars later) I soon was deposited at my accommodation, where good converse was had till past midnight.

The fold-out bed my hosts provided proved rather uncomfortable, alas, its surface lying at several different levels (all of which were scarce wider than my shoulders), and the whole affair prone to suddenly tilting upwards if one lay too close to the edge... at least it didn't close upon me like a Venus fly-trap, as it has for other unfortunate visitors in the past!

I slept in, arose, and walked into the CBD, stopping at St Benedict's for a brief visit before going to Confession at St Peter Julian's.  I broke my fast with coffee and a portuguese tart, before stopping at the Pauline Books for to buy Aidan Nichols' latest offering and an ESV "with Apocrypha" - since the latter will be used to produce the new OF Lectionary in due course (my friend Fr Paul tells me he already prepares his sermons using this translation, as his own comparison of it with the Greek suggests it to be more accurate than the Jerusalem Bible used in the present Lectionary).

Then it was time to lunch on oysters kilpatrick; and soon enough spent an hour at another venue reading The Australian (love that paper! down with Julia!), further buoyed up with coffee, macarons and chocolates.  I spare readers any more minute recounting of my day in Sydney, other than to say I walked back to my homestay and waited there for an old friend who happened to also be coming to town, so that we could go have dinner and catch up: eventually, we did (he had driven up from Melbourne the same day, and en route visited a mutual clerical acquaintance in Bathurst, so I could hardly criticise him for being late).

Yester-day, Sunday, dawned bright and early: my generous host, John (Laura unfortunately absent) cooked us breakfast, then there was just time for a walk by the Harbour before High Mass.  Lewisham was liturgical bliss as usual: Omnes gentes, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, with Mass XI, Credo II (a pleasant minor-sounding one, that), and an all-Gregorian programme, tricked out with excellent use of ison, and a very impressive chanting of the Communion with most of the rest of Psalm 30.  After Mass, it was good to catch up with many old friends.

How good and pleasant it is to be of one mind and heart!  We lunched in Chinatown on yum cha, then had some afternoon tea at the Caffe Sicilia in Surry Hills, finishing just in time to reach the Cathedral for OF Vespers and Benediction.  It was excellently done, though it seems to me that exposing the Blessed Sacrament during the Office Hymn was a false step - especially as it meant the choir was standing coram Sanctissimo, whereas the singing of O salutaris Hostia after the end of Vespers was surely the time to bring forward the Monstance.  Still, one cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The Hour was chanted strongly and well, all in the proper Gregorian chant, save the short reading (chanted in English), the intercessions (said in English) and the Lord's Prayer and Collect (sung in English).  The Magnificat was sung in chant alternating with polyphony by Suriano - strangely, the celebrant himself censed not only the altar but the choir and congregation, before he was censed by the server!  (Surely when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, only It is censed, and nothing else?)  Vespers ended, the choir sang Tallis' motet Salvator mundi, before O salutaris, the Prayer for Christian Unity always said at Benediction in Australia (in English of course), Tantum ergo &c., Benediction itself, the Divine Praises (sung in English), Adoremus with Ps 116 (all chanted in Latin) while the Prisoner was returned to His Tabernacle (!) and then the simple Salve to conclude.  Wonderful.

I met another friend after that for some beer, charcuterie and seafood, before I headed back to my base for an early night after, be it said, much liturgy, conversation, food, drink and laughter.  A good day of rest.

This morning, I farewelled my friends, and dragged my bag to the next parish, where I met up with a Dominican friend: he kindly took me to the airport, but first I served his private Mass (OF, new translation, ad orientem, Roman Canon, kneeling communion - just the way it should be done) at St Benedict's, at Our Lady's altar, to-day being the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.

Now, I am at Tullamarine en route back home; but have just heard of the death from cancer of the mother of another old friend, Fr Christopher.  I visited him, then still a deacon, and his parents when last in New Zealand: of your charity, please pray for her and for her husband and family in their grief.  Media vita in morte sumus.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sydney Long Weekend

July just wouldn't feel right without a trip up north to Sydney, for to escape the Tasmanian winter and enjoy warmer climes, a visit to old friends and a bit of good liturgy...

I fly there this evening, and return Monday afternoon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Not till October

Heard at Mass to-day from our parish priest: the Nuncio has written to Archbishop Doyle (who passed the canonical retirement age last November), telling him not to expect any news from Rome regarding His Grace's replacement till October – since, it being high summer in Italy, all the Curial offices are closed and no work is happening!

I fear for our Nuncio: he is revealing all the secrets of the Church, and this cannot bode well for his diplomatic career.  (I recall being in Rome a month ago, and a curial official telling me that he had several letters to write that day – and that's all.)

At least now I have an intention to take with me for the Christus Rex Pilgrimage this October: either to pray for a good strong priest to become Archbishop of Hobart, or to offer prayers (hopefully in thanksgiving) for whomever may be appointed, if Rome acts prior to the 26th of that month, when our walk begins.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Salvator mundi Domine

Compline is my favourite Hour.  While I do study the history and variants of the Breviary (recently examining the different schemes of Pretiosa, or the Chapter Office appended usually to Prime, on which I may post anon), I usually come back to Compline (indeed, I did came across a particularly curious form there of in the 1693 Lyons Breviary just the other day: thanks be for Google Books).  Of its manifold forms, that of the Dormitionists, of course, is near my own heart; but I prefer to pray the Dominican, though I have oft sung Monastic Compline in years past.

The Carmelite, however, appoints the following hymn – also used in the Sarum Office – for the time from Trinity until Advent; and its Latin is pleasant and easy (the English rendering being adapted from that of a well-known public domain website):

Salvator mundi, Domine,
Qui nos salvasti hodie,
In hac nocte nos protege,
Et salva omni tempore.

Adesto nunc propitius,
Et parce supplicantibus:
Tu dele nostra crimina;
Tu tenebras illumina.

Ne mentem somnus opprimat,
Nec hostis nos surripiat,
Nec ullis caro, petimus,
Commaculetur sordibus.

Te reformator sensuum,
Votis precamur cordium,
Ut puri castis mentibus
Surgamus a cubilibus.

Sit laus, perennis gloria,
Deo Patri, et Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.  Amen.

(Saviour of the world, Lord,
Who have saved us today,
In this night protect us,
And save at every time.

(Be with us now propitious,
And spare [thy] suppliants,
Do thou wipe away our crimes,
Do thou enlighten our darkness.

(Lest sleep oppress the mind,
Nor lest the enemy steal upon us,
Nor lest any flesh, we beg,
Be defiled with stains.

(Thee, reformer of senses,
We beseech with the vows of our hearts,
That pure, with chaste minds,
We may rise from our beds.

(May there be praise, glory everlasting,
To God the Father, and to the Son,
Together with the Holy Paraclete,
To the endless ages. Amen.)

Would not this be indeed a fitting bedtime prayer?  Whether one prays Compline or not, in any of its forms, think on this.  (And if the Spirit inspires you, then move on to Compline, or at least to ruminate on its traditional psalms: Ps 4, Ps 30(31):1-6, Ps 90(91) and Ps 133(134)...)

Compline's texts contain a wealth of material apt for reflection.  Consider for instance its opening short reading, I St Peter v, 8-9; or its little chapter, Jer. xiv, 9, or the following responsory, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit", or the Nunc dimittis and its anthem, or its Collect Visita quæsumus, to say nothing of the Marian anthems appended.

What of its opening blessing, "The (almighty and merciful*) Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end" – what prayer could be better?  [*O.P. addition.]

Sheppard and Tallis both set this hymn; here is Sheppard's version:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

4 doz. Oysters

An unexpected pleasure at lunch after our Missa cantata: four dozen oysters to share amongst half a dozen friends!  Apparently a local seafood outlet was celebrating this delectable shellfish with a special deal this week.  (Note to Northern Hemisphereans: yes, July is not an "r" month, but recall that the austral seasons are the reverse of yours.)

It may seem shocking, but this was the first time I've ever eaten oysters – my trepidation turned to delectation, thankfully.  I ate half a dozen of these fresh Tasmanian delights: raw, with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sippets of bread (plus a sip on a good gin and tonic, somewhat oddly stained with Angostura bitters).

The oysters were but the entree, by the way.

Oh, and before I loose myself in a Fr Z-like world of gourmandism, our Missa cantata went well: I estimate about fifty braved the cold, rainy day to attend the liturgy.  Owing to an understandable mix-up, the choir had practised the Sunday propers, not those for the feast of the Most Precious Blood – as I said to the anxious choir master, "We can only do what we can do," and, as it was adjudged impossible to try and attempt the actual chants, the Sunday texts were sung; after all, Father would be reading the correct ones at the altar anyway.  Such is life.

Prayers, please, for our priest, Fr Gerald, who will celebrate his fiftieth anniversary of ordination on the 27th of this month.  When I said to him, "Should I wish you another fifty?" he smiled and said, "Yes please!"  What a good priest: he loves his priesthood and his priestly ministry.