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God hid amidst Thine own

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Dom Benedict and I translated from the Latin this Matins hymn from the Office of Reparation given in the Mectildian Propers of the Benedictine breviary. The Office of Reparation is celebrated on the first Thursday of every month.

Hymn at Matins of the Office of Reparation
Nunc te flebilibus

[Anonymous, 17th c.--"What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes?"--Isaias 5]

1. O thou who art our Joy, our tender Grace and Rest,
God hid amidst thine own, the end of all our quest,
Thou Bread and Cup of Saints, receive our psalms and tears,
O hidden God, O silent Word.

2. Alas! while heaven outpours true Manna, living Bread,
The hearts of men grow cold, in shades amidst the dead,
No gratefulness, no praise to welcome thy descent,
O God, forsaken by thine own!

3. Ah! hath he so deserved? Hath he not given thee,
O thou his Vineyard dear, his love most tenderly?
For clustered grapes he looks, and lo! a tangle wild
Of bitter leaves and wood he finds!

4. Blasphemers circle 'round, with fangs of hatred bared,
To pierce with cruel words the Lamb in thorns ensnared,
Betrayed and sold again, his Passion still unfolds
In sacrilege and treachery.

5. Upon thine altars shine, O long desiréd King,
With radiance all divine and healing in thy wings;
O everlasting Love, reveal thy hidden Face,
That men may own thee, and adore.

6. Zeal for thy House profaned by men so wantonly,
Consumes our heart and soul, O gracious Trinity;
Open to us that House ne'er stained by evil's blight,
Where Saints with thee abide in light. Amen.


Te Deum Laudamus

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We were feeling the need for a more rhythmic and chant-worthy rendering of the Te Deum in English. Certain emphatic repetitions were deemed necessary. This is our text as it now stands:

Thee God do we praise, * Thee Lord do we confess.

Thee, O Father Everlasting, * all the world doth hold in awe.

To Thee all the Angels, * Thee the Heavens and all the celestial Powers,

To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim, * proclaim with ceaseless voice:

Holy!

Holy!

Holy! * Lord God of Sabaoth!

Full the heavens and full the earth * of the Majesty of Thy glory.

Thine the praise * of the glorious choir of the Apostles,

Thine the praise * of the Prophets' worthy throng.

Thine the praise * of the Martys' shining army.

To Thee goeth up the praise of Holy Church * from every place in this round world:

To Thee, O Father * of immeasurable Majesty;

To Thine only Son, * adorable and true;

And to the Holy Ghost, * our Advocate and Comforter.

Thou, O Christ, * art the King of glory!

Thou, O Christ * art the Father's ageless Son.

Thou, to bear mankind upon thy shoulders, * the Virgin's womb didst not disdain.

Thou, death's bitter sting didst vanquish; * to believers heaven's kingdom opening wide.

Thou sittest now at God's right hand, * in the glory of the Father.

Thou shalt come to be our Judge; * this we do believe.

We bid Thee help Thou, then, Thine own * whom with Thy precious Blood Thou hast redeemed.

Number Thou them among Thy saints * in glory everlasting.

Salvation for Thy people, O Lord, * and blessings upon Thine inheritance!

Be Thou their King * and raise them up forever.

Day by day, * shall we bless Thee.

And praise Thy Name forever, * yea, even unto the ages of ages,

Deign Thou, this day, O Lord, * to keep us safe from sin.

Mercy upon us, O Lord, * mercy upon us.

Upon us be Thy mercy, O Lord, * for upon Thee have we fixed our hope.

In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; * let me not be put to shame in the age to come.

Nos Tuo Vultu Saties

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The Ascension of the Lord

Forty-one years ago, in the springtime of my monastic journey, my Father Master -- he must have been all of 34 at the time -- told me that of all the festivals of the Church Year none was more intrinsically contemplative than the Ascension of the Lord. He spoke to me of the virtue of hope, calling it the most monastic of virtues, and meditated with me on the Vespers hymn of the Ascension, the incomparable Fourth Mode, Jesu, Nostra Redemptio. The melody is perfectly suited to the text. It has been, in some way, the musical accompaniment to my monastic journey with its sorrows and joys, with its valleys of darkness and glimmers of light. It expresses better than any other hymn the prayer of yearning by which, already here and now, a monk can hope to be united to his love and his desire. I translated the metred Latin text into prose.

Jesu, nostra redemptio,
Amor et desiderium,
Deus Creator omnium,
Homo in fine temporum.

O Jesus, our redemption,
our love, and our desire,
God, Creator of all things,
become Man in the fullness of time.

Quae te vicit clementia,
Ut ferres nostra crimina,
Crudelem mortem patiens,,
Ut nos a morte tolleres!

What tender love, what pity
compelled Thee to bear our crimes,
to suffer a cruel death
that we, from death, might be saved?

Inferni claustra penetrans,
Tuos captivos redimens,
Victor triumpho nobili
Ad dextram Patris residens:

Into death’s dark cloister didst Thou descend,
and from it captives free didst bring;
Thy triumph won, Thou didst take Thy place,
Thou, the Victor, at the Father’s right.

Ipse te cogat pietas,
Ut mala nostra superes,
Parcendo, et voti compotes
Nos tuo vultu saties.

'Twas a tender love, a costly compassion
that pressed Thee our sorrows to bear;
granting pardon, Thou didst raise us up
to fill us full with the splendour of Thy face.

Tu esto nostrum gaudium,
Qui es futurus praemium:
Sit nostra in te gloria
Per cuncta semper saecula.

Thou art already the joy of all our days,
Thou Who in eternity will be our prize;
let all our glory be in Thee,
forever, and always, and in the age to come.

Salve, Festa Dies

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It is the custom in some monasteries to go round the cloister, singing the Salve, Festa Dies, in procession before Lauds on Easter morning. Many years ago I awoke on Easter morning with the readings of the Great Paschal Vigil still fresh in my heart, and composed a strophe for each one, adapted to the lilting chant melody of the Salve, Festa Dies. The incomparable refrain is sung in Latin and repeated after each one of the strophes.

The Dominicans had, in various houses of their Order, the practice of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in this Easter morning procession. We read in the book for the Sacred Triduum of the Order of Preachers: In diluculo festi Resurrectionis Domini, in pluribus Conventibus, immediate post Matutinas, in memoriam tanti beneficii, fit Processio, et deportatur sanctissimum Eucharistiae Sacramentum per claustrum, sicit in die Corporis Christi, cum magna solemnitate. Wonderful!

Salve, Festa Dies

R. Salve festa dies toto venerabilis aevo
Qua Deus infernum vicit et astra tenet.

Let the whole cosmos dance in praise,
The skies, the oceans, mountains, hills and plains,
Sun and moon and stars in chorus ranged,
Praise Christ now risen from the dead!

Old Adam stirs from ancient sleep,
And Mother Eve stands up to see the sight,
Christ extends his hand to set them free,
And Hades’ caverns bathe in light!

To Abraham the Guest returns
Who long ago was welcomed 'neath the tree;
Sarah’s joy spills over once again
For Christ is risen from the dead!

He is the First-Born from the dead,
The Lamb by Isaac in the thicket seen
The Lamb once slain upon the mount
The living Shepherd of the sheep!

Now Moses sees him face to face,
The Son called out of Egypt’s narrow place;
The Red Sea crossed, the broad place gained
In Christ now risen from the dead!

The shroud and napkin in the tomb
Love’s face concealed through Sabbath tears and gloom;
The dawn reveals Love’s face in light
And every fear is put to flight.

Come to the waters, all who thirst,
The wellspring flows to wash away the curse;
The Seed, the Sower, and the Bread
Is Christ now risen from the dead!

Baruch his oracle declaims:
With you is wisdom, strength, and length of days;
You send forth light and quick it goes;
You name the stars, for you they glow.

Now hearts of stone are turned to flesh,
The hard and frozen melt beneath his Breath;
The torrent rushes sweet and fresh
For Christ is risen from the dead!

It is the first day of the week;
The bright and deathless Eighth Day let us keep!
Angelic whiteness fill our eyes,
And birdsong tells it to the skies.

Myrrh-bearing women, turn around;
The One you seek by you waits to be found.
Be not afraid, do as I said,
For Christ is risen from the dead.

Let chants of glory roll like waves;
For Christ has led to freedom Egypt’s slaves;
The Father’s thirst at last is quenched,
The Spirit’s dew the Church has drenched.


Stabat Mater

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This is the lovely translation of the Stabat Mater given in Maurice Zundel's classic, The Splendour of the Liturgy (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1939).

Plunged in grief the mother stood,
Weeping where the crimsoned wood
Held on high her dying son.

Through her soul, whose mourning low,
Told how grievous was her woe,
Sorrow like a sword had gone.

Oh! how sad, how sorrow laden,
Stood the meek and blessed maiden,
God's true mother undefiled.

Trembling, weeping, whelmed in woes,
Witnessing the dying throes
Of her own immortal child.

Who is he who would not weep,
Could he know what anguish deep,
Pierced the mother of the Lord?

Who from sorrow could refrain,
Gazing on that mother's pain,
Weeping with her son adored?

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In 1979, while visiting the Abbey of Chambarand in France, the chaplain, Dom Irénée, was kind enough to drive Father Jacob and me to the magnificent Abbey of Saint-Antoine, a holy place hidden in the heart of the Isère. Yes, the relics of Saint Antony of Egypt are in France!

The abbey, with its church in flamboyant gothic, was built in 1297 to receive the relics of the Father of Monks. In 1777 the abbey was made over to the Order of the Knights of Malta, and in 1896 it was entrusted to Dom Adrien Gréa and his fledgling Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception. What I remember best of that visit thirty-two years ago was stopping to pray before the altar containing the relics of Saint Antony. Never would I have imagined the possibility of such a grace!

Here are some of the Proper Texts for the Mass of Saint Antony, Abbot:

Collect

O God, who bestowed on the blessed abbot Antony
the grace of serving you in the desert by a strange and wonderful way of life,
grant that, through his intercession, we may renounce ourselves
and love you always above all things.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

General Intercessions

That the Church in East and West may be blessed
with a new generation of God-seeking men and women,
hungry for the living Word of God
and courageous in spiritual combat,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the leaders of nations
may be assisted in their efforts to secure a just and lasting peace
by the prayer and penance
of those called to a life hidden with Christ in God,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That, by the intercession of Saint Antony,
the grieving may go away rejoicing,
the angry turned to kindness,
those grown slack strengthened,
and those troubled by doubts pacified,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we who have assembled to listen to the Word
may, like Saint Antony, rejoice to confess the presence of Christ
and be transformed by His all-powerful and life-giving Spirit,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God, who by Your Holy Spirit,
so opened the ears of your servant Antony
to the Gospel proclaimed in midst of Your Church,
that nothing of its saving message escaped him,
mercifully grant that we, like him,
may listen attentively to Your Word,
treasure it in quiet hearts,
and pray without ceasing
to withstand the temptations of the evil one
and to give You glory
in the solitude of hearts made pure by Your grace.
Through Christ our Lord.


Drink to the Love of Saint John!

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Blessing of Wine on the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist


On the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, at the end of the principal Mass, that is, after the last Gospel, the priest, retaining all his vestments except the maniple, in the following manner blesses wine brought by the people in memory and in honor of Saint John, who drank poison without harm:

Psalm 22

The Lord is my Shepherd and I will lack nothing; He leadeth me to encamp in green pastures. He leadeth me to refreshing waters; He reneweth my thirsting soul.
He guideth me on straight paths for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through deadly gloom, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they give me security.
Thou preparest for me a banquet in sight of my oppressors.
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup overflows, and how good it is!
Thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord to the end of my days.
Glory be to the Father.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father, inaudibly until

V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.

V. Preserve thy servants.
R. That trust in thee, my God.

V. Send them aid, O Lord, from heaven.
R. And from Sion watch over them.

V. Let the enemy be powerless over them.
R. And the son of evil do nothing to harm them.

V. And should they drink anything deadly.
R. May it not hurt them.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God!
Who didst will that thy Son, equal to thee in eternity and substance,
should descend from heaven
and in the fulness of time take temporal birth of the most holy Virgin Mary,
so that He could seek the lost and wayward sheep
and carry it on His shoulders to the sheepfold,
and could cure the man fallen among robbers of his wounds
by pouring in oil and wine
-- do thou bless + and sanctify + this wine
which thou hast vintaged for man's drink.
Whoever partakes of it on this holy solemnity,
grant him life in body and soul.
By thy goodness let it be to him strength in the pilgrimage
to prosper him on the way,
that his journey may come to a happy termination.
Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst call thyself the true vine
and thy holy apostles the branches,
and didst desire to plant a chosen vineyard of all who love thee,
bless + this wine and impart to it the power of thy benediction.
And as thy beloved disciple John, Apostle and Evangelist
intercedes for them that partake thereof,
grant them security from all deadly and poisonous afflictions
and constant good health of soul and body.
Who livest and reignest forever.
Amen.

Let us pray.

O God, thou givest to man bread to eat and wine to drink --
bread to nourish the body and wine to cheer the heart.
And as thou didst confer upon blessed John, thy beloved disciple
such favour that not only did he himself escape the poisoned potion,
but could restore life to others so overcome;
do thou grant to all that drink this wine spiritual joy and eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son,
who with Thee, liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
R. Amen.

It is sprinkled with Holy Water.


Towards Advent

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Late November Saints

The saints of these last days of the liturgical year incite us to look beyond the conditions of this present life and to set our hope on the things that God has prepared for us in "the holy city, new Jerusalem" (Ap 21:2), "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived" (1 Cor 2:9).

Saint Cecilia of Rome

On the 22nd, Saint Cecilia was set before us: an icon of the Church, Virgin and Bride, "carrying the Gospel always on her heart and meditating therein day and night, talking with God in prayer" (Responsory).

Saint Columbanus

On the 24th, we monks remember Saint Columbanus, the Irish missionary monk who demonstrated that the search for God and zeal for the extension of His kingdom go hand in hand. Monastic implantations, be they ancient or new, are an indispensable part of the New Evangelization.

O God who, in Saint Columbanus,
wonderfully joined the work of evangelization
to the practice of the monastic life,
grant, we beseech Thee,
that through his intercession and example,
we may seek Thee above all things
and work to increase the number of those who believe.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam

Also on the 24th the Church commemorates the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, that "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1) put to death "for their testimony to Jesus and for the Word of God" (Ap 20:4).

Saint Sylvester Gozzolino, Abbot

Today, November 26th, marks the feast of Saint Sylvester, a holy Benedictine abbot of the thirteenth century who, according to legend, was shocked into a conversion of life while gazing into an open tomb.

All-merciful God,
who, when the holy abbot Sylvester
stood before an open grave,
called him from the vanity of perishable things
to a life of shining holiness in the wilderness,
we humbly entreat Thee
that, like him, we may prefer nothing to the love of Christ
and live, already in this world,
with our hearts fixed on the joys of heaven.

Death Daily Before One's Eyes

Saint Sylvester is well suited to these last days of November. Together with Saint Benedict, he calls us "to fear the Day of Judgment, to dread hell, to yearn for eternal life with all possible spiritual desire, and to keep death daily before one's eyes" (RB 4:44-46).

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Dies Irae

The feast of Saint Sylvester puts me in mind of the sequence of the Requiem Mass, the powerful and poignant Dies Irae. The place of the Dies irae in Western civilization is immense. For centuries, it has gripped the imaginations of poets, artists, and composers.

As a small boy I knew only the plainchant setting of the Dies Irae, from having heard it sung so frequently in my parish church. I often hummed it to myself, fascinated by its dramatic First Mode intervals. In 8th grade, however, I sang as a treble in Britten's stupendous War Requiem. The experience gave me quite another impression of the Dies Irae.

While in the traditional liturgy the Dies Irae continues to be sung in the Requiem Mass, the post-Conciliar reformed liturgy designates it for use in the Divine Office throughout the week immediately preceding the First Sunday of Advent. The Dies irae was originally composed for Advent, trumpeting the One who comes come to judge the world.

The Trump that Wakes the Dead

In Canto VI of his Lay of the Last Minstrel, Sir Walter Scott condenses the Dies irae into twelve lines. We do well to ponder them this week.

That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner's stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When, shriveling like a parchèd scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead:

Oh, on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be thou the trembling sinner's stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away.

Monks no longer have the custom of keeping an open tomb at the ready as the salutary destination of a daily stroll. We do well nonetheless to bend ourselves to the wisdom of Saint Benedict and the example of Saint Sylvester by "keeping death daily before our eyes." And we do well to ruminate the poetry of the Dies irae.

The Right Perspective

If anything, these practices will place all other things in the right perspective, disposing us to detachment, showing us how narrow and petty are the things that hold us in their grip. In the end, heaven and earth will pass away, but the words of Christ our Lord and merciful Judge will remain.

Ember Wednesday in September

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Photo: Monastic ruins on the Hill of Slane.

The Ember Days

The September Ember Days are upon us, signaling the passage of summer and the beginning of autumn. Here at Silverstream Priory, the chill in the morning air tells us that, in spite of the warm sunshine during the day, the long, slow descent into winter has already begun.

Optimistic Realism of the Roman Rite

Today's first Collect at Mass is a prime example of what I like to call the optimistic realism of the Roman Rite:

We beseech Thee, O Lord
that our fragility may be upheld
by the remedies of Thy mercy,
so that what of itself is falling into ruin
may, by Thy clemency, be restored.

Is not this a marvelous prayer? On the one hand, there is the sober recognition of ourselves such as we really are: fragile, and falling into ruin. On the other hand, there is a confident acknowledgment of the remedies of divine Mercy and of the restorative power of God's clemency. The prayer is, thus, perfectly balanced.

Fragility

Most people, if they have any degree off self-knowledge and honesty, will admit to feeling and being fragile, that is breakable, susceptible of being fragmented. At certain hours in one's life, one can have the overwhelming feeling of being shattered. Sometimes the shattering blow comes from outside ourselves, that is, from the world around us that is populated with other shattered and shattering human beings. Sometimes the shattering blow comes from the diabolical machinations of the Evil One. And still, at other times, we deal the shattering blow to ourselves by hurling ourselves against whatever jagged hardness happens to be at hand.

Remedies of Mercy

What can keep us, in spite of our native fragility, from being utterly shattered? The Collect tells us that the remedies of God's mercy will uphold us, and will prevent our collapse. What are these remedies? They are, first of all, the Sacraments of Penance and of the Most Holy Eucharist. They are the "prayer and fasting" of which Our Lord speaks in today's Gospel (Mark 9:16-28). Of prayer there is none more efficacious than the Divine Office, the voice of Christ united to that of His Spouse, the Church, and this from the rising of the sun to its setting. Of fasting there is none better than that prescribed or recommended by the Church, particularly during these Ember Days.

A Team of Physicians

Remedies of mercy too are the sacramentals of the Church on earth, and the solicitude and assistance of the Mother of God, and of the angels and saints in heaven. God has not abandoned us to our fragility. He has commanded His angels to bear us up, lest we dash our foot against a stone. (Psalm 90:12). The saints, for their part, are skilled physicians of souls and bodies, working together under the direction of the chief Physician, who is our Lord Jesus Christ.

The second part of the Collect is the ut or "so that" clause typical of the Roman Rite:

. . . ut quae sua conditione atteritur,
tua clementia reparatur.

. . . so that what of itself is falling into ruin
may, by Thy clemency, be restored.

There is a lovely balance to the two verbs in the Latin text: atteritur, reparatur; the idea is of falling into ruin, and of being repaired. Speaking for myself, I have, more than once, had the impression of falling into ruin. The Latin verb is perhaps closer to "being cast down to the ground." Ireland is full of monastic ruins (see the photo above) and on difficult days I can see myself as one of them. The realism of the Roman Rite admits that we are all, at certain seasons and hours, falling into ruin. The supernatural optimism of the Roman Rite sees God, however, as the repairer of ruins, as the One who rebuilds what is falling to the ground. This gives me immense hope,

28 August: Saint Augustine

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Here are some lovely texts for the feast of Saint Augustine.

At First Vespers

Holy Father Saint Augustine,
Hearken to thy children's cry;
Plea for us as now thou standest
Near the throne of God on high:
Guide thy flock, O loving Shepherd,
Who to us in Christ art nigh.

Holy poverty's true lover,
All Christ's poor ones hymn thy praise,
Truth's own champion and defender,
Loved by all who seek her ways;
Scripture's God-enlightened teacher,
All her wealth thy pen displays.

Lighting depths obscure and hidden,
Thou dost break us heavenly bread
From the doctrine of our Saviour,
From the gracious words He said;
With the Psalms life-giving nectar
All who learn of thee are fed.

For the white-robed canon's choir
Laws of wisdom thou didst frame:
Those who love thy words and keep them,
Thy sure patronage may claim;
Safe, they tread the ways of Sion,
Calling on thy worthy name.

Glory to the King of Ages;
Praise and triumph to his reign;
Joining with the choir of Angels,
Let us sound our answering strain;
E'en now, 'neath our Patron's banner,
Citizens of heaven's domain. Amen.

Blessing of Herbs and Flowers

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Christians of both East and West have, from very early times, blessed herbs and fruit on the Feast of the Assumption. Thus blessed, these creatures become sacramentals of the Church and portents of divine protection from dangers to soul and body. In some places the herbs were placed on the altar, and even beneath the altar linens, so that from this proximity to the Most Holy Eucharist they might receive a special hallowing, beyond that conferred by the blessing prayers of the Church.

The prayers of the rite suggest that this custom of the Church hearkens back to the ancient customs ordained by God through Moses. According to Christian tradition, when the Apostles accompanied Saint Thomas, who had been absent at the time of the Blessed Virgin's death, to her tomb, upon opening it they discovered that her body was not there. Instead, they found the tomb filled with fragrant herbs and flowers. Blessed herbs recall the lingering fragrance of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church.

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Introit
Rejoice we all in the Lord, as we keep festival in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary: whose solemnity makes angels joyful and sets them praising the Son of God. V. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart, I shall speak of the works of the King (Ps 44:2).

Gaudeamus is a magnificent festal chant originally composed for the virgin martyr Saint Agatha, and then adapted to other occasions. It is used on a number of other feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making it familiar enough to be sung with a certain jubilant ease. The gentle balancing of the first mode melody evokes the ceaseless, sweeping joys of the heavenly liturgy celebrated by "the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" (Ap 5:11). The verse, drawn from Psalm 44, the exuberant messianic wedding song, is placed in the mouth of the Church, the Bride of Christ, as she declares the wonders wrought through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of Perpetual Help.

Collect
Lord Jesus Christ, by whose gift Mary Thy Mother, that Mary whose glorious image we revere, is our Mother too, and ready at all times to succour us, we pray Thee grant that we, who earnestly beg her maternal help, may be counted worthy to reap through all eternity the fruit of Thy redeeming work. Thou who art God living and reigning with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

As are many liturgical prayers of recent composition, the Collect is addressed to Christ rather than to the Father. Orations addressed to the Son are exceptional in the Roman liturgy; in the East they are the norm. While it is not traditional to direct the Collect to the Son in the classic Roman liturgy, there are moments when it can be quite fitting to do so. The feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help may be one of those moments.

The Collect refers straightaway to the gift of the Virgin Mary's motherhood extended to every disciple of her Son, the very mystery that will be evoked in the Gospel; and to the veneration of her glorious image. It acknowledges that Mary is perpetually ready to help us, and asks that, through her motherly power, we may reap through all eternity the fruit of Christ's redemption. The last phrase is certainly an allusion to the charism of the Redemptorists, custodians of the miraculous icon and, in the tradition of Saint Alphonsus, tireless preachers of Mary's universal mediation and inexhaustible clemency.

The Joy of Innocence

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Sexual Exploitation, Then and Now

The young Luigi Gonzaga preserved his innocence in a milieu where boys were often the victims of sexual predators -- both women and men -- and where the sexual exploitation of youngsters was a divertissement of the decadent. His angelic purity ought, more than ever, to be presented as a gift of incredible beauty and as costly prize. Luigi was not one to shrink from spiritual combat. Even as a boy, he went forward with courage and grace, his eyes set on "the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not" (Heb 11:1).

Introit (Psalm 8:8, Ps 148:2)

Thou hast made him a little less than the angels:
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Ps. Praise the Lord, all his angels: praise ye Him all His hosts.

There are two allusions to the angels in this relatively brief chant. Our Lord gives us the key to understanding the angelic quality of Saint Aloysius when he says: "See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Mt 18:10). Look at the eyes of Aloysius; they reflect the Face of the Father.

The Collect is splendidly realistic. Not all of us have followed Saint Aloysius along the path of "a wonderful innocence of life." Some of us may have lost that innocence by weakness in the face of occasions of sin, others by a calculated choice. Still others had that "wonderful innocence" taken from them. One has to have read certain pages of the Journals of Julien Green to understand the repercussions over a lifetime of an innocence lost.

The Church addresses the dilemma in her prayer: eius meritis et precibus concede, ut innocentem non secuti, poenitentiam imitemur. "Grant through his merits and prayers, that we who have not followed him in his innocence, may imitate him in his penance." Penitence here means more than acts of asceticism; it refers to the change of direction by virtue of which one begins to live with, as Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity would say, with one's eyes in the eyes of Christ.

The liturgy places the Gradual in the mouth of Saint Aloysius. It is a chant of thanksgiving for the gift of divine intimacy, and for the shining innocence that is its fruit.

Gradual (Psalm 70:5-6; Ps 40:13)

Thou, my Lord, the hope of my youth,
Thou hast upheld me from birth,
Thou hast guarded me ever since I left my mother's womb.
V. Thou dost befriend my innocence,
and wilt have me stand continually in Thy presence.

Alleluia Verse (Ps 64:5)

Blessed is the man on whom Thy choice falls,
whom Thou bringest near to Thyself,
bidding him dwell in Thy palace.

Here the Church remembers Aloysius as one chosen by God and brought near to Himself to live always in the courts (or palace) of the Lord. The underlying idea is that Luigi, destined to live in a Renaissance palace, lives out his days instead in the courts of the Lord, in the household of the King.

Offertory Antiphon (Ps 23:3-4)

Who dares climb the mountain of the Lord,
and appears in His sanctuary?
The guiltless in act, the pure in heart.

Returning to Psalm 23, the source of the Introit, for the Offertory procession, the Church engages in a question and answer. This is sung at the very moment the priest ascends to the altar, climbing the mountain of the Lord and appearing in His sanctuary. One hears above this antiphon, in a kind of mystical counterpoint, the promise of Our Lord in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). Look at the eyes of Luigi in the portrait above; it is the gaze of a clean heart, the gaze of one who sees God.

She Chose the Best Part

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Preface of Saint Scholastica, Virgin*

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Saint Scholastica, obedient to the teaching of Saint Benedict, her brother,
inclined the ear of her heart to the voice of Christ
who led her into the wilderness
and there espoused her in mercy and faithfulness.

This holy virgin chose the best part,
and in preferring nothing to the love of Christ,
reached that love of yours which, being perfect,
drove out all fear.

When in earnest prayer she sought your help,
you answered her outpouring of tears
with a sudden downpour of rain amidst lightning and thunder,
and in this you revealed the surpassing power of love.

In the form of a dove,
her pure soul entered the glory of heaven;
seeing this her brother was filled with joy
and raised his voice in glad thanksgiving.

Now Saint Scholastica rejoices in you who called her,
and praises you forever with the powers of heaven,
with whom we also raise our voices
in this, their endless hymn of praise:

* Presented here for study purposes.

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The Lectionary used at Matins is that edited by Stephen Mark Holmes for Pluscarden Abbey. Today's readings are especially lovely. The responsories are proper to the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. The liturgical function of the responsory is to facilitate the inward assimilation of the message of the lesson.

The liturgical theology of Pope Saint Leo the Great, articulated in the lesson for the Second Nocturn, insists on the perennity of the grace that flows from the celebration of the mysteries of Christ. "We are not," he says, "left with a mere report of bygone events, to be received in faith and remembered with veneration. God's bounty toward us has been multiplied, so that even in our own times we daily experience the grace which belonged to those first beginnings."

At the First Nocturn:

A READING FROM THE PROPHET ISAIAH

(Foreigners and eunuchs are admitted into the house of the Lord: Isaiah 56:1-8)

Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from his people"; and let not the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." For thus says the LORD: "To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off.

"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."

Responsory

These I will bring to my holy mountain * and make them joyful in my house of prayer. R. For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. V. To the eunuchs who keep my ssbbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. R. For my house. V. Glory be.

At the Second Nocturn:

A READING FROM A SERMON BY ST LEO THE GREAT

Dearly beloved, the day on which Christ first showed himself to the Gentiles as the Saviour of the world should be held in holy reverence among us. We should experience in our hearts the same joy as the three wise men felt when the sign of the new star led them into the presence of the King of heaven and earth, and they gazed in adoration upon the one in whose promised coming they had put their faith. Although that day belongs to the past, the power of the mystery which was then revealed has not passed away; we are not left with a mere report of bygone events, to be received in faith and remembered with veneration. God's bounty toward us has been multiplied, so that even in our own times we daily experience the grace which belonged to those first beginnings.

The Gospel story specifically recalls the days when, without any previous teaching from the prophets or instruction in the law, three men came from the far east in search of God; but we see the same thing taking place even more clearly and extensively in the enlightenment of all those whom God calls at the present time. We see the fulfilment of that prophecy of Isaiah which says: The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all nations, and the whole world has seen the salvation that comes from the Lord our God. And again: Those who have not been told about him shall see, and those who have not heard shall understand. When we witness people being led out of the abyss of error and called to knowledge of the true light, people who, far from professing faith in Jesus Christ, have hitherto devoted themselves to worldly wisdom, we can have no doubt that the splendour of divine grace is at work. Whenever a shaft of light newly pierces darkened hearts, its source is the radiance of that same star, which impresses the souls it touches by the miracle of its appearance and leads them forward to worship God.

If on the other hand we earnestly ask ourselves whether the same threefold oblation is made by all who come to Christ in faith, shall we not discover a corresponding gift offering in the hearts of true believers? To acknowledge Christ's universal sovereignty is in fact to bring out gold from the treasury of one's soul; to believe God's only Son has made himself truly one with human nature is to offer myrrh; and to declare that he is in no way inferior to his Father in majesty is to worship him with frankincense.

Responsory

The Lord has bared His holy arm * in the sight of all nations, R. And the whole world has seen the salvation that comes from the Lord our God. V. The mystery which was then revealed has not passed away; God's bounty toward us has been multiplied. R. And the whole world. V. Glory be.


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Gone and Back Again

Filippino Lippi shows the mystical espousal of Saint Catherine of Alexandria with the Infant Christ. The Mother of God, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Sebastian are there as witnesses.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria vanished from the reformed Roman Calendar in the reform of 1969 and, Deo gratias, reappeared in 2002. Why? Part of the answer can be found, I think, by comparing the lovely old Collect for Saint Catherine with the one newly composed for the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal.

In the traditional liturgy, which we celebrate here at Our Lady of the Cenacle, on November 25th the Church prays:

O God Who gavest the Law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai,
and didst miraculously place the body of Thy blessed virgin-martyr Catherine
in the selfsame spot by the ministry of Thy holy angels,
grant, we beseech Thee, that her merits and pleadings
may enable us to reach the mountain which is Christ.

The Collect focuses on the image of Mount Sinai, the sacred mountain which prefigures Christ himself. The first phrase of the prayer takes up Exodus 31:18, the inspiration of the Great O Antiphon that we will be singing on December 18th:

O ADONAI, and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on the summit of Sinai: come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

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Of Monks and Angels

The only problem (although not for me) with the fine old Collect, it would seem, is that it hinges on the legendary miraculous translation by angels of the body of Saint Catherine to Mount Sinai. Ah, but look again! In the Eastern tradition consecrated monks are designated "of the Angelic Habit."

Given that the life of monks, dedicated to the ceaseless praise of the Thrice-Holy God, has often been compared to that of the Angels, monks have, at various times, been called "angels." (See Père Louis Bouyer's classic book, The Meaning of the Monastic Life.) The translation by "angels" may have been carried out by monks!

Unity Among the Churches

The newly composed Collect for Saint Catherine does not make use of the biblical mountain imagery; instead it focuses on the work of Christian unity. Saint Catherine, cherished and greatly venerated in the East, becomes in the new Collect an intercessor for the unity of the Church.

Almighty and eternal God,
who gavest to Thy people the invincible virgin and martyr Saint Catherine,
grant that, by means of her intercession,
we may be strengthened in faith and constancy,
and spend ourselves unsparingly
in working for the unity of Thy Church.

The Patrimony of a Pilgrim Pope

The significance of Saint Catherine's reappearance in the pages of the Roman Missal cannot be understood apart from the historical pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt on February 26, 2000. Today's feast of the Virgin Martyr of Alexandria recalls the commitment of the Church of Rome to the arduous work of unity with the Churches of the East through prayer and humble dialogue. In the Collect of the 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum we ask that, through the intercession of Saint Catherine, "we may be strengthened in faith and constancy, and spend ourselves unsparingly in working for the unity of the Church."

The homily that Pope John Paul II preached at the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai is, in its own way, a prophetic word to the churches:

Here He Revealed His Name

Our faith leads us to become pilgrims in the footsteps of God. We contemplate the path He has taken through time, revealing to the world the magnificent mystery of His faithful Love for all humankind. Today, with great joy and deep emotion, the Bishop of Rome is a pilgrim to Mount Sinai, drawn by this holy mountain which rises like a soaring monument to what God revealed here. Here He revealed his name! Here he gave his Law, the Ten Commandments of the Covenant!

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Holy Ground

How many have come to this place before us! Here the People of God pitched their tents (cf. Ex 19:2); here the prophet Elijah took refuge in a cave (cf. 1 Kgs 19:9); here the body of the martyr Catherine found a final resting- place; here a host of pilgrims through the ages have scaled what Saint Gregory of Nyssa called "the mountain of desire" (The Life of Moses, II, 232); here generations of monks have watched and prayed. We humbly follow in their footsteps, to "the holy ground" where the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob commissioned Moses to set his people free (cf. Ex 3:5-8).

Adore Him

God shows Himself in mysterious ways - as the fire that does not consume - according to a logic which defies all that we know and expect. He is the God who is at once close at hand and far-away; He is in the world but not of it. He is the God who comes to meet us, but who will not be possessed. He is "I AM WHO I AM" - the name which is no name! I AM WHO I AM: the divine abyss in which essence and existence are one! The God who is Being itself! Before such a mystery, how can we fail to "take off our shoes" as He commands, and adore Him on this holy ground?

Listening to the Word

Pope John Paul II went on to acknowledge the age-old monastic presence on Sinai:

The monks of this Monastery pitched their tent in the shadow of Sinai. The Monastery of the Transfiguration and Saint Catherine bears all the marks of time and human turmoil, but it stands indomitable as a witness to divine wisdom and love. For centuries monks from all Christian traditions lived and prayed together in this Monastery, listening to the Word in whom dwells the fullness of the Father's wisdom and love. In this very Monastery, Saint John Climacus, wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a spiritual masterpiece that continues to inspire monks and nuns, from East and West, generation after generation.

The Things That Unite Us in Christ

The Pope concluded by praying that,

. . . in the new millennium the Monastery of Saint Catherine will be a radiant beacon calling the Churches to know one another better and to rediscover the importance in the eyes of God of the things that unite us in Christ.

The Catholic "Both And"

This, it seems to me, enriches the ancient feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria with another perspective: "the importance in the eyes of God of the things that unite us in Christ." So then, which Collect should we use today? I would suggest that we do a very Catholic thing and use both of them. My preference would be to retain the traditional prayer at Holy Mass and the major Hours and use the new one at the Little Hours and, perhaps, to conclude the General Intercessions where these are done.

Patri munus et hostiam

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The Office hymn given for Lauds and Vespers in the Liber Hymnarius and in the Liturgia Horarum for today's feast of Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Church, was composed by the Benedictine hymnographer Dom Anselmo Lentini (+1989). It offers an enchanting portrait of the saint of Rome and Bethlehem. My translation makes no pretense of attempting to be literal; I sought only to give the sense of the hymn, and then reflect on each strophe.

1. Festiva canimus laude Hieronymum,
qui nobis radiat sidus ut eminens
doctrinae meritis ac simul actibus
vitae fortis et asperae.

With festive praise we sing of Jerome;
radiant as a star he shines forth
by the merits of his teaching as well as by
the fortitude and austerity of his life.

The first strophe encapsulates all that one really needs to know about Saint Jerome: he is deserving of a festal day of gladsome praise; he is a light in the Church, not only by his incomparable teaching, but also by his resolute and rigorous monastic life. Sacred learning and asceticism go hand in hand, or as Dom Jean Leclercq put it, "the love of letters and the desire for God."

2. Hic verbum fdei sanctaque dogmata
scrutando studuit pandere lucide,
aut hostes, vehemens ut leo, concitus
acri voce refellere.

Scrutinizing the Word and the holy dogmas of the faith,
he strove to cast them into light;
terrible as a lion to his enemies,
with the roar of his voice he refuted them without delay.

I love the word scrutando here. One can picture Saint Jerome bent over his precious manuscripts, attentive to every jot and tittle of the sacred text. More often than not, when he lifts his head from his work, it is to roar like a lion, ready to rip apart the errors of the enemies of the Word. Saint Jerome knew where to invest his passions!

3. Insudans alacer prata virentia
Scripturae coluit caelitus editae;
ex his et locuples dulcia protulit
cunctus pabula gratiae.

By the sweat of his brow, he cultivated
the green meadows of the heaven-inspired Scriptures;
enriched by them, he brought forth for all
the sweet nourishment of grace.

Dom Lentini is a genius. The "sweat of the brow" is an allusion to Genesis 3,19: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" or, as Msgr. Knox puts it, "thou shalt earn thy bread with the sweat of thy brow." The "green meadows" allude, of course, to Psalm 22, 2: "He makes me lie down in green pastures." Nourished by the Word of God, Saint Jerome offers all Christians the food of grace, that is, Christ Himself in the Scriptures.

4. Deserti cupiens grata silentia
ad cunas Domini pervigil astitit,
ut carnem crucians se daret intime
Patri munus et hostiam.

Yearning for the desert's refreshing silence,
he kept watch close to the manger-cradle of the Lord,
that by crucifying his flesh, he might become deep within
an offering and a sacrificial victim to the Father.

This is my favourite strophe. Jerome yearns for the tranquil stillness of the desert, far from "the strife of tongues" (Psalm 30, 20). Close to the manger of the Infant Christ, he discovers the humility and poverty of spiritual childhood and, as crèche and cross are fashioned from the same wood, he enters into the mystery of the suffering and crucified Jesus, and so identifies with Him, that Jerome's whole life becomes a Eucharistic oblation. With Jesus, he becomes an offering (munus) and a sacrificial (victim) to the Father.

The youngest Doctor of the Church, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, of the crèche and of the cross, died on the evening of the feast of Saint Jerome, September 30, 1897; she also shared the older Doctor's love for the Word of God. On October 19, 1997, declaring Saint Thérèse a Doctor of the Church, Pope John Paul II wrote:

Despite her inadequate training and lack of resources for studying and interpreting the sacred books, Thérèse immersed herself in meditation on the Word of God with exceptional faith and spontaneity. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit she attained a profound knowledged of Revelation for herself and for others. By her loving concentration on Scripture - she even wanted to learn Hebrew and Greek to understand better the spirit and letter of the sacred books - she showed the importance of the biblical sources in the spiritual life, she emphasized the originality and freshness of the Gospel, she cultivated with moderation the spiritual exegesis of the Word of God in both the Old and New Testaments. Thus she discovered hidden treasures, appropriating words and episodes, sometimes with supernatural boldness, as when, in reading the texts of St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 12-13), she realized her vocation to love (cf. Ms B, 3r-3v). Enlightened by the revealed Word, Thérèse wrote brilliant pages on the unity between love of God and love of neighbour (cf. Ms C, 11v-19r); and she identified with Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper as the expression of her intercession for the salvation of all (cf. Ms C, 34r-35r).

5. Tanti nos, petimus te, Deus optime,
doctoris precibus dirige, confove,
ut laetas liceat nos tibi in omnia
laudes pangere saecula.

We pray you, O God of all goodness,
by the prayers of so great a doctor, direct us and surround us with your tender care,
so that we might be given leave to pour forth your joyful praises
unto the ages of ages.

The hymn ends, as do nearly all the hymns of the Church, with a doxological élan. We pray to walk in the path of righteousness and of doctrinal rectitude and ask, at the same time, that the warmth of the Father's tenderness envelop us so that one day in heaven, our lips might be opened to sing His praises eternally.


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The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant Blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech Thee, to bless
Thy creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His most Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to Thy glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.

The Things That Are Above

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A Commentary on the Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

There is no better way to enter into the mystery of any feast than by passing through the portals opened for us by the Church herself in the texts and signs she has chosen for it. Nothing of what the Church says and does in the liturgy is without significance. Every word, every gesture, is, as Psalm 118 puts it, "a door opening onto the light, giving intelligence to the simple" (Ps 118:130).

Introit

Gaudeamus! The Mass today opens on a note of irrepressible joy: Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at whose Assumption the angels rejoice and all together praise the Son of God. This is no mere earthly joy; it is the joy of heaven spilling over, cascading down through the choirs of angels until, having reached us here below, it again takes flight heavenward, leaving us surprised by joy.

The joy of today's festival descends from heaven and returns to heaven. It leaves us caught up in a mystery bigger than ourselves, obliges us to set our sights "on the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1). It is as if the Virgin Mother herself, borrowing the words of the Apostle, speaks to us out of that glory in which she is "hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:3), and says, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3:2). The Assumption of the Mother of God is a jubilant "Sursum corda!"

Collect

Almighty and ever-living God,
by whom Mary, the immaculate Virgin Mother of your Son,
was taken up, body and soul into the glory of heaven:
grant, we beseech you,
that, ever intent on the things that are above,
we may become worthy
of sharing in the glory that is hers.

The Collect of the day flows directly out of the Introit. What the Introit proclaims in song, the Collect turns into prayer. We address the Almighty and ever-living God, the God for whom, as the Angel said to Mary, "nothing is impossible" (Lk 1:37). We confess the Church's firm belief that Mary, at the term of her mortal life, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. An astonishing thing! That Mary should be in heaven spiritually, is something easily conceded. That her very body should be mysteriously "hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:3) is quite another thing.

The dogma of the Assumption declares that the human body, being constitutive of who we are, is not expendable, not a mere wrapping to be discarded. Our bodies have a glorious destiny: the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem, described in the book of Revelation, will engage our bodies as well as our spiritual souls. The Mother of God is already engaged body and soul in that heavenly liturgy where the priests of Sion "are clothed with salvation and her saints rejoice with exceeding great joy" (Ps 131:9). This is why the Preface will call Mary, "the beginning and likeness of the Church in her fullness."

The petition of the Collect asks that, "ever intent on the things that are above, we may become worthy of sharing in the glory that is hers." The language of this petition is lifted directly from Colossians 3:1: "Seek the things that are above." Everything today moves upward. Everything is caught up in that movement of return to the Father inaugurated by resurrection and ascension of Christ our high priest, a grand entrance procession wonderfully continued in the assumption of his Mother.

Prayer Over the Offerings

May the offering of ourselves
rise up into your presence, Lord;
and may the all-blessed Virgin Mary,
taken up to heaven by you,
so help us by her intercession,
that our hearts, set ablaze with the fire of love,
may ever yearn for you.

The Prayer Over the Offerings intensifies the upward movement into the presence of God, but here, the upward movement becomes one of offering. Ascendat ad te are the opening words of the prayer. The images are those of Psalm 140, the song of the evening sacrifice: "Let my prayer arise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation" (Ps 140:2). This is the prayer of the Virgin Mary at the hour of her passing-over. Mary herself is the incense rising at the evening hour of her earthly life. "Who is she coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?" (Ct 3:6). And so we pray, "May the offering of ourselves rise up into your presence, Lord, and may the all-blessed Virgin Mary, taken up into heaven by you, so help us by her intercession, that our hearts, ablaze with the fire of charity, may ever yearn for you."

The image of incense rising is coupled with that of hearts set ablaze with the fire of charity. In the ancient form of the Mass, the priest, after incensing the altar, returns the thurible to the deacon, saying, "May the Lord kindle within us the fire of his love, and the flame of undying charity." There is something of that prayer in today's Prayer Over the Offerings. It invites us to cast our lives, our very selves, like grains of incense onto the glowing embers of a charity fanned by the Spirit. Thus do we ascend heavenward with Mary's evening sacrifice as an offering made to God.

Preface

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Today the Virgin Mother of Christ
was taken up into the heavens,
to be the beginning and likeness
of your Church in her fullness
and an assurance of hope and consolation
for your people on their pilgrim way.
You would not let her see corruption in the grave
for she had given birth to your Son, the author of all life,
in the wonder of his Incarnation.

United therefore with all the choirs of angels,
we praise you, and in gladness proclaim:

The Preface of today's Mass sees in the Virgin Mother of Christ an icon of what the whole Church will be in her fullness. From her place in heaven, Mary shines as "an assurance of hope and consolation" for us as we make our pilgrim way through this valley of tears. The Preface borrows its imagery from Chapter Eight of Lumen Gentium: "The Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and beginning of the Church, as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. 2 P 3:10), a sign of certain hope and comfort to the Pilgrim People of God" (LG, art. 68).

In Mary's shining forth from heaven, one detects also something of Saint Bernard's marvelous sermon on Mary, the radiant Star set by God in the heavens. Listen to the Abbot of Clairvaux: "Mary is that star I say, uplifted over the ocean of this world, shining by her merit and shedding light on us by her example. O you who struggle in this stormy sea, do not turn your eyes from this star, if you would escape shipwreck! When the winds of temptation arise and you run on the rocks of tribulation, look at that star, think of Mary, call on her by name. If you follow her, you will not go off course; if you cry to her, you will not give up hope; if you think of her, you will not go astray" (Sermon IV, Super Missus Est).

The last part of the Preface draws upon Psalm 15, the prophecy that, from the time of Saint Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost, spoke to Christians of the resurrection of Christ. What David prophesied about Christ concerns also those who belong to Him and, in the first place, His holy Mother. The Preface sings, "You would not let her see corruption in the grave for she had given birth to your Son, the author of all life, in the wonder of his Incarnation." The Psalm -- and today we hear it from the lips of the Virgin Mother -- says, "My heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay. You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness forever" (Ps 15:9-11).

Communion Antiphon

The Communion Antiphon rightly repeats a line from the Gospel of the Mass. Mary's bold prophecy at the time of her Visitation to Elizabeth is fulfilled in the mystery of her Assumption: "All ages will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me" (Lk 1:48-49). The Eucharist is the beginning in time of our eternal blessedness. It is the "beatifying" sacrament because it makes us truly happiness with a foretaste of the bliss of the blessed in heaven. The Eucharist is first among the magnalia Dei, the great things done for us by the Almighty.

Prayer After Communion

Grant, we entreat you, Lord,
to us who have partaken of this healing sacrament,
that the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
whom you have taken up to heaven
may bring us in our turn
to the glory of the resurrection.

The Prayer After Communion refers to the Eucharist as a health-bringing sacrament. Our Eucharistic healing will be complete only when we, like Mary, are taken up to heaven in the glory of the resurrection. One hears beneath the Prayer After Communion the words of Jesus in the discourse on the Bread of Life: 'He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn 6:54). The last phrase of the prayer is ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur, "that we may be brought to the glory of the resurrection." Thus does the Prayer After Communion resume and complete the whole upward movement of today's Mass.

Ours it is to allow the prayer of the Church, her lex orandi, to penetrate us so completely that it is, not only what we believe objectively, her lex credendi, but also how we live today, tomorrow, and the next day, our lex vivendi. Evelyn Underhill, at the beginning of her marvelous little book on the Mass, expresses it in a piece of poetry:

We rise, but but by the symbol charioted,
Through loved things rising up to Love's own ways:
By these the soul unto the vast has wings
And sets the seal celestial on all mortal things.

Did anyone else notice this?

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The Modification of a Collect

A few days ago, on the feast of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, I preached on the splendid Collect of the day as given in the 1962 Missale Romanum:

Omnipotens et misericors Deus,
qui sanctum Joannem Mariam
pastorali studio
et iugi orationis ac paenitentiae ardore
mirabilem efficisti;
da, quaesumus,
ut eius exemplo et intercessione,
animas fratrum lucrari Christo,
et cum eis aeternae gloriam consequi valeamus.

In English, this becomes:

Almighty and merciful God,
who didst make Saint John Mary wonderful
in his pastoral zeal
and constant prayer and penance,
grant, we beseech Thee,
that by his example and intercession,
we may be able to win the souls of our brethren for Christ,
and together with them attain to glory everlasting.

Later in the day, I had occasion to look at the Collect as it appears in the reformed Missale Romanum, Editio Typica Tertia (2008). Here is the text as given there:

Omnipotens et misericors Deus,
qui sanctum Joannem Mariam
pastorali studio
mirabilem efficisti;
da, quaesumus,
ut eius exemplo et intercessione,
fratres in caritate Christo lucremur,
et cum eis aeternae gloriam consequi valeamus.

In the New English Translation, this same Collect will, as far as I know, appear as:

Almighty and merciful God,
who made the Priest Saint John Vianney
wonderful in his pastoral zeal,
grant, we pray,
that through his intercession and example
we may in charity win brothers and sisters for Christ
and attain with them eternal glory.

Constant Prayer and Penance Deleted

The revised prayer of the 1970 Missal retains only one of the three priestly attributes mentioned in the older prayer, that of pastoral zeal. Constant prayer and penance, the two attributes that sustained Saint John Mary Vianney's pastoral zeal, are deleted from the 1970 version of the prayer. On the other hand, the phrase in caritate was added to the penultimate phrase of the text.

Pastoral Zeal

If one ascribes to the axiom, "Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi" it is clear that this manipulation of the Collect has far reaching consequences for one's understanding of how the priesthood is to be lived out. If what matters is "pastoral zeal" above all else, one risks becoming, and rather quickly, "as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Constant prayer obtains an inpouring of divine charity; penance makes room for it in the heart. Constant prayer and penance are the context of a pastoral zeal that is supernaturally motivated and not a exercise in clerical narcissism.

Burnout

The post-Conciliar model of the priesthood placed the emphasis on pastoral zeal, while downplaying the importance of constant prayer and penance. These latter attributes were often dismissed as monastic and, as everyone knows, following the much-quoted worm-eaten old chestnut, "parish priests are not monks!" The difficulty is that pastoral zeal without constant prayer and penance leads to clerical burnout. This is something that I have seen all too often.

The Chicken or the Egg?

I'm left with a question. Did the model of diocesan priesthood change following the liturgical reforms because of the deletions and amendments made to liturgical texts such as the one looked at here? Or were the deletions and amendments to liturgical texts designed to reflect an activistic pastoral vision that had made inroads in the post-war period well before the Second Vatican Council?

A Revision of the Revised Texts?

I have already suggested elsewhere on Vultus Christi that the New English Translation of the Roman Missal, while a small step in the right direction, is far from being the solution to deeper underlying issues. One must be prudent, lest the popular canonization of the euchological texts in the New English Translation of the Roman Missal, appear to suggest that the said translation, and the Editio Typica from which it was made, are, in some way, flawless vehicles of the continuity of Tradition. Perhaps the Editio Typica Tertia itself needs to be revised and brought into a more generous textual conformity with the 1962 Missale Romanum.

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The tradition of the Roman Church marks the feast of the martyrs Pope Saint Sixtus and his four deacon companions on the 6th/7th of August by blessing the first grapes of the harvest. This is a sign that, with the feast of the Transfiguration, the Church has entered into a time of fullness, a time that looks for completion.

Today, at the end of Holy Mass (10:00 a.m.) we will have the blessing of grapes, using the form given in the Roman Ritual:

BLESSING OF GRAPES

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this fresh fruit of the vine,
which Thou hast graciously brought to full ripeness
with the dew of heaven, abundant rain, and calm and fair weather.
Thou hast given them for our use;
grant that we may receive them with thanksgiving
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Vine,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
God for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

(And they are sprinkled with holy water.)

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It is customary in some places to offer the Votive Mass of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ or to keep the Commemoration of the Passion on the Tuesday After Sexagesima.

Introit

The Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself unto death,
even the death of the cross;
wherefore God also exalted Him
and hath given Him a name which is above every name.
Ps. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever:
to generation and generation.
V. Glory be to the Father.

Collect

Almighty, everlasting God,
by whose ordinance our Saviour took flesh
and suffered crucifixion,
so that mankind might imitate the example of His humility;
graciously grant,
that with the lesson of His patience before us,
we who solemnly commemorate His Passion
may be found worthy to share in His resurrection.
Through the same.

From the Epistle (Zacharias 12:10-11; 13; 6-7)

In that day there shall be a great lamentation in Jerusalem,
and it shall be said:
What are these wounds in the midst of Thy hands?
And He shall say:
With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved me.

Gradual (Ps 68:21-22)

My heart hath expected reproach and misery:
and I looked for one that would grieve together with Me,
and there was none:
I sought one that would comfort Me and I found none.
V. They gave me gall for my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Tract (Is 53:4-5)

Surely He hath borne our infirmities,
and carried our sorrows.
V. And we have thought of Him as it were a leper,
and as one struck by God and afflicted.
V. But He was wounded for our iniquities,
He was bruised for our sins.
V. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him:
and by His bruises we are healed.

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Among the beautiful Votive Masses of the Passion, found in some missals for certain weekdays after Septuagesima and through Lent, is that of The Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani.

Introit

My heart is troubled within me;
the fear of death stands over me;
fear and trembling are come upon me (Ps 54:5-6).
V. O God, save me;
see how the waters close about me,
threatening my very life (Ps 68:2).
V. Glory.

Collect

Lord Jesus Christ,
whose word and example in the garden taught us to pray,
and thereby to overcome the perils of temptation,
grant us grace ever to be intent upon prayer,
and so to earn its abundant reward.
Thou who art God.

Epistle (Hebrews 5:5-10)

Brethren, Christ did not raise himself to the dignity of the high priesthood; it was God that raised him to it, when he said, you are my Son, I have begotten you this day, and so, elsewhere, You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchisedech. Christ, during his earthly life, offered prayer and entreaty to God who could save him from death, not without a piercing cry, not without tears; yet with such piety as won him a hearing. Son of God though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering, and now, his full achievement reached, he wins eternal salvation for all those who render obedience to him. A high priest in the line of Melchisedech, so God has called him.

Gradual

My heart is full of trouble, my life sinks ever closer to the grave.
V. I count as one of those who go down into the abyss,
a man past all help (Ps 87:4-5)

Tract

Listen to me, Lord, of thy gracious mercy,
look down upon me in the abundance of thy pity.
V. Do not turn thy face away from thy servant in this time of trouble,
give a speedy answer to my prayer (Ps 68:17-18).
V. Do not leave me now, when trouble is close at hand,
when I have none to help me (Ps 21:12).

Gospel (Luke 22:39-44)

At this time, Jesus went out, as his custom was, to mount Olivet, his disciples following him. When he reached the place, he said to them, Pray that you may not enter into temptation. Then he parted from them, going a stone's throw off, and knelt down to pray; Father, he said, if it pleases you, take away this chalice from before me; only as your will is, not as mine is. And he had sight of an angel from heaven, encouraging him. And now he was in an agony, and prayed still more earnestly; his sweat fell to the ground like thick drops of blood.

Offertory

O God, save me;
see how the waters close about me,
threatening my very life (Ps 68:2).

Secret

Lord, by the merits of this holy sacrifice,
we beseech thee, cause us, who are schooled by thy divine instruction,
to spend ourselves so effectively in prayer,
that thy Son, Jesus Christ,
may find us at the hour of death,
watchful and free from sin.
Who with thee.

Communion (Matthew 26:41)

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation:
the spirit is willing enough,
but the flesh is weak.

Postcommunion

Refreshed with heavenly food,
we humbly beseech thee, Almighty Father,
that by virtue of the prayer of thy only-begotten Son,
we who are set amidst such dangers to body and soul
may be held worthy to come safely to the kingdom of heaven
Through the same.


Bernadette

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Although the Roman Martyrology commemorates the anniversary of Saint Bernadette's death on April 16th, her liturgical memorial is kept on February 18th at Lourdes itself, at Nevers where her body rests, and in all of France. Saint Bernadette has a way of making herself close to those who seek her intercession.

The liturgical texts provided for her feast provide us with a portrait of the little saint of Lourdes. I give here the Latin text and my own translation, with a few words of commentary.

Ad Laudes matutinas

V. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis.
R. Propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum.

V. Grace is poured out upon thy lips.
R. Therefore hath God blessed thee forever.

Yes, when one reads the words of Saint Bernadette, one is struck by her simplicity, a simplicity that is the fruit and sign of Divine Grace at work in her soul.

Ad Benedictus

Libenter gloriabor * in infirmitatibus meis,
ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi. (2 Cor 12:9)

Gladly will I glory in my infirmities
that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

The liturgy places the words of the Apostle Paul in the mouth of Saint Bernadette. Like the Apostle, she experienced the power of Christ in her infirmity, her poverty, and her littleness. Her whole life -- from the hovel where she lived as a girl with her family in Lourdes to the infirmary of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers -- displays the power of Christ in weakness.

Oratio

Humilium, Deus, protector, amator, et corona,
qui beatam Mariam Bernardam, virginem
mira patientia et caritate clarescere fecisti,
praesta, quaesumus, eius intercessione et exemplo,
per simplices fidei semitas,
ad tuam in caelis visionem pervenire mereamur.
Per Dominum.

O God, protector, lover, and crown of the humble,
who didst make the virgin, blessed Mary Bernard
shine with a wondrous patience and charity,
grant, we beseech Thee, by her intercession and example,
that [walking] in the simple paths of faith,
we may at length be found worthy
of beholding Thee in heaven.
Through Our Lord.

What a beautiful Collect! It begins by addressing God the Father with three titles: He is the protector of the humble, of the lowly in heart; He is the One who loves them; and He is their crown in the glory of heaven. He caused Bernardette to shine, clarescere, like a lamp in a dark place, by means of a the virtues of a wondrous patience and charity. The petition of the prayer alludes not to the singular grace of the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin at Lourdes, but rather to the simple paths of faith that Bernadette trod after the apparitions, especially in the monotony of daily life at Nevers. These the same paths of faith, quite empty of all that is extraordinary, become our way to the vision of God in heaven.

Ad Vesperas

V. Elegit eam Deus et praeelegit eam.
R. In tabernaculo suo habitare facit eam.

V. God chose her and set her apart.
R. He made her dwell in His tabernacle.

The choice of God: "You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain." (Jn 15:16). God chose Bernadette and drew her into intimacy with Himself, hiding her in the secret of His tabernacle.

Ad Magnificat

Veni, electa mea, * et ponam in te thronum meum.

Come, my chosen one, and I shall set my throne within thee.

The Magnificat Antiphon expresses the call of the Bridegroom at each Holy Communion, and again at the viaticum given in the hour of our death.

Votive Mass of the Holy Angels

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Ferial Tuesdays

The Roman Missal indicates that the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels is suitable for Tuesdays when no other celebration of higher rank prevails. It is also customary, in some monasteries, to celebrate on ferial Tuesdays the Votive Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus, or that of Saint Benedict. There are special graces linked to the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels. I celebrate it often, and invite other priests to do so as well.

Introit

Bless the Lord, all you Angels of His:
Angels of sovereign strength, that carry out HIs commandments,
attentive to the voice of HIs Word.
V. Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is in me, bless HIs Holy Name.

Angels-in-Waiting

The Mass opens with this splendid Introit: Psalm 102:2. The Angels are invited to bless God, to do the very thing for which they were "designed" by God and created. The Church, following the psalmist, addresses them as potentes virtute, "powerful in might," or "of sovereign strength." The Angels use all their strength, all their potential to carry out God's commandments. They wait upon every word that the mouth of God utters and with no delay apply themselves to making it happen.

The Angelic Model of Eucharistic Adoration

What most strikes me in this Introit is that the Angels are described as ceaselessly listening to the Will of God and waiting upon "the voice of His Word," that is upon the voice of Christ Jesus. Even for the Angels the Will of God is expressed through Christ. Gazing upon the splendour of His Face, the Angels listen for the sound of HIs voice. This, it seems to me sums up the attitude of any soul called to a life of Eucharistic adoration: to gaze upon the Face of Christ, and to listen to His voice.

In God's Plan: Angels and Men

The Collect recognizes that God has wonderfully ordered both Angels and men in His perfect plan. It asks that we may be guarded on earth by the Angels who in heaven stand in readiness, waiting upon God.

Epistle

The Epistle, taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John (5:11-14), pulls back the veil on the Divine Liturgy served in heaven. Saint John hears a multitude of angels crying with a great voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and might, and honour, and glory and blessing" (Apoc 5:12). Again, the Angelic adoration in heaven models and demonstrates the prayer of those called to abide in the presence of the Immolated Lamb, sacramentally present upon the altars of the Church on earth.

Gradual and Alleluia

The Gradual takes up the first verse of Psalm 148, sung daily at Lauds, while the Alleluiatic Verse borrows the text of the familiar antiphon sung at Vespers on Wednesday: "Under the gaze of Angels, I sing Thy praises; I will adore before Thy holy sanctuary and give praise to Thy Name."

Gospel

The Gospel (Jn 1:47-51) is Saint John's mysterious account of the vocation of Nathanael, chosen for the last verse in which Our Lord says to him, "Believe me when I tell you this, you will see heaven opening, and the Angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man" (Jn 1:51). Here Our Lord reveals His priestly mediatorship. The Angels, ascending, bear the praises, supplications, and offerings of men into the presence of God through Christ. Descending, they bear God's blessings, graces, and mercies to men, through Christ. The Angels glory in the priestly mediation of Christ, their King. He is the new Ladder stretching between heaven and earth. Apart from Him nothing human enters heaven; apart from him nothing Divine reaches earth. This is borne out in the Preface of every Mass:

It is through Him
that Thy majesty is praised by Angels,
adored by Dominations,
feared by Powers;
through Him that the heavens and the celestial Virtues
join with the blessed Seraphim in one glad hymn of praise.

Offertory Antiphon

The Offertory Antiphon is yet another glimpse into the heavenly liturgy. Saint John draws our attention to the Angel who, holding a golden thurible, stands before the altar of the temple. The Angelic Thurifer is given much incense (an indication of the measure of incense preferred in heaven?), and the smoke of its perfumes rises in the presence of God. At High Mass, when oblations, crucifix, altar, priest, and faithful are incensed, the text of this antiphon is, as it were, brought to life and made visible to all.

Communion Antiphon

The Communion Antiphon names the nine Angelic Choirs, calling upon each choir in turn to bless the Lord, who, in the Sacrament of His Most Holy Body and Blood, feeds mortal men with Himself, the very Bread of Angels:

Angels, archangels,
thrones and dominations,
princedoms and powers,
virtues of heaven,
cherubim and seraphim,
bless the Lord forever.

There is no greater joy for a Guardian Angel than to assist at the worthy Holy Communion of the soul in his charge. He accompanies that soul to the Holy Table; he thrills at the moment the Sacred Host touches his charge's lips; he unites himself to his charge's thanksgiving and remains close, very close, in adoration of the God who descends to abide in a tabernacle of sinful flesh, bring forgiveness, healing, and superabundant life.

Postcommunion

Finally, the Postcommunion makes us ask that, despite our human frailty, we, who have been filled full with heavenly blessing, may, through the ministry of the Angels and Archangels, experience (the Latin text really says sentiamus, feel) the help given us by the enactment of the sacred rites.

S. Ioannis Didaci Cuahtlatoatzin

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Yes, that would be the much loved Saint Juan Diego of Guadalupe as he is designated in the new Solesmes Antiphonale Monasticum for December 9th. Here is the official Collect for his feast with my English translation:

Deus, qui per beatum Ioannem Didacum,
sanctissimae Virginis Mariae dilectionem
erga populum tuum ostendisti:
eius nobis intercessione concede,
ut, Matris nostrae monitis Guadalupae datis obsequentes,
voluntatem tuam iugiter adimplere valeamus.

O God, Who, through Saint Juan Diego,
didst show forth the special love of the Most Holy Virgin Mary
toward Thy people,
at his intercession, grant us
so to obey the admonitions given by our Mother of Guadalupe,
that we may ever be able to fulfil Thy will.

The painting of Saint Juan Diego is by Mexican artist Martha Orozco.

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Collect

O God, by whose grace
Saint Joseph of Arimathea
was emboldened to ask
for the sacred Body of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that together with Saint Nicodemus
he might prepare it for burial and lay it in his own tomb,
give us such an increase of faith and courage
that we may not fear to bear reproach for the sake of Christ,
but rather may serve Him with sincere devotion
all the days of our life.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God,
who did leave us traces of your sufferings
on the holy Shroud in which your sacred Body,
taken from the cross, was wrapped by Joseph,
mercifully grant that, by your death and burial,
we may be brought to the glory of your resurrection.
Who live and reign forever and ever.

Pax Benedictina

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Collect

Almighty God, who made Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso
a good shepherd,
to build up with exemplary virtue
the flock entrusted to him;
grant that we may follow his teachings
and walk without wavering
under the guidance of the Gospel
until, at length, we come to contemplate you
in your eternal Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God by whose grace
Blessed Ildefonso Schuster
served at your altars
in perfect recollection and quietness of heart,
radiating peace even in the midst of war,
grant, we beseech you, through his intercession,
that we may prefer nothing to the praise of your majesty
and never despair of your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.

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The Collect

Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy Church
with Thy perpetual mercy,
and because the frailty of man without Thee cannot but fall,
keep us ever by Thy help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Weakness and Mercy

There is a remarkable balance in the composition of the Collect. The frailty of man cannot but fall; but the mercy of God is perpetual, and ever available to the man about to slide into sin. The psalmist says: "Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell. If I said: My foot is moved: your mercy, O Lord, assisted me." (Psalm 93:17-18)

The Noxious and the Healthful

In the second part of the Collect we ask to be pulled away from noxiis, from all things poisonous and harmful to our souls, and we pray to be directed toward salutaria, towards all things healthful to our souls.

Realism

This is yet another example of the Roman Liturgy's realism. The Church has no illusions about the frailty of human nature; she is not surprised or shocked by the weaknesses of her children. At the same time, the Church has an abiding confidence in God's perpetual mercy. Thus does her liturgy keep us from falling into despair on the one side, and into presumption on the other. The prayer is a practical one. It is applicable to souls at every stage of the Christian life.

First Vespers at the Magnificat
(Proverbs 6:20-21)

My son, keep thy father's commandment,
and forsake not the law of thy mother,
but bind them continually upon thine heart.

The wisdom of keeping the law of God is transmitted from generation to generation. Parents are the first educators in the Catholic faith. Their primary obligation is to set the feet of their children in the way of holiness. One does well, all through life, to cling to those truths of the faith learned at one's father's side and mother's knee.

At the Benedictus
(Matthew 6:31-32)

Take no thought, saying : What shall we eat ? *
or, What shall we drink ?
For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of. Alleluia.

Our Lord commands us to trust in the Father's solicitude for us. He would have us rely upon the Father's goodness and upon the infinite resources of His Divine Providence.

Second Vespers at the Magnificat
(Matthew 6:33)

Seek ye first the kingdom of God *
and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you. Alleluia.

The kingdom of God and His holiness: this is the first and indispensable focus of the Christian life. Through the ages, the saints demonstrate that one who seeks first the kingdom will want for nothing. The Father provides for those who seek the knowledge of His glory shining upon the Face of His Christ.

Saint Bernard

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August 20th is the feast of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church. This particular depiction of the "amplexus" or embrace of Saint Bernard by the Crucified Jesus is found in the Church of San Bernardo Alle Terme in Rome.

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Preface of the Mass of Saint Bernard

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Christ is the Word
whom Saint Bernard held in the silence of his heart;
Christ is the Bridegroom
whom he desired with all the ardour of his soul;
Christ is the Son of the Virgin Mary
whose sweetness was his comfort and delight.

In the holy abbot Bernard you have given your Church
a teacher in the school of charity,
a prophet burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit,
a poet to sing the praises of the Virgin Mother,
a servant of unity and peace.

Even today, his words fill us with wonder,
inflame us with longing for the wedding of the Lamb,
and inspire us to sing your praise with joy.

Therefore, with the angels and the great company of saints,
we exalt your glory forever.

Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram

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"La Trasfigurazione" by Marco Pino, 1578

Among the many days in the liturgical calendar that direct our gaze to the holy and glorious Face of Jesus, the feast of the Transfiguration is the one I love most. Holy Mass will open today with the sublime Third Mode Introit, Tibi dixit:

Tibi dixit cor meum, quaesivi vultum tuum,
My heart has said to Thee, I have sought Thy Face,
vultum tuum, Domine, requiram:
Thy Face, O Lord, will I seek,
ne avertas faciem tuam a me.
Turn not Thy Face from me.

V. Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea:
The Lord is my light and my salvation:
quem timebo?
whom shall I fear?

No other chant better expresses the Benedictine vocation, for what Saint Benedict requires, before all else, of one who would become a monk, is that one truly seek God. And where is the God-seeking soul to direct his gaze, if not toward the Face of Jesus? "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God," says the Apostle, is "in the Face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Rightly, then, did we sing this morning at Matins:

R. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts,
* To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God,
in the Face of Jesus Christ.
V. Unto the godly there ariseth up light in the darkness;
he is merciful, loving, and righteous.
* To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the Face of Jesus Christ.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
* To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the Face of Jesus Christ.

Multiply Upon Us Thy Mercy

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Illumination and Healing

On this Sunday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Third Sunday after Pentecost, the liturgy is of an extraordinary beauty, beginning with Matins. The lessons at the Second Nocturn were taken from Saint Gregory the Great's exposition of the Books of Kings:

This custom of anointing kings hath always been preserved in God's Holy Church. And even as this ceremony resembleth a sacrament, so is that prince best anointed, whose heart is inwardly anointed with God's grace. Let us consider first the properties of oil. Oil is distinguished above other fluids, in that it is inflammable, and that it is medicinal. Its healing property maketh it a type of mercy, even as it is written of the Lord -- "Thy mercies are over all Thy works." And in that it feedeth the lamp, it showeth forth the gracious power of Gospel preaching, whereby the minds of Christ's faithful people are enlightened.

In Their Dryness of Heart They Rebuked the Very Fountain of Mercy

In the homily read before the Holy Gospel at Matins, Saint Gregory the Great speaks of those whose exaltation cometh of a false righteousness:

They look down upon their neighbour, but are softened by no mercy towards his misery, and are all the more sinful, because they perceive not that they themselves are sinners. Of such were those Pharisees who judged the Lord because He received sinners, and in the dryness of their own heart, rebuked the very Fountain of Mercy.

Sick of So Desperate a Sickness

It sometimes happens that those who look down upon others in their weakness, are themselves so desperately sick with pride, that they are unaware of their own spiritual sickness. Saint Gregory says:

They were sick of so desperate a sickness that they knew not themselves to be sick; but that they might know that they were so, the Heavenly Physician applied to them His tender ointments, and, by means of a gracious parable, lanced the boil of their pride of heart.

In the light of this, I would make an appeal for charity, meekness, and mercy in our Catholic blogosphere. One should never post an entry that has not been seasoned with the oil of mercy.

The Collect

Today's Collect is a masterpiece. I wonder how the new English translation of the Roman Missal will render it. The Marquess of Bute translates it thus:

O God, the Protector of them that trust in Thee,
without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy;
increase and multiply upon us Thy mercy;
that, Thou being our Ruler and Guide,
we may so pass through things temporal
that we finally lose not the things eternal.

The image of mercy being increased and multiplied upon us can be related to Samuel's anointing of Saul in the lessons at Matins, the oil being a figure or type of mercy.

Finally, at Lauds, we had a glorious antiphon in the Third Mode -- I wish that I could sing it for all my readers to hear -- relating the parable of the man who goes in search of his one lost sheep.

What man of you, having a hundred sheep,
if he loses one of them,
doth not leave the ninety-and-nine in the wilderness
and go after that which is lost, until he finds it? Alleluia.

Oblate Sunday: Vespers

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Today is our monthly Oblate Sunday. Our local Oblates, layfolk belonging to the monastery's extended family, will gather at 3:30 p.m. for a conference on the Rule of Saint Benedict followed by Vespers and Eucharistic adoration. Vespers are sung in Latin and in Gregorian Chant. Today the psalmody and the reading will be in English. Here is the Office as we will celebrate it this evening.

Sunday at Second Vespers
Fifth Sunday of Pascha


Our guests are invited join in chanting the parts of the Office that are in English, and to listen to the parts that are in Latin.

PSALM 109
Christ has taken His place as our high priest, to win us blessings that still lie in the future. (Hebrews 9:11)

Antiphon
I saw the Lamb standing upon the mountain, and from beneath his feet flowed forth a living spring, alleluia.

The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand *
while I make your enemies a footstool under your feet.

The Lord will make your sceptre spring up like a branch out of Sion; *
You are to bear rule in the midst of your enemies.

From birth, princely state shall be yours, *
in the brightness of the saints;

From the womb before the morning-star, *
--I begot you.

The Lord has sworn an oath there is no retracting; *
You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.

At your right hand, the Lord will shatter kings *
in the day of His wrath;

He will pass sentence on the nations,
heap high the bodies, *
scatter far and wide the heads of the slain.

Now that He has drunk of the brook by the wayside, *
He will lift up His head in victory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

PSALM 110
How rich God is in mercy, with what an excess of love He loved us. (Ephesians 2:4)

My heart goes out to the Lord in thanksgiving, *
before the council where the just are gathered.

Chant we the Lord's wondrous doings, *
delight and study of all who love Him.

Ever His deeds are high and glorious, *
faithful He abides to all eternity.

Wonderful deeds He keeps still in remembrance! *
He, the Lord, is kind and merciful.

In abundance he fed the men who feared him, *
keeping forever His covenant.

Lordly the power He showed His people, *
making the lands of the heathen their possession.

No act but shows Him just and faithful; *
of His decrees there is no relenting.

Perpetual time shall leave them changeless; *
right and truth are their foundation.

So He has brought His people redemption; *
to all eternity stands His covenant.

Unutterable is His name and terrible; *
vain the wisdom that begins not with fear of the Lord.

Wise evermore are you who follow it; *
His praise endures forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

PSALM 111
Once you were all darkness; now in the Lord, you are all daylight. You must live as men native to the light. (Ephesians 5:8)

A blessed man is he, who fears the Lord, *
bearing great love to His commandments.

Children of his shall be acclaimed in their country; *
do right, and your sons shall find a blessing.

Ease shall dwell in his house, and great prosperity; *
fame shall ever record his bounty.

Good men see a light dawn in darkness; *
His light, who is merciful, compassionate, and just.

It goes well with the man who lends in pity, *
just and merciful in his dealings.

Length of days shall leave him still unshaken; *
men will remember the just for ever.

No fear shall he have of evil tidings; *
on the Lord his hope is fixed unchangeably.

Patient his heart remains and fixed in hope, *
quietly he waits for the downfall of his enemies.

Rich are his alms to the needy; *
still his bounty abides in memory.

The Lord will exalt his horn in glory: *
ungodly men are ill content to see it.

Vainly they gnash their teeth in envy; *
worldly hopes must fade and disappear.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

PSALM 112
You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.

Praise the Lord, you that are His servants, *
praise the name of the Lord together.

Blessed be the Lord's name at all times, *
from this day to all eternity;

from the rising of the sun to its setting *
let the Lord's name be praised unceasingly.

The Lord is sovereign king of all the nations; *
His glory is high above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God, so high above us, *
that stoops to regard both heaven and earth,

lifting up the poor from the dust he lay in, *
raising the beggar out of his dung-hill,

to find him a place among the princes, *
the princes that rule over His people?

He gives the barren woman a home to dwell in, *
a mother rejoicing in her children.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

Antiphon
I saw the Lamb standing upon the mountain, and from beneath his feet flowed forth a living spring, alleluia.

Chapter: Apocalypse 21:2-5

I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
R. Thanks be to God.

Responsory

Hymn: Ad cenam Agni providi

The Lamb's high banquet called to share,
arrayed in garments white and fair,
the Red Sea past, we now would sing
to Jesus our triumphant King.

Upon the altar of the cross
his Body hath redeemed our loss;
and, tasting of his precious Blood,
our life is hid with him in God.

Protected in the paschal night
from the destroying angel's might,
in triumph went the ransomed free
from Pharoah's cruel tyranny.

Now Christ our Passover is slain,
the Lamb of God without a stain;
his flesh, the true unleavened bread,
is freely offered in our stead.

O all-sufficient Sacrifice,
beneath thee hell defeated lies;
thy captive people are set free,
and endless life restored in thee.

We hymn thee rising from the grave,
from death returning, strong to save;
thine own right hand the tyrant chains,
and paradise for man regains.

All praise is thine, O risen Lord,
from death to endless life restored;
all praise to God the Father be
and Holy Ghost eternally. Amen.

MAGNIFICAT, Luke 1, 46-55
More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: true Theotokos, we magnify you.

Antiphon
I have a new commandment to give you, that you are to love one another; that your love for one another is to be like the love I have borne you, alleluia.

My soul magnifies the Lord; *
my spirit has found joy in God, who is my Saviour,

Because He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of His handmaid; *
behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed;

Because He who is mighty, He whose name is holy, *
has wrought for me His wonders.

He has mercy upon those who fear Him, *
from generation to generation;

He has done valiantly with the strength of His arm, *
driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts;

He has put down the mighty from their seat, *
and exalted the lowly;

He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and sent the rich away empty-handed.

He has protected His servant Israel, *
keeping His merciful design in remembrance,

According to the promise which He made to our forefathers, *
Abraham and His posterity for evermore.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, *
and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

Antiphon
I have a new commandment to give you, that you are to love one another; that your love for one another is to be like the love I have borne you, alleluia.

Kyrie, eleison. R. Christe, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.

All bow profoundly while Father Prior sings the Lord's Prayer
over everyone, responding at the end:

R. Sed libera nos a malo.

Collect of the Day

Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.

Benedicamus Domino. Deo gratias
.

V. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
R. And with our absent brethren. Amen.

Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me;
I learned without guile
and I impart without grudging;
I do not hide her riches, alleluia (Wis 7:7b, 13).

COLLECT

O Lord who know
that the thoughts of mortals are full of fear and uncertainty,
through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
from whom your Son took flesh,
grant us your counsel
that we may be made to recognize
the things that are pleasing to you
and be directed in all our works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

That the gaze of people of every race and culture
may come to rest upon the Face of Christ
and upon His open Heart,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That civil authorities may humbly seek good counsel in prayer,
so as to govern wisely, justly, and mercifully,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those in doubt and perplexity may be enlightened;
that those in affliction and adversity may be comforted;
and that those suffering persecution and calumny may be consoled,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That the faith of those weakened by sickness and infirmity may grow stronger ;
and that those who are at the hour of death
may be blessed by the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those who seek the intercession of the Mother of Good Counsel today
may receive the guidance and direction they seek,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

COLLECT AT THE GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

O God,
who gave us the Mother of your Son for our Mother,
[and were pleased by a wondrous apparition
to glorify a beauteous image of her;]
grant, we beseech you,
that ever hearkening to her counsels,
we may be enabled to live according to your Heart,
and happily to reach our heavenly homeland.
Through Christ our Lord.

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON

GR
Be mindful, O Virgin Mother,
to speak good things in the presence of God on our behalf,
that he may turn away his anger from us, alleluia (cf. Jer 18:20).

PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS

Let the Spirit of Counsel, O Lord,
who so wondrously overshadowed the Blessed Virgin, your handmaid,
make these gifts reverently offered
acceptable to you.
Through Christ our Lord.

PREFACE

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

How abundantly you filled the most blessed Virgin Mary
with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to make her the worthy
mother and companion of the Redeemer!

Formed by these gifts
she sought your will unceasingly
and faithfully carried it out;
she joyfully magnified your mercy
and held fast to the counsel of your lovingkindness
to restore all things in Christ.

Through whom the ranks of Angels adore your majesty,
rejoicing in eternity before your face.
We pray you let our voices blend with theirs
singing with exultant praise:

COMMUNION ANTIPHON

MR
The Mother of Jesus said to the servants:
"Do whatsoever he tells you," alleluia (cf. Jn 2:5).

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

We have been made partakers of your mysteries, O Lord,
as we celebrate the memorial
of Holy Mary, the Mother of Good Counsel;
grant that we may learn what is pleasing to you
and become worthy of being saved by the Wonderful Counselor whom you gave us through the Blessed Virgin:
your Son who lives and reigns forever and ever.

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I came across this hymn for Compline in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in Les heures du Saint-Sacrement published at Lille in 1856 for L'Association de l'Adoration Perpétuelle of the Bénédictines du Saint-Sacrement. The Association was erected as an archconfraternity by Blessed Pope Pius IX on May 25, 1851. The hymn can be sung to any of the usual Gregorian melodies for Te lucis ante terminum. I give my own translation in italics. With apologies to Father Z of WDPRS fame, it is not slavishly literal. Dear Vincent, would you like to do a metrical translation?

Iesu, sub ara victima,
Verum Deum quem credimus,
Qui carne nos pascis die,
In nocte nostra sis quies.

O Jesu, our altar's sacrifice
Whom we believe to be our very God,
By day Thy flesh becomes our food,
By night be Thou our heart's repose.

Sis mentium pax et cibus,
Et dulce robur cordium;
Sint templa sancti Spiritus,
Quae consecrasti corpora.

Be Thou the peace and nourishment of our souls,
And of our hearts the gentle strength,
Our bodies, by Thy consecration,
Make temples of the Holy Ghost.

Dum nos quiete recreas,
Supplex precaris hostia;
Locus quietis intimae
Nostris sit ara cordibus.

While we slumber, Thou makest us anew,
Thy pleading for us, O Victim, ceaseth not;
Let then the altar of our hearts
For thee become a silent resting-place.

Laus nocte iugis et die
Sit Trinitati gloria,
Quam Filius non desinit
Laudare factus victima. Amen.

Praise by night and praise by day
and glory to the Trinity,
The Victim's offering riseth still
For ceaseless is the Son's own praise.

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Today's Collect

O God, who for the salvation of the world,
brought about the paschal sacrifice,
be favourable to the supplications of your people,
that with Christ our Pontiff interceding for us,
we may be reconciled by that in which he is like unto us,
and be absolved by that in which he is equal to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Christ Our Pontiff

On this Thursday of the Second Week of Pascha, the Church gives us a Collect focusing on the mediatorship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Very fitting, in fact, for a Thursday. "With Christ our Pontiff interceding for us," is, of course, an allusion to Hebrews 7:25. The word "pontiff" -- meaning bridge-builder -- is, I think, a more suitable translation than "high priest" in this instance, given that Christ Himself is the bridge, the Divine Mediator uniting God to man and man to God.

Saint Catherine of Siena

This recalls the words of the Eternal Father to Saint Catherine of Siena in The Dialogues:

I also wish you to look at the Bridge of My only-begotten Son, and see the greatness thereof, for it reaches from Heaven to earth, that is, that the earth of your humanity is joined to the greatness of the Deity thereby. I say then that this Bridge reaches from Heaven to earth, and constitutes the union which I have made with man.
This was necessary, in order to reform the road which was broken, as I said to you, in order that man should pass through the bitterness of the world, and arrive at life; but the Bridge could not be made of earth sufficiently large to span the flood and give you Eternal Life, because the earth of human nature was not sufficient to satisfy for guilt, to remove the stain of Adam's sin. Which stain corrupted the whole human race and gave out a stench, as I have said to you above. It was, therefore, necessary to join human nature with the height of My nature, the Eternal Deity, so that it might be sufficient to satisfy for the whole human race, so that human nature should sustain the punishment, and that the Divine nature, united with the human, should make acceptable the sacrifice of My only Son, offered to Me to take death from you and to give you life.
So the height of the Divinity, humbled to the earth, and joined with your humanity, made the Bridge and reformed the road. Why was this done? In order that man might come to his true happiness with the angels. And observe, that it is not enough, in order that you should have life, that My Son should have made you this Bridge, unless you walk thereon.

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This is the icon of the Holy Face in our monastic oratory. Photo by Becky Loper.

Ut, quod fide recolimus, perpetua dilectione capiamus

Second Wednesday of Pascha

COLLECT

Recalling each year, O Lord,
the mysteries through which our human substance
was restored to the dignity of its origin
and so received the hope of resurrection,
we humbly implore your clemency
that, by means of an unfailing love,
we may lay hold of what we contemplate in faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

COLLECT AT THE GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

Almighty and ever-living God,
who by the ministry of an Angel,
delivered your apostles out of prison
and commanded them to stand in the temple
and announce the words of life;
open our minds and hearts
to the teaching by which it is given us each day
to grow in faith,
to stand firm in hope,
and to believe in the charity
with which you have first loved us.
Through Christ our Lord.

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In spite of my own reservations about the quality of the English translation given, I thought it might be interesting, in time for tomorrow, to present the Proper Mass for Saint Patrick, Principal Patron of Ireland, as given in the current National Proper for Ireland. The texts were approved by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 10 July 2007. It would be interesting to see what the forthcoming corrected and revised text will look like.

The petition of the Collect, "that we who celebrate this festival may keep alive the fire of faith he kindled," is especially poignant, given the sufferings of the Church in Ireland at the present time. The central portion of the Preface, while it could be more lyrical, is noteworthy nonetheless:

For you drew him through daily prayer
in captivity and hardship
to know you as a loving Father.


You chose him out of all the world
to return to the land of his captors,
that they might acknowledge Jesus Christ, their Redeemer.


In the power of your Spirit you directed his paths
to win the sons and daughters of the Irish
to the service of the Triune God.

March 17
Saint Patrick, bishop
Principal Patron of Ireland
Solemnity


Entrance Antiphon: Gen 12:1-2

Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

Collect

Lord, through the work of Saint Patrick in Ireland
we have come to acknowledge the mystery of the one true God
and give thanks for our salvation in Christ;
grant by his prayers
that we who celebrate this festival
may keep alive the fire of faith he kindled.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Collect of the traditional rite has:

O God, who wast pleased to send thy blessed confessor bishop Patrick
to preach Thy glory to the heathen,
grant through his merits and intercession,
that by Thy mercy we may be enabled to accomplish
the tasks Thou settest us.
Through our Lord.

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In Rome and in other places, Shrove Tuesday is observed as the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. In 2007 I had the privilege of concelebrating a Solemn Mass in honour of the Holy Face of Jesus at the Roman Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia with His Eminence, Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini.

Masses in honour of the Holy Face appeared as early as the fourteenth century. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved the observance of a feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday. At Manoppello, the feast of the Holy Face is celebrated on August 6th, the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Benedictines of Jesus Crucified honoured the Holy Face with the Litanies sung in procession on the Sunday After Ascension.

The present Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus for Shrove Tuesday was approved by the Holy See in 1986. A flash of paschal glory before beginning Lent! Here are the Proper Mass texts of the Mass in English. The translation is my own.

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A Soldier Turned Monk

Today is the feast of Saint Benedict of Aniane (745-821). Under the patronage of Louis the Pious (778-840), Benedict of Aniane, an ex-soldier whose baptismal name was Witiza, promoted the observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict (of Nursia) in the monasteries of the Carolingian empire. As a novice I was introduced to his Concordia Regularum, a collection of ancient monastic rules.

Liturgy of the Day

The liturgy for today's feast has some lovely elements. At Vigils there was a proper hymn; the rest of the Office, apart from the Collect, is from the Common of Monks. The Collect asks for the grace that, through the ages, monks have sought, recovered, and lost over and over again: perfect discipline in Christ!

Deus, qui beati Benedicti abbatis
doctrina et exemplis vitam monasticam renovasti,
eius intercessione concede propitius,
ut perfectam disciplinam teneamus in Christo.

O God, Who by the teaching and example of the blessed abbot Benedict,
didst renew the monastic life,
graciously grant, through his intercession,
that we may hold fast to perfect discipline in Christ.

I don't have at hand the Latin text of the Cistercian variant of the Collect, but I do have the French, which I translate as follows:

Lord our God,
Who called Saint Benedict of Aniane
to restore the monastic fervour of earlier times;
rekindle in us that love of solitude,
relish of the Divine Office,
and zeal for unity,
that inspired him in his work of renewal.

The Surpassing Power of Love

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Preface for the Feast of Saint Scholastica, Virgin


Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Saint Scholastica, obedient to the teaching of Saint Benedict, her brother,
inclined the ear of her heart to the voice of Christ
who led her into the wilderness
and there espoused her in mercy and faithfulness.

This holy virgin chose the best part,
and in preferring nothing to the love of Christ,
reached that love of yours which, being perfect,
drove out all fear.

When in earnest prayer she sought your help,
you answered her outpouring of tears
with a sudden downpour of rain amidst lightning and thunder,
and in this you revealed the surpassing power of love.

In the form of a dove,
her pure soul entered the glory of heaven;
seeing this, her brother was filled with joy
and raised his voice in glad thanksgiving.

Now Saint Scholastica rejoices in you who called her,
and praises you forever with the powers of heaven,
with whom we also raise our voices
in this, their endless hymn of praise:

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Oil for Our Lamps

The other day, a dear and generous friend of the Cenacle, knowing that oil lamps burn in the Oratory before the Blessed Sacrament and before the icon of the Holy Face of Jesus and that of Our Mother Perpetual Help, arrived with a case of extra virgin olive oil! What a magnificent gift! Heartfelt thanks!

Apart from the Holy Oils (Sacred Chrism, Oil of the Sick, and Oil of Catechumens) sanctified by the Bishop at the Mass of Chrism in Holy Week, the Church, in the Roman Ritual, provides for the blessing of ordinary olive oil as a sacramental. This oil may be burned before the Blessed Sacrament or before sacred images and then used by the faithful in the same way as they would use any other blessed sacramental. Such devotional anointings accompanied by prayer are not to be confused with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, any more than one would confuse the use of Holy Water with the water of Baptism.

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Devout Use of Blessed Oil

The Holy Man of Tours, Monsieur Dupont, used to anoint visitors to the oratory in his home with oil taken from the lamp that burned perpetually before his image of the Holy Face. Blessed -- and soon to be Saint -- Brother André Bessette of Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montréal used to recommend the devout use of oil taken from the lamp that burned before his statue of Saint Joseph. In Rome, to this day, one can obtain oil blessed in honour of the Santo Bambino Gesù at the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

The rite for blessing of oil (found in Father Weller's incomparable edition of the Roman Ritual) describes the benefits sought by the faithful in making use of this ancient sacramental of the Church.

BLESSING OF OIL

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

Exorcism

God's creature, oil, I cast out the demon from you by God the
Father + almighty, who made heaven and earth and sea, and all
that they contain. Let the adversary's power, the devil's
legions, and all Satan's attacks and machinations be dispelled
and driven afar from this creature, oil. Let it bring health in
body and mind to all who use it, in the name of God + the Father
almighty, and of our Lord Jesus + Christ, His Son, and of the
Holy Spirit, the Advocate, as well as in the love of the same
Jesus Christ our Lord, who is coming to judge both the living and
the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.

P: O Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord God almighty, before whom the hosts of angels stand in awe,
and whose heavenly service we acknowledge; may it please you to
regard favorably and to bless + and hallow + this creature, oil,
which by your power has been pressed from the juice of olives.
You have ordained it for anointing the sick, so that, when they
are made well, they may give thanks to you, the living and true
God. Grant, we pray, that those who will use this oil, which we
are blessing + in your name, may be delivered from all suffering,
all infirmity, and all wiles of the enemy. Let it be a means of
averting any kind of adversity from man, made in your image and
redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, so that he may never
again suffer the sting of the ancient serpent; through Christ our
Lord.
All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.

Dulcis Iesu Memoria

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Painting of the Child Jesus with a crown of flowers by Carlo Dolci (1616-1686)

Over forty years ago, when I was taking my first steps in what would be a life-long monastic pilgrimage, I visited a certain Trappist abbey. A marvelously warm and open laybrother with twinkling eyes and a French Canadian accent greeted me in the porter's lodge and, from that moment, there grew between us a bond of friendship and of prayer. Brother G. had a particular devotion to the Office of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and, in particular, to the hymns of that Office. Opening his somewhat battered copy of the Cistercian Day Hours, he would ask me to pray the Dulcis Iesu Memoria with him. He never tired of repeating it.

Today, being the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, in the traditional Benedictine calendar, I thought I might share with my readers selected verses of the hymns of Vespers, Matins, and Lauds. Attributed for a long time to Saint Bernard (1090-1153), more recent scholarship suggests that Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) may be the author of this beautiful poem on the mystical love of Jesus. In any case, it is relatively certain that the Iubilus Rithmicus de Amore Iesu is the work of a 12th century English Cistercian.

Vespers

Jesu, the very thought of thee / With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see, / And in thy presence rest!

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, / Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name, / O Saviour of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart! / O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall how kind thou art, / How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this / Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus, what it is, / None but his lovers know.

O Jesu, light of all below! / Thou Fount of life and fire!
Surpassing all the joys we know, / And all we can desire!

Matins

O Jesu, King most wonderful! / Thou conqueror renowned!
Thou sweetness most ineffable! / In whom all joys are found!

Stay with us Lord; and with thy light / Illume the soul's abyss;
Scatter the darkness of our night, / And fill the world with bliss!

Jesu, thy mercies are untold, / Through each returning day;
Thy love exceeds a thousandfold / Whatever we can say.

Celestial Sweetness unalloyed! / Who eat thee hunger still;
Who drink of thee, yet feel a void, / Which thou alone canst fill.

Thrice happy he, who living thee, / Doth thy true sweetness know:
All else becomes but vanity / Thenceforth to him below.

Lauds

O Jesu, thou the beauty art / Of angel worlds above;
Thy name is music to the heart, / Enchanting it with love.

For thee I yearn, for thee I sigh; / When wilt thou come to me,
And make me glad eternally / With the blest sight of thee.

Thy presence with me I desire / Wherever I may be;
This, Lord is all that I require / For my felicity.

Thy kiss is bliss beyond compare, / A bliss forevermore;
O, that thy visits were less rare, / And not so quickly o'er!

Now have I gained my long desire, / Now what I sought is mine;
Now is my heart, O Christ, on fire / With thy true love divine.

O fairest of the sons of day! / More fragrant than the rose!
O brighter than the dazzling ray / That in the sunbeam glows!

O thou whose love alone is all / That mortal can desire!
Whose image doth my heart enthrall, / And with delight inspire.

O thou in wom my love doth find / Its rest and perfect end;
O Jesu, Saviour of mankind! / And their eternal friend.

Lead where thou wilt, I follow thee, / And will not stay behind;
For thou hast torn my hear from me, / O Glory of our kind!

To him, praise, glory without end, / And adoration be;
O Jesu, grant us to ascend, / And reign in Heaven with thee.

(Caswell's translation)

Te, Christe, solum quaerimus

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For my friend, Monsignor A.B.C.

Sometime in the early 1970s the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey Pax Cordis Iesu at Ryde, in the Isle of Wight, made an outstanding contribution to the prayer of English-speaking Catholics by translating the entire corpus of hymns found in the Liturgia Horarum. There is a pressing need to make the hymns of the Liturgia Horarum available to those who pray the Hours in English. Here are the hymns for Vespers and Lauds from December 17-24 in the Ryde Abbey translation.

At Vespers

The Word, Salvation for us all,
Proceeding from the Father's mouth,
Receive, O Mary Virgin blest
Within your chaste and spotless womb.

The Holy Spirit's fruitful cloud
Has overshadowed you with love,
that you may bring forth Christ our Lord
The Father's Ever-Equal Son.

She is the holy Temple's gate
Forever closed and chastely sealed
Whose sacred portal is reserved
To open for the King alone.

To prophets promised long ago,
And borne before the birth of light,
Whom Gabriel announced with joy,
The Lord Himself comes down to earth.

Let all the angels gladly sing,
All peoples of the earth exult;
In lowly guise the Most High comes
To save the world which sin had lost.

O Christ our King and tender Lord
All glory ever be to You,
Who with the Holy Spirit reign
With God the Father might supreme. Amen.

At Lauds

Of old the prophets cried aloud,
Foretelling Christ would surely come,
Theirs was the special grace to know
That man's redemption was at hand.

Hence radiates our joy at dawn,
Our happy hearts rejoice and sing,
Proclaiming now our earnest faith
In glory long since promised us.

This humble coming known to few,
Was not to judge a sinful world
But all our wounds to tend and heal,
By saving what had gone astray.

His second coming will declare
That Christ is at our very doors,
To crown all those who love Him well
And welcome them to lasting bliss.

Eternal light is promised us,
The star of our salvation shines,
Already its bright gleaming rays
Call us to keep the law of love.

Lord Jesus Christ, we seek but You,
To see You, God yet truly Man,
So that this vision blest may be
Our never-ending hymn of praise. Amen.

Sin's Knotty Entanglements

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On the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Absolve, quaesumus Domine,
tuorum delicta populorum:
ut a peccatorum nexibus,
quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus,
tua benignitate liberemur.

Absolve, Thy people from their transgressions,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
so that through Thy goodness,
we may be set free from the entanglements of those sins
which in our weakness we have committed.

The verb, absolvo, can mean to loosen. The verb, contraho, can mean, among other things, to draw together tightly. Understood in this way, the Collect presents an astute psychology of sin. Sin is a knotty business, leading to hopelessly complex entanglements.

One better understands the old German devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Looser of Knots (Maria Knotenlöserin) in the light of the Church's prayer. There are, I think, in every life, sinful entanglements that only the patient and gentle hands of the Immaculate Virgin Mary can loosen.

Ut sanaret filium ejus

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Passing On the Tradition

One of the best things about being a very small monastic household is the freedom to make use of the opportunities for passing on the tradition that present themselves in the course of our prayer and our work. This morning, for example, I was able to say a few words about the significance of today's Benedictus Antiphon, right after we sang it at Lauds. Given that we have daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form, today is the 20th Sunday After Pentecost, and the Gospel is John 4:46-53. The Benedictus Antiphon is drawn from it.

He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, sent to him and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way. Thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth. And himself believed, and his whole house.

Benedictus Antiphon

Antiphonale Monasticum, p. 611.

Erat quidam regulus
cuius filius infirmabatur Capharnaum.
Hic cum audisset, quod Iesus veniret in Galilaeam,
rogabat eum, ut sanaret filium ejus.

The Name of Jesus

The musical summit of the antiphon is over the Most Holy Name of Jesus: The Lord God saves, the Lord God heals, the Lord God makes whole. Everything, then, in the antiphon moves upward to the Name of Jesus or flows therefrom.

Place and Time

The words Capharnaum, and Galilaeam even more so, are given a rich musical treatment, suggesting the importance of place in the economy of the Incarnation. Jesus, our Saving God, is not indifferent to what some would dismiss as mere mundane considerations: place and time. The wonder of the Incarnation lies, precisely, in this: that our God comes to meet each of us in a given place, one that can be circumscribed geographically and pinpointed on a map; at a given moment in time. This given moment on the calendars and clocks of our chronos becomes the moment of the Divine Inbreaking, God's moment, His kairos.

The Magnificat Antiphon

Antiphonale Monasticum, p. 612.

The ruler intercedes with Jesus for his sick son: rogabat eum, ut sanaret filium eius. Only at the Magnificat Antiphon of Second Vespers do we hear the wondrous outcome of the ruler's supplication. "The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth. And himself believed, and his whole house." Again, the Name of Jesus is given a musical treatment that makes it the heart and centre of the whole antiphon.

The Sacramental Quality of Neums

I explained to my brothers this morning that every neum has a "sacramental" quality. It is, as Saint Gertrude the Great experienced, a vehicle of grace both for the one who sings it and the one who hears it. Inspired by the Holy Ghost, the Church clothes the Word of God in the sacred vesture of her chant. Like a garment that emphasizes and prolongs the movement of a dancer's body, so does the chant emphasize and prolong the movement of the Word in medio ecclesiae.

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Would you have recognized him? This is none other than Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. He was obliged to travel in disguise during World War I while searching for a refuge in Ireland for the monks of his abbey of Maredsous in Belgium.

"I owe more to Columba Marmion for initiating me into things spiritual than to any other spiritual writer."
Pope John Paul II


Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000. His liturgical memorial was fixed on October 3rd, the anniversary of his Abbatial Blessing in 1909. Blessed Abbot Marmion is best known for his trilogy: Christ, the Life of the Soul, Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, and Christ in His Mysteries. A fourth volume, Christ, the Ideal of the Priest was published posthumously in 1952.

Official Collect

Deus, Pater omnipotens,
qui ad monasticam conversationem,
beatum Columbam Abbatem, vocasti,
eique arcana mysteriorum Christi pandere voluisti,
concede propitius ut, eius intercessione,
adoptionis filiorum spiritu roborati,
Sapientiae tuae dignam fieri habitaculum mereamur.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum,
qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

My Translations

O God, Almighty Father,
who didst call the blessed abbot Columba to the monastic way of life
and open unto him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
mercifully grant that,
strengthened by his intercession,
in the spirit of our adoption as sons,
we may become a dwelling place worthy of thy Wisdom.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son,
who with Thee livest and reignest
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.

O God, Almighty Father,
who called the blessed abbot Columba to the monastic way of life
and opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
mercifully grant that,
strengthened by his intercession,
in the spirit of our adoption as sons,
we may become a dwelling place worthy of your Wisdom.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.

Mass of the Holy Guardian Angels

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Lauren Ford's "Guardian Angel" depicts a little girl walking through the Connecticut woods that I so love, on what appears to be a late October day. Miss Ford (1891-1973) lived and worked in Bethlehem, Connecticut, not far from the Abbey of Regina Laudis.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Bless the Lord, O you his Angels,
you mighty in strength who do his word,
hearkening to the voice of his word (Ps 102:20).

COLLECT

O God, who in your ineffable providence,
deign to send your holy Angels to watch over us;
grant that we who implore you
may be defended always by their protection
and rejoice eternally in their company.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Ember Wednesday in September

There are so many things that I would want to write about! Yesterday, for example, was the first of the September Ember Days: the Proper of the Mass extraordinarily rich with its images of harvest time, great rivers of sweet wine. The note was one of joy: Gaudium etenim Domini est fortitudo nostra, "For the joy of the Lord is our strength." (II Esdr 8:10)

For all of that, the Gospel was sobering: "This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (Mk 9:28) And then, all day long I held the remarkable Collect in mind, repeating it at the Hours:

The Marquess of Bute translates it:

We pray Thee, O Lord,
that the healing power of Thy mercy may give strength to our weakness,
that those things which do pass away by their own frailty,
may be renewed again by Thy clemency.

Monsignor Knox gives:

By Thy healing mercies, we pray thee, Lord,
enable our frail nature to hold its ground.
Let thy pity renew that which of itself is ever wasting away.

The Roman Catholic Daily Missal has:

We beseech Thee, O Lord,
that our weakness may be upheld by Thy healing mercy,
so that what of itself is falling into ruin
may be restored by Thy clemency.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Anselm

Also yesterday, our Holy Father presented yet another grand monastic figure: Saint Anselm of Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury. Here is a translation of the discourse of His Holiness:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Prayer, Study, and Government

In Rome, on the Aventine Hill, is found the Benedictine abbey of St. Anselm. As the seat of an Institute of Higher Studies and of the abbot primate of the Confederated Benedictines, it is a place that unites prayer, study and government, precisely the three activities that characterized the life of the saint to which it is dedicated: Anselm of Aosta, the 900th anniversary of whose death we celebrate this year.

Monk, Educator, Theologian

The many initiatives, promoted especially by the Diocese of Aosta for this happy anniversary, have reflected the interest that this Medieval thinker continues to awaken. He is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury because of the cities with which he was connected. Who is this personage to which three localities, distant from one another and situated in three different nations -- Italy, France and England -- feel particularly bound? Monk of intense spiritual life, excellent educator of youth, theologian with an extraordinary speculative capacity, wise man of government and intransigent defender of the "libertas Ecclesiae," of the liberty of the Church, Anselm is one of the eminent personalities of the Medieval Age, who was able to harmonize all these qualities thanks to a profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and action.

A Very White Bread

St. Anselm was born in 1033 (or the beginning of 1034) in Aosta, the firstborn of a noble family. His father was a crude man, dedicated to the pleasures of life and a spendthrift of his goods; his mother, on the other hand, was a woman of superior customs and profound religiosity (cf. Eadmero, Vita s. Anselmi, PL 159, col 49). It was his mother who took care of the first human and religious formation of her son, whom she later entrusted to the Benedictines of a priory of Aosta. Anselm, who from his childhood -- as his biographer recounts -- imagined the dwelling of the good God to be among the high and snow clad summits of the Alps, dreamed one night that he was invited to this splendid palace by God himself, who entertained him affably for a good while and at the end offered him to eat "a very white bread" (ibid., col 51).

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There is a verse in the book of Ezra that is, I think, a wonderful expression of the life and mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves” (Ez 6:20).

Padre Pio's life was a long and uninterrupted celebration of the Pasch of the Lord. Configured to Jesus Crucified, Priest and Victim, Padre Pio offered himself to the Father in the daily Sacrifice of the Mass. Saint Pio’s paschal immolation -- his participation in the Cross of Christ -- was for the sake of "the rest of the exiles," all of us who go mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. And it was for the sake of "his brethren": for all priests called to follow him in a life of paschal purity and victimhood,

Entrance Antiphon

MR
God forbid that I should glory
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world is crucified to me,
and I to the world (Gal 6:14).

Collect

Almighty and eternal God,
who, by a singular grace,
allowed the priest Saint Pio
to participate in the cross of your Son,
and by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy;
grant, through his intercession that,
constantly united to the passion of Christ,
we may happily arrive at the glory of the resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Saint James, Apostle

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General Intercessions

That the Holy Catholic Church, founded on the faith of the apostles,
may hold fast to the knowledge of the glory of God
that is given her in the Face of Christ
and in the Chalice of His Precious Blood,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the shepherds of the Church
may receive in abundance
that spirit of self-denying service by which alone
they hold true authority among the disciples of Christ,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the leaders of nations
may protect the rights of all to worship in peace
and actively seek a secure and lasting peace
for Lebanon and the Holy Land,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the afflicted may not be crushed,
the perplexed, not driven to despair,
the persecuted, not forsaken,
and the struck down, not destroyed,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That priests who are dejected
and discouraged in their ministry
may experience the nearness of the Mother of God
and, under her protection, lean upon the pillar of faith,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we who are invited to drink of the chalice of the Blood of Christ,
may accept our share in His Passion
for the sake of His Body, the Church,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Merciful God,
whose holy apostle James,
was obedient to the calling of your Son and followed Him even to death:
grant that we, like him,
may fix our gaze upon the Face of your Christ
and drink of the chalice of his Blood
so as to carry within ourselves, as in earthen vessels,
the surpassing knowledge of Your glory,
and the hope of eternal life.
Through the same Christ our Lord.

or

Almighty and eternal God,
who gave the Blessed Virgin Mary,
glorious Mother of Your Son,
as a pillar to all who call upon her aid,
grant through her intercession
that like the Apostle Saint James
we may be strong in faith,
unwavering in hope,
and steadfast in charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

Vere dignum et justum est

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In preparation for the great monastic solemnity that began with First Vespers this evening, I offer this proper Preface for the meditation and joy of all who have some claim on the paternity of Saint Benedict. The image was painted by the graced hand of Brother Claude Lane, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Abbey.

PREFACE OF OUR HOLY FATHER, SAINT BENEDICT

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

You raised up the holy abbot Benedict,
as a teacher of the steps of humility
by which a countless number of his sons and daughters
have reached the love which drives out all fear.

Preferring nothing to the love of Christ,
he recognized Christ in the sick and in the stranger,
in the poor and in the pilgrim.

Praising you seven times by day, and even in the night,
he placed all his hope in you,
and taught us never to despair of your mercy.

Even today, his words distill a holy wisdom,
inflame us with longing for life everlasting,
and inspire us to sing your praise
in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, in the sight of the angels,
with heart and mind in harmony with our voices,
we exalt your glory forever,
as we ceaselessly proclaim:

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The Initiative of Pope Pius XI

With the beginning of the Annus Sacerdotalis, a number of people have asked me about the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest. Pope Pius XI ordered the preparation of this Votive Mass in 1935, intending that its celebration should become customary on the First Thursday of the month, in a manner analogous to the widespread Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday. He announced the new Mass formulary at the end of his Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii Fastigium (20 December 1935):

Before concluding Our letter, to you, Venerable Brethren in the Episcopate, and through you to all Our beloved sons of both clergy, We are happy to add a solemn proof of Our gratitude for the holy cooperation by which, under your guidance and example, this Holy Year of Redemption has been made so fruitful to souls. We wish to perpetuate the memory and the glory of that Priesthood, of which Ours and yours, Venerable Brethren, and that of all priests of Christ, is but a participation and continuation. We have thought it opportune, after consulting the Sacred Congregation of Rites, to prepare a special votive Mass, for Thursdays, according to liturgical rules: De summo et aeterno Iesu Christi Sacerdotio, to honor "Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest." It is Our pleasure and consolation to publish this Mass together with this, Our Encyclical Letter.

The Mass prepared by order of Pope Pius XI disappeared from the 1970 edition of the Missale Romanum or, more exactly, was replaced by another Mass formulary having the same title, but a different euchology. The Collect in the 1970 formulary emphasizes the common priesthood of all the baptized; the Collect in the formulary promulgated in 1935, on the other hand, emphasizes the priesthood of the ordained. I would suggest that the Mass formulary of Pope Pius XI, found in the 1962 Missale Romanum, better corresponds to the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI in calling for the Year of the Priest. Here are the English texts:

Introit / Entrance Antiphon

1962 Missal

The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia). Ps. The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand. V. Glory be to the Father. (Psalm 109: 4, 1)

1970 Missal

The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech. (Psalm 109: 4, 1)

Collect

1962 Missal

O God, by Whom Your only-begotten Son
has been established High and Eternal Priest,
to the glory of Your Majesty and for the salvation of mankind,
grant that those He has chosen as ministers and dispensers of His mysteries,
may be found faithful in fulfilling the ministry they have accepted.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

1970 Missal

O God, who for the glory of Your majesty
and for the salvation of mankind,
established Christ the Eternal High Priest,
grant that by participating in His memorial,
the people whom He acquired for you by His blood
may lay hold of the power of His cross and resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Mass in the 1962 Missal gives Hebrews 5:1-11 as the Epistle, followed by the Gradual and Alleluia:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.
V. To bring good news to the poor He has sent Me,
to heal the contrite of heart. (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia. V. But Jesus, because He continues forever, has an everlasting priesthood. Alleluia. (Hebrews 7:24)

The Gospel in the 1962 Missal is Luke 22:14-20, recounting the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Offertory

1962 Missal

Christ having offered one sacrifice for sins, has taken His seat forever at the right hand of God: for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified (P. T. Alleluia). (Hebrews 10: 12, 14)

Secret/Prayer Over the Oblations

1962 Missal

O Lord, may Jesus Christ, our Mediator,
render these offerings acceptable to You,
and may He present us with Himself as victims agreeable to You.
Who being God, lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.

1970 Missal

Grant us, we beseech you, O Lord,
worthily to enter into these mysteries:
for so often as this memorial sacrifice is celebrated,
the work of our redemption is carried out.
Through Christ our Lord.

The 1962 Missal calls for the use of the Preface of the Holy Cross. The whole question of the Preface for this Mass merits a separate entry, which I hope to write.

Communion Antiphon

1962 and 1970 Missals

This is My Body which shall be given up for you;
this cup is the new covenant in My Blood, said the Lord;
Do this as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of Me (P.T. Alleluia). (1 Corinthians 11: 24-25)

Postcommunion

1962 Missal

We pray, Lord, let the offering and reception of the Divine Victim vivify us,
that, united to You by perfect charity,
we may bear an everlasting fruit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

1970 Missal

We beseech you, Lord,
that by our participation in the sacrifice
which your Son commanded us to offer in commemoration of Him,
You would make us with Him an eternal oblation to you.
Through Christ our Lord.

Whether one uses the 1935 formulary given in the 1962 Missal or that found in the 1970 Missal, it is desirable, I think, that the First Thursday of the month, at least during this Annus Sacerdotalis, should be marked by the celebration of the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest.

Saint Pachomius, Abbot

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The antiphon Ad Benedictus this morning, with its lilting seventh mode melody, is an apt portrayal of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life of Saint Pachomius. The text is Isaiah 35:1.

Laetabitur deserta et exsultabit solitudo et florebit sicut lilium, alleluia.

Thrills the barren desert with rejoicing, the wilderness takes heart, and blossoms, fair as the lily, alleluia.

Julian Green wrote a book entitled "Chaque homme dans sa nuit," -- Each Man in His Night; one might also speak of "each man in his desert." Irrigated by the living water of the Holy Spirit life's deserts become gardens, and joy comes to inhabit the solitudes of the heart.

The Collect is a jewel:

Deus, qui beatum Pacomium abbatem
ad doctrinae virtutumque culmina pervenire fecisti,
concede, quaesumus, ut eius exemplo,
panem Verbi tui primum quaeramus
a quo mentes lumen accipunt et corda quietem
.

O God, Who didst raise the blessed abbot Pachomius
to the heights of doctrine and of virtue,
grant that we, by following his example,
may seek before all else the bread of Thy Word:
light for our minds, and stillness for our hearts.

-- Or, one may want to render that last line, "by which our minds are illumined and our hearts quieted."

The example of the Desert Fathers, of desert-dwellers, of hermits, and of monks speaks to all of us. There is no desert that cannot be reclaimed for Christ; there is no barrenness that cannot be made fertile by the action of the Holy Spirit.

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The 2002 editio typica of the Missale Romanum contains the following Collect for the memorial of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest. The Collect is an admirable synthesis of the charism of Saint Louis-Marie. Every line of the text alludes to an element characteristic of his spirituality. The English translation is my own.

O God, who willed to guide the steps
of your priest, saint Louis-Marie,
into the way of salvation and of delight in Christ
in the company of the Blessed Virgin,
grant that we, by following his example,
may meditate the mysteries of your love
and devote ourselves tirelessly to the upbuilding of your Church.

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The stained-glass window depicts King Athelstan the Glorious.

Acts 4: 23-31

"And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said,

God Is Addressed
Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit,
The Psalm Quoted: Meditatio
`Why did the Gentiles rage,and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed' --
Historical Fulfillment of David's Prophecy
for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.
The Petition: Oratio
And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.
God's Response: An Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness."

Praying Out of a Psalm

Today's First Reading at Holy Mass gave us the earliest example of an Oration or Collect based on a psalm. Already in the first centuries of the Church, authorized by the teaching of Our Lord Himself in Luke 24:44-45, the faithful began to recognize Christ and His Mysteries in the psalms they were accustomed to chant. A Trinitarian doxology (Gloria Patri) came to be appended to each psalm, and before long the psalms were enriched with refrains or framed with antiphons.

Collects on the Psalms

In both East and West, it was not uncommon to rise, or kneel, or prostrate, and pray in silence at the end of a psalm. The priest officiating would then gather up (colligere) the silent supplications of the faithful, and express them in an Oration or Collect recited in the name of all. Egeria, writing in about 415 A.D., Cassian, writing in about 420 A.D., and the 6th century Rule of the Master, all attest to the existence of this custom both in urban churches and in monastic assemblies.

The custom of inserting Collects into the psalmody of the Divine Office did not survive the test of time. It seems to have disappeared quite early in the East, and Saint Benedict, so careful to note the details of monastic psalmody in the West, makes no mention of Collects on the psalms.

Even while Collects on the psalms fell out of public liturgical use, they continued to be popular through the Middle Ages in personal devotions. Thus, one finds them in various Psalters for personal use and Books of Hours.

The Orations at the Paschal Vigil

The only place where Collects on the psalms survive in the actual liturgical practice of the Roman Rite is in the orations that, at the Paschal Vigil, conclude each of the Tracts or Responsorial Psalms that follow the readings. The Collect, of course, follows the repetition of the antiphon (or refrain) and never comes between the psalm and the repetition of the antiphon.

A Stupid Editorial Mistake

Some forty years ago the editors of the American edition of the Liturgia Horarum included Collects on the psalms in their books. The editors in question appear to have had no experience whatsoever of the choral celebration of the Divine Office. Consequently, with a total disregard for the musical and theological function of the antiphon -- to indicate the mode of the psalmody, and to serve as a Christological and ecclesiological key to it -- they wrongly inserted the "Psalm Prayers" between the doxology and the repetition of the antiphon. Musically, this is a disaster.

Doing It Right

I would argue that the last thing one needs in liturgical prayer is more wordiness, and the "Psalm Prayers" often give the impression of adding words for the sake of pious bulk. If, however, one judges the inclusion of Collects on the psalms of some pastoral benefit in the public celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, one should model the practice after what is done at the Paschal Vigil:

1) After the final repetition of the antiphon, all rise.
2) The celebrant sings, "Let us pray."
3) After a pause, he sings the Collect, taking care to conclude it using the shorter ending: "Through Christ our Lord," or "Who live and reign forever and ever."
4) The people respond "Amen."

Here is the psalm Collect given for the same Psalm 2 in the prayerbook of Athelstan, King of England from 924 to 939:

O Lord, we beseech Thee,
break the chains of our sins;
so that, bound to the yoke of Thy service,
we may be able to serve Thee in fear and reverence.
Through Christ our Lord.

And here is a Collect I composed to conclude today's General Intercessions:

Almighty and ever-living God
who on Sion your holy mountain
established your Christ as King,
mercifully grant that we may spurn
the insurrection of sinful passions,
so as to stand with humble confidence on the last day
before the Judge of all,
the Lord of clemency,
the Prince of Peace,
who is Lord forever and ever.

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Happy Onomastico to novice Brother Stephen of the Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank! Be sure to visit him at Sub Tuum today!

Collect

Almighty and ever-living God,
who are Yourself the reward exceeding great
of those who leave all things for the sake of Christ Your Son,
grant, we beseech You,
that by the example and prayers
of the holy abbots Robert, Alberic, and Stephen,
we too may hasten with all fervour and zeal
to the fullness of eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Preface

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Knit together in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
the blessed abbots Robert, Alberic, and Stephen
chose to be poor with the poor Christ,
and so went forth to a desert wilderness
to abide in the place you had prepared for them.

Schooled in all things by the Rule of Saint Benedict, their father,
they sought only to live in peace
according to the truth of the Gospel.

Setting nothing before the love of Christ,
and zealous for the praise of your Majesty,
their example drew many
to take up the strong and glorious weapons of obedience.

And so, on their feast day, we join with them to adore you
and with heart and mind in harmony with our voices,
in the sight of the angels
we sing the ageless hymn of your praise:

Conversion of Saint Paul

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General Intercessions

That the Church in East and West
may persevere in seeking the unity willed for her by Christ
from whom the whole Body is joined and knit together
to be built up in charity (cf. Eph 4:16),
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the thoughts of the powerful of the earth may be turned from war
and opened to the making of peace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That those who journey in darkness
may be given friends and companions to lead them by the hand;
and that those whose hearts are hardened against Christ and the Church
may be touched by an inbreaking of grace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we who partake of these Holy Mysteries
may be illumined by the same light
that blazed before the eyes of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus,
and, like him, live by faith in the Son of God
who loved us and gave himself up for us (Gal 2:20),
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,
who, by a wonderful inbreaking of your grace,
opened the heart of the blessed Apostle Paul
to the knowledge of your will,
to the bright vision of the Just One,
and to the sound of his voice (cf. Ac 22: 14);
mercifully grant that we,
having received in Baptism the sight that comes from faith,
may walk as children of the light and of the day (1 Th 5:5),
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).
Through Christ our Lord.


Saint Francis de Sales

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General Intercessions

That the Church may never be without gentle shepherds
according to the meek and humble Heart of Christ:
servants of unity and of peace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the leaders of nations may turn from every project of war and destruction
and search for the means to a just and lasting peace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the discouraged may be granted
the blessed assurance of peace of heart;
that those sorely tempted against hope
may be delivered from their trial;
and that those who mourn the death of a loved one
may be comforted in their grief,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the Sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary
may persevere sweetly in their vocation to be gentle "daughters of prayer,"
witnessing to all the peace of the devout life,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we, by the intercession of Saint Francis de Sales,
may respond to the voice of Christ
who calls to Himself those whom He desires,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Holy God, who called your bishop Francis de Sales
from the torment of a restless heart
to the blessed assurance of your abiding love,
and by his ministry renewed your Church in patience and kindness:
grant us something of the unfailing gentleness
by which he touched even the most hardened hearts,
that we may serve you with serenity
and praise you with a humble gladness.
Through Christ our Lord.

In our time, grant us your peace

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Rainbow Over Gaza

This AP photo shows a rainbow over Gaza today, 18 January 2009. In the context of what is happening in the Mideast, today's Collect (2nd Sunday Per Annum) could not be more suitable. I have learned by experience that the liturgy of the Church provides us with the very prayer we need at the moment we most need it. The liturgy is, in fact, the great means by which the Holy Ghost "helpeth our infirmity, for we know not how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26). This, of course, is why it is so important to have accurate translations of the received liturgical texts.

Peace: the Tranquility of Order

The Latin text uses the verb moderor. It is perhaps best translated here by the English verb to order, meaning to set aright. Peace is, according to Saint Augustine, "the tranquility of order."

Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris,
supplicationes populi tui clementer exaudi,
et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus.

Almighty and everlasting God,
Who order all things both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time, grant us your peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

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For study and meditation: proper texts for the Mass of Saint Aelred, Abbot.

January 12
Saint Aelred, Abbot


Entrance Antiphon

MR
The Lord is my inheritance and my cup; he alone will give me my reward.
The measuring line has marked a lovely place for me;
my inheritance is my great delight (Ps 15:5-6).

or GR, Caritas Dei, 248.

The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
V. My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name (Rom 5:5; Ps 102:1).

Collect

O God,
who gave the blessed Abbot Aelred
the grace of being all things to all men,
grant that, following his example,
we may so spend ourselves in the service of one another,
as to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Prayer Over the Oblations

Most merciful God,
who, in the Blessed Abbot Aelred,
deigned to make an end of the old self
and to create a new self according to your own desire,
mercifully grant
that we also, renewed in like manner,
may offer this, the acceptable sacrifice of our atonement.
Through Christ our Lord.

Preface

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Tenderly you drew Saint Aelred
to the school of your service
where, having tasted of the sweetness of your love,
he became the gentle father of many sons,
a merciful shepherd to the weak,
and a model of spiritual friendship.

Inflamed by the love of Christ,
he embraced the Cross
as the pattern of monastic conversion,
and so attained the repose of those who love you,
the true and eternal Sabbath of the blessed.

And so, on his feast day, we join with him to adore you,
and with all the company of Angels and Saints,
sing the ageless hymn of your praise:

Communion Antiphon

MR
What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake (2 Cor 4:5).

Postcommunion

Almighty God,
we beseech you
that, fortified by the strength of this sacrament,
we may learn, from the example of the Blessed Abbot Aelred,
to seek you above all things,
and to bear, while we are yet in this world,
the imprint of the new self.
Through Christ our Lord.

Numquam sine aqua Christus

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El Greco's painting of the Baptism of the Lord has, at least to my eyes, a Chagall-like quality. Whereas one would expect a predominance of blues and greens, suggestive of water and vegetation, El Greco uses a palette in various tones of gold, yellow, and brown. Is it dawn or is it dusk? Is it the beginning of the new dispensation, or the end of the old?

Saint John the Baptist seems to be gazing into the heavens. He sees the heavens opening and the Holy Spirit descending. The light from the Holy Spirit seems to be falling directly into the shell he is using to pour the water of baptism over Jesus' head. Instead of dipping the shell into the river, El Greco shows the Baptist lifting up the shell to receive in its hollow, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Anointing from above.

The Invitatory

This morning's Office of Vigils began with a glorious Invitatory Antiphon in the soaring seventh mode. The summit of the melody stretches with a glorious quilisma over the word, Pater. The presence of the Father is all-pervasive in today's Office.

Christum, Filium dilectum, in quo Pater sibi complacuit,
venite, adoremus.

Christ, the beloved Son, in whom the Father takes delight,
come, let us adore.

The Great Responsory

The First Nocturn's responsory after the First Lesson is grandiose. It is the same Great Responsory in the third mode given for First Vespers in the Antiphonale Monasticum (p. 112) to open the celebration of the whole feast:

Hodie in Jordane baptizato Domino,
aperti sunt caeli
et sicut columba super eum Spiritus mansit,
et vox Patris intonuit:
* Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui.
V. Caeli aperti sunt super eum,
et vox Patris audita est.
* Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui.

Today, the Lord is baptized in the Jordan,
the heavens are opened,
the Spirit, in the form of a dove, rests upon Him,
and the Father's voice resounds:
* This is my beloved Son, in whom my love delights.
V. The heavens opened above Him, and the Father's voice was heard:
* This is my beloved Son, in whom my love delights.

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The repetition of the response, "This is my beloved Son, in whom my love delights," makes the whole piece a contemplation of the Trinity. One "hears" the love of the Father for the Son in every note of the melismas that adorn the key words: Hic, dilectus, and complacui.

The Mystery of Water

The Reading of the Second Nocturn was taken from Tertullian's Treatise on Baptism. The fourth lesson is a lyrical tribute to the role of water in the whole economy of salvation. It evokes certain liturgical texts, notably the solemn blessing of water in the night of Pascha. Here is my translation:

What favour water has with God and with His Christ!
Thus is the meaning of baptism confirmed.
Numquam sine aqua Christus!
Never does Christ appear without water!

Christ Himself is immersed in water.
Invited to the wedding feast, it is water that inaugurates the first-fruits of His power.

When He preaches, it is to invite the thirsty to His everlasting water.
When He teaches of sacrificial love (agapé), He recognizes the cup of water offered to one's neighbor as a work of love.

He rests beside a well of water.
He walks upon the waters, freely crossing over its waves.
He serves His disciples with water, by washing their feet.

These signs of baptism extend even to His Passion.
When He is condemned to the death of the cross, water appears:
it is for the hands of Pilate.
When He is pierced by the soldier's lance, water gushes from His side.

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The Feast That Came Back

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, established by Pope Innocent XIII in 1721, disappeared (along with a lot of other things) from the Roman Missal of 1970, and was happily restored to the third typical edition of the Roman Missal by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Ant. ad introitum (Ph 2,10-11)


In nómine Iesu omne genu flectátur, caeléstium, terréstrium et infernórum; et omnis língua confiteátur quia Dóminus Iesus Christus in glória est Dei Patris.

Collecta

Deus, qui salútem humáni géneris in Verbi tui incarnatióne fundásti, da pópulis tuis misericórdiam quam depóscunt, ut sciant omnes non esse, quam Unigéniti tui, nomen áliud invócandum. Qui tecum.

Super oblata

Largitátis tuae múnera deferéntes, quaesumus, Dómine, ut sicut Christo usque ad mortem obodiénti salutíferum nomen dedísti, ita nobis eius virtúte muníri concéde. Per Christum.

Ant. ad communionem (Ps 8,2)

Dómine, Dóminus noster, quam admirábile est nomen tuum in univérsa terra!

Post communionem

Hóstia sumpta, Dómine, quam Christi nomen honorántes tuae obtúlimus maiestáti, grátiam tuam, quaesumus, nobis infúndat ubérrime, ut et nostra in caelis esse scripta nómina gaudeámus. Per Christum.

Here are the Propers of the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, for study purposes only, of course.

Entrance Antiphon

At the Name of Jesus every knee should bend
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth
and every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ
is in the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).

The Introit calls upon the whole universe to reverence and glorify the adorable name of Jesus -- "in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Ph 2:10). At Mass and in the Divine Office, we reverence the Name of Jesus with a bow of the head. Not only does the outward gesture express what is inside; it also structures and shapes what is inside in a way consonant with the faith of the Church.

Collect

O God, who in the incarnation of your Word
established the salvation of the human race,
give to your peoples the mercy they earnestly implore,
that all of them may know the Name of your only-begotten Son,
and call upon no other.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

In the Collect we confess that the salvation of all nations is in Jesus Christ and no other. We beseech the Father to give to all peoples the knowledge of the Holy Name of Jesus, so that everyone on earth may call upon that saving Name.

General Intercessions

That, from the rising of the sun to its setting,
the Church may proclaim the Most Holy Name of Jesus
with reverence and awe,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, Graciously hear us.

That Christians working in the service of states and nations
may honour the Holy Name of Jesus
and, in the grace of that Name, seek peace and justice for the world
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, Graciously hear us.

That, following the teaching of Saint Bernard,
those tossed on the seas of doubt may find security
in the Name of Jesus;
the discouraged, new hope;
and the sick, a powerful remedy for soul and body,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, Graciously hear us.

That we who reverence the Name of Jesus
may offer fitting reparation
for the blasphemies committed against that Most Holy Name
and, in the communion of the whole Church,
confess that there is no other Name under heaven
whereby we are saved,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. Christ, Graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God, who in the holy Name of Jesus
have given us a light in every darkness,
food for every hunger,
and medicine for every affliction;
mercifully grant that we may find
no Name more agreeable in the singing,
more welcome in the hearing,
and more comforting in thought
than the Name of your only-begotten Son
Jesus Christ who is Lord forever and ever.

A tender and burning love for the Name of Jesus found expression in the lyrical preaching of the twelfth century Cistercian Fathers. In the medieval Cistercian pharmacy of souls, the Holy Name of Jesus was the miracle medicine: the antidote for coldness of heart, bitterness, sadness, fear, lust, greed, vengeance, and every manner of spiritual ill.

Offertory Antiphon

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify Your Name forever;
for You, O Lord, are sweet and mild:
and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon You, alleluia (Ps 85:12, 5).

Prayer Over the Oblations

As we set forth, O Lord, the gifts received from your bounty,
we pray that as you bestowed on Christ obedient unto death
the Name that brings salvation,
you would also, in the power of that Name, keep us safe.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Prayer Over the Oblations calls the Name of Jesus, "the Name that brings salvation." The Name of Jesus brings healing, wholeness, health, peace and well-being. The Ambrosian Missal offers a magnificent Preface of the Holy Name.

Preface

(Ambrosian Missal, Votive Mass of the Holy Name of Jesus)

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always, here and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You sent your only-begotten Son to us,
bearing the wondrous Name that tells of salvation,
so that he might set us free
from the tyranny of our ancient foe,
and by consecrating us as your adoptive sons,
might call us to share the everlasting glory of your kingdom.

This is the Name of our thanksgiving;
before this Name all knees must bend;
this is the Name we invoke
as a refuge amid the perils of this life
and at the hour of death as our comfort and hope.

We join with all creation to praise his Name
as with the choirs of heaven
we sing the ageless hymn of your glory:

Communion Antiphon

O Lord, our Lord,
how wonderful is your Name
through all the earth (Ps 8:2).

The Communion Antiphon echoes the Invitatory that opened Vigils. During Holy Communion the Church would have us sing: "O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is your Name through all the earth (Ps 8:2). To begin the daily round of praise, we sang: "The most admirable Name of Jesus, which is above every name: O come, let us adore."

Or:

All the nations You have made shall come and adore before You, O Lord,
and they shall glorify Your Name:
for You are great, and do wonderful things:
You alone are God, alleluia (Ps 85: 9-10).

Postcommunion

Having received the sacrificial gifts, O Lord,
which we offered to your majesty
in honor of the the Name of Christ,
we pray you to pour forth your grace more lavishly upon us
that we may rejoice in having our names written in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Postcommunion draws upon to Luke 10:20: "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven." We cherish the Holy Name of Jesus during this life because we know that Jesus, the Divine Friend, our Perfect and Faithful Friend, cherishes our names, and calls each of us by name. When Saint Teresa of Avila in prayer said to Our Lord, "I am Teresa of Jesus," He answered saying, "And I am Jesus of Teresa." Today's feast is, above all, an invitation and an opportunity to enter more deeply into the friendship of Jesus. He would have us call Him by His Name. Nothing so establishes intimacy between the soul and Jesus Christ as the ceaseless repetition of His adorable Name. Enter into the grace of today's feast. Imitate the saints. Let the Name of Jesus be your warmth, your sweetness, and your song.


Oremus

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The Prayer of the Faithful

The Prayer of the Faithful for the Ordinary Form of the Mass poses a number of complex problems. The lack of one or more stable texts, or of texts suitable for each Mass, composed according to the norms promulgated from Rome on 13 January 1965 and again on 17 April 1966, is not the least of these. Readers, tell me if you have a Prayer of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers or General Intercessions) at daily Mass? What is the state of current practice in parishes and other communities?

By Whom and in What Manner?

It should be noted that, at the beginning of the restoration of the so-called Universal Prayer, it was envisaged that the intentions would be sung following the models of chant given in the Graduale Simplex and that the act of proposing the intentions to the people would belong 1) to the priest himself in the style of the ancient Roman usage, or 2) to the deacon. Only in the absence of a deacon should the function be assigned to another "suitable person."

Where?

Msgr Klaus Gamber argues that, following the oldest traditions, the intentions should be proposed by the deacon standing in front of the altar and facing it. The practice of proposing the intentions from the ambo derives from the late-medieval French Prières du Prône. An instruction from the Congregation of Rites, dated 26 September 1964, says this:

In places where the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful is already the custom, it shall take place before the Offertory, after the Oremus, and, for the time being with the formularies in use in individual regions. The celebrant is to lead the prayer at either his chair, the altar, the lectern, or the edge of the sanctuary. A deacon, cantor, or other suitable minister may sing the intentions or intercessions.

Clearly Confusing

The "instruction" is riddled with options, making it vague and confusing. It was instructions such as these that set the stage for the disorientation and chaos that have so marked the "Church at prayer" in the past forty-five years.

Should the General Intercessions be allowed to fall into abeyance? Can they be salvaged? What are the chances of recovering a form of the Prayer of the Faithful that is dignified, hieratic, and in harmony with what Mr. Edmund Bishop called "the genius of the Roman Rite"?

General Intercessions for the Feast of Stephen


That like Saint Stephen, the praying Church, filled with the Holy Spirit,
may gaze into heaven
and see there the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of he Father,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That world leaders of good will
may turn from every project of war
to collaborate sincerely and effectively in the pursuit of peace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That those who suffer for the sake of Christ and the Gospel
may be consoled by the Holy Spirit;
and that the sick and the dying
may be moved by the Holy Spirit
to pray, like Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,"
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the deacons of the Church,
and men preparing for the Holy Diaconate,
may find in Saint Stephen a model of the holiness to which they are called,
and a powerful intercessor,
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That, like Saint Stephen the Protomartyr,
we may find in the psalms the very prayer of Christ to the Father,
and the words given by the Holy Spirit for our own prayer to Christ
to the Lord we pray, Christ hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Oration

Almighty and ever-living God,
by whose gracious will
the Holy Spirit indwells and overshadows
the Body of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
mercifully grant that we may experience
in our prayer and in our lives
that glorious unity that is the fruit
not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man
but of the will of your Christ
and of the power of your Holy Spirit.
Through the same Christ our Lord.


Cleansing of the Mind

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Here is today's Collect in the Missale Romanum and in the Liturgia Horarum. In the 1962 Missale Romanum it is the Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent.

Excita, Domine, corda nostra
ad praeparandas Unigeniti tui vias,
ut per eius adventum,
purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur.

Bishop England in 1843

The Right Reverend Dr. John England, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina translated this Collect in his 1843 edition of The Roman Missal Translated into English for the Use of the Laity:

Stir up, O Lord, our hearts
to prepare the ways of thy only-begotten Son:
that by his coming
we may be enabled to serve thee with pure minds.

And here is how I translated the same Collect this morning:

Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths of Thine only-begotten Son
that His coming may enable us to serve Thee
with minds that have been cleansed.

The Sacramentary

But in the current Sacramentary we find a prayer that cannot possibly claim to be a translation of the original text.

Almighty Father,
give us the joy of your love
to prepare the way for Christ our Lord.
Help us to serve you and one another.

On Whose Watch?

Why is this "translation," given in the 1970 Sacramentary, still in use after 38 years? Incredible, is it not? Who did this "translation?" And who approved it? And why was it so widely accepted without question? It bears absolutely no resemblance to the original Collect it purports to render in English. It is a flagrant betrayal of the lex orandi.

Deleterious Spiritual Consequences

Did it not occur to the translators of the Sacramentary to consult the first American translation of the Roman Missal, that of Bishop England? Or any other for that matter? I know that the new ICEL translation, in accord with the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam, is on the way, but all the same! Has anyone reflected on the deleterious spiritual consequences of using flawed liturgical texts?

Some Provocative Questions

I have the joy of offering Holy Mass in Latin and in the Extraordinary Form every day so that, personally, this debacle doesn't affect me. I am aware nonethless of the sufferings and problems of conscience that the current Sacramentary inflicts on a number of priests. And what of the faithful deprived for the past forty years of faithful and accurate translations of the liturgy of the Church?

Salus Animarum Est Suprema Lex

In the light of the old axiom so often quoted by canonists and moral theologians, that "the good of souls is the supreme law," would a priest be justified in using an accurate translation of the text the Church wants us to have, the text given in the editio typica, while waiting for the new ICEL translation? Or does a narrow and blind legalism impose the obligatory use of texts that are, even to those with a minimal knowledge of the Missale Romanum, flawed to the extent of depriving souls of actual participation in the prayer of the Church? Is not the good of souls at stake? I'm just asking the questions!

Those Noble Hymns

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Those noble hymns, which had solaced anchorites on their mountains, monks in their cells, priests in bearing up against the burden and heat of the day, missionaries in girding themselves for martyrdom--henceforth became as a sealed book and as a dead letter.
(John Mason Neale,1818-1866)


A Disaster

One of the most scandalous post-conciliar ruptures with liturgical continuity occurred with the publication of the American edition of the Liturgy of the Hours by the Catholic Book Publishing Company in 1975. The American Catholic clergy and faithful were given four volumes flawed by scant regard for the model provided by the Editio Typica of the Liturgia Horarum. These volumes betray no understanding or experience of the exigencies of choral prayer.

What Were They Thinking?

The editors had no idea, for example, that the function of antiphons is to launch and repose the psalmody, both musically -- being in function of the mode of the psalm tone -- and theologically, by providing a hermeneutical key to the psalm in a given liturgical context. Stupidly, they placed the psalm prayer after the doxology and before the repetition of the antiphon, thus annihilating one of the antiphon's principal functions and fracturing the natural flow of the ending of the doxology into the antiphon. Is it really possible that no one in the employ of the American bishops noticed this in 1975?

And the Hymns

The most egregious deficiency of the American edition however, is, with precious few exceptions, the arbitrary replacement of the Church's official hymnody with a potpourri of compositions never intended for the Divine Office. This is a problem that John Mason Neale addressed in an article published in 1849:

Hymns of the Western Church

Among the most pressing of the inconveniences consequent on the adoption of the vernacular language in the office-books of the Reformation, must be reckoned the immediate disuse of all the hymns of the Western Church. That treasury, into which the saints of every age and country had poured their contributions, delighting, each in his generation, to express their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, in language which whould be the heritage of their Holy Mother until the end of time--those noble hymns, which had solaced anchorites on their mountains, monks in their cells, priests in bearing up against the burden and heat of the day, missionaries in girding themselves for martyrdom--henceforth became as a sealed book and as a dead letter.

Day Unto Day and Night Unto Night

The prayers and collects, the versicles and responses, of the earlier Church might, without any great loss of beauty, be preserved; but the hymns, whether of the sevenfold daily office, of the weekly commemoration of creation and redemption, of the yearly revolution of the Church's seasons, or of the birthdays to glory of martyrs and confessors--those hymns by which day unto day had uttered speech, and night unto night had taught knowledge--could not, by the hands then employed in ecclesiastical matters, be rendered into another, and that a then comparatively barbarous, tongue.

Still Expecting in Patience the Rest

One attempt the Reformers made--the version of the Veni Creator Spiritus in the Ordinal; and that, so far perhaps fortunately, was the only one. . . . The Church of England had, then, to wait. She had, as it has well been said, to begin over again. There might arise saints within herself, who, one by one, should enrich her with hymns in her own language; there might arise poets, who should be capable of supplying her office-books with versions of the hymns of earlier times. In the meantime the psalms were her own; and grievous as was the loss she had sustained, she might be content to suffice herself with those, and expect in patience the rest.

The Knotty Entanglements of Sin

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The two Collects given us by the liturgy this week -- the first in the Extraordinary Form, and the second in the Ordinary Form -- merit close attention.

On the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Absolve, quaesumus Domine, tuorum delicta populorum: ut a peccatorum nexibus, quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus, tua benignitate liberemur.


Absolve, thy people from their transgressions,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
so that through Thy goodness,
we may be set free from the entanglements of those sins
which in our weakness we have committed.

The verb, absolvo, can mean to loosen. The verb, contraho, can mean, among other things, to draw together tightly. Understood in this way, the Collect presents an astute psychology of sin. Sin is a knotty business, leading to hopelessly complex entanglements. One better understands the old German devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Looser of Knots (Maria Knotenlöserin) in the light of the Church's prayer. There are, I think, in every life, sinful entanglements that only the patient and gentle hands of the Immaculate Virgin Mary can loosen.

Loosen, thy people from their transgressions, we beseech Thee O Lord, so that through Thy goodness working through the hands of the Virgin Mary, we may be set free from the knotty entanglements of those sins which in our weakness we have pulled together.

On the Twenty-Ninth Sunday Per Annum and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, fac nos tibi semper et devotam gerere voluntatem, et maiestati tui sincero corde servire.

Concise and elegant. The twofold petition follows immediately upon the address with no intermediate clause. I translated it, rather freely, this way:

Almighty and ever-living God, make us ever bring Thee the devotion of our wills, and wait upon Thy majesty with singleness of heart.

The sense of the prayer is, it seems to me, that "adoration in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:23) requires the homage of the will ready to do God's bidding. True devotion lies in obedience to the will of the Father. "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 7:21).

I was almost tempted to render the last line of the prayer, "and wait upon Thy majesty with guileless hearts," for that, I would argue, is the meaning of sincero corde. Worship is most pleasing to God when we offer it on His terms, not on our own; when we go to it with no mental reservations and with childlike candour. "Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God" (Heb 10:7).


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One of the things I most love about the prayers of the Roman Rite is their compassionate realism. Today's succinct Collect (in the traditional liturgical books) illustrates this perfectly. There is no masking of human weakness, no pretense of virtue, and no want of confidence in Divine Mercy.

Deus, qui nos conspicis ex nostra infirmitate deficere:
ad amorem tuum nos misericorditer per Sanctorum tuorum exempla restaura.

Monsignor Knox translates it thus:

O God, who seest how we fail by reason of our weakness,
have mercy, and through the examples of thy saints,
renew our love of thee.

The Marquess of Bute gives this translation:

O God, Who seest that in our own weakness we do continually fall,
make, in Thy mercy, the ensamples of Thy holy children
a mean whereby to renew in us the love of Thyself.

Finally, the Anglican Monastic Diurnal has:

O God, who seest that we fall by reason of our infirmity:
mercifully restore us to thy love by the example of thy Saints.

Dealing with Sinners

There were some contemporaries of Pope Callistus I who found him lax and overly generous in dealing with public sinners, notably with clergy who had fallen into sin. Hippolytus, for example, groused that Callistus was unwilling to depose a bishop who had sinned grievously and then done penance for his sin.

Copious Redemption

Callistus, however, was personally acquainted with penitence of heart, and had suffered much at the hands of rigorists. If Mother Church has made the compassion of Christ the Good Shepherd the measure of her own pastoral practise in dealing with sinners, it is perhaps due, in some way, to the merciful magnanimity of Pope Saint Callistus I.

The Mercy That Restores to Love

From this one sees that today's Collect is perfectly adapted to the feast. The Church cannot but imitate the mercy of God, Who, while He sees us fail in our infirmities and fall in our weakness, sets before us the example of those forgiven sinners who are the saints, and desires only to restore us to His love.

Mass of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

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I am especially mindful today of all who devote themselves to the service of the poor in the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Tulsa, of the Lazarist Fathers, of fellow-blogger and hymnographer Vincent Uher, of good friend Lisa Hoffer on her birthday, and of kind Sister Elma and the other Daughters of Charity at St. Mary's Hostel, Knock, County Mayo.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor,
and to heal the contrite of heart (cf. Lk 4:18).

COLLECT

O God, who for the salvation of the poor
and the instruction of the clergy
endowed the blessed priest Vincent with apostolic virtues,
grant, we pray,
that inflamed by that same spirit,
we may both loved what he loved
and carry out what he taught.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Almighty and ever-living God,
who gave to Saint Gaetano, your priest,
the knowledge of your glory
shining in the Face of Christ,
mercifully grant that we
who rejoice today in his memory,
may imitate his love for that same Holy Face
concealed in the Sacrament of the Altar
and in the poorest and most forsaken of your children.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Or:

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Holy Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Collect

God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
who led your martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
to the knowledge of your crucified Son
in her imitation of him even unto death,
grant, by her intercession,
that all people may know the Saviour Christ
and, through him, come to the vision of you in eternity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

or

Lord God of our fathers,
who brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the Cross
at the hour of her martyrdom,
fill us with that same knowledge
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the Supreme Truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love, ratified in the Blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

Turn On Us Thy Healing Face

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Two strophes from this morning's hymn at Lauds seemed to come to life as I sang them in the sunlight of this new Day of the Lord:

Iesu, labantes respice
et nos videndo corrige;
si respicis, lapsus cadunt
fletuque culpa solvitur.

Tu, lux, refulge sensibus
mentisque somnum discute;
te nostra vox primum sonet,
et vota solvamus tibi.

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman translates:

Jesu, Master! when we sin,
Turn on us Thy healing Face;
It will melt the offence within
Into penitential grace.

Beam on our bewildered mind,
Till its dreamy shadows flee;
Stones cry out where Thou hast shined,
Jesu! musical with Thee.

Praying Audibly

Diocesan priests, deacons, and others who, for one reason or another, pray the Hours alone will find that if they recite or chant them audibly, respecting the rhythm and pauses of choral prayer, the sacred texts more easily descend into the heart. There one begins to experience the sacramental quality of the Divine Office; it is, in fact, a holy communion with the prayer of the ascended and risen Christ, our Eternal High Priest, to the Father.

With the Body

Whenever possible, even in private recitation, adopt the traditional bodily attitudes and gestures of the Divine Office: standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, and signing oneself with the Cross. Saint Benedict enjoined those of his monks who found themselves far from the oratory of the monastery at the hour of prayer to perform the Work of God "on bended knee", that is, without omitting the body's tribute to the Divine Majesty (RSB 50).

In a Sacred Space

In this age of locked churches and the decline of parish-based neighbourhoods, it is not always possible to pray in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament. A domestic oratory, even if it is no more than a corner in one's apartment or an empty closet refreshed with a coat of paint, is a permanent invitation to return to prayer faithfully. The soul finds peace in repairing to a space of beauty set aside for the glory of God. There, by means of sacred images, the "Healing Face" of Our Lord shines into the soul, while the Mother of God, the Angels and the saints offer the comfort of a familiar presence.

For the Pauline Year

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I celebrated the beautiful Votive Mass of Saint Paul this morning. One of my resolutions for the Pauline Year is to offer the Votive Mass of Saint Paul once a week whenever the rubrics permit it. The Propers for this Mass are found in the Missale Romanum, Editio Typica Tertia, 2002, page 1185. I would be curious to know how many of my brother priests will also be celebrating the Votive Mass of Saint Paul during this special year of grace.

Introit

Scio cui credidi, et certus sum quia potens est
depositum meum servare in illum diem iustus iudex.

He, to whom I have given my confidence, is no stranger to me,
and I am fully persuaded that he has the means to keep my pledge safe,
until that day comes, the Lord, that Judge.
(2 Timothy 1, 12; 4, 8)

Collect

Domine Deus, qui beatum Paulum apostolum
ad praedicandum Evangelium mirabiliter designasti,
da fide mundum universum imbui,
quam ipse coram regibus gentibusque portavit
ut iugiter Ecclesia tua capiat augmentum.

Lord God, who, in a wonderful way, set apart the blessed Apostle Paul
for the preaching of the Gospel,
grant that the entire world may be imbued with the faith,
which he carried into the presence of kings and of peoples,
so that Your Church may ceaselessly increase.

Prayer Over the Oblations

Illo nos, quaesumus, Domine, divina tractantes,
fidei lumine Spiritus perfundat,
quo beatum Paulum apostolum
ad gloriae tuae propagationem collustravit.

As we handle these divine mysteries, O Lord,
we beseech You that the Holy Spirit may pour forth the light of faith
by which He illumined the blessed Apostle Paul
so as to spread Your glory.

Preface of the Apostles I

Communion Antiphon

In fide vivo Filii Dei, qui dilexit me,
et tradidit semetipsum pro me.

My real life is the faith I have in the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
(Galatians 2, 20)

Postcommunion

Corporis et Sanguinis Filii tui, Domine,
communione refectis,
concede, ut ipse Christus sit nobis vivere,
nihilque ab eius nos separet caritate
et, beato monente Apostolo,
in dilectione cum fratribus ambulemus.

Now that we are refreshed, O Lord,
by the communion of the Body and Blood of Your Son,
grant that our life may be Christ Himself,
that nothing may separate us from His charity,
and that, following the teaching of the Apostle,
we may walk with our brethren in love.

14th Sunday of the Year A

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Collect

O God, who by the abasement of Your Son
have lifted up a fallen world;
grant to Your faithful a holy gladness,
so that having delivered us out of the servitude of sin,
You may give us to taste fully of joys that never end.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

General Intercessions

That, filled with the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, the Church in East and West may be a place of comfort for the little and the poor,
and an oasis of rest for every burdened and weary soul,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That world leaders
may seek peace for the nations in the Gospel of the Humble Christ,
and so govern with the wisdom that comes from above,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That the falling, the bowed down,
and those who are burdened with the cares of life
may open the ear of their hearts
to the invitation of the meek and humble Christ Who,
even today, says, “Come to Me,”
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That we, having received
the revelation of mysteries hidden from the learned and the clever,
may rejoice in the arrival of the King of glory
who comes to us hidden beneath the sacramental veils,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,
Who gave joy to Zion and comfort to Jerusalem (Za 9:9)
in the arrival of Your Son Jesus Christ,
gentle and humble in heart (Mt 11:29);
pour forth, we beseech you, His Spirit into our hearts (cf., Rom 8:9)
that, drawn to Him who calls us to Himself (cf., Mt 11:28),
we may lay aside every heavy burden and, entering into His rest (cf. Mt 1128),
glory in the poverty and lowliness of the King (cf. Za 9,9)
even as we confess the triumph of His victory over death.
Who is Lord forever and ever.

9th Sunday of the Year A

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Entrance Antiphon

MR/GR
Pity me, Lord, as thou seest me friendless and forlorn.
Quit my heart of its burden, deliver me from my distress.
Restless and forlorn, I claim thy pity,
to my sins be merciful.
V. All my heart goes out to thee, O Lord my God.
Belie not the trust I have inthee,
let not my enemies boast of my downfall.
(Ps 24: 16–18, trans. Msgr. Ronald Knox)

Collect

O God, whose never-failing providence
sets in order all things both in heaven and on earth;
put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things,
and give us all that will be for our good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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The blessing of roses takes place at the end of Mass on the feast of Saint Rita. It recalls an episode in the life of the Saint of Desperate Causes. In January 1457 Saint Rita, lying ill in her monastic cell in Cascia, asked a cousin to bring her a rose. Tradition affirms that God granted this desire: Saint Rita’s relatives were able to pick for her a rose found blooming amidst the winter snow. In exchange for the thorn in her forehead that she bore for fifteen years as a sign of her participation in the redeeming Passion of Jesus, Saint Rita was miraculously given a rose in winter.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

O God, whose word sanctifies all things,
pour forth your blessing + upon these roses
that we present to you in memory of Saint Rita,
and grant that whosoever makes use of them with devotion,
may by the merits of the passion and resurrection of your Son,
receive from your goodness
comfort and health in sickness,
and constancy in following your Son
with gratitude along the way of the Cross.
Through Christ our Lord.

The roses are sprinkled with Holy Water.

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In how many places will the Mass of Beata Maria in Resurrectione Domini be celebrated tomorrow? The proper texts of the Mass are found in the Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine or in the English translation of it, entitled Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here is the oration I composed to conclude the General Intercessions, and my own translation of the splendid Preface of this Mass. The painting of the Risen Jesus appearing to His Blessed Mother is by Giovanni Francesco Guercino (1599-1666).

Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,
who, during the great and silent sabbath
when your Son slept in the tomb,
looked upon the flame of faith and hope
that burned, for the sake of the whole Church,
in the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary,
grant us, we beseech you,
so to follow her in faith and in hope in this life
as to share her joy eternally in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

Preface

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

At the resurrection of your Christ
you filled the blessed Virgin with joy beyond all telling
and wonderfully extolled her faith.
In the strength of that faith
she waited for that Day of Light and of Life
when the night of death would be ended,
the whole world would exult,
and the Church at her dawn would tremble with joy
in seeing again her deathless Lord.

Through him the choirs of Angels adore your majesty,
as in eternity they rejoice before your face.
Let our voices, we pray you, be joined to theirs,
in this their joyful hymn:


Saint Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx

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Jocelin of Furness, a contemporary of Saint Aelred, gives the following account of the saintly abbot in his Life of St Waldef:

"He was a man of fine old English stock. He left school early and was brought up from boyhood in the court of King David with Henry, the king’s son, and Waldef. In the course of time he became a monk, afterwards abbot of Rievaulx. His school learning was slight, but as a result of careful discipline in the exercise of his acute natural powers, he was cultured above many who had been thoroughly trained in secular learning. He drilled himself in the study of the Holy Scripture and left a lasting memorial behind him in writings distinguished by their lucid style, and wealth of edifying instruction, for he was wholly inspired by a spirit of wisdom and understanding. Moreover, he was a man of the highest integrity, of great practical wisdom, witty and eloquent, a pleasant companion, generous and discreet. And, with all these qualities he exceeded all his fellow prelates of the Church in his patience and tenderness. He was full of sympathy for the infirmities, both physical and moral, of others."

The photo below shows the ruins of the Abbey of Rievaulx in Yorkshire as they stand today. The Abbey was founded in 1132 at the direction of Saint Bernard. Three of its monks are acclaimed as saints: William, the founding abbot; Aelred, the third abbot; and Waldef, founder of the daughter-house of Melrose.

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Preface of Saint Aelred, Abbot

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Tenderly you drew Saint Aelred
to the school of your service
where, having tasted of the sweetness of your love,
he became the gentle father of many sons,
a merciful shepherd to the weak,
and a model of spiritual friendship.

Inflamed by the love of Christ,
he embraced the Cross as the pattern of monastic conversion,
and so attained the repose of those who love you,
the true and eternal Sabbath of the blessed.

And so, on his feast day, we join with him to adore you,
and with all the company of Angels and Saints,
sing the ageless hymn of your praise:

First Sunday of Advent

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Entrance Antiphon

GR
Unto you have I lifted up my soul. O my God, I trust in you, let me not be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed. V. Make your ways known unto me, O Lord, and teach me your paths (Ps 24:1-4).

Act of Penitence

In the words of the psalmist, the longing of every human heart finds expression. “All my heart goes out to you, O my God, in you I trust” (Ps 24:1).

You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth (Ps 79:1).
Kyrie, eleison.

Stir up your might, and come to save us (Ps 79:2).
Christe, eleison.

Give us life, and we will call upon your name (Ps 79:18).
Kyrie, eleison.

Collect

Almighty God,
grant to your faithful, we beseech you,
the will to go forth with works of justice
to greet your Christ at his coming,
that they, being found worthy of the kingdom of heaven,
may be given a place at his right hand.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Où donc est ta demeure?

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A number of years ago, I composed music for a French Office hymn for the feast of Saint Andrew. It was a feastday gift for Dom André, O.Cist. The text spoke to me very powerfully. A melody for it came to me all at once, in a kind of stream of inspiration.

Why was I so touched by the text of this hymn when I first discovered it? There was something in it that connected deeply with the Magnificat Antiphon of the feast:

When blessed Andrew came to the place where the Cross had been prepared, he cried out and said: O goodly Cross, so long desired, and now made ready for my eager spirit; fearless and joyful do I come to thee; therefore, receive me also gladly, as the disciple of him who hung upon thee.

There was something else too: in the text of the hymn were many things deeply related to my own life experience.

As I prayed over the day's texts, it occurred to me that I might translate the text of this hymn. It is being sung in a number of French-speaking monasteries today. Accept it as a kind of meditatio, as way of repeating the Word in other words. This hymn has been for many a kind of gift; may it speak to your heart as compellingly as it first spoke to mine.

Where then is Thine abode,
O Lamb of God who invitest us?
Could it already be the tenth hour
for the disciple who set out to seek Thee?
For who canst know the day and hour
when Thou wilt turn to us and say:
Come and see!

The joy of meeting Thee
is a transfiguring brightness:
a flame in this world's night
since Thy Pascha's dazzling light.
Shine Thou within and overcome the darkness,
that we may hear the Spirit's murmur:
Jesus is Lord!

Filled now with Thy presence,
O God, our every dawn indwelling,
we announce to all who seek Thee
a burning joy, an incandescence.
Thou, Thou alone canst tell us
how that cry first didst pierce the silence:
Blessèd those who believe!

Lord, shall we not then follow Thee
with the faith of those fishers of men?
In this night of catching nothing
we know Thy hands are full.
Stand again on this our shore,
and cry Thou to us once more:
Cast the net!

On the threshold of Thy dwelling
Thy Cross shall be our sign;
for each apostle will have his hour
just as Thou didst have Thine.
Stay Thou with us, God our Master,
to sing in Thy disciples:
Hail, Cross of Life!

Mariam cogita, Mariam invoca

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12 September
Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

Think of Mary, call upon Mary.

Collect

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God,
that to all who are celebrating her glorious name,
the Blessed Virgin Mary herself
may dispense the benefits of your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

General Intercessions

That the pilgrim Church,
faithful to the invocation of the Most Holy Name of Mary,
may find in her a shining star,
a refuge in time of distress,
and a mother quick to help in every need,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the world may be spared further war, violence, and bloodshed
and the leaders of nations moved to persevere in seeking a lasting peace,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those who struggle on the stormy seas of life
may look to Mary as to their star, and so avert shipwreck;
that those who are tossed on the winds of temptation,
may call on Mary and be comforted in their weakness;
and that the dying may find in the Holy Name of Mary
light and peace,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That all who bear the sweet name of Mary
may be inwardly conformed to her virtues
and, at every moment, honour the name
that fills heaven and earth with gladness,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That all who invoke the Holy Name of Mary
may experience her nearness now and at the hour of death;
and that the praise of God may never depart
from the lips of those who celebrate her Name today,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,
who, in the Blessed Virgin Mary,
were pleased to give us a star
shining over life’s vast and stormy sea;
mercifully grant that when the winds of temptation arise
and we run upon the rocks of tribulation,
we may with confidence look at that star,
think of Mary, and call on her by name,
and so learn, with all the saints,
how rightly it is said that “the Virgin’s name was Mary.”
Through Christ our Lord.

(Cf. Saint Bernard, Sermon Two on the Glories of the Virgin Mother)

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Magnificat I

If anyone comes to me and does not hate even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:26).

Benedictus

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me,
cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:27).

Magnificat II

Whoever does not renounce all that he has
cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:33).

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Magnificat I

When you are invited to a wedding feast,
sit down in the lowest place,
that he who invited you may say to you:
“Friend, go up higher.”
Then shall you have glory in the presence of all who sit at table with you (Lk 14:10).

Benedictus

All who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Lk 14:11).

Magnificat II

When you give a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind;
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you,
for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Lk 14: 13-14).

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Magnificat I

Strive to enter by the narrow door,
for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter,
and shall not be able (Lk 13:24).

Benedictus

Many shall come from the east and the west,
and shall sit at table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob
in the kingdom of heaven (Mt 8:12).

Magnificat II

Behold, they are last that shall be first;
and they are first that shall be last, says the Lord (Lk 13:30).

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Note: The Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers of the 20th Sunday of the Year C is the same one given for the Magnificat at First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Magnificat I

I am come to cast fire on the earth:
and what will I, but that it be kindled (Lk 12:49).

Benedictus

I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized:
and how I am constrained until it be accomplished (Lk 12:50).

Magnificat II

Do you think that I am come to give peace on earth?
I tell you, no; but separation (Lk 12: 51).

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Collect

God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
who led your martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
to the knowledge of your crucified Son
in her imitation of him even unto death,
grant, by her intercession,
that all people may know the Saviour Christ
and, through him, come to the vision of you in eternity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

or

Lord God of our fathers,
who brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the Cross
at the hour of her martyrdom,
fill us with that same knowledge
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the Supreme Truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love, ratified in the Blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

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It was fitting on this last Saturday of July to remember the Madonna of the Most Precious Blood. The First Lesson at Mass (Exodus 24:3-8) also suggested a Votive Mass in her honour. For more on the Mother of God of the Most Precious Blood visit Father Keyes at the Refugio San Gaspare.

Collect

Almighty and ever-living God
by whose will the Most Precious Blood of Your only-begotten Son
was formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
and poured out for the salvation of the world on the altar of the Cross;
mercifully grant, through her intercession,
that we who partake of the Chalice of the New and Eternal Covenant,
may so adore the Mystery of Faith
as to experience within ourselves the fruit of that Redeeming Blood.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Saint Birgitta of Sweden

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Entrance Antiphon

Let us all rejoice in the Lord,
as we celebrate a festival in honour of Saint Birgitta,
at whose solemnity the angels rejoice
and sing praise to the Son of God.

Collect

O God who led Saint Birgitta
along various paths of life,
and wondrously taught her the wisdom of the Cross
in the contemplation of the Passion of your Son,
grant that we, by walking according to your call,
may be able to seek you in all things.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Now that I am back in the United States, I will, whenever possible, post my translations of the Sunday Mass Propers together with General Intercessions and an Oration to conclude them. In the past, some folks have found these texts helpful.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
We have received your mercy, O God,
in the midst of your temple;
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with justice (Ps 47:10-11).

ACT OF PENITENCE

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
that we may be ready to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Lord Jesus, your hand is with your servants (Is 66:14c).
Kyrie, eleison.

Christ Jesus, your Cross is our glory (Gal 6:14).
Christe, eleison.

Lord Jesus, your kingdom is the joy of all the earth (Ps 47:2).
Kyrie, eleison.

May Almighty God have mercy on us,
and lead us, with our sins forgiven,
into eternal life.

COLLECT

O God, who by the abasement of your Son
have lifted up a fallen world;
grant to your faithful a holy gladness,
so that having delivered us out of the servitude of sin,
you may give us to taste fully of joys that never end.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

This morning I walked to the Church of Sant' Alfonso, the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It was quiet and peaceful there with but a few pilgrims kneeling before the miraculous icon. Earlier, I had celebrated the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Perpetual Help in the Chapel of San Gregorio here at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

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Introit

Rejoice we all in the Lord,
as we keep festival in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
whose solemnity makes angels joyful
and sets them praising the Son of God.
V. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart,
I shall speak of the works of the King (Ps 44:2).

Gaudeamus is a magnificent festal chant originally composed for the virgin martyr Saint Agatha, and then adapted to other occasions. It is used on a number of other feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making it familiar enough to be sung with a certain jubilant ease. The gentle balancing of the first mode melody evokes the ceaseless, sweeping joys of the heavenly liturgy celebrated by "the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" (Ap 5:11). The verse, drawn from Psalm 44, the exuberant messianic wedding song, is placed in the mouth of the Church, the Bride of Christ, as she declares the wonders wrought through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of Perpetual Help.

Guercino did this drawing of the martyrdom of Saints John and Paul in 1630-32. He used a pen and brown ink, a brush and brown wash. The decapitated body of one of the martyrs lies prostrate, while the other, kneeling, awaits his death. The executioner is seen from behind; his face is hidden from the viewer.

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Friends and Martyrs of the Church at Rome

Today is the memorial of Saints John and Paul, named both in the Martyrology and in the Roman Canon. John and Paul were Roman soldiers in the service of Constantia, the daughter of Constantine. They chose the friendship of Jesus Christ over the favour of Julian the Apostate. The liturgy draws on the imagery of the Apocalypse to describe them as “two olive trees and two candlesticks shining before the Lord” (Ap 11:4). The texts of their Proper Mass speak of the bonds of friendship and true fraternity.

The Church and Monastery of Saints John and Paul are on the Coelian Hill, a mere twenty minute walk from Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. One can also visit there the cell of Saint Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists.

The Mass and Office of Saints John and Paul left their mark on the soul of Suzanne Wrotnowska (Mother Marie des Douleurs), foundress of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, and, over the years, provided her, again and again, with food for meditation and exhortation.

Safely Through a Hundred Trials

The Introit of the today’s Mass spoke to her heart; in some ways it was strikingly prophetic of things to come: “Multae tribulationes . . . Though a hundred trials beset the righteous, the Lord will bring them safely through them all. Under the Lord’s keeping every bone of theirs is safe, not one of them shall suffer harm” (Ps 33:30-21). Suzanne’s writings, even at this time, reveal her capacity to attend to the texts of the Mass and Divine Office, and to draw out of them light for the conversion of her life, fortitude, and joy.

True Brotherhood

Writing on the feast of Saints John and Paul in 1932, Mother Marie des Douleurs offered her daughters a teaching from the Alleluia verse of the Mass: “This is true brotherhood, that triumphed over the reproaches of earth and followed Christ, laying hold of the glories of a heavenly kingdom.” The youthful foundress, writing after a little more than six months of life in community, was demanding, uncompromising, and realistic:

The holy martyrs John and Paul found in their common martyrdom a brotherhood deeper than that of blood.
For us, without having been called to the honour of martyrdom, we will find true brotherhood not in natural affection, nor in a community of tastes, occupations, and life, but in the total immolation of ourselves.
Here, in the perfect unity of the divine Heart, is where we will find one another: in the complete sacrifice that we promise, translated into a continual, smiling, and courageous abnegation.
This brotherhood of ours is very sweet, very intimate, very true if it is above ourselves. Otherwise, not only will it be disappointing and mediocre, it will not be able to last. We will love one another to the extent that we are sacrificed, insofar as we will have shared in the dispositions of the divine Victim.

The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

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On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20).

Here is my own translation of the Proper of the Mass of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, together with invocations for the Act of Penitence and General Intercessions. The lessons, Gradual, and Alleluia can be found in most older missals in the section entitled "Local Feasts."

Saint Romuald

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I celebrated the 6:30 Mass in the Basilica's Cappella di San Gregorio this evening. There was the usual assortment of pie donne and folks on the way home from work, many of them with a motorcycle helmet on the bench next to them. It being the feast of Saint Romuald, I used the Supplemento Monastico al Messale Romano which gives the following Collect and Preface for Saint Romuald. Although of recent composition and somewhat lacking in the dignity of more ancient Latin texts, they are not without a certain unction. The translation from the Italian is my own.

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Collect

O Father of lights, from Whom descendeth every gift,
and Who didst grant unto Saint Romuald
perfect compunction of heart
and a deep spiritual intelligence of the Scriptures;
renew us, we beseeech Thee, by Thy Spirit,
so that, by the steady and diligent hearing of Thy word,
we may be conformed to Christ Thy Son.
Who with Thee liveth and reigneth
in the unity of the same Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

Preface

It is truly meet and just,
right and availing unto salvation,
that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee,
O Lord, Father Almighty, and eternal God.

In Thy lovingkindness
Thou didst fill Saint Romuald,
the Father and Teacher of monks and hermits,
with the overflowing joy of lofty contemplation;

Thou didst enrich him with the light of the Prophets
and enflame him with the zeal of the Apostles;
Thus, by the silence of his tongue and the eloquence of his life
did he lead back many into the way of salvation.

For this gift of Thy bounty,
we join ourselves in exultation with the angels and the saints,
and so sing the hymn of Thy glory:

Lilies and Bread

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Together with two good friends I went on a little pilgrimage this morning to the Basilica of Sant'Antonio on the Via Merulana. The church was full of devotees of Saint Anthony. There were lines at all the confessionals. At the entrance to the basilica was a Franciscan priest with an aspergillum, giving a blessing to the faithful as they entered. Blessed lilies were much in evidence but they were artificial ones in cellophane packaging! I said the Gloria Patri seven times in honour of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost in the life and works of Saint Anthony. And like the other pilgrims gathered around the statue of Saint Anthony in festal array, I presented my petitions to the glorious Wonderworker. Viva Sant'Antonio!

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June 13

The Blessing of Lilies and of Bread
in Honour of Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church

O God, the Creator of all things,
the Source of all loveliness,
the lover of holy purity,
and the giver of spiritual grace.
Graciously bless these lilies
offered today in thanksgiving to you
and in honour of Saint Anthony.
Pour out on them heavenly dew
by the saving sign + of the most holy Cross.

O merciful God,
who have endowed these lilies with a most delightful fragrance
to be a comfort and help to those on their sickbeds,
imbue them now with so great a virtue
that whether they are used at home,
in a sickroom, or carried about one’s person,
they may have power,
through the intercession of Saint Anthony,
to drive out evil spirits, to safeguard chastity,
to turn away illness,
and to bestow on your servants peace and grace.
Through Christ our Lord.

The lilies are sprinkled with holy water.

A saeculi strepitu segregati

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Many years ago, while searching out the treasures of my missal, I discovered, among the Masses for Certain Places, the Mass of Our Lady of the Cenacle for the Saturday within the Octave of the Ascension. The proper texts of the Mass stirred my heart. It was not retained in the Collection of Masses in Honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The orations are, like so many composed in the 19th century, addressed to Our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than to the Father.

Collect

Deus, qui beatam Mariam semper Virginem matrem tuam
in Cenaculi solitudine cum discipulis orantem
Sancti Spiritus donis cumulasti:
fac nos, quaesumus, cordis recessum diligere;
ut sic rectius orantes
Spiritus Sancti gratiis repleri mereamur.

O God, who with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
didst fill the Blessed Ever–Virgin Mary, Thy mother,
in prayer with the disciples in the solitude of the Cenacle;
grant that we may cherish the secret places of the heart,
so that by a more insistent prayer,
we may deserve to be filled with the graces of the Holy Spirit.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

This is John
who reclined on the breast of the Lord at supper:
Blessed the Apostle unto whom were made known
the secret things of heaven;
to the ends of the earth he has spread the words of life.

COLLECT

O God who,
through the blessed apostle John,
unlocked for us the hidden secrets of your Word,
grant, we beseech you,
that we may grasp with fuller understanding
what he so wondrously proclaimed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

Drink to the Love of Saint John!

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BLESSING OF WINE ON THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST

On the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, at the end of the principal Mass, that is, after the last Gospel, the priest, retaining all his vestments except the maniple, in the following manner blesses wine brought by the people in memory and in honor of Saint John, who drank poison without harm:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who has made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Be so kind as to bless and consecrate with Your right hand, Lord, this cup of wine, and every drink. Grant that by the merits of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in You and drink of this cup may be blessed and protected. Blessed John drank poison from the cup, and was in no way harmed. So, too, may all who this day drink from this cup in honor of blessed John, by his merits, be freed from every sickness by poisoning and from any harms whatever. And, when they have offered themselves in both soul and body, may they be freed, too, from every fault, through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Bless, Lord, this beverage which You have made. May it be a healthful refreshment to all who drink of it. And grant by the invocation of Your holy name that whoever tastes of it may, by Your generosity receive health of both soul and body, through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, descend upon this wine which He has made, and upon every drink, and remain always.
R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with Holy Water. If this blessing is given outside of Mass, the priest performs it in the manner described above, but with surplice and stole.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Drop down dew, you heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down the Just One:
let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour (Is 45:8).

COLLECT

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord,
Thy grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son,
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by His passion and cross
be brought to the glory of His resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who with Thee lives and reigns
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

23 December, O EMMANUEL

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Murillo's painting of the Infant Christ distributing bread to pilgrims is an invitation to consider the mystery of the Eucharist, God–With–Us, the Child of Bethlehem, the House of Bread. An Angel assists the Infant Christ. Behind Him (not visible in this detail) is His Mother, her body forming a kind of Eucharistic throne, a variation on the Sedes Sapientiae motif. Perhaps the sequence of the Mass of Corpus Christi provided a subtext for this painting:

Ecce, panis Angelorum,
Factus cibus viatorum:
Vere panis filiorum.

Behold, the Bread of Angels sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The Bread for God's true children meant.

O Emmanuel (Is 7:14; 8:8),
our King and Lawgiver (Is 33:22),
the expectation of the nations and their Saviour (Gen 49:10):
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

The Last of the O Antiphons

On December 23rd we come today to the last of the Great O Antiphons. We are accustomed to seven, but, in other times and places, and even now, there are nine or even as many as twelve.

O Virgo Virginum

O Virgo Virginum, the last of the Great O Antiphons in the old English liturgy of Sarum , occurs on December 23rd. Its structure is quite different from all the other Great O Antiphons. The first part is a question addressed to the Virgin Mary; in the second part she replies with another question, and then, gives her answer.

“O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.”

It is touching that the Anglican Church, despite all the vicissitudes of her history, remains attached to this lovely Great O addressed to Our Lady.

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O Emmanuel

In today’s Roman liturgy the O Antiphon is, like the six that preceded it, addressed to our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems to me that, with each succeeding day, the O of our invocation, and the Veni of our supplication has grown more confident, more intense and, in a sense, more urgent.

Afraid Never Again

Mother Marie des Douleurs, writing in 1964, offers us a somewhat anguished meditation on today’s Great O. It appears to come out of an experience of weakness, fear, and uncertainty. Some would dismiss it as deeply pessimistic and too gloomy for Advent. I sense something else in it: the prayer of woman wrestling with her inner demons, as we all do, and confident nonetheless in the mystery of God-with-us. This is what she wrote:

17 December, Third Sunday of Advent

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God (Phil 4:4-6).

COLLECT

O God, who hast set Thine eyes upon Thy people
as they await in faith the festival of the birth of the Lord;
grant, we beseech Thee,
that we may arrive at the joys of so great a salvation
to celebrate them with solemn worship
and an ever lively gladness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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"And Elijah the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch" (Sir 48:1). The prophet Elijah figures prominently in today's Mass, making me think of all my dear Carmelite friends — you know who you are.

Las Posadas, the Christmas Novena to the Infant Christ, a devotion that Carmelites cherish, begins today, not only in Carmel, but also among Mexican Catholics everywhere. Humble contemplation of the Infant Christ is the best remedy against sins of arrogance, self–sufficiency, and intellectual pride.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Come, Lord, you who are enthroned upon the cherubim,
show us your face
and we shall be saved (Ps 79:4, 2).

COLLECT

Almighty God,
let the splendour of your glory, we beseech you,
rise like the dayspring in our hearts
to dispel every darkness of the night;
that the advent of your only-begotten Son,
may reveal us to be children of the light.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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A leitmotif of today's Mass is the advent of the Bridegroom Christ. The Collect alludes to Matthew 25:1–13, the parable of the bridegroom coming at midnight. The Gospel presents both John the Baptist, the "friend of the Bridegroom" and Christ, the Bridegroom Himself (cf. Jn 3:29). Both meet with resistance and rejection. In the end, Wisdom will be justified by her children, the saints of every age. Albrecht Dürer's drawing of Christ at the age of twelve (1506) suggests the mystery of the Divine Wisdom come in the flesh.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Behold, the Lord will come, descending with splendour,
to visit his people in peace
and establish over them life everlasting.

COLLECT

Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God
that your people may await
the advent of your only-begotten Son
with the utmost vigilance,
so that, as he himself, the Author of our salvation taught us,
keeping watch, we may go forth to meet him
with our lamps burning.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

12 December, Our Lady of Guadalupe

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In this 17th century Mexican painting, the Virgin of Guadalupe intercedes for the soul depicted under the form of little child. Saved by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and helped by her guardian angel, the soul escapes the clutches of Satan, and flies directly to the wound in the side of Jesus. There she is embraced by Jesus who detaches one arm from the cross to draw her to Himself. To Satan's rage, the soul is purified in the Blood and Water that flow from the Heart of the Crucified.

Entrance Antiphon

A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon under feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev 12:1).

Collect

God of power and mercy,
who blessed the Americas at Tepeyac
with the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe;
grant, we beseech you, through her intercession,
that we may accept one another in Christ
and through the outpouring of your justice into our hearts ,
come to rejoice in the gift of your peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

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The Communion Antiphon of today's Mass merits close attention. The text is borrowed from the Divine Office where it serves as the Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers of the Second Sunday of Advent. Today we repeat it as, one by one, we approach the Holy Mysteries. Addressing herself to Christ in His Eucharistic advent, we sing, "Come, O Lord, and visit us with peace, that we may joy before you in tranquility of heart." Veni, Domine, visitare nos in pace, ut laetemur coram te corde perfecto.

The Latin text speaks of "a perfect heart," meaning a heart made whole. Christ, by the forgiveness of sins, restores wholeness and tranquility to the broken and troubled heart. By His word of forgiveness, He restores the heart's capacity for joy in His presence. "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Lk 5:21).

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it to the ends of the earth;
Behold our Saviour comes,
and will not delay (cf. Jer31:10; Is 35:4).

COLLECT

May our prayer of petition rise before you, O Lord,
so that, when we celebrate
the great mystery of the Incarnation of your Only-Begotten Son,
the service of our worship may be spotless and pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Station at the Roman Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem

Today's stational church is the home of my own monastic community, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Santa Croce is Jerusalem–in–Rome: the image of the ancient Jerusalem that is the Mother Church; of the Catholic Church that is the Jerusalem open to all peoples; of the interior Jerusalem of the soul; and of the heavenly Jerusalem, the object of all our longings.

GR
People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come for the saving of the nations; and the Lord shall make heard the glory of His voice in the joy of your heart (Is 30: 19, 30). V. O shepherd of Israel, hear us; You Who lead Joseph like a flock (Ps 79:2).

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,
let no works of worldly impulse
impede those who are hastening to meet Your Son,
but rather, may the teachings of heavenly wisdom
make us the companions of Him Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Come, Lord, You who are enthroned upon the cherubim,
show us Your face and we shall be saved (Ps 79:4, 2).

COLLECT

O God, Who, for the liberation of the human race
from its ancient sinfulness,
sent Your Only–Begotten Son into this world,
grant to those who wait for Him with all their hearts
the grace of Your lovingkindness from above,
that they may at length attain the prize of true freedom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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This seventeenth century Spanish painting is remarkable in that it depicts Saint Joachim and Saint Anne together with the Immaculate Conception, their daughter full of grace. It is likely that this painting was made for a Carthusian monastery. It is now in the National Gallery of Scotland.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
and my soul shall be joyful in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation,
and with the robe of justice he has covered me,
as a bride adorned with her jewels (Is 61:10).

COLLECT

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin
prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son
and, foreseeing his death on the Cross,
preserved her from all stain;
grant that we too, by her intercession,
may come into your presence with pure hearts.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Come, Bridegroom Christ

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This hymn belongs at the Hour of Sext during Advent. The text, though inspired by something written by a friend many years ago, is my own. The image is a detail from a fresco in the choir of the monastery of Santa Maria di Monteluce in Perugia; it depicts Christ and Mary, that is, Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church.

Come, Bridegroom Christ, outdazzle day:
Come, clear our clouded sight to see
Your living Word in every seed,
In labour’s fruit, eternity.

Come, nurture what your hand has made;
Come, bring to birth what you have sown:
In each day’s labour, Christ, be seen,
Seed, Blossom, Fruit, of all we own.

Come, now descend from mountain heights,
Come, leaping, seeking, calling still.
Your birth to heaven wedded earth;
Let heaven’s praise the earth now fill.

Come, Bridegroom Christ, the Father’s joy,
Come, mark your own with Kiss of Fire.
Your bride still dark, yet lovely, waits;
Unshadowed shines her one desire. Amen.

Vox Clara Ecce Intonat

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Here is my rendering of the Advent hymn for Lauds. Like the Vespers hymn below, it may be sung to the corresponding tune in the Liber Hymnarius. I would be happy to know if any Vultus Christi readers decide to sing these texts.

In desert wastes, the Baptist’s voice
Like thunder pealing from the sky,
Denounces sin, announces Fire,
Unmasking darkness where it lies.

Now let the fearful soul arise,
Lest poisoned by the viper’s sting,
The hour of grace should pass her by:
The advent of the Lamb, the King.

Into death’s cold and shadowed vale
Descends the Lamb from heaven’s height.
And those who wait in silent hope
Are stirred from slumber at the sight.

When in the sky his Cross appears,
The triumph of the Lamb will shine.
And all who wait in joyful hope
Will rise to greet the glorious sign.

To God the Father, ceaseless praise
And to the Lamb who shares his throne,
And to the Spirit in the Church,
the Bride whom Christ yet calls his own. Amen.

Conditor Alme Siderum

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This is my translation of Conditor Alme Siderum. When Advent rolls round and I sing this hymn, I see in my mind's eye Van Gogh's Starry Night. In the little church with the tall steeple at the bottom of the painting there must be a lingering scent of incense. Advent Vespers will have been sung. The Creator of the Starry Night is glorified.

O Light unconquered, Source of Light,
Whose radiance kindles stars and sun,
Shine tenderly on us this night;
Creation groans until you come.

Immense your grief to see our plight:
When sin had shrouded all, you came.
True Dayspring bursting death’s dark bands,
Emmanuel, your saving name!

Night weighed upon a weary world
When silently you pitched your tent,
Enclosed within the Virgin’s womb
True man, true God from heaven sent.

So to the darkened world in need,
Eternal Word, you came as man.
You came as Bridegroom, swift and strong,
To claim the prize the course you ran.

Until your glory fills the skies,
Until the stars in welcome sing,
Until you judge both small and great,
From sin, protect us, Sovereign King.

To God the Father, God the Son,
To God the Spirit ever be
Glad songs of praise throughout the night
While faith adores the mystery. Amen.

30 November, Saint Andrew, Apostle

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

The Lord saw two brothers along the sea of Galilee,
Peter and Andrew, and he called to them:
Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mt 4:18-19).

COLLECT

We humbly entreat your majesty, O Lord,
that the blessed apostle Andrew
may be as constant an intercessor for us in your presence
as he was outstanding in preaching and in ruling over your Church.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

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Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating Holy Mass today in a open place adjacent to the shrine of the Holy House of Mother Mary near Ephesus. Archbishop Marini's presentation suggests that the Mass will be that of the Commendatio Beatae Mariae Virginis, # 13 in the Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine. Here follows my own translation of the texts:

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Lord is high above all nations;
and his glory above the heavens.
Who makes the Blessed Virgin to dwell in the Church,
the joyful mother of children (cf. Ps 112:4, 9).

COLLECT

Lord, Holy Father,
who decreed the salvation of the human race
in the Paschal Mystery,
grant that we whom Jesus Christ dying upon the cross
entrusted to his Virgin Mother
may be numbered among your adopted sons.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Introit

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power and divinity
and wisdom and strength and honour;
to Him be glory and empire
forever and ever (Ap 5:12, 1:6).
V. O God, give your justice to the King,
and to the King's Son your justice (Ps 71:1).

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,
whose will it is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,
mercifully grant that all creation
liberated from servitude for the service of your majesty,
may together praise you unceasingly.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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The 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum presents a Proper Mass for the memorial of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam. Whereas on the feasts of other groups of martyrs, the Mass is ordinarily taken from the Common of Several Martyrs, today's saints are honoured with a Mass specially composed for them.

The Entrance Antiphon is a remarkable new composition juxtaposing two Pauline texts:

Far be it from us to glory
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To us who are being saved
the word of the Cross is, in fact,
the power of God (cf. Gal 6:14; cf. 1 Cor 1:18).

The Collect uses a unique form of address, Deus, omnis paternitatis fons et origo. The motif of the Cross, already present in the Entrance Antiphon, recurs in the Collect. Saint Théophane Vénard and others were condemned to death after refusing to trample the Cross.

O God, wellspring and origin of all fatherhood,
who made the blessed martyrs Andrew and his companions
faithful to the cross of your Son
even to the shedding of their blood;
by their intercession, grant that,
while spreading your love among our brethren,
we may be able both to be called your children
and to be what we are called.


The Prayer Over the Offerings asks for the grace of fidelity to God inter adversa vitae nostrae. It further asks that we may present our very selves to God as a sacrificial offering (hostia), an acceptable victim.

Receive, holy Father, the gifts we offer
as we venerate the memory of the holy martyrs,
so that in the midst of the adversities of this life
we may be worthy of being found faithful to you
and present our very selves as a victim acceptable to you.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
I spoke of your testimonies before kings,
and I was not ashamed:
I meditated also on your commandments,
which I loved (Ps 118:46-47).

COLLECT

O God, who gladden us
with the yearly festival of blessed Cecilia,
grant, we beseech you,
that the things devoutly passed on concerning your handmaid,
may give us an example to imitate,
and that the wonders of Christ your Son in his servants
may be recounted.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction:
you shall call upon me, and I will hear you;
and I will bring back your captivity
from all places (Jer 29:11–12, 14).
V. Lord, Thou hast blessed thy land:
Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob (Ps 84:2).

COLLECT

Grant us, we beseech you, Lord, our God,
abiding joy in devotion to you
for perfect and lasting happiness
is found in serving you, the author of all good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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The days between the solemnity of All Saints and the First Sunday of Advent are rich in images of the heavenly Jerusalem. The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica on November 9th opened our eyes to the glorious mystery of the Body of Christ, our true and abiding Temple. Today, we celebrate the Dedication festival of two other Roman churches: the Vatican basilica of Saint Peter, and the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls, entrusted to the sons of Saint Benedict. The dedication of a fourth Roman basilica, that of Saint Mary Major, is celebrated on August 5th. Every feast of Dedication is an invitation to cross the threshold of “the house of God and the gate of heaven” (Gen 28:17), an opportunity to say again with Jacob, “Indeed, the Lord is in this place” (Gen 28:16)

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Exceptionally, on the occasion of the anniversary of his ordination, the Church allows a priest to pray at Holy Mass a set of orations in the first person singular. Whereas on all other days the priest says, we, us, and our, on this one day of the year he says, I, me, and my.

While some would sniff at the orations for the anniversary of ordination as being late medieval compositions, the Church has seen fit to retain them in the latest edition of the Roman Missal, the editio typica tertia of 2002. I, for one, find them humbling and comforting. I used them today. Here they are:

Collect

Holy Father, who through no merits of my own,
chose me for communion in the eternal priesthood of your Christ,
and for the service of your Church,
grant that, living as an energetic and gentle preacher of the Gospel,
I may be found a faithful dispenser of your mysteries.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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It is a cherished monastic tradition to pray for the dead. Cistercians, in particular, have the custom of praying an entire Psalter (all 150 Psalms) for the dead, concluding each psalm with the verse, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

Today's Mass will be offered for all the departed who soldiered under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Christian life is marked by spiritual combat. "For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiitual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12). The monk, the nun, or the oblate living in the world engages in spiritual combat by making use of the seventy–four tools of good works enumerated in Chapter Four of the Rule of Saint Benedict.

After death, the veterans of spiritual combat are not abandoned by their monastic family. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, psalmody, and the prayer of the Rosary hasten their purification and obtain a speedy deliverance into "the land of the living" where the light of glory shines from the Face of Christ.

13 November, All Benedictine Saints

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Today we celebrated the feast of All Saints Who Militated Under the Rule of Saint Benedict. One might also translate the name of the feast as "All Saints Who Soldiered Under the Rule of Saint Benedict." It's enough to make a Jesuit envious!

I thought that Spinello Aretino's depiction of Saint Benedict exorcising a demon might be appropriate for today's feast. Saint Gregory the Great recounts the whole story in his life of Saint Benedict. The painting, however, tells more than the story. The monks are engaged in a building project. The undertaking comes to a halt when a "heavy devil" decides to sit on a stone. No one can lift the stone. This happens not infrequently in community life.

Saint Peter reminds us that we are all "living stones" destined by God to be "built into a spiritual house" (1 P 2:5). Sometimes one "living stone" becomes heavy to the point of being immovable. Then the upbuilding of the community stops and the "immovable stone" becomes the focus of much frustration and unhappiness.

What can be done when a "heavy devil" fastened itself to a brother or sister in order to impede the building of the community? Prayer and fasting, and recourse to the power of the Cross and the intercession of Saint Benedict are efficacious means by which the devil can be detached from the poor soul on whom he crouches. Once rid of the "heavy devil," the building up of community can resume.

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The painting by Bernardo Strozzi (1581–1644), a fugitive from the Capuchin Order, depicts the Prophet Elijah with the Widow of Sarepta and her son.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Let my prayer enter into your presence; incline your ear to my supplication, O Lord.
V. O Lord, God of my salvation,
day and night have I cried before you (Ps 87:3, 2).

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,
graciously keep us, we pray,
from all things that may hurt us,
that we, being unimpeded both in mind and body,
may accomplish with free minds
those things which belong to your purpose.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

11 November, Martinmas

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I will raise up for myself a faithful priest,
who shall do according to my heart and my soul,
says the Lord (1 Sam 2:35).

GR 445
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace
to be the prince of his people
that the dignity of priesthood should be to him forever (Sir 45:30).
V. O Lord, remember David,
and all his meekness (Ps 131:1).


COLLECT

O God,
who were magnified in the life of Saint Martin as in his death,
renew the wonders of your grace in our hearts,
so that neither death nor life may separate us from your love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace
to be the prince of his people
that the dignity of priesthood should be to him forever (Sir 45:30).

COLLECT

O God,
who never permit the gates of hell to prevail against your Church,
founded on the rock of the Apostles,
grant, we beseech you,
through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo,
that, standing upright in your truth,
she may be strengthened by a lasting peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21:2).

Or:

Behold the tabernacle of God among men!
He will dwell with them,
and they shall be his people,
and God himself with them shall be their God (Rev 21:3).

COLLECT

O God, who out of chosen and living stones
prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty;
increase within your Church
the spirit of grace which you have given,
so that your faithful people may assemble in ever greater numbers
for the building up of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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At the end of the homily today I prayed Blessed Elizabeth's prayer; her text has a way of establishing the soul in silence. After Mass the faithful came forward to venerate the relic of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. I am always moved by the tenderness and faith that people bring to the veneration of holy relics. One senses the nearness of the saint in the most remarkable way.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
This is a wise virgin, and one of the number of the prudent
who went out with lighted lamp
to meet Christ on the way.

COLLECT

God of bountiful mercy,
who revealed to Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
the mystery of your secret presence
in the hearts of those who love you,
and chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth;
grant through her intercession,
that we also may abide in the love of Christ,
and merit to be transformed
into temples of your life-giving Spirit,
to the praise of your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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I remember today Sister Marie–Willibrorda, O.S.B. of the Monastère Saint–Joseph in France and my friends, the Poor Clare nuns of Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Let your priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice,
and let your saints rejoice:
for your servant David’s sake,
turn not away the face of your Christ (Ps 131:9-10).
Ps. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness (Ps 131:1).

COLLECT

O God, the Saviour of all,
who sent your bishop Willibrord as a pilgrim for Christ
to proclaim the good news to many peoples
and confirm them in their faith,
help us also, we beseech you,
to witness to your steadfast love by word and deed
so that your Church may increase and grow strong in holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Today's Introit is the same one sung on Ash Wednesday, making it very suitable for this November Sunday after All Souls Day. Its first mode melody is tender and full of confidence. The verse from Psalm 56 is the cry of every soul in purgatory.

The Collect intensifies the eschatological impetus of today's Mass by asking that we may run without stumbling toward the promises of God.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

You have mercy upon all, O Lord,
and hate none of the things which you have made,
you overlook the sins of men for the sake of repentance,
and spare them because you are the Lord our God (Wis 11: 24-25, 27).
V. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy,
for in you my soul has taken refuge (Ps 55:1).

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,
by whose gift your faithful offer you
due and laudable service,
grant, we beseech you,
that we may run without stumbling
towards the good things you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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The Collect for today's memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo contains an extraordinary phrase. We ask that the Church, being ceaselessly renewed, and thus conformed to the image of Christ, may show forth His Face to the world: Christi se imagini conformans, ipsius vultum mundo valeat ostendere.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I will visit my sheep,
and I will set up one shepherd over them
and he shall feed them,
and I the Lord will be their God (cf. Ez 34:11, 23-24).

COLLECT

Preserve in your people, we beseech you, Lord,
the spirit with which you filled the bishop Saint Charles;
that the Church may be ceaselessly renewed,
and in conforming herself to the image of Christ,
be able to show his face to the world.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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The medallion of Saint Martin de Porres is the work of the Dominican priest and sculptor, Father Thomas McGlynn (1906–1977). Father McGlynn's strong images of Saint Martin contributed in no small measure to the rise of devotion to him which led to his canonization in 1962.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his justice stands firm forever.
His head will be raised in glory (Ps 111:9).

COLLECT

O God who, by the path of humility,
led Saint Martin de Porres
to the glory of heaven,
grant that we may so follow his splendid example now
as to be found worthy of a place with him on high in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

2 November, All Souls Day

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let the radiance of your light shine forever upon them (cf. 2 Es 2:35).
V. To you our praise is due in Zion, O God.
To you we pay our vows, you who hear our prayer;
to you all flesh will come (Ps 64:2-3).

COLLECT

O God, glory of the faithful and life of the just,
by whose Son’s death and resurrection we are redeemed,
show forgiving mercy to your departed servants,
that, as they came to know the mystery of our resurrection,
they may be found worthy of receiving
the joys of eternal blessedness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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I have fond memories of sitting in my parish church as a lad and reading the commentary on the liturgy of All Saints Day by Pius Parsch in The Church's Year of Grace, one of my favourite books at the time. Parsch described the glory of First Vespers of All Saints with reliquaries glistening on the altar amidst clouds of incense: a foretaste of the liturgy of heaven.

Later on, in Blessed Abbot Marmion's book, Christ in His Mysteries, I read the chapter entitled, "Christ the Crown of All the Saints." Listen to what Dom Marmion says: "When we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, we ought to repeat to ourselves the words that St. Augustine heard: Cur non poteris quod isti, quod istae? What reasons have we for not tending to holiness? Oh, I know well what each one is tempted to say: 'I have such or such a difficulty, I have such or such a trial to contend with, I cannot become saint.' But be sure that all the saints have met with such difficulties, such trials, and much greater ones than yours. Thus then none can say, 'Holiness is not for me.'"

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Let us all rejoice in the Lord,
celebrating a festival day in honour of all the Saints:
at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice,
and give praise to the Son of God.
V. Rejoice in the Lord, you just:
praise befits the upright (Ps 32:1).

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice:
seek the Lord and he will strengthen you;
constantly seek his face.
V. Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name:
make known his deeds among the peoples (Ps 104: 3-4, 1).

COLLECT

Almighty and everlasting God,
give us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may worthily obtain what you promise,
make us love that which you command.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

I returned last night from the Heaven on Earth Conference held at the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. It was a wonderful experience. I rejoiced in the presence of priests zealous for the beauty of the House of the Lord and in the participation of brilliant young Catholic architects, many of them from the University of Notre Dame.

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Before doing anything else today, I want to post the Propers for the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles. The painting of Saint Jude is found in a votive chapel dedicated to the Apostle in the Kirche St. Judas Thaddäus in Heisterbacherrott, Germany

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
These are holy men
chosen by the Lord for their unfeigned charity;
to them he gave everlasting glory.

COLLECT

O God, who,
through your holy Apostles,
granted that we should come to the knowledge of your Name;
at the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude,
graciously give constant growth to your Church
by the increase of peoples who believe.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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We will be celebrating the Votive Mass of the Most Precious Blood today, without however forgetting Saint Paul of the Cross, founder of the Congregation of the Passion. In the following text, Saint Paul of the Cross is counseling a lady who, after having made her confession, was beset with doubts. He recommends confident recourse to the Blood of Christ over all else.

"You fear that you have not made good confessions because of lack of sorrow and purpose of amendment, and that you did not confess correctly. However, you tell me that you did what you could to confess your sins as they are in God’s sight. At least that was the way you wished to set them forth.

O true God! Do you not see that this fear has no foundation whatever, and that the devil is raising it to block your spiritual gain by making you stumble in the service of God? Cast out this empty fear and trust in your dear Savior, who has washed you in his Most Precious Blood, one drop of which is enough to wash away the stains of a thousand worlds, even of all possible worlds. Help yourself by ejaculatory prayers, with darts of love toward God, and words of childlike confidence: “O Jesus, love of my soul, I trust in you! In you I believe; you I love! O Dear Blood of Jesus! O Precious Blood! O Sweetest Blood! in you are my hopes! Ah, yes, my Dear Savior, you have washed me, you have made me clean in the sacrament of Penance. You have forgotten my sins. It were utter folly to doubt that! O Dear Wounds! Most Holy Wounds, Divine Wounds! you are the object of my hopes! I do hope, yes, my God. And were I even at the gates of hell, I would hope in you!”

I have given you these words as examples. They will serve to cast out these fears that come from little confidence in God. Use them with a gentle spirit."

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"My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings" (from a letter of Isaac Jogues to a Jesuit friend in France, September 12, 1646, a month before he died).

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
These are they who are come out of great tribulation
and have washed their robes
and have made them white in the Blood the Lamb (Ap 7:14).
V. Praise the Lord, all you nations:
praise Him all you peoples (Ps 116:1).

MR
The blood of the holy martyrs
was poured out upon the earth for Christ;
therefore they have won rewards everlasting.

COLLECT

O God, who, by the work
of Saints John, Isaac, and their companions,
and by the outpouring of their blood,
willed to manifest the blessed hope of your eternal kingdom,
mercifully grant through their intercession,
that, in our own day,
the faith of Christians may strengthened.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The image of the North American Martyrs is by Catholic illustrator Ted Schluenderfritz.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him
who publishes peace, who announces good,
who preaches salvation (Is 52:7).

COLLECT

Lord God, who chose Saint Luke
to reveal the mystery of your special love for the poor
by preaching and by writing,
grant, that those who, even now, glory in your name,
may continue to be of one heart and one mind,
and that all nations may come to see your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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I feel now that I am beginning to be Christ's disciple;
I desire none of those things which are seen,
if so be I may find Christ Jesus.

I care not that there come upon me fire, or cross,
or wild beasts, or breaking of my bones,
or sundering of my members,
or destruction of my whole body,
yes, and all the torments of the devil,
if only so be I may win Christ.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
With Christ I am nailed to the cross
and I live, now not I;
but Christ lives in me.
I live by faith in the Son of God
who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:19-20).

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"Behold this Heart, which, not withstanding the burning love for man with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from the generality of Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference, and ingratitude, even in the Sacrament of my Love. But what pierces my Heart most deeply is, that I am subjected to those insults by persons specially consecrated to my service."

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
The thoughts of His Heart stand from generation to generation:
that He might deliver their souls from death,
and feed them in times of famine (Ps 32:11, 19).
V. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous;
praise befits those who are upright (Ps 32:1).

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The canonization in Rome today of Blessed Rafael Guízar Valencia, Bishop; Blessed Filippo Smaldone, Priest; Blessed Theodore Guérin, Virgin; and Blessed Rosa Venerini, Virgin is an immense joy for the whole Church. Each of them illustrates today's splendid Collect; the grace of God went before and followed after them, making them at every moment intent on all good works. The Marquess of Bute translates the Collect as follows:

Lord, we pray Thee
that Thy grace may always prevent and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
one God world without end.

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From The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann (+1983):

"Wednesday, October 3, 1979

The Pope of Rome is in New York. We watched him on television in Yankee Stadium. A mixed impression. On one hand, an unquestionably good man, and full of light. Wonderful smile. Very genuine—a man of God. But, on the other hand, there are some 'buts'!

First of all, the Mass itself. The first impression is how liturgically impoverished the Catholic Church has become. In 1965, I watched the service performed by Pope Paul VI in the same Yankee Stadium. Despite everything, it was the presence, the appearance on earth of the eternal, the 'super earthly.' Whereas yesterday, I had the feeling that the main thing was the 'message.' This message is, again and again, 'peace and justice,' 'human family,' 'social work,' etc.

An opportunity was given, a fantastic chance to tell millions and millions of people about God, to reveal to them that more than anything else they need God! But here, on the contrary, the whole goal, it seemed, consisted in proving that the Church also can speak the jargon of the United Nations.

All the symbols point the same way: the reading of the Scriptures by some lay people with bright ties, etc. And a horrible translation: I never suspected that a translation could be a heresy: Grace—'abiding love'!

Does one have to serve Mass in Yankee Stadium? But if it's possible and needed, shouldn't the Mass be, so to say, 'super earthly,' separated from the secular world, in order to show in the world—the Kingdom of God?"

The emphases are my own.

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The Blessed Virgin Mary, Pillar of Faith, is celebrated in Spain and in other places on October 12th. It seemed fitting to celebrate on the Saturday nearest her feast the Mass given for that title in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Honoured as the Pillar of Faith for having sustained the Apostle Saint James in a moment of weariness and discouragement at Saragossa in Spain, the Blessed Virgin Mary is also the Destroyer of All Heresies and the Succour of Christians in distress.

In this particular image of the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca the Blessed Virgin is shown brandishing a club to save a small boy from the clutches of the devil. The boy, filled with a surplus of energy, had driven his mother around the bend. In a moment of classic Mediterranean exasperation, the little one's mother had exclaimed, "Oh, let the devil take you!" To her horror, the devil showed up, set on doing just that. The poor mother cried out to the Madonna to save her little boy. Clobbering the devil over the head and driving him away, the Blessed Virgin welcomed the child under her mantle and then released him to his mother, saying, "Fear not, my children, for I shall never abandon you."

The Blessed Virgin offers a pillar of stability in our inconstancy and, when necessary, she comes to our rescue, brandishing a club against the powers of darkness.

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The 2002 Editio Typica Tertia of the Roman Missal includes a Votive Mass of the Mercy of God. The Collect for this new Mass formulary is derived in part from the oration that traditionally follows the Te Deum, and in part from the Collect of the Second Sunday of Pascha. The Prayer Over the Offerings contains, in the phrase, Christo iugiter confidentes, a subtle but unmistakable allusion to the invocation of Saint Faustina, "Jesus, I trust in you." The Postcommunion expresses Saint Faustina's two fold message: confidence in the mercy of God, and the practice of mercy toward one another.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
God has loved us with an everlasting charity:
he sent his Only–begotten Son as the expiation for our sins,
and not for ours only
but also for the sins of the whole world (cf. Jer 31:3; 1 Jn 2:2).

Or:

The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever;
from generation to generation
my mouth will proclaim your truth (Ps 88:2).

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O God, Who under a wonderful Sacrament,
hast left unto us whereby to show forth Thy Suffering Death,
grant unto us, we beseech Thee,
so reverently to handle the Sacred Mysteries of Thy Body and Thy Blood
that we may always feel within ourselves
the fruit of Thy Redeeming Work.
Who livest and reignest with God the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end.

Translation of the Collect of Corpus Christi by the Marquess of Bute

Already in the mystical invasion of 17th century France, Catherine de Bar (Mère Mechthilde du Saint–Sacrement, 1614–1698), foundress of the Benedictines of the Most Holy Sacrament, initiated a weekly rememoration of both Maundy Thursday and the festival of Corpus Christi. Whenever the rubrics allowed, Thursdays were marked by a Votive Mass and Office of the Most Holy Eucharist and by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, a rare privilege at the time. The Cistercians too marked Thursdays in the same way; Cistercian liturgical books contain a Votive Office of the Blessed Sacrament.
During the Year of the Eucharist, I proposed a weekly Votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist whenever a free Thursday occurred in the calendar. It is a practice that I am continuing now that the Year of the Eucharist has come and gone, a way of recalling the Gift and Mystery of the Cenacle, and of stirring up that eucharistic amazement that Pope John Paul II so desired to revive in the Church.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Lord chose him to be a high priest unto Himself,
and opening His treasury,
made him abound in every good.

COLLECT

Almighty and eternal God,
who in the Pope Blessed John,
gave to the whole world
the shining example of a good shepherd,
grant that, through his intercession,
we may with joy spread abroad the fullness of Christian charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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On May 18, 1874, the Carmelite Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (1846–1878) beheld a chalice streaming with light and a dove. From the light she heard a voice saying,

I ardently desire that priests say a Mass each month in honour of the Holy Spirit. Whoever will say it or hear it will be honoured by the Holy Spirit Himself. He will have light, he will have peace. He will cure the sick. He will awaken those who are asleep.

In June 1877, through the intermediary of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, she sent a message to Blessed Pope Pius IX, saying:

The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke the light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries. . . .

Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error. Every priest that preaches this devotion will receive light while he is speaking of it to others.

I was told that each priest in the whole world should be required to say one Mass of the Holy Spirit each month, and all those who assist at it will receive very special grace and light.

I have tried, since my own ordination, to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on the first available ferial day of each month. The Roman Missal contains a wealth of texts for the Mass of the Holy Spirit. See the Liturgical Texts archive.

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Today's memorial takes us to Montmartre, the Mount of Martyrs in Paris. Malouel's painting of the martyrdom of Saint Denis (1416) depicts the sacrifice of Christ, the King of Martyrs, at the center. The outstretched arms of the Eternal Father, partially hidden behind the cross, suggest that one can know the embrace of the Father only in the arms of the Crucified. At the same time, the arms of the Father receive the offering of the Son.

Blood and water are gushing abundantly from the pierced side of the Son, the hands, and the feet of Jesus. His Precious Blood runs onto the earth where it mingles with blood of Saint Denis to sanctify the hill that will come to be known as Montmartre, the Mount of the Martyrs.

On the left, Our Lord Himself brings Holy Communion as Viaticum to Saint Denis in prison. On the right, we see the cruel beheading of Saint Denis while his deacon Eleutherius looks on in sorrow.

It is recounted that, after his martyrdom, Saint Denis continued to preach, holding his head in his hands. The martyrs do, in fact, continue to preach the mystery of the Cross so often as the Church remembers them in the liturgy.

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Today's Collect is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful of the whole liturgical year. What are "those things of which our conscience is afraid"? They have to do I think, with the bitter relics left behind by our sins, even when these sins have been forgiven. Long after a sin has been washed away in the pure water of sacramental absolution, the ghost of that sin lingers to haunt us and to taunt us with shameful memories, with fits of anxiety and remorse. The Collect we pray today makes us ask God to put away "those things of which our conscience is afraid," the things that paralyze us in prayer, the things that prevent us from being bold and confident in prayer.

COLLECT

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in the abundance of your fatherly love exceed all that we desire or deserve,
pour out your mercy upon us,
putting away those things of which our conscience is afraid,
and bestowing those which we are not worthy to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

From the Marquess of Bute

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This morning I came upon this marvelous translation of the traditional Collect for the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary and simply had to share it. The translator was John, Marquess of Bute, and the text is found in Volume II of The Roman Breviary Reformed By Order of the Most Holy Oecumenical Council of Trent (William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1879), p. 708.

O God, Whose Only–begotten Son,
by living, dying, and rising again,
hath purchased everlasting joy for us,
mercifully grant that by calling these things to mind
in the Blessed Virgin Mary's most holy Garden–of–Roses,
we may learn better both to follow what they set forth,
and to strive after what they promise.
Through the Same our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

Blessing of Roses

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It is customary in some places to bless roses on October 7th in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. I intend to buy roses tomorrow: five pink roses for the Joyful Mysteries, five white for the Luminous Mysteries, five red for the Sorrowful Mysteries, and five yellow for the Glorious Mysteries. They will be placed before the image of the Blessed Virgin during Holy Mass and blessed after the Postcommunion. The petals of these blessed roses may be given to the sick or kept in the home as a pledge of the intercession of the Mother of God and of divine protection.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Hail , Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women,
and blessed is fruit of your womb (cf. Lk 1:28, 42).

COLLECT

Pour forth your grace into our hearts,
we beseech you, O Lord,
so that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his passion and cross
be brought to the glory of his resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Mass of Saint Bruno, Priest

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The Collect formerly used for the feast of Saint Bruno breathes the spirit of compunction that animates all who seek the Face of God. I give it here for that reason:

May the prayers of Thy holy confessor Bruno
come to our aid, we pray Thee, Lord;
so that we who have grievously offended Thy majesty
by our transgressions
may obtain pardon through his merits and intercession.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Of you my heart has spoken: “Seek his face.”
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face from me.
V. The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear? (Ps 26:8–9, 1)

COLLECT

O God who called Saint Bruno
to serve you in solitude,
grant, through his intercession,
that, amidst the changes of this world,
we may seek you always, and with all our heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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MR
The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever;
from generation to generation
my mouth will proclaim your truth (Ps 88:2).

COLLECT

O God,
who in a wondrous manner
revealed the inexhaustible riches of your mercy
to Saint Maria Faustina,
grant, we beseech you,
that by looking with trust upon the pierced side of your Son
we may be strengthened to show mercy one to another
and, at length, sing forever of your mercy in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Mass of Saint Francis of Assisi

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Francis, a man of God, left his home and gave away his wealth to become poor and in need. But the Lord cared for him.

GR
It is for us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
in whom is our health, life, and resurrection;
through whom we have been saved and set free (cf., Gal 6:14).
V. With all my voice I cry to the Lord,
with all my voice I entreat the Lord (Ps 141:1).

COLLECT

O God, who bestowed upon Saint Francis
the grace of being configured to Christ
in poverty and humility,
grant that by walking in the same path,
we may follow your Son,
and be joined to you in the joy of charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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"I owe more to Columba Marmion for initiating me into things spiritual than to any other spiritual writer."
Pope John Paul II

Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000. His liturgical memorial was fixed on October 3rd, the anniversary of his Abbatial Blessing in 1909. Blessed Abbot Marmion is best known for his trilogy: Christ, the Life of the Soul, Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, and Christ in His Mysteries. A fourth volume, Christ, the Ideal of the Priest was published posthumously in 1952.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Lord is my inheritance and my cup; he alone will give me my reward. The measuring line has marked a lovely place for me; my inheritance is my great delight (Ps 15:5-6).

Or GR, Caritas Dei, p. 248.

The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
V. My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name (Rom 5:5; Ps 102:1).

COLLECT

O God, Almighty Father,
who called the blessed abbot Columba
to the monastic way of life
and willed to open to him
the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
mercifully grant that
strengthened in the spirit of our adoption as sons
by his intercession,
we may become a dwelling place
worthy of your Wisdom.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever

This is not, of course, a text found in any of the editiones typicae. It is merely the fruit of lectio divina shared in the literary form of the Preface of the Mass.

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It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

In the beginning,
when you created the heavens and the earth,
your Spirit swept over the waters (Gen 1:1-2);
and when you formed man from the dust of the earth
you gave him life with the very Breath of your mouth (Gen 2:7).

In the fullness of time you sent your Son (Gal 4:4)
to restore the work of your hands to the splendour of holiness
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When the hour came for him to be glorified by you (Jn 17:1),
he bowed his head and breathed forth his Spirit (Jn 19:30),
giving life to the Church.

On the first day of the week, the day of his resurrection,
he stood in the midst of his disciples,
breathed on them, and gave them the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22).

Finally, when the day of Pentecost had come (Ac 2:1),
in the signs of a mighty wind and tongues of fire (Ac 2:2-3),
your Spirit descended upon the Church,
drawing her together in unity
and sending her forth to preach the Gospel.

Moved by the Holy Spirit,
we confess the lordship of Christ your Son (1 Cor 12:3),
we rejoice to call you Father (Rom 8:15),
and filled with the Spirit,
sing to you with all our hearts (Eph 5:18-19)
the song of the angels in heaven:

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
All that you have done to us, O Lord, you have done in true justice, for we have sinned against you and we have failed to obey your commandments; but give glory to your name and deal with us according to the multitude of your mercy. V. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord (Dan 3:31, 29, 30, 43, 42; Ps 118:1).

COLLECT

O God, who manifest your almighty power
most of all in showing mercy and granting pardon;
multiply your grace upon us
that we, running toward your promises,
may be made sharers in the good things of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

Blessed is the man
who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night;
he shall bring forth fruit in due season (Ps 1:2-3).

ACT OF PENITENCE

Your statutes have become our song
in the land of exile (Ps 118:54).
Kyrie, eleison.

Your promise is sweeter to our taste
than honey in the mouth (Ps 118:103).
Christe, eleison.

Your word is a lamp for our steps
and a light for our path (Ps 118:105).
Kyrie, eleison.

COLLECT

O God,
who gave your priest Saint Jerome
a sweet and living passion for Sacred Scripture,
grant that your people
may be more abundantly nourished by your word,
and find in it the wellspring of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty in strength who do his word,
hearkening to the voice of his word (Ps 102:20).

COLLECT

O God, who have constituted
in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and men:
be pleased to grant that our life here on earth
may be protected by those who stand in readiness
to serve you in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Today’s memorial of the Filipino Saint Lorenzo Ruiz illustrates the marvelous universalization of the Church’s calendar that took place during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Saint Lorenzo’s descendants still live today in the same district outside Manila where he and his family lived in the 1600s. Saint Lorenzo was a husband and father, a professional calligrapher by trade, a saint who spoke Tagalog, Chinese, and Spanish, a martyr who gave his life for Christ in Japan, far from family and home. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II, together with other Filipino martyrs, in 1987.

Mass of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor,
and to heal the contrite of heart (cf. Lk 4:18).

COLLECT

O God, who for the salvation of the poor
and the instruction of the clergy
endowed the blessed priest Vincent with apostolic virtues,
grant, we pray,
that inflamed by that same spirit,
we may both loved what he loved
and carry out what he taught.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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In an altar retable painted in thanksgiving for the end of the plague that devastated Venice in 1510, Titian shows (lower left) Saints Cosmas and Damian, the holy physician martyrs together with (lower right) Saints Roch and Sebastian. Enthroned above them is Saint Mark the Evangelist, patron of Venice. While Saint Roch and Saint Sebastian represent the sick and wounded, Saints Cosmas and Damian represent those who minister the healing power of Christ.

COLLECT

May the venerable memory
of your saints Cosmas and Damian
magnify you, O Lord,
for in your ineffable providence,
you have bestowed upon them eternal glory
and upon us the richness of your help.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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"And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them;
and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but him who sent me'" (Mark 9:36–37).

My nephew, Michael Colin Kirby, seems to be part of the icon of Christ with the little children on the wall behind him. In today's Mass, Our Lord draws us into the way of spiritual childhood and humble service. The Mass opens with Christ Himelf singing to His Church the strong and reassuring words, "Salus populi ego sum" (Ps 77:1). "I am the salvation, the wholeness, the happiness of the people." One who takes that message to heart willingly places his life in the hands of Christ and follows Him, trusting in His merciful goodness.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
I am the salvation of the people, says the Lord. From whatever tribulations they cry out to me, I will give heed to them, and I will be their Lord forever (Cf. Ps 36: 39-40). V. Attend, O my people to my law; incline your ear to the words of my mouth (Ps 77:1).

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There is a verse in the book of Ezra that is, I think, a wonderful expression of the life and mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves” (Ez 6:20). Padre Pio's life was a long and uninterrupted celebration of the Pasch of the Lord. Configured to Jesus Crucified, Priest and Victim, Padre Pio offered himself to the Father in the daily Sacrifice of the Mass. Saint Pio’s paschal immolation — his participation in the Cross of Christ — was for the sake of "the rest of the exiles," all of us who go mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. And it was for the sake of "his brethren": for all priests called to follow him in a life of paschal purity and victimhood,

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
God forbid that I should glory
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world is crucified to me,
and I to the world (Gal 6:14).

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Today's Mass sings of the ineffable mercy of God who chose Saint Matthew to cling to Him as resolutely and doggedly as he once clung to his money. The opening phrase of he Postcommunion might better be translated as, "Ours, O Lord, is the joy of new found wholeness"! The coming of Christ the Saviour brings salvation. The coming of Christ the Healer brings health to soul and body. The Most Holy Eucharist restores the broken to wholeness in anticipation of the Kingdom where He who sits upon the throne will say, "Behold, I make all things new" (Ap 21:5).

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them,
and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,
says the Lord (Mt 28:19–20)

VeronicaFace.jpg

Almighty and ever-living God,
who gave to Saint Gaetano, your priest,
the knowledge of your glory shining in the Face of Christ,
mercifully grant that we
who rejoice today in his memory,
may imitate his love for that same Holy Face
concealed in the Sacrament of the Altar
and in the poorest and most forsaken of your children.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Or:

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Holy Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Everything was taken from the Common of One Martyr apart from the Collect and the General Intercessions. We commemorated the Blessed Virgin Mary of La Salette in the General Intercessions.

COLLECT

O God,
by whose gift we venerate the memory
of your martyr, Saint Januarius,
grant that, in his company,
we may rejoice to partake of eternal blessedness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Mass of the Feria

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I am grateful to my friends over at The Rosary Workshop for this wonderful photo illustrating today's Entrance Antiphon, Da pacem, Domine.

GR
Give peace. O Lord, to them that patiently wait for you, that your prophets may be found faithful. Hear the prayers of your servant, and of your people Israel (Sir 36:18).
V. I rejoiced when it was said unto me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Ps 121:1).

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Today's Mass echoes that of September 14th when we celebrated the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The prophet Isaiah calls us to contemplate the adorable Face of the suffering Christ. The Gospel invites every disciple of Christ to participation the mystery of His Cross; the Communion Antiphon echoes the invitation of the Gospel.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Give peace. O Lord, to them that patiently wait for you, that your prophets may be found faithful. Hear the prayers of your servant, and of your people Israel (Sir 36:18).
V. I rejoiced when it was said unto me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Ps 121:1).

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Let us remember each other with one heart and mind. Let us pray for each other always and lighten our burdens and anxieties by our mutual love.
(Letter of Saint Cyprian to Pope Saint Cornelius)

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
In heaven do rejoice the souls of the Saints
who have followed the steps of Christ;
and because they shed their blood for the love of Christ,
therefore shall they be made glad forever with Christ.

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September 15

Pastoral Note: Whatever you do, don't omit the sequence from today's Mass! You can find it in the Lectionary. The Stabat Mater is universally recognized as one of the most tender and vivid pieces of poetry in the Roman Rite. The translation given in Maurice Zundel's book, The Splendour of the Liturgy, is exquisite.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
Standing beside the Cross of Jesus were his mother,
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene (Jn 19:25, 26).
V. Woman, behold thy son, said Jesus:
then to the disciple, Behold thy mother.

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The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech you, to bless
your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to your glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.

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Today is the patronal festival of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the abbatial church of my own Cistercian community. Santa Croce is one of the seven principal basilicas of the Eternal City. Pilgrims from the world over make their way to Santa Croce to venerate the precious relics of the Passion of the Lord: the wood of the Cross, two thorns of the Crown, one Nail, and the Titulus Crucis, the sign that was suspended over the Crucified.
Today is also the patronal festival of the Cistercian Monastery of Santa Cruz in Guadalajara, Mexico, a recent foundation of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme,
and of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford, Connecticut, where I serve as chaplain to the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR
It is for us to glory
in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
in whom is our health, life, and resurrection:
through whom we have been saved
and set free (cf. Gal 6:14).
V. May God be merciful to us and bless us;
may his face shine its light upon us,
and may he show us mercy (Ps 66:1).

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Saint John Chrysostom prepares us for the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Today's Communion Antiphon is a text of the Apostle Paul placed in the golden mouth of the glorious Archbishop of Constantinople: "We preach Christ crucified, the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:23–224). Tomorrow the power and wisdom of God will radiate from the glorious Cross into the whole universe.

Thanks to the Cross we are no longer in a state of widowhood,
for we are reunited to the Bridegroom;
we are not afraid of the wolf,
because we have the Good Shepherd. . . .
Thanks to the Cross we dread no usurper,
since we are sitting beside the King.

(Saint John Chrysostom, Homily I on the Cross and the Thief)

Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary
by the Lord, the Most High God,
above all other women on earth;
for God has so magnified your name,
that your praise shall never depart
from the mouth of men (Jud 13:18, 20).

COLLECT

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God,
that to all who are celebrating her glorious name,
the Blessed Virgin Mary herself
may dispense the benefits of your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

A Requiem Mass

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Ellen M. Donovan, the sister of Sister Mary Xavier of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, died on September 7th. Today I offered Holy Mass for the repose of her soul. Every time I sing the sublime First Preface of the Dead, I thrill to the words: Tuis enim fidelibus, Domine, vita mutatur, non tollitur. There is in the Church's Requiem Mass a gentle realism in the face of death and a consolation found nowhere else.

The life of those who are faithful to you, Lord,
is but changed, not ended;
and when their earthly dwelling-place decays,
an eternal home is made ready in heaven.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

GR and GS
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let the radiance of your light shine forever upon them (cf. 2 Es 2:35).
V. To you our praise is due in Zion, O God.
To you we pay our vows, you who hear our prayer;
to you all flesh will come (Ps 64:2-3).

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Illumina faciem tuam super sanctuarium tuum:
et propitius intende populum istum,
super quem invocatum est nomen tuum, Deus.

Let your Face shine upon your sanctuary,
and graciously look down upon this people
over whom your name is invoked, O God.
(Dan 9:4, 17–19, Today's Offertory Antiphon)

The Fourth Mode melody that clothes the prophet Daniel's prayer in today's Offertory Antiphon reaches its musical and theological summit over the words, Illumina faciem tuam super sanctuarium tuum, "Let your Face shine upon your sanctuary" (Dan 9:17). The light of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the "Lord of Glory" (Jas 2:1) illumines the sanctuary during the Holy Mysteries. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).

Mass of Saint Peter Claver, Priest

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COLLECT

O God, who made blessed Peter the slave of slaves,
strengthening him with marvelous charity and patience,
at his intercession, grant that all of us,
in seeking those things that belong to Jesus Christ,
may love our neighbour truly and in deed.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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COLLECT

Bestow upon your servants,
we beseech you, O Lord,
the gift of your heavenly grace:
so that we for whom the beginning of salvation dawned
with the childbearing of the Blessed Virgin,
may receive an increase of peace
on this festival of her Nativity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

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Already in the mystical invasion of 17th century France, Catherine de Bar (Mère Mechthilde du Saint–Sacrement, 1614–1698), foundress of the Benedictines of the Most Holy Sacrament, initiated a weekly rememoration of both Maundy Thursday and the festival of Corpus Christi. Whenever the rubrics allowed, Thursdays were marked by a Votive Mass and Office of the Most Holy Eucharist and by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, a rare privilege at the time. The Cistercians too marked Thursdays in the same way; Cistercian liturgical books contain a Votive Office of the Blessed Sacrament.
During the Year of the Eucharist, I proposed a weekly Votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist whenever a free Thursday occurred in the calendar. It is a practice that I am continuing now that the Year of the Eucharist has come and gone, a way of recalling the Gift and Mystery of the Cenacle, and of stirring up that eucharistic amazement that Pope John Paul II so desired to revive in the Church.

Mass of the Feria

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Wednesday of the Twenty–Second Week of the Year II

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have called out to you all the day, for you, O Lord, are sweet and gentle, and plenteous in mercy to all who call upon you (Ps 85:3-4).

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On May 18, 1874, the Carmelite Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (1846–1878) beheld a chalice streaming with light and a dove. From the light she heard a voice saying, I ardently desire that priests say a Mass each month in honour of the Holy Spirit. Whoever will say it or hear it will be honoured by the Holy Spirit Himself. He will have light, he will have peace. He will cure the sick. He will awaken those who are asleep.
In June 1877, through the intermediary of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, she sent a message to Blessed Pope Pius IX, saying: The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke the light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries. . . .
Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error. Every priest that preaches this devotion will receive light while he is speaking of it to others.
I was told that each priest in the whole world should be required to say one Mass of the Holy Spirit each month, and all those who assist at it will receive very special grace and light.

I have tried, since my own ordination, to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on the first available ferial day of each month. The Roman Missal contains a wealth of texts for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

This Labor Day: A Mass for Peace

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The Catholic version of Labor Day is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1956 and celebrated on May 1st. For Monday, September 4th, I chose the texts provided in the Roman Missal for times of war or insurrection. The readings will be those of the feria. Violet vestments are suitable: a sign of penitence in the face of violence.

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have called out to you all the day,
for you, O Lord, are sweet and gentle,
and plenteous in mercy to all who call upon you (Ps 85:3-4).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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